Everything Is Possible
Jen Bricker is a NY Times best-selling author, international speaker and professional aerialist. Bricker, who was born without legs, captured her experiences growing up in the memoir Everything Is Possible: Finding the Faith and Courage to Follow Your Dreams.
So, Jen Bricker, welcome to the BB&T Leadership Series.
We're so glad to have you with us. For our audience, this is Jen Bricker, the internationally renowned author, aerialist, acrobat. So well-known for all the great things you've done in your life. Thank you for being with us.
Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
So I want to start right out with the obvious and that is that most people would meet you the first time and say, "Wow, she's got some challenges, and limitations, some obstacles," and yet, when you were a very young girl, you developed this sense of positive, purpose for your life, which few ever do. How'd you do that?
Well, it's a lot of things. It certainly wasn't me as an infant saying, "Oh, you know, I'm going to be so awesome and I'm going to do this, this, and that." It was a series of things. I was put up for adoption, which a lot of people see as, "Oh, that's a tragedy. Your biological parents abandoned you and they left you. How awful." But actually, that was one of the biggest blessings in my life because it changed the course of the direction of the rest of my life.
So I ended up in this family and this community—middle of nowhere, the most unsuspecting place—corn fields, cows, but with the family that I was meant to be with. And so they raised me because they believed. It's not like they just were talking, saying, "Oh, you were born like this for a reason." They believed it. So when I wanted to do something, it was empowerment, it was encouragement, it was self-esteem and confidence. And so that set the tone.
So we share something in common in that when I was growing up, I must have said I can't do something a lot because my mother would say, "Can't never did anything."
There you go.
Can't never did anything. And your mom started out early, what did she tell you?
Yeah, my parents—it was, "Never say can't," but it's so much more than a saying, it's the mentality. So you can say never say can't, but if your actions don't back that up, then there is no power in it. So they said that but, also, when I came to them and said, "Hey, I want to play volleyball, basketball, softball, and power tumbling, even go roller skating," they didn't automatically respond with negativity or, "Well, you can't do that. How are you going to do that? That's too difficult." It was, "Oh, we'll just figure out how you can do that." And so that was backing up the, "Never say can't," more as a lifestyle versus just a saying.
So I don't want to get too far off on a tangent on this, but I'm intrigued with that positivity of the Brickers. They must've just naturally been that way themselves. They didn't have to go to school to work with Jen, right?
No, definitely not. They're so salt of the earth. Just regular, small town, living simple kind of people. But, yes, very natural. It was like I said, it was the family I was meant to be with. And there was that organic, naturalness to it because they were the parents that were supposed to raise me, and so it was in them. They knew how to raise me. They didn't take a class. They didn't make some bold decision of how awesome they were going to be, they just were.
Yeah. That's awesome. That's kind of a story by itself for them.
It is a whole story by itself. I think that's the meat and potatoes of my life, of my story, is really before I came into the picture and right when I came into the picture because of their story, even about making the decision to adopt me, is just impressive in itself.
So when you start out with that, "Never say can't," how does that form your outlook on life?
Well, it formed it without me realizing it. So because I've talked so much now about my life as a speaker, I learned a lot. And you look at your life and the timeline of it, and I was like, wow. I was basically trained without realizing it. They weren't saying, "We're going to train her." So none of us were realizing this. With this way of thinking and way of living that I'm just going to be creative and figure out how to get the end result.
If I want to play softball, I'm going to play softball. That's the end result. But that middle section, that journey of how to get there and how to do it, is going to look different than everybody else. But it's still going to happen.
So what it did is whenever there was a challenge in front of me, I don't automatically go, "Oh, I can't. That's impossible." I'm just like, "Well, so how am I going to do that? How am I going to figure it out?" Because there's always a way, always a way, but it might take time, probably will, and some creativity.
So in the BB&T Leadership Series, we tend to talk about various topics and now I'm talking with our associates at the bank and others about what I consider to be one of the most important keys in life which is figuring out how to overcome obstacles and the tough times in life. You're a very positive person, yet there had to be some tough times along the way. We know about how successful you have been but there must have been some failures, anything along that way that you could share with the audience would be helpful.
