112 : Success Isn't Sexy, It's Sweaty w/ Mental Performance Coach, Dayne Gingrich

dayne cover.jpg

Dayne Gingrich is a high performance coach, speaker and a former professional athlete.  I met Dayne when I was a guest on his Facebook live show (scroll to the bottom of this post to watch) with episode 78 guest, Michael O’Brien.  In the chatroom before we went live, I learned about his incredible story of perseverance after almost ending it all and knew I had to get him on the show to share his tale. In this episode we focus on the mindset needed to perform like the 1%, transitioning to a successful life after sports and coming back to your sport after injury.  This one is full of great takeaways to add to your daily routine!

Below are some of the topics Dayne and I discuss in this interview:

  • How Dayne let the influence of others influence his decision to choose tennis over basketball early on in his athletic career.

  • Injury struggles throughout Dayne's athletic career due to a lack of physical preparation.

  • What separates the great ones from the good ones (athletes)?

    • The 1% mindset and doing what others aren’t willing to do to separate yourself from your competition.

    • The first person that came to mind when thinking of athletes who possess the 1% mindset was by buddy Mike Burton, Chicago Bears fullback.

  • What makes up the foundation of a strong mental game.

  • The importance of having self-awareness when embracing the 1% mindset.

  • The low point Dayne hit after starting his own business when he thought about ending it all and how he was able to turn it around.

  • The danger of internalizing your external struggles.

  • How to work backward from a vision in the future and planning for what might happen.

  • How to have faith in the unknown.

  • The compound interest of confidence from taking small steps toward your goal.

“Success isn’t Sexy it’s sweaty”

  • How Dayne pushes himself out of his comfort zone everyday.

  • The importance of loving what you are doing in the moment and enjoying the preparation.

  • The danger on focusing on the result, whats happened and what might happen.

  • The power of visualization and why you can’t do it enough.

  • Visualizing the comeback after injury.

Check out our conversation about toughness on the Performance Zone with Michael below:




Download Episode 112 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud


78 : We Go Where Our Eyes Go, Michael O'Brien

On July 11th, 2001 Michael O'Brien was in New Mexico on a business trip. Michael considers this day his "last bad day."  As an avid cyclist, Michael brought his travel bike with him to exercise in lieu of using the hotel gym.  Michael remembers the hotel being in the middle of nowhere, but he scoped out a riding loop on a nearby service road that he could do some laps on before meetings began for the day.  After completing a few laps, Michael was struck head-on by a white Ford Explorer.  The individual who hit him worked at the hotel and had a revoked driver's license for a DUI.  Michael's injuries included a broken right shoulder, broken right femur and right tibia, a shattered left femur, which left bones popping out of his skin and lacerated the femoral artery.  The latter on the list of injuries made the situation life and death for Michael.  Pictures from the accident scene are below.

Michael was wearing a helmet on that ride and he still has the helmet to this day.  Now the helmet serves as a reminder for why it is important to wear a helmet, because Michael believes it saved his life.  During this part of our conversation we got on a riding safety tangent where Michael talked about how it is important for Moms and Dads to set the example for their kids by also wearing helmets when they ride.  In general, most people are distracted in life these days, so do all you can to be visible.  This could mean wearing bright clothing, attaching lights to your bike and riding smart and defensively.  Michael urges bicyclists to model the way on the streets because sometimes they are part of the problem.  Although Micheal felt that he did everything right that day in terms of riding safely, he stressed the importance of riders having Road ID's, which he didn't have on the day of his accident. Road ID's are engraved bracelets where you list your identity information along with emergency contact information.  Because Michael didn't have a Road ID, he was known as "Trauma Patient Mango" after being airlifted from the scene of the accident.

When Michael arrived at the hospital, doctors were unsure if he was going to survive, and if he did, they could't guarantee he'd be able to keep his leg.  The lacerated femoral artery caused his left leg to lack sufficient blood flow, but was told later that being in shape saved his life.  

Back at home, Michael had a 3.5-year-old daughter and a 7-month-old daughter. When Michael's wife got word on the extent of his injuries she flew out to Albuquerque and actually beat him out of his first surgery, which took 12 hours. The prognosis after his surgery was that he was going to have a life of compromise and dependency.  Doctors doubted that Michael could play sports again or ever get back on a bike.  Like any athlete who received this type of news,  Michael remembers ending up in a dark place with is thoughts and attitudes, because he only focused on his limitations up to that point.

