Creative Status: Episode 17: Terry Tucker: From Breaking Point to Turning Point

Seeing yourself as a ‘victim’ just makes life WORSE ?

Human beings – including ‘You’ – are always expanding, evolving, and growing REAL.

This is a NATURAL drive that we all have towards wholeness and you can either move with it and feel ‘good’ or you can try and resist and feel ‘bad’.

Sometimes, we think we’ve found a social strategy that makes life easier for us but these strategies can only ever work in the SHORT-TERM.

One of the most common strategies is to try and see ourselves as a VICTIM and to get others to see us in the same way (a similar strategy is to try and be a HERO but both are unreal).

Playing our ‘Victim Card’ may make people give us a pass here and their and make exceptions for us but all that really happens when we ATTACH to a static idea of ourselves like ‘Victim’ is that we create FRICTION between ourselves and life and take ourselves out of the flow.

Terry Tucker (@sustainableexcellenceauthor) is a speaker, author, and coach who helps people to live uncommon and extraordinary lives – a lot of his work is about staying motivated and embracing the realities of life but also about writing a REAL story that serves the world.

In this conversation we explore some of the very profound lessons that Terry has learned over the last decade by battling with cancer – that might sound like a pretty ‘depressing’ topic for a podcast conversation but it blossomed into a fun exploration of how life works and the natural laws we need to be AWARE of if we’re going to make the most of it.

I think the one thing most people will be able to get from this conversation is PERSPECTIVE… Sometimes, we get so caught up or blocked in our own BS that we find it hard to move forward. By hearing stories and lessons from people that have really been in the thick of it we can step back, step up, and get moving again because we’re reminded of our own strength as human beings.

We covered loads of interesting things here about resilience, creativity, turning our pain into energy, realising that our breaking point can actually be a turning point (because normally the breaking point is nowhere near where we think it is), and loads more.

If you wanna stay creative and keep moving forward then check out this episode!

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Show Transcript: From Breaking Point to Turning Point


Oli Anderson: Oh, hi there. Oli Anderson here. You’re listening to Creative Status, this podcast about improving your life using creativity as a vehicle for doing that.

So that’s good. This episode is an interview with a guy called Terry Tucker. Terry Tucker is a speaker, he’s a coach, he’s an author and he has a lot of very real things to say about life and moving forwards and overcoming obstacles and making the most of the journey and all that kind of stuff. This is quite a real conversation.

Not that the other conversations we’ve had on this podcast haven’t been real, but just some of the things that Terry has been through, super intense and it’s just really interesting to hear him be so candid and frank about his journey. So hopefully you’re going to get some value out of this. Otherwise, I’m not really going to talk that much in this introduction.

I have a bad habit of just rambling, which I’m doing right now and I’m going to stop. But here’s the interview and I hope you get some stuff out of it. And if you do, that’s awesome. Leave a review somewhere, subscribe to the podcast, send me a DM if you want. Let me know what you thought. Find Terry on his Instagram or LinkedIn or somewhere. Say hi to him and enjoy this. It’s pretty intense in places, but it’s kind of amazing as well:


Oli Anderson: Oh, hi there, Terry. Thank you so much for joining me today on Creative Status. A lot of the work that you do is to do with motivation and moving forward basically and getting where you want to be in life.

That’s a major theme of this podcast, so I think you’re going to add a lot of value. You’re going to have some amazing insights to share based on what we’ve already talked about off mic. Before we get into all that, do you feel like introducing yourself and telling people what you’re hoping to get out of this today?

Terry Tucker: Sure. First of all, Oli, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

I’m looking forward to talking with you today. I’ll give you sort of the condensed version of me. I was born and raised in Chicago, the third largest city in the United States. I’m the oldest of three boys.

You can’t tell this from my voice, but I’m six foot eight inches tall, and I actually got a scholarship to play basketball in college despite having three knee surgeries. When I graduated from college, I moved home to find a job.

