Those who can control self-preservation…


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My Dearest Raider,

Leadership

The yield of America’s decades-long social experiment has been reaped, measured and found wanting. Most everyone desires rampant peace to flourish throughout every corner of this flat earth as much as justice, equality and non-offensive behaviors. Throughout your life you will quickly recognize 4 types of peoples. Whether we want to believe it or not, history proves and reproves time and time again that the “evil wolf” in bad peoples will inevitably come knocking in some shape, form and fashion. They exist to devour the mass of sheep, the seemingly innocent victims of naivety. What stops them are sheepdogs who stand shoulder-to-shoulder to guard the flock, placing themselves between who and what they love and those trying to take it away. And then there are the noble wolves who initiate movement to take the fight out to the enemy. They hunt them down in their lairs. They extend far beyond their reach, doing what other wolves do because that is exactly what they are. They are physically brutish. Emotionally, they are rough around the edges, oftentimes abrasive and obsessive compulsive. Intellectually, they curse too much. Most need adrenaline to self-medicate and suffering is a sought after and acceptable 2nd hand substitute. Throughout the good times, the characteristics and traits of these war fighters is deemed archaic and counterproductive to society’s needs…until bad things are encircling and the need arises for someone to put the reasoning of self-preservation aside.

In the end, never lose your warrior’s heart & soul. We will nurture your passions, loves and likes. As you continue to grow, you will continue to chose and re-chose who you are and what you want to be. Regardless of what you decide to devote your talents to, regardless what craft you will develop and sharpen your skills for, never lose your warrior’s heart & soul. What we’ve come to know you as you, many outside of your small circle will in fact label you weird. You are undoubtedly hard-working, gritty, passionate and disciplined.

Never, ever lose your warrior’s heart & soul.

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Love Always,

Your Dadda

Team-ability


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My Dearest Raider,

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“How Navy SEAL Hell Week Builds Indestructible Teams”

(video presentation by Brent Gleeson, former Navy SEAL)

A team-driven culture doesn’t happen by accident. It must be planted, nurtured and grown. Every rising star like yourself must understand the inherent value of your “team-ability” in that your successes from life till death are strongly dependent on your ability to work effectively as teammates. Our family is a team. What you reap in the arenas is team-driven. Even the successes within traditionally individual-based sports such as Track & Field, Swimming, Tennis and such are based off of team-based relations between coaches, training partners, sports med and all. Your eventual professional career(s) in the work force will all based off of developing cohesion between teammates. And again contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t just happen. It is a skill that you must constantly practice and fine-tune! But what you have yet to comprehend is the absolutely amazing double-edged sword, the gift of team-ability. This occurs because the stronger that you can help make your team and the more that you can raise their actionable expectations of themselves, then you will quickly learn that ALL of the ships on the team will float higher on the rising tide!

Love Always,

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Your Dadda

You Are Weird…celebrate it!


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My Dearest Raider,
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Crazy, Hopping Penguin It is the weird ones like yourself that live in the fringes. You guys think what you are doing is only natural. You are one of the individuals whose minds tick differently. You rationalize differently. You see the world differently. You are these individuals who demonstrate the ability to not only see a difference in public opinion, a view from outside of the proverbial box, also who put forth rare and focused energy into creating changes. Be wary of “centers of excellence” for they need new self-evaluations. Chasing greatness isn’t only about the bare-bones metrics of being more intelligent and increasing weight room numbers because this is a minimum effort accomplishment for gifted individuals. Time and time again the “X-factors” become the launch pads that send talent to new heights. You are growing up in a world that is riddled with a singular socio-drive to better grades, test scores and metric-chasing. But life constantly proves that it is your character development that will allow your true talents, whatever that they may be, to sprout and flourish. A bigger bench press, squat, Oly lift is great and all, unless you become a turd bucket in the process. Don’t be a turd bucket. Your talent is only useful if you have the character to stay in the game long enough to make long lasting, positive changes to the picture that is bigger than yourself. Nurture your greatness, feed it and prune it and continue to grow the confidence needed to bring positive changes to the world. i am constantly in awe and every day i celebrate your weirdness young, rising star.
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Love Always,
 