Yeah, I don't always wake up just, "Wow, I'm amazing. Life is great." I don't wake up like that. I'm real, I'm a human. So I have bad days and the first thing that comes to my mind is—so I was always OK with not having legs. Didn't bother me about that but a female living in LA, being in the entertainment industry, body image got to me. And it brought me to my knees, you know what I mean? I mean, down, dark, deep for years, almost three years.
And it was this place—what it really was body dysmorphia, but I don't think I wanted to call it that. I think I wanted to live in a bit of denial like, "No, I don't deal with that. I'm too strong to deal with that." But I had to cover up mirrors in my apartment. I had to take really extreme measures, even though I was a double zero and so thin. It was like I was blinded, It was never going to be enough. I was going to be too fat. I was going to rip myself apart in the mirror and stay there.
I had to choose—and this is it—I had to choose to be happy and to love myself even when I didn't feel like it. Even when every alarm inside was like, "You're fat. You look awful. These clothes fit tight." I was like, no, you have to like override that negativity and speak life into yourself.
Do you think that that, which a lot of us experience, do you think that's driven out of fundamental insecurities?
I think there's a lot of things that it can be driven from and I don't think any two people dealing with that is the same scenario.
It's all different.
It's always different and it's going to be derived from something different. I'm very surprised in one way because I was never the person that was affected by peer pressure. I can be around any environment and not join in and have no problem just doing my own thing, but I learned a lot of stuff from that.
But it made me to be really passionate and aware of the fact that I, of all people, that always had this strong will, this confidence, I was affected by all the magazines I've seen since I was a kid that are Photoshopped that I didn't realize that I was affected by this TV imagery, and billboards, and just this constant flow that we get. I didn't think I was affected by it. I thought, "No way."
And so what has made me do on my social media and my pictures is posting pictures all the time with no makeup. Posting things being real. No, I'm not always in a dress with perfect hair and makeup, that's part of my life, but if you only post those things that's such a false image. That's not authentic.
So it has made me even more just dialed into authenticity, every single part of my life. If I'm talking about it, I better live that way. If I'm doing this on social media, I better live that way. And I really learned that from that hard, hard time in my life among many other things.
So in your book, which is Everything is Possible—which is a phenomenal book, by the way, I think everyone will read it—
You talk about your "special heart" and how that has impacted your passion and positivity. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, again, that was something I didn't—when you're younger, anything that happens in your family, with your parents, or with yourself, you just think that everybody does that. It's normal. I'm like, oh, this how everybody lives. But then you get older and you realize the differences in the intricacies and all that.
But I did realize at a young age like, wow, I feel things on a whole different level, love, opinions. I'm passionate about everything. It could be water. Sparkling or still? Well, this is why I'm passionate about still water, and I really mean it and I'm really passionate about it.
And so I think we're all made to be who we are for a reason. With all of those little details, they matter. And so I needed to be passionate and strong because there were so many times in my life where no one like me has done what I'm doing. It's just who I was made to be, to go in the forefront of all these scenarios.
I talk a little bit in the book about riding these rides at the amusement parks, and getting turned down, and getting treated bad, and all this stuff and there's a certain part of me that I needed to be able to stand strong and-- I don't want to say fight because it wasn't an argumentative kind of thing—but to be able to have that passion, to go forward and educate.
And educate can be even when I travel and I'm getting on a plane and people cannot for the life of them figure out how I'm going to get to my seat myself. Meanwhile, I'm flying and flipping all over the world. But this tiny little thing, "Well, you can go to your seat yourself?" and by me doing that that's an education moment.
So my life is always-- that's always happening. And I have to be able to have passion and that heart to be able to be that person. That inner strength that it takes, the stuff that wears and tears on me, over time, with the extensive amount of travel, speaking performances, interviews, all of those things, that passion is what has taken me through every bit of my life.
And I think related to that is the emotion of gratitude. How does gratitude play in your life?
I'm going to say probably every single day, multiple times a day, I'm in such awe. I'm so grateful for this life and for the destiny that God has for me and has laid out for me and the path and the purpose. Oh my gosh, it's like, "You chose me to do this? This is so cool." I get to see so many places around the world and meet so many incredible people that pour into me.