I’m really going to date myself now, but this was long before the internet was available to help people find a job. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, so I was all set to make my mark on the world with my newly obtained business administration degree.

I look back now and realize how little I knew about business just because I had a degree. Fortunately, I was able to find that first job in the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s International, the hamburger chain.

Unfortunately, I live with my parents for the next three and a half years as I help my mother care for my father and my grandmother who are both dying of different forms of cancer. Professionally, as I said, started out at Wendy’s, then moved to hospital administration and then made a major pivot in my life and became a police officer.

One of the jobs I did as a police officer was I was a SWAT team hostage negotiator. After law enforcement, I started my own school security consulting business. I coached girls high school basketball.

I became an author in 2020, but for the last 10 years have been dealing with this rare form of cancer. Right now, my goal, my purpose I feel in life is to put as much goodness, as much positivity, as much motivation, as much love back into the world as I possibly can. So I’m excited to talk with you about that today.

Oli Anderson: That’s amazing. It sounds like you’ve had a very boring life. Like you haven’t really done very much or been anywhere or experienced anything.

I imagine that going through all those kind of things that you just shared, you’ve obviously learned a lot and that’s probably informed your work and some of the things that you do.

So your main area that you seem to work in is the motivation thing. Is that a fair assessment?

Terry Tucker: It is. Guys, I started a blog back in 2019 and I call it motivational check. But what I always say about motivation is it’s kind of like lighting the fuse. If you’ve just got motivation, it’s going to be hard to do anything.

But if you have motivation coupled with discipline and coupled with good habits, you can do just about anything you want in your life. The problem is a lot of times people are lacking one or two of those things and they don’t understand, you know, I’m trying, but why can’t I be successful?

Like you don’t have good habits or you’re not disciplined to carry out those habits or you’re just not motivated to get up in the morning and start that journey.

Oli Anderson: I found that a lot as well with the work that I do with coaching and stuff. A lot of people, they’ve bought into this kind of cultural myth or whatever it is, where they seem to think that motivation is the only thing that you need. And I think that’s because motivation is kind of a passive thing, right?

Like it’s sometimes it gets kind of confused with inspiration, but it just kind of pops up and you decide you want to do something. But then actually, because we’re human, you eventually run out of steam and that’s where the discipline comes in and the habits and all that kind of stuff.

How do you get people to be more motivated in the first place? Do you think? So somebody’s kind of, you know, bored with their life or whatever it is. How do we help them to find motivation?

Terry Tucker: I think motivation comes from within. It’s got to be something that you have. There’s an entrepreneur here in the United States by the name of Ed Milet and he talks about the four types of people and he said the first type is the unmotivated and he said that’s that’s the vast majority of people at least here in the United States.

You know maybe it sounds from your experience maybe all over the world and then there’s the the motivated group and that’s kind of a you know carrot and stick kind of thing where if you do this then you will get that and then there’s the inspirational type of people and inspirational comes from in spirit so you move people with your energy.

Then the last group and this is this is what I strive for I’m not anywhere close to it yet but I’m striving for is the aspirational group where people aspire to be like you so you know if you figure the vast majority of people and I’m old enough to kind of I think agree with that that are just unmotivated they’re they live a casual life and as a result their goals their dreams their ambitions become a casualty of that unplanned living and – – you know if you don’t have that spark if there isn’t something that gets you up in the morning and that’s not something I can do for you that’s not something you can do you know for your clients.

You have to want to do it you have to have something inside of you that you feel this is my my purpose or my passion or my why and I always tell especially young people if there’s something in your heart something in your soul that you believe you’re supposed to do but it scares you go ahead and do it because at the end of your life the things that you’re going to regret are not going to be the things you did they’re going to be the things you didn’t do and by then it’s going to be too late to go back and do it.