Your Dadda

“Fault vs Responsibility”


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My Dearest Raider,
 
As a coach, your Dadda and a teammate in your small circle, i feel that it is my responsibility to give you this exact message, but to take it even further. It is imperative that i lead you to develop positive compensation patterns to deal with the stresses that you will be faced with. i’ve been blessed enough to have been in the craft for quite some time. Throughout this journey i’ve heard every excuse, point and reason why many peoples’ desired successes haven’t been achieved. You are growing up in an age where everyone wants to quickly label everyone else and pack on the excuses that come with it all. Height, weight, race, color, creed, gender, socio-economic background, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. We all have our quirks, short comings and issues to deal with along our way with some more than others, but it is irrelevant. You will come to recognize that in life, just like the arenas, the absolutes do not care what kind of baggage you’re toting along. The stop watch doesn’t care. A touch pad doesn’t care. Sprinting to the game-winning ball lofted into the end zone will not care. Your opponents definitely will not care. Your product development or sales figures will not care. i feel that our correct response is to teach you how to “deal with it all” in a positive manner. But oftentimes we never give our young rising stars the tools to do so. i’ll watch the grimaces on faces when the discomfort of an exercise and workout are too much to bear. i take note of the sad-face look of despair when they fail at difficult, near-impossible tasks. Some idly stand by and watch others implode in times of training adversity and then they all wonder why it happens in grand events. As a society, many times this leads us to commit the bigger sin as we shy away from confrontation and not putting peoples into situations where they can progressively, systematically learn how to compensate, how to deal with these emotions. Learn the “TiVo Pause”, continuously practice box breathing, fine-tune your meditation, sharpen your ability to extract relevant information in chaos, maintain effective communication, and so on and so forth in training. For instance, your under-waters are highly valuable tools to maintain composure under duress, to learn to apply focused attention to the task at hand and to remain calm in stressful situations. During training, use mirror moments so that you can recognize your habits and make a decision to put into play the most effective tools to gain traction and build momentum. Then regardless of the situations and their emotional dangers and pitfalls, you will come to bear your healthy defiance and “In Spite Of…” you will succeed.
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Love Always,
 
Your Dadda

“Sports do not develop character…”


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Jim Davis, Good Athlete Project

You can see more of Jim Davis and the Good Athlete Project on Instagram

 Good Athlete Project on Instagram

PAHQ Radio

To listen to the Power Athlete Radio podcast that inspired the blogpost:

Power Athlete Radio with “Jim Davis”

In these days and age where it is so easy and simple to pass the buck. The responsibility falls upon those wise enough to have learned the lessons yet kind enough to pass them onto the next generation of rising stars. Whether we want to accept the truth or not, the psychology of discomfort dictates that every single training stimulus can and will invoke a physical AND an emotional response in every athlete. What happens immediately afterwards can set a path for positive response or down a negative road. Coaching, mentoring and parenting success relies on our foresight and ability to calmly prepare them up for temporary failure, set them up to fail. So when they do, a golden opportunity presents itself for them to look us in the eyes. It is in the “flash point” that we can coach ‘em up on just how to effectively address their next courses of action. We can build a relationship, trust and ignite their confidence in volunteering to choose the harder road of more adversity. Or left to their own devices, many times they will back down and crawl into a hole of avoidance. Their psychomotor responses at these junctures can and will shape & mold either a RISING or a falling star!

HERO Initiative on Instagram

Follow HERO Initiative on Instagram:

[HERO Initiative on Instagram]

“Fertilize Life, Live & Learn”


