The strategy I took out of my TEDx Talk

If you have watched Tony Robbins YouTube comments after our conversation, the evening of January 15, 2009, Tony shared some details about our call and the first account of some of the things that happened during the fateful flight of US Airways 1549. One of the things most people don’t know is Tony was kind to offer his time to support and coach me about what was about to happen in my life.

During one of our conversations, Tony shared with me that will be a time when somebody will take issue with my experience and come after me. He coached me on how to respond and handle the situation. That call gave me insight into what he and other celebrities go through on a daily basis. It also reminded me of something my father told me when I was young. There is always someone who wants to take you down, even if you are doing the right thing.

Tony and my father were right. I had a few instances where people took issue or attacked me or my family, directly or indirectly. Some of these people were people that I had called friends or associates. At first, I took these attacks personally but I was fortunate to have a team that had experience of how to handle these situations. Thank you Rania and Colleen.

One thing you learn when you enter the profession of sales, is rejection is something you must be able to handle. Going door to door in the middle of the summer heat will help you build that muscle called resilliency. Looking back, I am glad I had that experience because it helped me many times in my professional sales career, that day on the Hudson River and after.

Fortunately, I had a mentor who recommended I invest in my personal development out of my own pocket. The first of these investments was when I went to Tom Hopkins Boot Camp. To this day, what I learned in those three days has served me, not only in my sales career but in life.

The first of those lessons Tom Hopkins taught was how to deal with someone who rejects or comes after you. Every time I had a rejection but later on, when someone would take issue and try to take me down, I repeat these and it puts me in the proper perspective.

1. I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience. 

2. I never see failure as failure, but only as the negative feedback I need to change course in my direction.

3. I never see failure as failure, but only as the opportunity to develop my sense of humor. 

4. I never see failure as failure, but only as an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance.

5. I never see failure as failure, but only as the game I must play to win. 

When I was approached to do an interview for SUCCESS MAGAZINE, the topic they wanted to interview for was about how I bounced back and grew from a traumatic life experience. As I traveled the world and spoke to people, something I experienced from every culture I spoke to was there was so much uncertainty going on in people’s lives, they wanted to ask me for my strategies on how I recovered so quickly from a plane crash. That is how my interview from SUCCESS MAGAZINE turned into my TEDx talk, Bouncing Back : An Experience with Post-Traumatic Stress.

If you have done a TEDx talk, you know the most challenging part of preparing and delivering is you must get your talk to less than eighteen minutes. For a keynote speaker whose typical talk is 60-75 minutes, this was a huge challenge for me.

To get my talk down to less than eighteen minutes, I had to cut many of the strategies I employed to bounce back. I did get my talk down to less than eighteen minutes but there was one strategy that I left out that was integral to me bouncing back that I learned from my mother, reinforced by Tony Robbins and served me before, during and after the Miracle on the Hudson.

When I was growing up, I was a pretty good athlete. I participated in every sport I could and focused on excelling at each. When my Dad got transferred to Winchester, Virginia, he entered me in the local Punt, Pass and Kick ( PP&K ) competition for the twelve year old division.

I was the new kid from in town and there were local kids who had won the local event in previous years, and were “odds on favorites, ” to win it again. What they didn’t know is that I had won the PP&K three times in local competitions in my hometown of Hillsboro, Ohio.

I arrived in Winchester about two weeks before the competition. I made the 8th grade football team as a 7th grader and won a starting position as center and punter. I had to beg the 8th grade football coach to allow me to miss a game to attend the competition. He allowed me to miss a game but I had to run 20 laps the next Monday at practice to get into practice.

I won that competition that Saturday and was immediately ostracized by the local boys. No one would talk to me and I immediately wanted go back to Hillsboro. But my mother told me something that served me then and many times since and became one of the strategies I used to BOUNCE BACK from the Miracle on the Hudson and after, when people started to come after me.

My mom told me, if it didn’t kill me,

This too shall pass.

She told me that after I won that event and many times after. When you go through a challenging time and don’t give up and have faith, you persist and the challenge will eventually pass away.

Tony reinforced that when he taught that “Only your soul is permanent. Nothing’s forever. Everything changes, everything eventually ends and something new begins.”

So this was the strategy that I wish I would have shared in my TEDx talk that I took out and has served me many times in my life when I was down, being attacked or rejected.

When I speak with others who have or are facing a traumatic life event, I remind them of this. During the pandemic and I spoke with people where things were getting “stacked” on them, I reminded them, this too shall pass, just as it did after the pandemic in 1917.

When i speak to younger people who haven’t had many experiences in their lives and are going through a rough time, or been rejected or attacked ( especially on social media) is that if you persist, look at the longer view, don’t give up, and have faith, this too shall pass.

A pathway to creating opportunity out of uncertainty is to remind yourself, when you are rejected, attacked or have faced a traumatic life event, that if you keep the faith, whatever you are facing will eventually will pass and you will build your resiliency muscle, and bounce back even stronger.

And you will be on your way to creating your own flight plan for your future!