Oli Anderson: Wow love it and I think you’re right like so many people in general do seem to be a bit lost maybe it’s just the way the world’s structured or something like that but I think the majority of people maybe I’ve been a bit unfair but a lot of people they’re just so used to just kind of been told what to do or they they’re too fearful to do the the final stage that you just talked about one of the final stages of actually looking inside themselves and seeing what they truly want and what they truly value instead of what they’ve just been told to want and value which causes them to be uh not as happy as they could be in the first place.

Terry Tucker:  I think you you made an incredibly important point there you know we we talk a lot about goals in our life and you know at the beginning of every year you know people make new year’s resolutions and I forget what the statistic is but it’s like 80 or 90 percent of those new year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside by February and it’s sort of at least for me begs the question why and and what I always come back to at least in my life is that if if you just have goals but those goals aren’t tied to anything specific more importantly if they’re not tied to your values you know so I think before you you start saying okay here are my goals for the year go back and say what are my values you know what am I willing to die for what am I willing to give my life you know in the pursuit of what the understanding that I may never get there but if you understand what you value in life you can you can put your goals you can attach your goals to those values and you you can see a much better chance of reaching your goals because they’re tied to something concrete in your life.

Oli Anderson: Yeah and they’re they’re tied to something that you genuinely 100 care about because those values are an expression of your core self the real you the soul whatever you want to call it but a lot of people they like you said they don’t know what their values are in the first place or they they’ve kind of buried them beneath the surface of societal values or cultural values or external values that they’ve picked up somewhere along the line and confused for the things that they really would be chasing if they were more in touch with their real self.

Terry Tucker: I totally agree with you there absolutely and that’s just it we don’t we don’t like being alone with ourselves I was reading a book recently called do hard things by a man by the name of Steve Magnus and he quotes a study that was done by this professor and it was a very simple study he took people and he put them in a room with nothing in the room but a chair and a table no devices no friends no windows nothing just a bare room with a chair and a table and on that table was a buzzer and all he did with that I want you to stay in this room for 15 minutes but if you want you can press that buzzer but if you press the buzzer you’re going to get a shock well and 67 % of the men and 25 % of the women press that buzzer including one man who pressed the buzzer almost every five seconds for 15 minutes wow and you I know you laugh at it and you say oh my god seriously but if we can’t be alone with ourselves for 15 minutes yeah yeah you know how are we possibly going to be able to do anything in our lives if if we can’t be alone with ourselves.

Oli Anderson: Yeah, that’s amazing and actually it opens up a whole kind of worms around the deeper issues actually and the deeper issue in life for the majority of people is exactly what you’ve just said they’re out of touch with themselves and so they’re constantly seeking distraction rather than just sit alone and be present or do things that make them more present so they can be connected to themselves so you know do yoga or go for a hike or sit in a room and be quiet rather than do any of those things they they’re constantly looking around for distractions even though the distractions may literally end up causing pain and in the example you’ve given that’s like a literal a literal thing but actually distraction always leads to more pain because it just exacerbates the distance between you and yourself if that makes sense.

Terry Tucker: It totally does and that’s why I recommend to people at least spend five minutes alone with yourself every day no distractions like you say no device is nothing just and let your mind go wherever it goes you know there’s it’s not like meditation where you’re trying to concentrate on one thing or anything just wherever it goes it goes and eventually you’re to a point where you are happier with yourself.

Oli Anderson: I think the problem is that in the short term if people have been disconnected from themselves for a while it’s almost always because there’s some kind of emotional chasm shall we say within them there’s a gap between how they think they feel and the identity that they’ve created for themselves and how they actually feel beneath the surface and so when people are sitting alone in a room or whatever it is eventually these feelings will start to resurface that’s what I think anyway because you can’t hide from that stuff you can distract yourself but if you run out of distractions eventually that stuff’s going to resurface and I think that’s one of the reasons as well why people struggle to go down this pathway you talked about at the start of motivation discipline and habits it’s easy to have the motivation to do things because a lot of the time especially if we are disconnected from ourselves or out of touch with whoever it is we really are well we just get motivated to do things that are not necessarily goals that are aligned with our real values and all the stuff we said but they make us feel good because they think that it’s a form of escapism basically but actually if you start really pushing into doing these things – doing the hard things like you said the name of that book was well then you become disciplined and you have habits but then you have to face yourself because that’s when you’re going to have to come out of your comfort zone and so I think that’s why a lot of people they like the motivation thing it feels nice or even the inspiration thing but when it gets down to the discipline and the habits that’s when people start to have a lot of fun a lot of problems.