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My Dearest Raider,

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One of the most difficult things of being a parent is knowingly walking away and allowing you as many opportunities to make mistakes, to learn and to grow stronger. i’ve tried to impart as much of the wisdom as i can that i’ve had seared into my soul from countless bad decisions and consequentially the lessons learned. Its never easier from the uneasy looks that you give me when i let your hand go…the wide-eye shock that you throw my way when someone is asking you a question that you don’t know the answer to…the teary-eyed excitement as i push you away to go explore on your own in unexplored adventures. Just know that inside i was feeling the exact same ways, but i hid it much better than you. Because i know 2 things that are difficult for you to understand right now, but will soon begin to. Firstly, lessons learned can only happen when you are courageous enough to make mistakes, to get outside of control. You learn to recognize your ever-changing boundaries, what happens when you do and where to go from there. It is a necessity. The lessons learned grow strong from an emotional fertilizer. Discomforts spawn real emotions like sadness, anger, despair, joy, happiness and such. Feeling these is the first step to learning to positively deal with them. Your mind then has more tangible roots to plant so as to remember these lessons for future recall. Secondly, life and experiences have taught me that you take it all with a grain of salt because everything works out in the end. Bumps, scrapes, bruises and all will heal, but you come out of the other end with stories that eventually end with laughter and chuckles. Without the courage to live life, your journey will be boring, devoid of emotion, lacking in character or substance. We are constantly on the look out for your safety, health & well being. But, we also know that in order to live an amazing life you will need the skillsets to courageously embrace the unknown, to curiously ask what’s on the other side, and in spite of all of our perceived fears to passionately embrace your thirst to live.

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“My parents taught me honesty, truth, compassion, kindness and how to care for people. Also, they encouraged me to take risks, to boldly go. They taught me that the greatest danger in life is not taking the adventure.” ~ Brian Blessed

 

Love Always,

Your Dadda

 

Lop-sided smile


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My Dearest Raider,

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My hope is that you look back on your childhood with an affectionately lopsided smile. Firstly, this should emanate from recognizing that the legacy that you are flourishing in was planted well before we were blessed with you. The hard work and efforts of others, many of whom would never know that you were to come, have spouted leafy branches to give you shade. Secondly, the downward slope of your half-smile is a badge of honor earned and you should learn to wear it proudly. It is built upon the confidence of all of your hard work & efforts and all of the discomforts & adversities overcome to climb the branches above you to see what’s beyond. Sometimes they’re hard to reach, extremely difficult to climb and falling is an inevitability. But the beautiful examples of “just keep climbing” within your current circle are endless. From day 1 you have only known a championship culture that thrives to challenge you, to build hardiness and strength of character. This forces you to recognize and to expect nothing short of AMAZING from yourself. You are still too young to completely grasp the world that you live in as evidenced by the conversations that i get to overhear between you and your friends. “i HAD to workout with my friend Tony (5x World Champion Antonio Tarver​) in the Dirty 05:30 Team…i HAD to have fart gun wars before workouts with Michael (Phelps), Ryan (Lochte), Pernille (Blume), Anthony (Ervin)…i HAD to go to my Dadda’s work where his “military” friends take me to the boom-boom range…i HAD to go see Teddy Dupay​ who teaches me basketball…last but not in the very least, i HAD to go train with all of our amazing friends at HERO Initiative​ who display shining, bright examples of just good peoples doing good things day in and day out.

Again, not that we all expect you to fully grasp this now, but one day recognize all of our efforts in some way, shape, form and fashion benefit you in your life as expectations and the habits that you are subconsciously building. But even further, use it all as examples of how you will take future leadership roles. A cheat sheet of experiences outlining how to live a life of leadership-by-example in the circles that you choose to expand in your life.

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Lastly, the upswing of your lopsided smile will eventually come from your view from atop of the canopy. Many will look up and wonder how you magically got up there. “It must be luck, wizardry, filipino privilege and such.” they will say. But only you will know just how much others have invested in you, just how much you have invested in yourself and most importantly how much all of that will mean to someone looking up to you. So that one day you can look into their eyes when they feel the pressure of obligation and say to them, “its not only ‘i HAD to’ but also the opportunity of ‘i GET to’ that allowed me a glorious view from the top.”! Learn to balance both and never, ever forget that…

i Love you Always,

Your Dadda

“Naturally there are going to be some ups and downs, particularly if you have some individuals trying to achieve at a high level…when a pressure situation presented itself, we were plugged into one another as a cohesive unit. That’s why we were able to win, and that’s why we were able to beat more talented teams.” ~ Michael Jordan.

“Don’t be a D-K!”