Michael talks about a mantra he ultimately adopted throughout his recovery process, which is "we go where our eyes go." When the doctors planted the seed of what they thought his future would look like,  Michael could only see his limitations and was blind to his opportunities.  Check out his TEDx talk on this topic below:

"I forgave them not because they deserved forgiveness, but because I did"

While in the dark place, Michael felt revengeful towards the man in the white SUV, who injured him. Although it took time, Michael was eventually able to give the situation perspective after he learned that the driver was hurting in his own way as well.  Forgiveness took awhile, but came after going on a trip with his family to Europe. Michael and his family visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.  While on a guided tour led by a woman who was a holocaust survivor, someone from the tour group asked her if she still hated the Nazi's.  The guide replied no, "I forgave them not because they deserved forgiveness, but because I did."  If she continued to hold on to all of that hate, she wouldn't be able to live the life she wanted to live. Michael then used the analogy of the negative feelings or emotions as the added weight you carry around in your backpack.  This made me think of episode 54 with Bill Anthes.   

The next topic of discussion during our conversation was about Michael's rehab process.  Michael's injury occurred in July and in August he took an air ambulance back home to NJ to do his in-patient occupational and physical therapy at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. At one point during his time at Kessler, Michael remembers panning the room, and taking note of his fellow patients and how they carried themselves. Michael realized that their attitudes made a big difference in their recovery outcome.  In that moment, he made the decision to start showing up better and putting in more effort.  Like we preach constantly on this podcast, Michael realized that he can be defined as a victim or by how he responded to the setback. 

Fortunately, he also had a great physical therapist named Laura Fucci to help put his ass in gear. While working with Laura, one of Michael's goals was to get back on his bicycle.  After his last PT session going into one particular weekend, Laura told Michael that if he didn't ride his bike, he wasn't allowed to come back in to see her, because he was getting too cool with the comfort zone he was in.  I personally know Laura and I agree with Michael's description of her in that she has the perfect balance of cheerleader, button pusher and challenger.  Every athlete deserves to have an individual like this in their recovery's.  If you currently don't have that support, find it!  That weekend Michael did get back on his bike by starting with a few laps in an industrial park.  The first time he got out on the road, the first car that passed him was a big white SUV.  Although scary at the time, Michael thinks this was a pretty cool message from the universe.  

Michael hasn't had a bad day since his accident because the injury and recovery gave him perspective.  He now has an attitude of abundance where he places focus on all the positive things he has going for him, rather than the things he lacks.  One of the many positives that came from Michael's accident was the idea for his company called Peloton Coaching & Consulting.  In order to move as fast as possible, a peloton needs leadership, trust, communication and teamwork. Some of the same qualities that today's business leaders and teams need to drive better results tomorrow.  

We finished the episode with a discussion about the recent Toms Skujins crash in the Tour of California.  The crash occurred a day before we recorded.  Michael describes the crash and talks about some of the safety challenges that exist in the sport.  The biggest obstacle being that the playing field stretches for miles.  Check out the video below to form your own opinion on the management of the concussion.  I find the video pretty disturbing to watch.  Michael and I talked about the possibility of having the neutral support trained to pull riders for potential brain injuries.  Please comment with your thoughts on the crash.  Michael also goes into the culture of toughness in the sport and the finish at all costs mentality that exists.

Lastly, we have another supporter for toughness being the long-game mentality.  It doesn't matter how "tough" you are if you can't play tomorrow.

WHERE CAN YOU learn more about peloton coaching and consulting?

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | youtube | Speaking

If you want to receive Michael’s Leadership Tips to help you become your best text SHIFTTIP to 44222.  Plus, you will get VIP access to Michael’s upcoming book release.

WHERE CAN YOU FIND Michael o'brien?

INSTAGRAM | Linkedin | Twitter

Where can you get your copy of shift?

Download Episode 78 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

71 : Overcoming Fear w/ Purpose 2 Play Founder, Kim Constantinesco

This week on the Heads 'N Tales podcast we hear from founder and editor-in-chief of Purpose 2 Play, Kim Constantinesco. Purpose 2 Play is a sports blog that showcases powerful and inspiring sports stories. My story was recently featured on her website and in talking to Kim, I learned about her own amazing story of perseverance.  Kim lives in Colorado and in 2011 she suffered a severe neck injury while snowboarding at the Keystone Resort with some of her friends.  It snowed 8 inches the night before, and Kim and her friends hiked into the back bowl where they built a jump with avalanche shovels.  She had done some flips off this jumps a few times before a friend of a friend decided to modify the lip of the jump.  Kim was the first to attempt a backflip after the modifications were made and as she was about to go airborne, the new lip crumbled and she landed on her head.  