Terry Tucker: I totally agree with you. Absolutely.

And that’s just it. You’ve got to do the hard work. You don’t grow. You don’t get better. You don’t improve when you’re safe and in your comfort zones. You only do that when you push yourself outside of that. And part of that may be, like you say, you sit alone in a room and all these emotions and things bubble to the surface, well, that’s part of the hard work.

That’s part of dealing with those things so that you can get motivated, have the good habits and the discipline to implement them.

Oli: Wow. That’s really important. I think a lot of people think that when you set out on a journey to kind of whatever purpose you’ve chosen for yourself, so to do some big goal or to move towards a vision, there is only really going to be a lot of the external things that you need to do. So you think of actions, you think of goals.

OK. But actually, most of the work, I think, is an internal thing. And maybe this could be a good segue into something that you shared earlier before we started recording about the four truths. So you have four truths, basically, that can help people by the sound of it to kind of start really getting better results as they go down this path that we’re talking about, of motivation, discipline, and habits, and getting things done, live in a real life.

Terry: Yeah. The four truths are things that I’ve come up with, certainly over my 10-year battle with cancer. And they’re just one sentence. And I have them here on a post-it note in my office. And so I see them multiple times during the day, and they constantly get reinforced in my brain. So I’ll give them to you. However, if you want to go into a little bit deeper with them, we can. The first one is this.

You need to control your mind, or your mind is going to control you. The second one is embrace the pain and the difficulty that we all experience in life, and use that pain and difficulty to make you a stronger and more resilient individual. The third one, as I said earlier, when you and I were talking, is more, I think, of a legacy type of truth.

And it’s this. What you leave behind is what you weave in the hearts of other people. And then the fourth one, I think, is pretty self-explanatory. As long as you don’t quit, you can never be defeated. And I look at these four truths, and I call them sort of the bedrock of my soul.

They’re just a good place, I think, to start to build a quality life off of.

Oli: OK, so the first one of the four truths, Terry, is this idea of controlling our minds. And in my opinion, that is one of the most important things that we do need to work on as human beings, because our mind affects the quality of our relationship with ourselves.

And our relationship with ourselves basically affects everything in our lives as a whole, the way that we can relate to other people, how we see the world, all these different things. So in your view, what are some things that we can all do to start working on this first truth of controlling our minds and getting better at improving our relationship with ourselves basically?

Terry: We all become what we think. And of these four truths, I think that number one about controlling your mind is probably the most important, because we need to be incredibly careful of how we talk to ourselves.

We all have sort of a self-talk where our brains are kind of doing their thing. But if you, I’ll give you an example. I mentioned I play basketball all the way through college. The same part of your brain lights up when you practice, actually take a ball and practice shooting baskets. It’s the same part in your brain that lights up when you think about shooting those baskets.

So you’re making those connections. You’re making those synapses come together. And if you keep telling yourself, for example, you’re a student and you’re taking an algebra, for example, and you’re like, I’m bad at it. I’m terrible at algebra. I’m never going to do any good.

I’m going to. That negative self-talk will eventually get to the point where you hardwire your brain so that you are not good at algebra. And it would be incredibly hard for you to flip that around. So be very careful how you talk to yourself.

I think that’s the important thing. And I learned when I was in high school, I had three knee surgeries. And I remember when I went back playing basketball after those knee surgeries, my brain was putting all kinds of negative thoughts into my mind.

Things like you’re probably a step slower because of those surgeries. And college coaches aren’t going to be interested in recruiting you to play for their teams. And I remember thinking, wait a minute, I’m still playing at an elite level.