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“What’s particularly interesting is that those with the least ability are often the most likely to overrate their skills to the greatest extent…People measurably poor all tend to rate their expertise almost as favorably as experts do…”
 
i came across this good YouTube video on Ted-Ed “The Psychology Behind Why Incompetent People Think They’re Amazing:” which describes the Dunning-Kruger (D-K) Effect. Firstly, i’m posting this as educational reference material to the practicals that i presented at the ’17 Power Athlete Symposium. Secondly, just like the video presents, i constantly reiterate that everyone in some capacity in most arenas in our lives, fall victim to this psychological phenomena of the D-K Effect. i presented this and the coaching tools that we regularly utilize to create “mirror moments” that allow athletes and coaches to gain a better grasp just how far off that we are. These are opportunities to close the gap between our perception and reality as we constantly measure it against desired positive-behaviors (skills) in the arenas.
 
When done correctly, athletes questioning themselves create highly valuable coaching tools: Why can’t I do this? Why do I suck at this? Why is this so hard? These questioning statements become great opportunities to open the door to adjustments, course corrections and re-framing of their psychomotor-drives at many levels. Especially in training we have a tendency to allow people to do ONLY what they are good at, mostly because we want them to feel good about themselves and because S&C has become a mainstream business. But what is getting lost is the trade-off of the inevitable emotional let-down of failures when it counts the most, the fruits of all of our labors isn’t as sweet as we thought that it was going to be. As coaches we get far removed from game day competitions and consequentially we often put our own personal enthusiasms and goals onto the athletes. There is a constant cost-benefit analysis on time, energy and risk as it compares to the paramount skill acquisition. Chasing a 5-10lb increase on a Hang Clean…a Bench Press…a Back Squat…a Dead Lift… are all great challenges and their achievement fires up any true S&C coach. But we must never, ever forget the waters that must be treaded in by all involved. A novice is splashing a dashing in the kiddie pool, having fun with anything and everything. Watching the exuberance in their eyes, their parents’ eyes and such brings joy to all as the relative safety is not much of a concern. As the “floaties” come off, as the athletes grow older-bigger-stronger and experienced in the weight room, they must move out into the middle of the pool where there is an ever-increasing risk of sink or swim. There is ALWAYS an exponentially rising threat of catastrophic injuries accompanied with an exponential increasing amount of time and energy required to raise heavier PRs once outside of novice levels. There is exponentially increasing time devoted to chasing weight room record boards that is oftentimes sacrificed and taken away from chasing skill perfection of specific sports skills. So, a change in the culture of S&C and its business must occur. The cyclical and comprehensive preparation from birth to death must be an overarching emulsifier.
 
The antecedent is developing strong habits to carry over into arenas and beyond. Regardless of the dimensions and talents blessed with, the long-range outcome should always be to build highly effective, over-achieving athletes who have forged sustainability over the long haul and who constantly build reliability with their teammates. All of these habitual skills can be carried over if you hear the call of Ares and choose a HERO’s (Highly Effective Rescue & Operator) professional life or within the not-so-friendly confines of the board room. IMG_5995When all is said and done, a lifetime of justifiable sacrifices & experiences leans heavily on these fundamental skills. An arch angel of a program necessitates a reintroduction to normalcy of family fitness, health and well-being. It is at these late-in-the-game moments that we truly recognize the dramatic importance of the quality and emotional driver of every single rep, set and training session. Because, the potential of hardiness of the seedlings that are being planted is proven to be well established at conception. As well, the next generation of rising stars are star-gaze watching us, imprinting our behaviors and our actions into their own plug & play queue. This in turn becomes their subconscious responses, their courses of action, the decision-making ammunition for themselves as well as the generation that they in turn will build…

The Benefits of Instant-AWESOME!


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Throughout his life we have been gradually inoculating lil’ Raider into the fold with a beautiful practice that we affectionately call “Instant-Awesome”! We have a couple of huge jugs of water that we keep filled in the refrigerator. After going hard and playing fast, we hustle over for a delicious bit of cold water splash to soothe the soul! As roots take hold over the years and Raider begins to understand the very complex concept of the different levels of SELF-discipline, this practice will continue to initialize a high display. First you read, learn and understand all of its benefits.