I'm not where I'm at because it was a solo mission, like, "Oh, I'm just so awesome. I did all my own." I am only here because, from day one, from being left in the hospital, put up for adoption, and eventually adopted, because of all the people who poured into me teachers, coaches family, friends. And that has shaped me and molded me into who I am.
So you talk about—again, in your book—about the little choices in life that, sometimes, you're more easily able to develop and handle the big choices in life, developing the plan of life. How does that relate, little choices and big choices?
Well, I've noticed that over time it's something I've learned as an adult. So it's choices I think that we maybe shrug off as not important, they're just insignificant. They don't matter. Who cares if I didn't smile at this person? Who cares if I just didn't talk to her? But, not to be dramatic, but sometimes that can be a difference of life and death. You really could save somebody with a conversation or with a smile. That's real.
And a perfect example of one little choice that seems a little bit insignificant, when I was in second grade they wanted to assign an aide—my school. "Well, that's nice. Oh, they want to assign an aide to help her carry her bags, and have her go up and down the stairs." And it got to the point where she was so attached to me, I couldn't leave and do anything without her.
And my parents stepped in and saw it as a much bigger issue. There was an independence issue. "We're raising her to be independent, not codependent." Second grade, that quick, that important, and that has translated into the rest of my life. One little choice and it was kind of everything.
It turned into a bigger—
Turns into a massive ripple effect.
In your book, you also talk about creativity and how many times you have to roll with the punches, no pun intended here, but you talk about actually putting roller skates on your hands.
Yeah. Oh, yeah. See that's exactly what I'm saying. It's like there would have been a hundred reasons why my parents could have said, "Well, you can't do that. How are you going to do that? Isn't that dangerous? You're so small. Everyone's going around the roller rink, how are you going to do that?"
Instead, they're like, "Well, you know we're going to put them on her hands. Put them on your hands, Jen." Because I wanted to win that limbo and I did win that limbo with the skates, and I was all about it. So it was just that constant, again, training without them realizing it or me realizing it, to never automatically go to the negative. That the first thing that comes out is not negative.
Because another thing I've learned, as I've gotten older, is the power of words. What you're speaking into someone and what you're allowing to be spoken into you. So you could speak life into someone or you can speak death into someone. You can receive life being spoken into you or you can receive that death being spoken into you. And that is completely tied into my childhood. I was spoken life.
So you were constantly being fed that positive attitude of believe in yourself. So, we kind of know how you got where you are, but a lot of people watching, listening, that are maybe struggling with negativity, pessimism, and yet, here's a young lady who's written a book, says that everything is possible. How would you, if you were talking to someone who was down and out and they said, "Well, Jen, how can I do that? How can I be like you?" What would you say?
Well, shouldn't want to be like me, but the attributes—
Well, I don't know. You got a pretty perfect life.
It's not perfect. It's not about me, it's just about what's being done through me. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and what I would say to that person is that everyone has a purpose. Those desires and the things that we have had in us that we love, our passion, things that we're naturally good at, those are our gifts. We're supposed to use them. They're there for a reason, and everyone has them.
I'm not more significant than anybody else just because I have a very unique life. It's different and it's unique, but our gifts are not going to look the same. They're not supposed to look the same. So we don't have to be jealous of anyone else's talent or gifts because it's a level playing field. People need to know they're significant, and that they matter. And what they bring to the table, first of all, they bring something to the table.
A lot of people think they don't. "But Jen, my life is boring," and "I don't have a platform like you," and "I can't make an impact." You have friends and family. You've coworkers. That's your platform and your stage and what you're doing or not doing is noticed and it is making an impact.
Every day. Every day. And it's, a lot of times, in those things we just think don't matter. And I certainly don't have it all figured out. I'm always going to be learning. Never going to have a day where I'm like, "Oh, I've arrived." No. No, and I don't ever want to be that way. I want to always be learning from people who are younger and older than me.
So I've noticed over the years that a lot of people talk about positivity but less people talk about enthusiasm. What's your thought about enthusiasm? You seem like a very enthusiastic person.