And coaches are still reaching out to me about the possibility of playing for their school. So I realized kind of early on, I needed to change that narrative. I needed to say, wait a minute, that’s a negative thought.

And I guess this is important too. We’re human beings. We’re going to have negative thoughts. Don’t think that if you have a negative thought, that oh my gosh, somehow I’m a bad person. No, it’s OK. We’re human.

It happens. But understand that that is a negative thought. And turn it around to something positive that you can use to your benefit as opposed to that negative thought, which is definitely not in your favour.

Oli: Do you think there is a trap, though, sometimes where we can be too positive or overly positive or almost sort of naively optimistic?

So we tell ourselves that things are going to work out, mainly because that’s what we want rather than what is possible or because we’re actually doing the work and that kind of thing. Sometimes overly positive thinking can be detrimental, I think.

Terry: Yeah, unrealistic thinking can be detrimental. Absolutely.

I totally agree with you. I don’t know if you can be too positive. You have to be realistic. There’s probably not a chance I’m going to win a Nobel Prize in physics.

I’m not very good at physics and I don’t know anything about it. But if that’s a goal for you, and if you’re in a situation where you’re trying to make that happen, and I think it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, are you willing to do the work?

Are you willing to do the hard work to do that? And if it is, then you need to be positive about doing that and believe you’re moving forward. If you’re just motivated, but you know you’re not doing the work, you can be as positive as you want. You’re just being unrealistic. And you’re going to fail just simply because you’re not doing the work that you need to do.

Oli: 100%. Like that’s something that is so important and is so simple.

And I often end up explaining it to people. But if you’re not taking the actions or you’re not doing anything, then you’re actually just not going to get anywhere. And it’s crazy that I even have to say that, because it is so simple.

But a lot of people, because of the reasons we talked about, they love skipping out the discipline and the habit stage, which is ultimately about action. And then that’s when they do lapse into a kind of naive optimism or whatever you want to call it.

So you’re right. I think, yeah, as long as you’ve been realistic or real and you understand what you’re capable of and you keep moving forward with it, then you’re probably going to be okay.

Terry: I agree. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

But if you’re not, and that’s okay. And that’s the thing, people somehow think, you know, I’ve seen this happen a lot in the United States, especially, I don’t know if it’s true in your country as well. But, you know, we start down a goal, or we start down the path to a goal, and something we wanna do. And then we butt up against an impediment.

Something gets in our way, and we tweak it over to around it or through it. And so we quit. And we just don’t quit here in the United States. Now we need to blame somebody.

Oli: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Terry: You know, we need to blame our parents, or our boss, or our station in life. Very few people take personal responsibility for their own success and happiness. Nobody owes you anything.

Nobody’s coming to your rescue. If you want something in life, figure out what that is. Use your unique gifts and talents, and go after it with everything you have in your life.

Oli: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love it. Like, I completely see life the same way. Like, it’s the day that you step up and take responsibility for your life, and your feelings, especially, and all the things that happen to you, and you take action. It’s a very liberating thing. This idea that nobody can save us but ourselves, it seems depressing at first, potentially.

If you’ve been brought up with all this conditioning where, you know, the way you feel is more important than anything else, and blah, blah, blah. But actually, it’s very liberating. It’s very freeing.

It gives you a lot of power, and a lot of people are scared of that power, I think, because of the emotional stuff we were talking about earlier.

Terry: Yeah, it’s going back to, are you doing the hard work? You know, are you doing the things to get yourself in a position where you can succeed?

And, you know, like you say, so many people kind of sit back, and, you know, when I want to distract myself because I’m afraid that if I’m alone with myself, I’m gonna have to deal with some pretty heavy things. Well, that’s hard to do in the hard work, and like you say, and that’s liberating when you do that work and you come out the other end, and you’re like, I’m a better person than when I started.

Oli: Yeah, in a way, it’s the difference between living in the short term and living in the long term.

And I think the long-term way of living, that’s when you start to be able to live for something bigger than yourself, whether it’s a vision, or it’s your values, or it’s, I don’t know, a drive to give something back to the world, whatever it is, that always involves thinking of yourself in the long term and your evolution.

If you caught up in this lack of personal responsibility or victimhood or whatever we want to call it, that’s when you just kind of, you’ve been broken down basically by your feelings, and it’s caused you to be passive and to tell yourself a story that’s unreal, unrealistic, and it stops you from moving. And actually, it’s not a, it’s kind of a paradoxical thing to say, but being a victim is not as fun as people seem to think it might be when they’re trying to justify that mindset and all that kind of stuff.

Terry: True, but being a victim is very easy. It’s hard to do the work.

Oli: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Terry: Be a victim and not doing the work. That’s the answer.

Oli: Yeah, yeah, but that’s exactly it. But that’s the paradox as well, because the whole victim thing, it sells it as though their situation is so difficult that they’re not gonna do the actual hard work, which is what they really actually would benefit from doing in most cases.

This actually segues quite nicely into your second truth, which is the idea of embracing the pain or the difficulty. So I suppose the question becomes, why are, it’s kind of a, maybe there’s an obvious answer, but there’s a deeper answer as well, maybe.

Why are people so averse to the pain and the difficulty and the obstacles and all these things that you actually can do anything about anyway, because they’re just part of reality, part of human nature. So there’s no point complaining about them. You just have to accept them really. But what stops people accepting them and working with them?

Terry: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think the answer is ourselves. Our brains are hardwired to avoid pain and discomfort and to seek pleasure.

So to the brain, the status quo, the way things are right now is comfortable and familiar and should just be left alone. But kind of like we were talking earlier, the only way you’re gonna grow, the only way you’re gonna improve, the only way you’re gonna get better is to step outside those comfort zones and to do things that make you uncomfortable.

And I always recommend to people, and I try to do this every day of my life, do one thing every day that makes you nervous, that scares you, that’s potentially embarrassing.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but if you do those small things every day, when the big disasters in life hit us and they hit us all, we lose our job, somebody close to us dies, we find out we have a chronic or a terminal illness, if you do those small things every day, when those big disasters in life hit, you’ll be so much more resilient to handle those when they come. And instead of running from pain, what I’m suggesting is just the opposite. Take that pain, flip it inside of you, burn it as fuel, use it as energy to make you a stronger and more resilient individual.

Oli: I love it. The reason that it makes you stronger and it gives you energy is because when you go through those painful situations, you find out what’s actually real about you. That’s what I think anyway, right?

And when you find out what’s real about you, actually what happens is you let go of all the unreal nonsense and bullshit, pardon my French, that you’ve been holding onto that’s been weighing you down.

And by holding onto all that stuff, the unreal stories that you tell yourself, the unreal assumptions you carry, the limiting beliefs, the fears, all these things that you hold onto, that is what weighs people down and causes them to have less energy than they actually do naturally have, I think.

And so by pushing through the edge of the initial discomfort or the fear or the brain’s natural instincts to run away from the pain, by pushing through that, again, like the personal responsibility thing we were talking about, it’s always a very liberating thing, it’s freeing, but people, it’s counterintuitive.

Terry: It is because, you know, our brains, and I understand why, you know, our brains don’t like pain and discomfort.

Well, that’s a defense mechanism.

That’s what has been built into your brain to keep you safe. You know, it would be like if you got up this morning and said, you know what, I’m going to go skydive it. Your brain would be like, oh, wait a minute. You know, the plane might crash, your parachute may not open, or, you know, your brain starts putting all this negative garbage in there.

And if you really want to go skydiving, you have to find a way to overcome that. Yeah, that all might happen, but I think I’m safe and I trained and I’m going to be with people who know what they’re doing.

So I’m going to go ahead and do that. And I know that’s kind of an oversimplified example, but that same thing happens every day with these little things that pop up in our lives is like, wait a minute, you know, maybe, maybe I’m not, I’m not, oh, maybe I’m not good enough at that, or maybe I don’t have enough knowledge, or what are people going to say about me if I fail? Who cares? I mean, really, I mean, who cares what people say about you? So many people live other people’s lives.

We try to live vicariously through other people. You’re not on the same journey as that person. You don’t have the same gifts and talents as that person.

Let them live their journey, be happy for them, encourage them, but live your own life and stop comparing yourselves to other people, because all that’s going to do is drive you nuts.

Oli: Wow. Like, again, all these four truths are obviously linked out there because they’re all just talking about the human experience and what it is to be to be real, basically.

Do you think this is a personal question? But obviously you’ve suffered or maybe suffers not the right word, but you’ve experienced illness quite a few times, like you said. Did you learn a lot about reality from going through those experiences?

So the reason I’m asking this question is in my own life, I had some health issues that were really serious and they taught me a lot of these truths as well because they showed me that reality is just a certain way. Actually, there’s nothing you can do about it. And the way is ultimately that we’re all going to be dead one day.

And before we do die, there’s going to be loads of problems and obstacles and challenges and all these things that we can either set ourselves up to feel friction towards because of our expectations or the assumption that reality should be something different. Or we can work to accept ourselves on a much deeper level and use all these challenges and obstacles that arise to accept ourselves and to accept life even more.

And when you get to that place of acceptance, that’s when things actually start to click and you’ve got all this energy we were talking about and you feel amazing and things work out. But you can only get to that place by either really training yourself to face reality no matter what, which is difficult if you don’t have something bad happen to you or something bad, scared quotes happens to you and it wakes you up. But do you feel like, you know, when you when you had cancer and all that stuff that taught you that a lot of the things you previously thought were maybe not true or it showed you how life really works and all that kind of stuff.

Terry: Absolutely. I mean, I think we all have a breaking point, you know, point where I just can’t go on. But my experience and again, I can only speak for myself. My experience is that that breaking point is so much further down the road than we ever gave, than we ever give ourselves credit. We quit.

We give up. It’s like, oh, that hurts. I don’t want to do that anymore. You know what? Take that pain again, flipping inside, burn it as you will. You have that pain to push you forward to make you a better individual.

So yeah, I really think that the, I’ve got a friend of mine who’s a former Navy SEAL branch of the military here in the United States, some of the toughest men and the SEALs talk about what they call their 40 % rule, which is basically if you’re at the end of your rope, if you can’t go on, if you think you’re done, you’re only at 40 % of your maximum and you still have another 60 % left in reserve to give to yourself. So whenever I feel bad and don’t get me wrong, you know, I don’t want your audience to think that, you know, I’ve got a big S on my chest and I fly around with the cape with magical powers. You know, I don’t, I have bad days.

I’m a human being. I cry, I get down when I, when I have to go to treatments and things like that. But I always remember that I have so much more left to give to myself when I get into those kind of down places.

Oli: Well, I suppose what you’ve said kind of resonates with me as well. Like the illness thing. So I had, I’ve got kidney failure.

So I’m on dialysis, but like, I’ve just been through so many crazy things because of that. And actually I realized that the 40 % thing, like I never thought of it in those terms, but the 40 % thing is so true because actually you can take so much more.

Then your fear allows you to think that you can take in the first place. Like when you push through that edge, you can always go deeper and we’re all a lot stronger than we think. And actually by challenging ourselves in this way, our strength always comes out. It’s like you’ve always got the strength, it almost always, unless you die, there’s always something there that you can do.

That’s, that’s how it seems to me now. And I think it, going through this or something like this, it kind of, the end result is, is kind of a peaceful feeling. Do you know what I mean? Like eventually you get to a place where your tolerance of just day to day pain or strife or drama or whatever it is, the tolerance because of the other stuff is, is very high. Like it just doesn’t bother you. It doesn’t phase you because you’ve got perspective. I think that’s ultimately what it’s about.