(“Here are 5 reasons a freezing, cold shower will change your life”)

Then…you offer yourself the choice to give up comforts to bathe in an overwhelming rush of cold-awesomeness with all of the goodness that it brings. It is exactly at these moments that self-discipline transforms from a widely discussed mandatory, yet fundamental principle into actionable skills. To go even further down the rabbit hole, accelerate skill acquisition by creating your own daily, bi-weekly or weekly practice to turn this into your own habit. Give it what we call a “Blackjack’s Run” and commit to at least 21 occasions to allow the seed to take strong roots. Practice putting on your best “normal face” while you are flooded with instantaneous discomfort. For example, its on the other end of the spectrum, but Shaquille O’Neal’s valiant and hilarious run at the HOT Chip Challenge is its own practice & test of stoicism:

With the marking of November’s Beaver Moon, our weekended beach calisthenics, suck sand running & open water swimming sessions take a dramatic turn in comfort levels. Much of the basis of our Festive Season Surf & Turfs are steeped in the benefits of cold, salty water immersion.  If you are in the beautiful Tampa Bay area, the world’s largest cold water, epsom salt bath is just waiting for your warm embrace.

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Develop & sharpen your HERO Initiative in what turns out as the world’s greatest gym!

HERO Initiative


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Everybody from all walks of life and arenas regardless of color, creed and choices needs to refine their warrior’s mindset by preparing to be a HERO, a highly effective rescue & operator.  Truth be told, the investment costs are high in time and efforts, but the benefits will be insurmountable to all challenges in your way.  Piece by piece, a systematic review of what this moniker entails makes it very clear as to why this world needs more HEROs.

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The oftentimes used phrase of “Highly-Effective” describes performances that greatly produce a decisive result.  Fighting to elevate onto this podium should be a standard, but it has been lost over time within mainstream.  There are many pillars that hold up this problem and should all be addressed.  But three are the dominant, distinct yet intertwined main load-bearers.  The epidemic of stimulant-driven Adderall is a screaming testament to our lack of ability to focus.  In a day and age with 3-dimensional distractions, if we are without a high level of sustainable concentration, it is a virtual impossibility to hit the center of the bulls-eye in order to gain a highly-desirable effect.  An insufficient sense of our craftsmanship undoubtedly leads to apathy at worst, yet occasionally working hard and sloppily trudging through tasks at best.  This also is a bio-mechanical nightmare in the making as the margin of error between mechanical failure and impressive performances has not been increased.  Lastly, low expectations of one’s self create such a low, impenetrable ceiling.  No matter how nice you add pricey crown molding, track lighting and a fresh coat of paint, it will all pale in comparison to blue skies above and the all of the stars in the heavens.

The word “Rescue” calls to the belief in or practice of the selfless concern for the well-being of others.  On quick trigger thoughts, it brings to mind our ability to come to the aid of our fellow man.  These are skills and they take an incredible amount of time and effort of develop.  Not only possessing the life-saving skills, but just as importantly the heavy preparation to get to the fight.  Moving well & at various speeds, over & under, through & around as well as to & fro just to be in position to do what is best for our teammates, those that we care about.  As a result of short-sightedness, we’ve been driven to do whatever makes us singularly happy and the world has lost quite a bit of what defines us as teammates.  But in doing so, altruism is one of the very few practices that helps others while commensurately helping one’s self.  The majority of athletes on a team forget about their super-friends and swim buddies, especially under the fires of duress.  It is in these moments that are most critical to take care to not only do what we personally need to do to get better, but also aid & assist our teammates to continue to better themselves.  This vital concern should forever be in the forefront as it never fails that our successes will be the collective efforts of the team and our failures were predestined by what we did every single moment leading up to center stage.  Every poor movement quality that we let slide, every set and rep taken off, every excuse that we let grease the undisciplined tracks will put our team on a path that we all deserve.

