The way I met U.S. Army Veteran, Travis Manion Foundation Mentor and Mental Health Professional, Vince Ruiz was confirmation that there are no accidents in life. Vince and I met at the first ever Between The Ears “Link-Up,” which was founded by one of my former guests and mentors, Bill Anthes. Vince and his buddy just happened to hop in my truck as we car-pooled to a local hiking trail near the Phoenicia Diner in upstate NY. Vince had heard of my podcast from his prior interactions with Bill and started asking me questions about it at the base of the trailhead when we arrived. I began to explain how I interview injured athletes and discuss the transition to life after sports. Without hesitation, Vince followed up on my description with almost a correction of my wording by saying something like “Right on, the TRANSFORMATION.”
Although I had heard this one word (TRANSFORMATION) 1000 times, for whatever reason hearing it come from Vince really struck a cord with me on this day. I had been hosting this podcast and recorded over 150 interviews and had never heard anyone put it that way. In my mind, a transition requires one to only just go through the motions and it makes the situation seem out of your control. On the contrary, I believe “Transformation” stands for growth through action. I love looking at an athletes life after sports from the latter lens. The more I thought about the word, the more I realized how it applied to my own transformation, which was a direct result of starting this podcast and seeking the answers from those who had been there before me, while also shining a light into the darkness for those struggling after me. In this episode, Vince shines an even brighter light into the darkness of the life after sports by taking us through the story of his own struggles with PTSD and addiction after retiring from the military and how he is paying it forward today through the Travis Manion Foundation.
Below are a list of topics we touch on throughout the episode:
Vince’s athletic background and how hockey was the focus when he was growing up.
“Pass it to the good kid”
How 9/11 inspired him to join the army.
Vince’s transformation to life after the Army (12 Years). Vince tells ALL of his story and you won’t want to miss it!
What exactly is PTSD?
“I signed up for the million dollar experience and I got all of it.”
Why social connection is the 51% solution.
How Fundamental Life Change is similar in Athletes and Veterans.
Why it is actually arrogant to think that your story.
What toughness means to Vince
“What are you going to do now, that’s what matters.”
The importance of meeting his wife, who was also in the Army.
Vince’s Role with the Travis Manion Foundation.
TMF Principles and how they relate to Athletes.
The importance of failing forward.
Experiences Vince had with working with Athletes through the Travis Manion Foundation.
The role of improv in leadership.
Why Character Matters even after your playing days are over.
Why athletes and veterans need creative expression and why you need to find an outlet where you love the process.
Do you have someone in your life who will challenge you on your BS?
3 key steps to kickstart your transformation
“If it’s hard you found the right thing.”