Photo provided by Kim Constantinesco

Photo provided by Kim Constantinesco

Kim had numbness in her arm immediately after the injury, but was able to get back down the mountain under her own power.  Her shoulder was most symptomatic after the accident, but after countless X-rays, cortisone shots and physical therapy appointments Kim's pain couldn't be relieved.  Kim then decided to switch to a new doctor, who started looking at her neck.  This doctor discovered herniated discs in c5 c6.  In an attempt to avoid surgery she tried spine injections and once again found no relief.  Eventually Kim needed an anterior discectomy fusion, which is the same surgery that Peyton Manning underwent.  During this surgery, the doctor discovered Kim had chipped a piece of her vertebrae in addition to her herniated disks.  The surgery required the removal of the damaged discs and replacing them with cadaver bone. To fuse the bones the surgeon had to insert a metal plate and four screws.  Kim was then forced to wear a c-collar after surgery for 12 weeks.  This proved to be a difficult task because she has always had a hard time sitting still.  This experience eventually helped break the ice with Peyton Manning while Kim was covering the Denver Broncos. 

Photo provided by Kim Constantinesco

Photo provided by Kim Constantinesco

After being forced to sit out from activities that brought her the greatest joy, Kim found it difficult to watch her friends do what she loved.  This period of healing is difficult for most athletes.  Kim has a background in psychology and used some visualization techniques to help her through this difficult time.  She also constantly reminded herself that these feelings weren't going to be forever. She set her sights on running the New York City Marathon.  Setting goals during your recovery is another way to manage the mental and emotional struggles associated with rehabbing from an injury.

In our interview, Kim also talked about overcoming the fears associated with getting back on her board. Kim actually went back to Keystone exactly one year from the anniversary and tried another back flip.  This was after two months of physical therapy and after receiving full medical clearance from her doctors.  Leading up to this moment she pictured and rehearsed successful flips in her mind. A mental trick she uses when she has a negative thought is to picture the placing the thought in a windowless room with a chair and shackles.  She then takes the thought and shackles it to the chair, shuts the light off and closes the door and throws the key away.

Photo provided by Kim Constantinesco

Photo provided by Kim Constantinesco

"I believe fear is something that deserves to be recognized and it can actually help us in certain situations.  I like to examine fear and put it under the microscope and try to figure out a way to manipulate that fear into something more productive."

Kim believes fear deserves to be recognized, but she tries to figure out how to manipulate that fear into something that is productive. Kim's psychology background makes this episode extremely valuable because she is comfortable at dissecting and communicating her emotions. In addition, we discussed ways athletes can best navigate the stages of grief, which include denial, anger and acceptance.  

Kim covered the Broncos during "Tebow Mania" and of course I had to ask about our boy Timmy in the interview.  Her observation about Tim is that football was just a job for him and it was not his life’s purpose. There is a lot more to life than football and all sports for that matter. Kim eventually became tired of covering the same stories in the NFL and decided to start Purpose 2 Play at the end of 2013.  I asked about some common threads that come up from her interviewees and she said all of them learned how to turn adversity into triumph. Kim also wrote a children's book called "Solar the Polar" which is described as a fun winter romp that gives a gentle nod to Arctic warming, snow safety, and enjoying life with a disability. If you enjoy this podcast, you will also love the stories on Purpose 2 Play! This fall, running sports journalism program for teens, where teens can interview athletes and publish on Purpose 2 Play

To close out the interview I asked Kim what her thoughts were on parents not letting their kids play sports because of fear of injury.  Although not a Mom, she says she probably wouldn't let her kid play football unless he was a kicker, but experiencing the glory and the tragedy is a key learning concept and sports serve as practice for life.  Thanks to social media, it is easy to compare ourselves to others and to focus on results instead of the journey.  Because of this, Kim's advice to athletes is to appreciate the attempt, the training, and the early alarm clocks.  

WHERE CAN YOU find Purpose 2 play?


WHERE CAN YOU FOLLOW Kim constantinesco?


Download Episode 71 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud