“To change your life, you have to change the way you think. Behind everything you do, is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief. Every action is promoted by an attitude. Be careful of how you think. Your life is directed by your thoughts!”

- John Wright

John Wright Speaking Video

Overcome Resistance and Live Your “Most Amazing Future”

It’s that time of year again.  The holidays are upon us, a year ends, and another one begins.  It’s a great time to reflect; to look at your life and where you are currently, and where you’d like to go.

Many of you may have read my latest blog series, The River of Resistance.  In it, I write about us having two lives.  The life we are currently living, and our unlived life, also known as our dream life or our most amazing future.  What separates us from that unlived life is resistance, and I like to call it the River of Resistance.  There are 5 major obstacles in that river that could stop you from attaining your unlived life.

I think it’s fitting that the last newsletter of the year would be a summary of those obstacles and include a way to remind you how to beat them and create the life of your dreams.  Anything is possible, and the magic of this time of year really tends to remind us of that.

Let’s review each of them here:

Obstacle 1: The Walrus – Laziness

Obstacle 2: The Mermaid – Temptation and Addiction

Obstacle 3: The Crabs – Negative Thoughts and Naysayers: Move beyond the negative thoughts and opinions of yourself and those around you.

Obstacle 4: The Shark – Fear: We’ve all been gripped by fear in our lives.  Remember that courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in the face of it.

Obstacle 5: The Library – Re-reading Negative Chapters from the Past: Learn how re-reading the negative chapters from your life keeps you stuck, and how important it is to re-read the positive ones.

Most of us have all probably dealt with one or more of those obstacles in our lifetime.  But there are ways to overcome them.  Each one of them has a weapon to battle through them, on to your most amazing future and unlived life.  To help you remember what those are, I’ve created a “Blueprint for Success” that you can download here for free. Print it out, hang it up and let it remind you that there is always a way to deal with whatever is in the way of your biggest and best life.  It’s an incredibly courageous thing to face your challenges head on, and it’s my hope that using this Blueprint helps you do that.

Strength and Honor,







What it takes to be a leader

leadershipI have been involved in leadership for a lifetime and have developed what I call the Five C’s of Leadership.  If you can score yourself highly on these traits, you are well on your way to becoming the champion you desire to be.  Remember, you don’t become a champion when you win.  You win because YOU ARE a champion.


The Five C’s of Leadership:


#1 Character.  When I mention character, I am not referring to your moral code, but rather asking, Do you walk your talk?  Leaders are easy to follow when they ask you to do as they do, not do as they say.  When you as an individual start to follow through with things you think about, you are starting to walk your own talk.


#2. Courage.  Fear is one of the most effective tools our minds have to keep us from being all that we can be.  We have such an amazing ability to conjure up fears which become our best reasons not to attempt or follow through with something.  We give all the power and strength to that voice of fear, instead of to the wise part of our mind (the part that knows what to do if we would only trust it).  It’s important to understand that courage is not the lack of fear. Courage is taking action in spite of our fear.  Every time we feel the friction of fear we have two choices.  One, to address it and go into it.  Or two, to back away.  Going into it, taking it on builds our courage muscles.  Backing off only weakens us, and keeps us from the life we most want to live.


#3. Concentration.  Concentration is about focus.  I feel that most people have the ability to be great IF they FOCUS their energies on what they want and where they are going.  But most people lack the ability to focus and therefore don’t accomplish what they want or end up where they want to be.  Most of us can figure out what needs to be done to be champion.  They just don’t focus on that WHAT long enough or hard enough to get it done.


#4. Confidence.  Confidence deals with optimism.  It isn’t possible to be a champion without confidence.  Confidence is about being mentally tough, which means having the ability to be at your best on command.  Mental toughness is the ability to control one’s emotions.  Another twist on mental toughness is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) — using the conscious mind to understand and overcome fear and self-destructive thoughts and habits.  Successful people can CBT themselves almost instantly. To be a champion, you need to catch yourself when you start to think negatively and refocus your thoughts in a positive direction.


#5. Capacity.  Capacity is about energy and energy is about life itself.  The more energy we have the better.  Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  When we start to get low on energy, we start to become cowards, and champions are not cowards.  The four energies we need to monitor are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.


So take these Five C’s of leadership and score yourself on a scale from 10 (on top of this trait/having command of it) to 1 (you need help).  A high score means you are on your way to becoming a champion or you are already there.    A low score does not mean give up  It simply shows you what you are going to have to do to get there.  As I said earlier, becoming a champion is tough, but the good news is YOU CAN BECOME ONE!

The Fifth Obstacle to Your “Unlived Life”


The final obstacle in the River of Resistance to our “Unlived Life,” at first glance doesn’t look like an obstacle at all, but rather an aid in crossing the river. It’s the Library.

When I first put the Library in as an obstacle, my son, a very successful CEO in Atlanta, challenged me by saying, “Poppa, I can’t believe a man as dedicated to life-long learning as you, would call a library an obstacle and put it in the River of Resistance.” I agreed.

Libraries are truly one of the greatest gifts we have to help us enjoy life, grow and learn. That said, there are some libraries that we would be much better off not visiting. That last statement probably needs an explanation. Our lives are stories. Hugh Jackman had a wonderful line in the movie Australia, “the only thing you ever own in life is your story.” If a person is 45 years old, they have 45 chapters in their story, with a whole bunch of sub-chapters. Hopefully, most of those chapters are positive, exciting, rewarding stories that one would happily return to re-read and use to gain confidence from those past experiences. However, most of us have stories that are just the opposite. Stories that we aren’t proud of. Stories that bring us pain, shame, guilt, regret, etc. I think it is important that we learn from the mistakes of our past.

A good friend of mine, Craig Tiley, who won three National NCAA Tennis championships at the University of Illinois, and is currently the CEO of Tennis Australia, said ” when you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” It’s important that we learn from our losses. But, once we have learned from the losses of the past, it’s time to move on. If you drive your car while looking in the rear view mirror, you’re going to run off road. A successful productive life is about being all that you can be, right now. Spending time in the libraries of our past failures only continues to feed our brain with negative thoughts, and negative thoughts are success killers. So stay out of the library that houses old stories of the past. When you are tempted to re-read the negative chapters of your past life, STOP, read some of the positive chapters, and focus on being your best NOW.

The Fourth Obstacle to Your “Unlived Life”

justfree.org-cartoon-sharkPicture this…You’re sitting on the balcony of your ocean side villa and you decide it would be a perfect evening to go for a dip in the ocean.  The ocean is beautiful, calm with gentle waves lapping quietly on the sandy beach.  Both the air and water temperature is perfect.  You head out to the ocean, favorite flotation device in hand, ready to relax and enjoy this beautiful evening in the ocean.  You are about 100 yards from shore, when you notice 20 yards from you, the imposing dorsal fin of an 18 foot, great white shark; and it’s heading your direction.  And you feel a fear that paralyzes you so deeply; one that maybe you’ve never felt in your life.  This describes our fourth obstacle in the River of Resistance Series, the SHARK.  All the obstacles in our River of Resistance are worthy opponents, but the shark, representing fear, has to be one of the most challenging.

Think of an engine in a car or truck.  The cylinders move up and down efficiently because they are bathed in lubricants that allow them to move many times without heating up.  If for some reason the oil gets low, friction starts to build up in the cylinder, and this friction can completely stop all the positive energy that comes from the engine.  This is exactly what fear does to us.  When we feel fear, for whatever reason, we feel some friction.  As the fear intensifies, the friction builds up, until it completely freezes us.  Fear can be completely disabling, and we all have experienced this more than once in our lifetimes.

Right now, you are probably saying that you understand what I am saying.  You have felt the friction of fear many times.  You can also remember times when fear and it’s accompanying friction, froze you up and kept you from accomplishing what it was that you wanted to accomplish.

So, what is the answer?  How can we stop this from happening?  The answer is to build what I like to call your “courage muscles”.  When you use a muscle it gets stronger.  When you don’t use a muscle, it gets weaker.  Every time you feel the friction of fear, you have a choice.  To go into the fear… attack it… and build your courage muscles. Or, you can back away, disengage and consequently, weaken or even “atrophy” your courage muscles.  It’s vitally important to remember that courage is NOT the lack of fear.  Courage is taking action in light of what you fear.  When you feel the friction of fear, it is in no way saying that you don’t have courage.  It’s what you do when you feel the friction of fear that determines if you have courage. If you have courage, your chances of crossing the River of Resistance to your “Unlived Life” are greatly enhanced.  Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid – but he who conquers fear.” I’ve felt fear myself more times that I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness.  Be bold my friends; find the willingness to be courageous.

The Third Obstacle to Your “Unlived Life”







As we continue in the River of Resistance Series, the third obstacle that makes crossing the River of Resistance difficult is our ocean living friend, the crab.  (If you remember from my first blog in the series, you have to use your imagination a little to allow for the metaphor to work here, as we know crabs don’t live in rivers.) It’s pretty easy to get yourself a crab dinner while spending some time on the beach.  Simply tie a piece of chicken or some other similar bait to the end of a long string or cord.  Throw it out in the ocean and wait for the telltale tug.  Pull it in slowly, and you probably have one crab hanging on to the chicken; if you are lucky, you might have another one or two hanging on to the other crab.  The interesting thing about crabs is that when you put a bunch of them in a shallow bucket that they can easily climb out of, they can’t do it.  Why? Because when one is close to getting out of the bucket, his “buddies” pull him back down into the bucket.  Human crabs, the kind that seem to want to “pull” us down and away from the goals that we want to achieve are everywhere.  They can be people close to us, like parents, clergy, teachers, coaches, friends, etc.  Some do it knowingly, while others mean well thinking they are protecting us, but end up being very effective goal-busters.  There is a great song by Buddy Jewell that is a perfect rendition of what we could call the “Crab Song”.  The first four verses are:

I guess it started when I was a kid,

If you said I couldn’t do it I did,

Always had a stubborn streak,

Put a wall in front of me,

And I’ll find a way to get around it,


There was a friend who said I’d never make the team,

A lot of small town talk said I’d never leave,

Ah and you know who you are,

You all played a part,

In pushing me on to my dream,


I wanna thank everyone who ever told me no,

Pack it up and get back home,

It kept me going knowing I would prove them wrong,

Yea I knew it all along,

Without ‘em I might have given up a long time ago, and so,

I wanna thank everyone who ever told me no.


Played my music for a man behind a desk,

He said sorry what you’ve got I just don’t get,

Ah, but here I am today,

Standin’ on this stage,

And I wonder even now if he gets it yet.

Buddy Jewell is where he is today, a famous country western singer, because he didn’t let the “crabs” pull him down.  He actually used their negative thoughts to motivate him to endure and be successful. There are thousands of stories of people who became extraordinarily successful because they overcame the negative attitudes and thoughts of those around them. [Tweet this!]  Crabs are a worthy opponent, and it takes a lot of courage and energy to not let their negative chatter keep us from getting “out of the bucket” and on to the life of our dreams.



The Second Obstacle to Your “Unlived Life”

In my last blog, One Obstacle to your “Unlived Life”, we discussed The Walrus being the first of the big 5 obstacles to the River of Resistance. This week, let’s look at the second major obstacle to crossing the River of Resistance, which has been with us since the start of time.

The second obstacle is the main culprit of many biblical stories depicting the crossing of a line from good to bad. It doesn’t favor any particular group of people. It negatively affects both the lives of Kings and Queens, Presidents, the wealthy and successful, as well as the everyday man on the street.

The “Mermaid”

I have depicted this culprit as the “Mermaid”, and she stands for temptation. The temptation of sex, alcohol, drugs, or any addiction that consumes us and keeps us from being all that we can be.

The truth is, there is good news about the obstacles in the River of Resistance that keep us from obtaining or accomplishing our unlived life. The good news is, that we can be victorious in our battle with them.

The reason I write these blogs is to encourage you to engage in this fight. What can start out as an obstacle, can in some cases quickly be turned into an opportunity to grow and into something that you can move past. [Tweet this!]

In order to beat the “Mermaid”, there are two steps to take:

Step 1: Recognize there is a problem
Sex, drugs, alcohol, and other addictions are challenging enemies. They are like germs; always around you, and they become a problem when we let our guard down, lower our resistance, and let them in. The biggest problem with mermaid obstacles is that at first, you don’t feel sick or negatively affected. Not only do you not feel sick, you may feel pretty great. But once the “Mermaid” really gets a hold of you, it’s a serious problem.

Step 2: Deal with the problem
For some of us, dealing with whatever the “Mermaid” obstacle is for us, can mean getting professional help. Just like when germs make us gravely sick and it’s time to go to the doctor, the same applies here. There are many wonderful organizations and professionals that can help put us back on the path that allows us to cross the River of Resistance, and beat the “Mermaid” obstacles. If you are dealing with a challenging “Mermaid” obstacle in your life, may strength be with you as you recognize, deal with and beat that obstacle.

Mermaid obstacles are all around us and are very persistent, and can show up multiple times in your life. Stay strong and keep fighting through the River of Resistance, to the life of your dreams.

Strength and Honor,

Taking the Ice Bucket Challenge to Fight ALS

Former NFL star, John Wright participates in the Ice Bucket Challenge to fight ALS! Nominated by Derek Leonard, football Coach for Rochester High School in Rochester, IL, John then nominated John (Johnny) Wright, II; Charles “Peanut” Tillman, Cornerback for the Chicago Bears; and Dave Diehl, former offensive lineman for the N.Y. Giants to take the challenge as well!

Learn more about ALS here. We can fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy. Let’s empower those with ALS and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with our support!

(Looks like John’s granddaughter and her friend enjoyed dumping a bucket of cold ice on Grandpa for a great cause!)

One Obstacle to Your “Unlived Life”

The walrus in the way of your dream life






As I shared in my last blog, the River of Resistance is what we must cross, in order to achieve and reach our unlived life.  We are now ready to begin to discuss the obstacles that lurk in this River  that obstruct,  hinder, interfere, or block our progress towards our goals, vision, dreams, or as I like to call it, our most amazing future. 