I think that stems from passion but also, I always say I'm kind of like a cartoon because I get so excited over the stupidest things. It could be a little miniature fork, or spoon, or little dog and I just lose my mind. And so I think that's just who I am but I also feel like that wasn't squelched as a kid.
I don't think we come out negative. I don't think we come out with chips, and weights, and houses on our shoulders. A lot of times, we have that enthusiasm as a kid and the wonder, and awe, and the joy, and excitement but because so much happens when we're really young, that's what shapes us, like super young.
When people think we're just, "Oh, they're too young. They're not understanding." No, we totally are and it's shaping us right then. So when someone says, "Don't do that. Don't act stupid. Don't be like that, you're too excited. You need to stop," that right there is the 30-year-old who has been beaten down as a kid.
When she was four years old.
Exactly. And so that love for mermaids was not allowed to be because that was nonsense. It's like, no, I'm not saying they're real. I'm saying it's about more than a mermaid. It's about letting that creativity go into that place because that can extend into being an entrepreneur in your own business, things like that.
And my parents didn't just "tolerate me" and all my funny quirks. I was like a grown-up ever since I was a kid, it was hilarious. I was reading books since forever. I was talking and giving like advice lectures as a kid to adults. Like who wasn't? But I was always around older people. And my parents didn't tolerate me, they embraced and they celebrated me. That's a huge difference because they allowed me to be who I was meant to be instead of who they wanted me to be. And that's huge.
And I don't think that's easy. I'm not going to say, I'm not a parent, but I'm not going to say that that's something easy as a parent to do. But I think it was profound in my life because they never pushed an agenda on me, ever.
That's awesome and that really relates to something I wanted to get to and it's a real, I think, an important issue. So you're probably familiar with Shawn Achor who wrote the book Happiness Advantage. And he wrote about they've done lots of studies that show if you choose to be happy in life it has all types of positive benefits on your health, on your success, on your relationships.
You said earlier in this interview, I choose to be happy. And most people don't believe that they have the right and the ability to just choose to be happy, mostly because of their background as a child, as you were just describing, things happened, and they have this pessimistic, unhappy, view of life. And then most people, it seems to me, allow life circumstances to cause them to be happy as If they have no control. I believe, and I would ask if you believe, that Shawn Achor's right. That you can actually get up every day, in spite of the circumstances, and just choose to be happy.
I completely agree. People have asked me that a lot. "Do you think happiness is a choice?" and I say, "100 times a day, over and over and over," because you're not always going to have a perfect day, that's just not reality. But I think there are always things that—it goes back to the awe and wonder, though. Like, I can get excited over the smallest things.
And so I think we should celebrate having the awe and wonder and not think it's stupid to be excited over some little thing because that is life. That's like sunshine and flowers blooming, all of that inside me. And I'm happy. I don't care if I'm living in my own world, I'm happy and it affects—
The most fascinating thing—and through my fitness journey I learned—that the power of the mind absolutely translates into your physical. So what's going on in your spirit and your soul actually has a physical—it shows. It shows in your face, it shows in your body. If you can gain weight by stressing about gaining weight?
I really think that depression and stress can cause cancer. I really think all of those things are real because we have souls. They're connected. So they make a difference. And so it's really fascinating once you realize that it's all connected.
Yeah. So I did some study on that subject a while ago and I learned that there's this little part of your brain deep down inside, it's called the hypothalamus, that's like our control center. And if you're doing something that's happy, that you enjoy, it tells the body to release all these positive chemicals, and literally, it's like an opiate or something. It just makes you literally feel good.
I love that.
And I tell people it's pretty cool because it's legal and it's free.
I love that. Wouldn't you want to be the little person that's their job? You just open up the gate and let all of it—
Turn it on and let it out. So, talk about mindsets. I also interviewed on this series Carol Dweck who wrote the book called Mindset and she's talked about this idea that we choose to either have a fixed or a growth mindset. You could have chosen to say, "Look, life's tough. I was dealt a bad hand. I'll lie in bed. Woe is me," blamed the world, or you could have a growth mindset, which you obviously have, to say, "This is what this is, this is not who I am and I'm going to go forward and have a great wonderful life." How do you explain that to people when they're asking you about how did you get to be such a positive, growth mindset type of person?
Well, I completely agree with that, first of all. I never want to get into the place where I'm telling people what to do because that would imply that I have it all figured out, which I don't, so I share. And like, "Well, this was my life, this was my story, this is how I think,"
So my parents were loving and all the things we've said and we've established that, but there was also—I grew up with three older brothers and I was always around older people. There's a certain toughness in my family that we all have and it's like, "Stop whining about it, and just do it." And it's pretty simple to me. It's pretty simple. It's just black and white. It's not because I don't have legs it's because that's how we all are.
And I don't get like that with people because I don't want to have an attitude or anything like that, but in my head, that's how I would talk to myself. I'd say, "All right Jen, get over it." You can have your little pity party for a little bit with yourself, just cut it short, and then keep going because you're not going to go anywhere—and it is a choice. It's totally all a choice. It's all mental. And so that's why five people can go through the same thing and you're going to have five different results.
So it's just, I don't know. I feel like my parents raised me to be a survivor. I think I was born that way, but I think it was amplified by just that—both my parents grew up with—my dad was the 11th kid, my mom had eight. They grew up poor. My mom knows how to sew, bake, fix anything. Crap, my dad knows how to build anything, fix a car. He worked. He worked. His hands were cut up. His hands were stained with oil and dirt, and cracked, and he's smashed his thumbnail off. Just work. Just have some grit.
So it's like I'm actually glad I was raised with salt of the earth, hardworking parents that neither one of them grew up with a lot of money and that builds you. It just makes a strongness in your character. And so I think that's why we all saw that in them. And we don't cut each other any slack. None of us, still. Even my young nieces and nephews. If they're four years old and they're doing something annoying we're like, "Knock it off. You don't do that." And so it just starts young.
But we love each other so much so it's not like it's a harsh thing it's just we don't need to dance around things or go through pomp and circumstance. Let's just be real and honest. And I think that is something I realized as I got older, that, again, everyone didn't operate like that. And I was really thankful that we did because it did add to that toughness and that just black and white. Boom. That's it.
So I grew up very much the same way but as an adult, as a leader, I find myself struggling with how to teach adults, who didn't learn it early coming along, how to teach them to have this growth mindset. How not to blame others, don't be a victim, just get out there and have a little grit, as you say, and do it. Do you have any secrets that you could share in terms of advice you would give a person, to say 40 years old and has kind of given up on life, I don't have anything special, I'm nobody special, any advice for them?
I would relate it to a fitness journey. You have to be OK with the fact that-- If you want a magic pill that's going to happen overnight, It won't last. You can drink lemon water and cayenne pepper and lose like five pounds in one day and you're going to gain it all back plus more probably the next day. So it's the same thing, I think, with that internal—If you're 40 and you've never lived that way it's not going to happen overnight. It's just not. And that's OK.
But I think a lot of people are not OK with the journey with anything. They want it to be right now. We're in a right now culture. I'm like prime generation of that culture. Unfortunately, but I am. And so I think we have to be OK with the process. And so if they can be OK with that, the changes will happen if you want.
Do you want it to? That'd be the first question because that's where it starts. If you don't want it—you have to want something. To change that much you have to have the drive and the passion. It's not going to happen because it's going to get hard and when it gets hard, that's what will carry you through.
So, do you want it? That would be my first question. And I'm not some life coach where I'm telling you how to live your life. Again, it's not like I'm in that position. That would be my advice if someone asked, is that it will be slow and gradual. But then in a year, if you look at your life—
It's like losing weight. If you look and micro in every day and weigh yourself every day, you're going to go crazy. I don't even own a scale for that reason because I would go crazy. So you have to look at it in a month or six months and then look at it in a year. Like, "Oh, my body has made such a transformation." It doesn't mean that it's just the weight I've lost because maybe you added muscle in and maybe weigh more, but you look better. Same thing with the internal stuff.
So I don't think we can micro in every day and look at, "Well, I wasn't this awesome today." But you can't be hung up in the past. You have to move forward if you want to. It's up to that person. You can't do it for someone.