Often overly used and misused, an “Operator” is someone who has mastered the basic tactics of shooting, moving & communicating, yet they continue to polish their skills against a constantly rising standard.  They always carry with themselves experienced-wisdom that comes with growing maturity.  This arises when athletes subject themselves to training conditions that illicit mistakes and failures alongside the vital components of rest, recovery and introspection of learning.  The result is a craftsman that hones their skill sets to a laser-sharpened edge so precise that they reduce the probability of failure when it counts most.  This is someone who can be sent as a small entity, trusted to do their job with minimal supervision.  They can be deployed into complex areas to conduct low visibility operations with trust that they will not take unnecessary risks that could get missions and teammates compromised.  They are also assumed as the quiet professionals who do it for the team and do not require boastful self-inflating accolades.  If this traditionally militaristic ability of fire & forget is overbearing and threatening, a single word that you can rally around that operators exemplify is reliability.  There is something to be said about the peace of mind in knowing that someone will get the job done and done well.


Something that was had as a birthright of generations past, but has somehow lost its flavor in current times is “Initiative” as defined by the ability to assess and initiate things independently, self-motivated, resourcefulness, inventiveness, imaginative with the power and opportunity to act before others do.  In the mid-1800s, American author Henry David Thoreau instructed us to “go confidently in the direction of our dreams” and its magic still holds true.  We encourage each other to dream big but desperately weep and wail when the fantasy never bears fruit.  If we never move in a positive direction, accomplishing waypoint goals will never springboard us high enough to reach our dreams.  Recognizing when something needs to be done is a necessity.  But a more important skill to develop is the act of rolling up your sleeves, leaning into it and putting your best forward.  In a broad, beautiful world of abstract thinking, quantum thought processes and quad-dimensional spider web-brain storming we often lack traction on decisive movement in a positive direction.  We are now in a very youthful, free-thinking society that jumps at the opportunity for social media debate of what is the best way to get from point A to point B.  These quickly escalate to ‘Why are we even trying to to get to point B when we should be having an intimate discussion about the color variations of chartreuse and its psycho-emotional impact on our day-to-day feelings.  What i’ve learned in observing athletes develop over the last couple of decades is a growing paralysis by over-analyzation as well as under-analyzation.  Previously, instructions for a set of Step-Ups was accompanied by: What if I fall or what if I am not strong enough?  Nowadays, the same exercise prescription quickly leads to questions of “How?”  Self-affirmation responses of “Yes Sir and Will Do!” to basic coaching cues such as turn your toes & knees forward & neutral or stand up tall have now been replaced with “i don’t know how to do that.”  In seminars and presentations of the past i used to proclaim that developing better posture was the primary focus of sound performance S&C programs.  Magically i would observe the audiences rise up in their seats or pin their shoulders back in their stances.  Now, that passive-aggressive call-to-action statement rarely invokes any motion in a positive direction.  While we fight to the electronic death in our heated arguments of keyboard shouting and esoteric protests there are some old souls that already know where they need to go and have taken a handful of highly effective steps in that direction.  Also, because they recognize that we need to integrate into our new-world skills sets an old world practice of “Stop Wasting Time Here!”

With all of this said and done, my intention was to convey that we will all consider ourselves as such.  Someday, somehow and in some shape, form and fashion we will be called upon.  Whether its direct action in a flash of a dramatic moment…or coming through in the clutch with a great assist of someone deeply in need……or teaching others through lessons from a life of bad choices and the experiences that came along with them…or quite possibly something more subtle in that it will be looked upon with deep, sincere retrospection through the eyes of our children as we heavily, yet quietly sacrificed for the greater good; because a Hero is an ordinary individual who has the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Preparation starts now, so be courageous and buckle up for ‘HERO Initiative’ by Raph Ruiz! If you are in the Tampa Bay area, sign up online for our awesome big groups, our small group “Cliques” or 1-on-1 “Solo” sessions by clicking on this link: [https://squareup.com/appointments/book/0WDEN0M3HMNEH/raph-ruiz].

If you are somewhere else in the world and would like to subscribe to our on-line training template, visit us at: “HERO Initiative by raph ruiz”: [https://marketplace.trainheroic.com/#/team/Ruiz-Team-1441051043]. You can get your own Cordio2 resisted breathers at: [http://www.cordio2.com/#oid=23623_2127]. Please feel free to share with anyone and everyone.