The Walrus

The first of the big 5 obstacles, is the Walrus.  (It might be important to note, for you very technical readers, that a number of the big 5 obstacles, actually don’t live in rivers, so just imagine for the time being.)

Now, back to the walrus.  The Walrus represents WORK.

When you picture a Walrus, you probably picture a few thousand pounds of beast, sitting pretty inanimately on the beach, not doing much of anything, surrounded by hundreds of his friends, doing just about the same thing, nothing.  To mobilize himself, it takes an immense amount of work.  Or, he doesn’t have to work and can continue to sit, right where he is.

Sometimes in life, it can seem like it takes an immense amount of effort to achieve your goals, and one can almost feel like the Walrus, immobilized by all there is to do.  But one of the most dependable, surefire ways to reach your unlived life is to put your head down, get to work, and go after it.

Another thought about work…“Grit”

There is a school in New York City, called the Riverdale School.  It is one of the city’s most prestigious private schools, a 104 year old elite institution, where tuition starts at $38,500 a year for prekindergarten, and goes up from there.

Angela Duckworth, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, worked with the Riverdale School to develop a set of strengths that according to her research, is especially likely to predict life satisfaction, high achievement, and success in their students.  They call it the “Grit Scale.”

Grit, as defined by Duckworth, is “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.”

To me, it is a toughness in going after something.  It’s a work ethic of not quitting until you have accomplished what you desire. [Tweet this!]

“Talent is Overrated”

Author Geoff Colvin, who wrote the book, “Talent is Overrated”, says that what separates the best from the rest is not talent; it’s deliberate practice, which is simply work.  He says that hard work consistently beats talent, unless talent consistently works hard.

So, the first step in crossing the River of Resistance, and to reaching your unlived life, is to roll up your sleeves, get to work and go after it.  Don’t be a Walrus…



What Is Your Unlived Life?

Do you slow down from time to time, and think about your current life versus the life you could be living?  Where do you see yourself?  What would your life look like?  Do you have an unlived life that would fulfill exciting dreams and ambitions?  Author Steven Pressfield thinks so, and wrote a powerful book on this very subject, entitled “The War of Art”. (Not to be confused with the famous book “The Art of War” by the ancient Chinese military general, strategist and tactician, Sun Tzu.)

Pressfield’s contention is that we have two lives.  The life we are currently living, and our unlived life; which I would also call our dream life, or our most amazing future.  What separates the two is resistance.  Pressfield says “Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet..If you believe in God (and I do) resistance prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius.”  Pressfield goes into elaborate detail as to what a monster resistance is.  I love this thought.  And I do believe there are forces that keep us from achieving our dream life, or our unlived life.

I like to call the resistance discussed in Pressfield’s book, the “River of Resistance.”  Accomplishing our unlived life rests on us being able to cross this river.  Not only does it have a powerful current, making it very difficult to cross on our own, but it also has 5 major obstacles (some, interesting characters) that we need to recognize and then strategize against, in order to move past them.

In this next blog series, we will dive deeper into these 5 obstacles you’ll meet along the River of Resistance.  At the end, we will give you a blueprint to build your own bridge over the River of Resistance, to your unlived life.  This will be an exciting journey; I’m looking forward to having you along.

Strength and Honor,


Are You Busy Living or Busy Dying?

The final habit in Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Simon and Schuster), is Sharpen the Saw which refers to capacity.  Best-selling author and President of Human Performance Institute, Jim Loehr, describes this so well in the summary of the Corporate Athlete Full-Engagement training system.

“The #1 objective is to perform in the storm.  Build the necessary capacity to sustain high performance in the face of increasing demand.  Life has many attributes of a storm.  Life is not easy.  Being good isn’t easy.  Life has many storms, and the more capacity we have to deal with these storms of life, the better we will be.”

Covey puts it this way:

“Sharpening the saw is about constantly renewing ourselves in the four basic areas of life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.  It’s the Habit that increases our capacity to live all the other habits of effectiveness.  For an organization, Habit 7 promotes vision, renewal, continuous improvement, safeguards against burnout and entropy, and puts the organization on a new upward growth path.  For a family, it increases effectiveness through regular personal and family activities such as establishing traditions that nurture the spirit of family renewal.”

In my teaching and coaching, I have always said that we are either green and growing or ripe and rotting. Bob Dylan says, “We are either busy living or busy dying.”  Wouldn’t you rather be green and growing and busy living, than ripe and rotting and busy dying.  I would!

If you put all your energy into one area of your life (e.g. work), then you won’t be successful in the other areas.  And, eventually you won’t be good at that one area either because without taking the time to rejuvenate, you will begin to lose your motivation and drive.

Sharpening the saw builds our capacity to be GREEN and LIVING and productive in ALL facets of life.

It’s YOUR choice.