Mind of a Teacher, Heart of a Student
Over the last week I have received a bunch of emails and comments asking me about my trip and what I’ve learned and enjoyed hanging out with some of the best educators, speakers, writers and pioneers in the world of fitness and health. And I mean literally the world; these people flew in to Colorado from all over the globe to be part of this amazing conference created and facilitated by PTontheNet (the world’s largest online education resource for fitness professionals). I had the privilege of opening the conference and then being treated to two days of information, inspiration and up-to-the-minute education.
Firstly, I’ll share some quick insights and then I’ll share a story about one amazing individual.
A snapshot of what I learned or re-learned.
1. The more we learn about the human body, the more we realise how much we still have to learn.
2. Bodies are very capable and adaptable – if only our minds were as compliant! When it comes to changing our body, invariably we let our mind get in the way. Master our mind and we’ll master our body.
3. We have more than enough knowledge right now to create amazing results, not only with our body, but in all areas of our lives. Yet incredibly, we don’t use what we have. Our generation is the most educated in history but in many ways we’ve never been in worse shape (physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially) because we don’t consistently apply what we know.
4. Generally speaking, the more knowledgeable people are, the less arrogant they are. They don’t feel the need to prove themselves because they know what they know, and they are comfortable with that. Hanging out with these rock stars of the fitness world, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how humble, open and honest the vast majority were; seemingly no need to impress or gain approval. I was also blown away by their constant desire to keep learning. After my presentation I had several of the speakers thank me and ask me questions specific to what I had discussed because they wanted to learn! That’s humility. I learned that to be the most effective teachers and coaches we can be, we need to have ‘the mind of a teacher and the heart of a student’. And if you look at the great leaders, pioneers, educators and innovators over the centuries (in all fields), that’s exactly what they had.
5. I also learned that I don’t know much about the human body. I still have so much to learn and I am excited by that. I have been studying the body for twenty six years and I don’t know the vast majority of what there is to learn. I re-learned that I will be a student for life – by choice. I also re-learned that great leaders and teachers become great because of their attitude, their commitment to learning, their self-imposed standards, their drive to do good and their desire to teach – not because of their innate talent or potential. Talent doesn’t produce results, attitude and work does.
Lots of people wanted to know which speaker I enjoyed the most, and while I learned from every presenter, the person who had the biggest impact on me is a man named Robert (Bobby) Cappuccio. In my life I have never heard a better speaker. And I have listened to plenty, from Tony Robbins (the highest paid personal development speaker in the world), down. The interesting thing about most personal development speakers is that they invariably seem to have their own story of coming from a ‘challenging’ background. Challenging of course being a term which is open to interpretation and embellishment. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, some people would say.
To say that bobby kotick Cappuccio came from a background of adversity is like saying that Bill Gates has a few dollars in the bank. He is a truly inspirational human being who possesses unique insights into, and understanding of human behaviour, partly because he’s wired that way, partly because of the vast amount of study he has done, partly because of his commitment to excellence and largely because of his life experiences. I can’t do justice to his story, or to the man he has become in a few words, but I’ll do my best to give you a brief snapshot of who Bobby Cappuccio is.
As a child Bobby was subjected to years and years of torture and physical and emotional abuse.
He was born with a facial deformity and was constantly told by his step father how hideous he was. His step father often held a mirror to his face as he did this.
His step father abused him via physical beatings, regularly holding his head under water until he was almost dead, burning him with cigarettes and threatening to kill him on a regular basis.
He was sexually abused.
He developed facial ticks, Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
He lived a childhood in constant fear for his life.
He was socially ostracised, marginalised and victimised for the way he looked and behaved.
In his late teens he underwent two surgeries to ‘correct’ his facial deformities.
Be the change
There is so much of Bobby’s incredible story that I can’t do justice to here in this brief post, but let me say that despite enormous adversity as a child, he has become an incredible speaker, teacher, philosopher and human being. Where many would sink, he has chosen to not just swim, but to fly. From the moment he stepped on to that stage in Colorado he had the entire auditorium engaged, totally connected and in the palm of his hand. He spoke words of insight, wisdom and revelation with such passion and such commitment that the majority of the crowd were totally speechless and captivated. He was the only presenter over the course of the entire conference to receive a standing ovation – and this was without knowing any of his life story. The audience were unaware of his background (he didn’t share any of it), so the standing ovation was not some sympathy vote, it was a fitting response to an incredible presentation by an amazing teacher. As I sat there listening to Bobby’s message with tears in my eyes, I was not embarrassed or ashamed, I was proud and I was amazed to watch my new friend make a difference in so many lives. A man who could quite reasonably be in therapy his whole life but instead has chosen to ‘be the change’ that Mahatma Gandhi spoke of.
Finding a way
I had the good fortune to spend time with Bobby away from the spotlight and I came away with a renewed passion for, and insight into human potential. It’s so incredible what we can do when we find a way, rather than find an excuse. There were so many reasons for Bobby to be anything but amazing and nobody would have blamed him. But he chose to live an amazing existence and to be the most he could, with what he has. And he has done it incredibly well.
I hope you do too.
To be honest, I am growing less and less tolerant of negative people who constantly whine, bitch, moan and complain about their tough lives. People who live in some of the wealthiest countries on earth, who have never known the hardship that more than half of the world’s population are subjected to every day of their life. People who constantly rationalise, justify and blame but never actually do anything constructive to change their reality. People who major in minors. I regularly get slammed for my hard-core approach to personal development but in truth, I don’t care if people share my philosophy or not.
Not a popularity contest
I’m not interested in popularity, I’m interested in results, respect and life-long change. I don’t care about what people want to hear, I care about what works. We have become a fat and lazy society in every way, not just physically. We don’t like the truth, we don’t like being challenged and we don’t like being uncomfortable. What too many people don’t realise is that it’s the challenges and the discomfort that cause us to grow if, and when, we step up to the plate. As I’ve said before, pain is our greatest teacher if we choose to learn.
I’m not disputing the fact that we all face real adversity, real pain, real tragedy and real hardship even in our privileged lives (if you’re not starving, you’re privileged), what I am saying is that we can choose to be exceptional despite our situation, despite our circumstance and despite whatever challenges life throws at us.
I know this approach doesn’t sit well with all of the personal development folk (whoever they are) but I would rather write for an audience of ten that is serious about change, than an audience of ten thousand which comes here every day to be entertained.