Having resilience in life allows you to look at any obstacle differently, and with enough training, see the opportunities behind it. Having gone through a devastating accident, Rodney Flowers, joins Tanya Memme in this episode to talk about the pivotal moment in his life. Rodney is a motivational speaker, an author, and a resilience trainer. With an amazing career and future snatched away, he explains how being resilient has helped him bounce back and achieve his life goals with a different approach. Learn what it means to hit rock bottom and grab success straight from someone who’s done it himself against all the odds. Know why it’s important to give credit to the people who bless you with positivity. In addition, understand how having a vision for your life and future can give you a reason to keep at what you’re doing with resilience and determination.
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Resilience Training: Learning How To Push Away Pity And Bounce Back With Rodney Flowers
This is going to be an incredible episode because we have Rodney Flowers here. He is a motivational speaker, an author and a resilience trainer. You have spoken in front of thousands of people and you keep going and going. The thing I love most is your life story it’s absolutely incredible. I know that you believe anybody can change any circumstance in their life with the right mindset. You have your podcast, Game Changer Mentality, which I was on and it’s awesome. Let’s start right there. One of the titles that you have is you’re a transformational leader, but you’re also a resilience trainer. What does resilience trainer mean?
I train people on how to be resilient. Resilience means bouncing back. We all go through challenges in life, but we don’t always bounce back. I like to train people on how to have the right mindset in order to bounce back. That’s what allows people to be more resilient.
I know you’re a personal coach, too. You help people through life. I want to know about your story right from the very beginning. When did this all start from you? When did you realize that you needed to be someone who was going to be helping other people for the rest of your life?
Tanya, I was running down the right side of this field in high school. The start of the third quarter. I was fifteen years old and I made a tackle. I went down and the guy that I tackled went down, but he got up. I couldn’t get up. They rushed me to the hospital and did a whole bunch of tests. At the end of all of those evaluations and tests, they said that I was paralyzed.
This happened when you were in high school. I know that you were training for the NFL. You had scouts coming to that game. It was the first game, but they were scouting and looking at you. You saw your whole future ahead of you and this happens. Do you remember that moment though when you went down?
Yes, just like yesterday.
What was going through your mind?
I knew it was something very traumatic and instantly I felt like life was over. It was done. I felt like I let myself and everybody down. I couldn’t see my future. Fear overtook me because I couldn’t move. I couldn’t feel anything, nothing.
Your mind is awake fully functioning.
In my mind is like, “I know how to get up.” My mind is going through that process, but my body isn’t moving.
There are people around you and there’s crowd.
They are yelling at me saying, “Get up.” They are celebrating because it was a good hit.
Could you talk?
Yes. I was screaming, yelling and crying.
It’s that quick that life can change. What happened after that? Run me through that day.
They rush me to the hospital. They started doing tests and one of the most interesting things was when they were trying to figure out how severe the accident was. They started poking me and doing all these tests and I couldn’t feel it from the neck down. I remember lying in the emergency room and they started cutting the bottom of my feet. My feet were bleeding and my dad was standing over me in the emergency room. He said, “Can you feel that?” I started freaking out because I’m like, “No, what are they doing to me?” He’s like, “Your feet are bleeding.” I couldn’t feel that they had cut my feet and they were bleeding. I was very scared to say the least. They put me on the helicopter because I was in a regional hospital. I needed to go to a trauma center to take me there. They do some more tests, MRIs and things like that. They came out the next day and they told me I was paralyzed from the neck down. There was nothing they can do and to prepare to live my life like that for the rest of my life. That was my diagnosis.
You get news like that. Your family is there, everyone’s there. From that point on to make this turn around in your mind, how did that happen?
It didn’t happen fast. I can tell you that. I had a lot of spiritual support. I was mad at the world for about a year. I was miserable. Trust me, you didn’t want to be around me because I was mad at everybody in it. One day I asked myself, “How can things be better? You can start with your attitude.” I was nasty to be around. I changed my attitude. I said, “What if this day you had a better attitude?” I changed my attitude for that day. That day was a better day. I was still in a lot of pain, discomfort and fear, but I realized that it wasn’t a miserable day in the sense that I was mad at the world. I had a better outlook on that day and it felt better.Having a vision for your life can give you a drive, hope, and a reason to wake up every single day and work towards it. Click To Tweet
I started asking myself what-if type of questions, “What if I had a good attitude all the time even though this is a tough situation?” I then asked myself, “Outside of being injured, why are you upset?” The trajectory of my life had changed. My vision had changed. I was upset about that. I said, “What if you can create the same things that you wanted in life, even though you have to do it, maybe in a wheelchair?” I said, “That sounds interesting. I’m going to start using my mind.” One day what really enforced that thought was I was talking to my mom one day and I was telling her how bad I felt about the accident. I was having a pity party. My mom wasn’t having it, no pity whatsoever. She looked at me and said, “Your body may be injured, but there’s nothing wrong with your mind.” I started looking at ways that I could use my mind to change my situation.
How did you discover this? Where did you start going upon this route to discovery?
It was just out of being miserable every day and wanting more in life. I was a goal-oriented person and my goal and my vision of life had changed. I had to create a new vision, which is hard for people. They get stuck on that vision when life changes, they don’t change with it. We can get into that a little bit. It was the vision that I wanted in life. I started to see myself in this wheelchair and I’m like, “If I got to stay in this wheelchair, what is it going to look like for me?” I didn’t want to see myself in a wheelchair. I had my own idea of what that looked like and I didn’t like it, but I said, “If I’m going to be in a wheelchair, I want to be successful. I want to be able to be independent. I want this and I want to be able to do that.” I started looking at the things that I wanted in football and the things that football would bring me. I started asking myself, “You can still get those things.” That’s where that moment when my mom says, “There’s nothing wrong with your mind.” I started to look at how can I bring those things to myself, with my mind, happiness, peace and joy?
Who taught you how to do that? How did you start to learn how to do that?
I had a great support system and they weren’t having a pity party. I wouldn’t say no particular person. I have to give credit to everyone around me for being too positive. I had a nice core group of people that believed in me. They believed in God that God was going to heal me and bring positive change into my life. I believe that and I created a vision around that.
Intensely every day, every minute you start to think about it and meditate on it. How was that for you?
Every night, I go to bed I’m thinking about walking and what I want my life to be like.
Feeling it too and just getting right into that.
Embodying it in everything that I do. I started shutting out the things that I couldn’t do, the things that were hurtful. They were still there, but I didn’t focus on those. I always focused on moving and it caused a certain type of action that take place in me. I went back to school and I knew I had to be intelligent, make good grades and do all of these things in order to be successful. I would spend hours upon hours reading, studying, and feeding my mind because one day I want it to make something of myself. I want it to defy the odds. I didn’t want to be the guy that just went out, gave up and were in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. I said, “Even if I have to stay in a wheelchair, I want to be successful. I want to bring change. I want to have an impact on the world.” I started focusing on that.
There was then another question that came up because I wanted that impact and that was, what if you overcome this? I started thinking about what I wanted in football. I had idols like Emmitt Smith and all the great running backs, the Walter Payton’s of the world, and all of that. I wanted to be there, honestly. Those were my goals. I thought about, “What impact would you have if you were to overcome this?” The only person that I had heard of that overcome something like this was Dennis Byrd. He played for the Detroit Lions. I said, “I’m going to devote my life to that.”
When did you start seeing the effects of this?
Immediately after I changed my attitude, I felt better and I had something to live for this new vision. That gave me a drive, hope, and something to wake up for every single day and work towards. That started immediately in everything that I could think of to do that would bring that vision close to me. I was open and willing to do that
What was the first physical change that you saw happen that you were convinced 100%, “This is working?”
I don’t know if I was ever convinced much percent that it was working. I was grateful for the small successes that came feeding myself. There was a time when I couldn’t feed myself.
That’s not small success. That’s a huge success and that came after all the realization.
It did it, it came after that. It was small in the grand scheme of things because I had this greater, bigger vision. Every time there was even a movement, a twitch in my arm, or maybe a little patch of sensation on my leg that was something that I was grateful for. I celebrate it. I knew if I could build on top of that, that was my mindset. Every step I take, I want to build on top of that. I fell in love with the process. It was a process that became important to me, not the end goal. I wanted the end goal, but I knew that it was things in between to that point B destination that I had to do and overcome in order to get there. I would put strategies in place and routines. I changed my habits and the way I thought. I meditated. I make sure I visualized every day. I would cut out pictures of things that I wanted to accomplish and look at it.
This was before vision boards were a big deal. When everything is taken away from you and you’re looking for something that will have you forward, some sign of hope in your life, you begin to create that. That’s what I did. I create it. I remember the story when I was in the hospital, my mom started this with me because she would put certain things. I have to tell you this story. I was in this bed and they strap you down. The bed rotated from side to side. The reason why they would do that it’s because I couldn’t move and turn myself.
Was this a part of the therapy that you were going through?It's the perception about the obstacle that's going to determine the outcome. Click To Tweet
No, this was in the hospital. It wasn’t therapy because if you stay in one position for too long, you develop bedsores. They put me in a bed because I couldn’t move that rotated from side to side. It’s shifted my weight. You spend a certain amount of time on your right side and then on your left side. I had to face the wall a couple of times a day. My mom will put these scriptures on the wall, these little sayings and inspirational type of things. When I was facing that wall, those were the things that I looked at, but that created a process. It helped change my mind. I started putting things in front of me that would help develop division and keep me motivated. To keep my mind off what was happening to me and on something that was possible and that’s the process that helped me get to where I am now.
Now, you are a massive mentor and an inspirational speaker. You are an author and you’ve done all these things. One of the reasons why I started this show is to have people like you, come on and tell your story because I do believe there’s a lot of pain out there. A lot of people are suffering and they have nowhere to go. I think through individual stories like yours, at least it lights that beginning spark to like, “If he can do it, so can I.” That’s why I’m doing this show. First of all, one of the things that you’re having to work most with clients, what’s their biggest struggle?
Most people don’t like obstacles. When they’re in an obstacle, the first thing you want to do is get out of it. How can I avoid the obstacle? The obstacle is the way. Let’s change our perception about the obstacle. It’s the perception about the obstacle that’s going to determine the outcome. If you’re not looking for the opportunity in the obstacle, you’re missing out potentially on your blessings. I always help people take a look and see what’s possible where you are. A lot of people get hung up on that vision that they had. When the obstacle comes, they feel like, “I can’t reach this vision or something is stopping me.”
“It’s because of this or because of that, I can’t,” or whatever that is for that person.
I try to get people to open up and see, what’s possible in this? What is something that we can take out of this? What can we gain by going through this obstacle and what is our perception of this? Maybe our perception about what it is that we’re going through needs to be looked at. My perception of my obstacle was over. My life was over, but out of this became the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, to be an inspiration, to overcome it. I’ve changed as a result of this like, “What I’m accomplishing now, I couldn’t accomplish that on the football field.” The lives that I’m impacting, I wouldn’t have impacted those lives on the football field the way I’m doing it now.
I know that your definition of success has nothing to do with money.
It doesn’t. It’s about service. It’s about the impact that we can have on people’s lives. It’s taking an obstacle and turning it on its head. That’s what you want to look at. I call it a positive potential. Life is not in a straight line. It’s not the dips, the curves, and the turns but there are many lessons that are in those dips, turns and curves that we can experience that will make us better and then we can share to help someone else. There is power in stories. There’s power in experiences, experience is the best teacher. I wouldn’t ever say for someone to throw themselves into obstacles, to go looking for obstacles, but when the obstacle shows up, it’s game time.
These are the opportunities for us to improve, what we’re made of and understand that this obstacle isn’t here to stop me. It’s something here for me to learn, grow and become. When you have that perception, you are a lot stronger going into the obstacle and you have that mindset of, “What is it about me that I need to change? What is it about me that I need to do? What is it about me? Instead of looking outward, we can start looking inward” because that’s where the answers.
For you, if somebody comes to you and they’re like, “I’ve lost all my money.” Their obstacle was a financial obstacle. They can’t seem to figure their way out. You’re not going to tell them to go chase the money. You’re going to tell them to look inside and do something.
First of all, if you lost your money, you’re able to get the money in the first place. You can go do that again. There are lessons learned in whatever happened, whatever challenge and why you lost the money. It’s what are we going to pull from that situation, you learn from that and how can we capitalize on that? If money is the goal, how can we use this situation to help people so they won’t go through that situation?
Do you help people with all kinds of issues and problems?
Yes. From business, relationship, personal, whatever.
I know you’ve written three books. Where can we get your books? Where can we learn more about you?
It’s at RodneyFlowers.com.
You are awesome. When is your next speaking engagement? I know that you speak all over the world.
I have a private event coming up. I also teach speakers how to tell their story. I have a story. I have an event coming up where I’m helping people communicate more effectively to tell the story succinctly and in a way that can bring about change, connect and engage with their audiences.
We can learn about your speaking, your books, anything that you’re doing. I know you have an amazing Instagram as well. I’m following you there. It’s a wealth of inspiration. I love it. If you want to reach out to Rodney, you’re available, go to RodneyFlowers.com. Thank you for coming on the show. That was fun. I can talk to you so much longer. That’s the end of our show. If you want to learn more about the show or if you want to check out any of the past episodes, go to iTunes. Thanks a lot for reading. This was wonderful. Thank you.
Thank you for having me.
- Rodney Flowers
- Game Changer Mentality
- Instagram – Rodney Flowers
- iTunes – Life Masters
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