You have to choose. So this is personal for every person, but how important your journey has been your faith?
Well, there wouldn't be a story without my faith. So my relationship with God is everything. It's how my purpose was revealed, and understanding my purpose, understanding my life. Seeing how creative He was in my life is mind-blowing. Every single bit of the time, I'm looking over here as if this is the beginning of my life, so this timeline of my life is laid out so perfectly. There's not one thing off.
And it was all purposeful. You know God is purposeful. And so every detail, along the way was for a reason. And I see that more and more and more as I get older and as my life continues to just unfold. And I don't even know what's next, but I'm excited, so excited for the next phase and chapter of my life.
Yeah, that's exciting.
It's so exciting.
And I totally agree. I feel the same way.
Oh, that's awesome.
So, on the show with you, we had another guest on the BB&T Leadership Series named John O'Leary and he's an incredible story. So what happened to John when he was nine years old he was doing a lot like boys do, he was playing with matches and gasoline. Big explosion, burned the house down, burned him over 99% of his body. They gave him a 1% chance of living.
And yet he has survived and thrived, and he's a successful speaker, author. But one of the things that he talked a lot about was a famous quote that has helped guide his life and the quote is "When you know your 'why' you can endure any 'how'." And I paraphrase to say, "When you know your purpose in life, you can figure out how to overcome the challenges." That phrase would apply to you perfectly.
Oh, yeah. I always talk about my "why". It's totally in alignment because, for example, my "why" as a speaker. It changes everything about the way you speak—if I'm just honing in on speaking. It changes the whole thing because a lot of people speak for themselves. "Look how great my vocabulary is. Look how awesome I am," and that's just reality.
But my "why", I've just known it was never all about me. I'm like, "This is awesome." I'm in the audience with you listening to my own life. "That is amazing. What?" And so I feel like I'm doing that most of the time about my own life. But I was made to speak. I didn't even know. This was not my plan. Most certainly not my plan.
My plan was going to be speaking was my retirement plan, when I was old and had some beautiful silver hair. But God had other plans for me and it came about 20 years before I thought it was going to come. And so it wasn't that I took some class to be an amazing speaker or anything like that. It was just that I was made to do it. That's part of what I was made to do.
And so my "why" is knowing that I'm being used to reach millions of people. I'm like, man, if it was self-seeking I think I'd burn out really quick. I think I'd be so done. Because it's not exciting when it's just all about you. I don't think so anyway. So my "why" is rooted in knowing that's part of my purpose, part of my destiny, and that, really, it's about other people.
Interesting, that's almost exactly what John O'Leary said his "why" is. Very interesting.
You would love to talk—
We have to meet, apparently
You got to meet him.
But one other thing that it surprised me. So when he was giving a speech, someone after the speech said, "John, if you could go back to when you were nine years old and you were holding the match, and if you could blow out the match and not go through all you've been through, would you blow out the match?" And he said, "No way." He said, "Because when you blow out the bad, you blow out the good."
And he talks about how because of that he has become who he is today. He has the "why" he has today. That sounds like your story, too.
100%. People have asked me throughout my life, very similarly, "If you could take a magic pill and all of a sudden have legs, would you?" And I said, "Well, I do love shoes so I would love to wear shoes and have a whole closet full of shoes," but I thought about it very seriously.
Would I take that pill? Would I do that? And I always had to come back to, no, because sure, I could wear the shoes. Sure, certain things would be much easier and this and that, but it would be sacrificing this platform that was given to me to reach millions of people. If I said yes to taking a pill and having legs and sacrificing that, I'm like, oh, that's selfish. For me, I feel like that's very selfish to say that because it's really not that important to have legs if it means that you can't reach all these people and be used.
That's real stuff. That's stuff that matters. Being able to be used in that way where you can affect and touch different people's lives. That's way more important than having legs. And so I've kind of always saw it that way and really believe that.
So we will run out of time shortly, so I just want to get a couple of the key questions in. So if someone says to you, "Jen, I really struggle when I have the bad days. When I'm really down I have trouble getting myself back up." What do you say?
Well, for me, like I said, my faith is how—I pray. So that's what I would say for myself because prayer and just there's a lightness that lifts in my soul. Just knowing that prayer life is very important to me. And when I was going through that hard time with the body image thing, too, there were things, truths, and scripture, and quotes, and everything you can imagine that I would actually say out loud. All the time, over and over, when I was really having to choose to not let that negative voice that was saying I was too fat, I was too big, I was to this, I was—not let that win.
And so, again, it was a choice. It's always how bad do you want it? I always say that. I think because my parents are like, "Well, if you want it bad enough, then you're going to figure out a way to make it work." I really think it's that simple. It's not a simple journey, but I really do. If you want something bad enough then figure it out and make it work. I do think that you can just do that.
Yeah, that's my final question because it seems to me, back to this question of dealing with obstacles, that most of the times people get bogged down with obstacles and don't achieve their God-given purpose in life because they don't have that sense of direction. They don't have the clarity of "why". They don't have that clear purpose.
And so they get up every day almost purposeless, and so they hit a bump in the road and that just stops them. But if you have this clarity of purpose, this I know what my "why" is, and then you hit the bump in the road, go, "I'm not letting that bump in the road stopping me from pursuing my destiny." How do you frame that for our audience that's your parting comment to say, "Well, you're going to hit bumps in the road—"
Something that really changed my life was when I started actually living. In scripture, it says, "Don't think about tomorrow." We all know that and we dismiss it. I did most of my life, kind of "OK." But I actually started applying that to my life and it changed everything because I would think about next month or six months from now and get all this stress and anxiety. And almost 99% of that stuff I was all freaked out about never even happened. So I just wasted all of this emotional energy on something that didn't even happen.
So I think that's a big, big thing that we can implement in our lives and it's a discipline. It's totally a discipline. Because you have to put the blinders on and not allow yourself—If you can not allow yourself—and it's a journey, it's not going to happen overnight-- but to think about today. I'm going to deal with today because there's enough going on today and then tomorrow I'm going to deal with tomorrow.
That eliminated so much—It took so much weight off, so much weight off. And I think that can really help anybody. And again, it's going to be a journey. It's going to be a process. But it really changed my life because you're just not bogged down. You're taking so much stress away and so much unnecessary stress. That's the thing. It's like why, basically, create all of this drama, and all of this worry, and all of the anxiety when it's not even necessary?
And so staying in today has really, really helped and I give that advice a lot because it really helped me and I know it can help anyone. And we live in such a society, we're always looking over there, and if we can rein it in and look at now—because a lot of times we'll miss the stuff, too. I was doing that. I was missing stuff that was happening right in front of my face because I was thinking about next week.
Listen, I used to do that all the time and I read a book called, Chasing Daylight, written by Eugene O'Kelly and he found out after being 43 years old, the CEO of a major accounting firm, started having headaches. Went in and found out he had an incurable, inoperable brain tumor and would be dead in 90 days.
But he wrote this book to help people learn that "Well, 90 days sounds like a short period of time, but look at the way I think about it in terms of the now, the consciousness of the moment, I've actually got a lot of time to write this book and to spend time with my loved ones." And I'll never forget his phrases. The consciousness of the moment. Forget the past, don't worry about the future, right now live today. And that's what you're saying, which is what you've done, which is so powerful.
That's a great—
So Jen Bricker of my famous guests today. Final comments for the audience? We're going to be showing this to tens of thousands of people.
Yes, I just I really want people to know they are significant. They matter as much as anyone else matters. What they bring to the table has the power to change someone's life. That's real, I've seen it all around the world. And I just would challenge them to dig deep, think about what it is that they're passionate about, what their gifts are, and recognize that there is beautiful power that can change someone's life and go and use it to change someone's life.
Powerful. Powerful. And I really, really hope our audience will read your book. Jen Bricker's book, Everything is Possible. Outstanding book. We've heard a lot today but there's much more in the book.
I'm encouraging everybody to read the book. Thank you so much for spending this time with us on the BB&T Leadership Series. I hope you have a wonderful life.
God bless you.
God bless you. Thank you.
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