Right. Eventually you get to a point where your perspective shows you that, you know, pain is, is basically relative. And so you can keep going or you can keep pushing through. And so by conditioning yourself, whether you’ve got an illness or you’re just a, you know, a normal person, whatever.

Well, by conditioning yourself, you can actually train yourself to be able to take more and more and probably that 40 % the tank gets more and more full, something like that.

Terry: I totally agree. And I think pain and discomfort, they reveal things to you. You know, there, there’s, there’s just a point where I, one of the things cancer taught me is I don’t really think you know yourself until you’ve been tested by some form of adversity.

Yeah. And so you, you have to, you have to go through adversity to, to bring out all the, all the things in your life. And I’ve always believed that everything you need to be successful in your life, however you define success is already inside. You know, you just need to find it, pull it out and use it to your benefit.

But we’re always looking externally for something. You know, I’m going to read this health book or I’m going to, you know, listen to this podcast or I’m going to do this and, and, and I’m going to get something that I don’t have. You’ve already gotten it. You just need to find it and use it to your advantage.

Oli: And that, that’s why like, actually sometimes like illnesses or adversity or whatever it ends up showing up as is a blessing.

And it’s a blessing because it shows you the real version of you, like you were saying. And actually, I think this goes back to the thing we were saying about embracing the difficulty. The reason it’s so difficult sometimes, especially at the start of these journeys is because we don’t know ourselves.

And so actually we’re holding as the trials and tribulations and the difficulties test us, what they actually do is show us that our identity is not what we thought it was. And if you can let go of your ideas about yourself and take the lesson and flow with it and evolve and to, to grow into the next version of yourself, it’s a lot easier, but a lot of people, they resist the lesson because actually they want to cling to the idea of themselves that they have at the start of that journey.

But that just makes it a lot more difficult than it needs to be. to be. Do you see what I’m saying?

Terry: I totally do. I told you, let me read you something real quick that I find amazing. And this is something that I think we if you think about it, it’s very simple, but it’s just a quick paragraph.

And here it is. In order for you to be born, you needed two parents, four grandparents, eight grand, great grandparents, 16 great, great grandparents, 32, third great grandparents, 64 fourth great grandparents, 128 fifth great grandparents, 256 sixth great grandparents, 512 seventh great grandparents, 1024 eighth great grandparents, and 2048 ninth great grandparents.

For you to be born from 12 previous generations, you needed a total of 4094 ancestors over the past 400 years. Think for a moment how many struggles, how many battles, how many difficult, how much sadness, how much happiness, how much love stories, how many expectations of hope for the future.

Did your ancestors have to undergo for you to exist in this world?

Oli: Wow. Yeah, I love I love that so much. And I’ve thought about something similar before, which is all of our and the fact that we’re here means somebody has worked their ass off basically. Like our lives in the modern world are a bit too easy, maybe like if you think about all the, I don’t know, the saber tooth tigers or whatever it is that people have had to battle just to survive.

That’s a slightly hyperbolic example. But the struggle is what’s allowed us to be here. And I’ve never thought about it in, you know, such a vast number that you’ve just put on out, but it’s actually amazing to think about. But that’s, that’s the natural state of being isn’t it? Yeah, like the world we’ve do you think the world we’ve created now, or the world we live in is, you know, it’s making a struggle, but by causing us not not by making us too comfortable. So we struggle because we’re too comfortable, if that makes sense. And the struggle is, it’s not real.

Terry: We’re too soft.

Oli: Yeah, basically. Yeah.

Terry: Yeah, I absolutely believe that we have all these conveniences. And so we get soft and soft times create soft, you know, just like hard times create hard, hard people.

Oli: I was I was gonna say that as well, actually, there’s the thing is that it’s like a meme. So you just said it, yeah, like hard times create soft men or whatever is.

So I can’t remember how it goes. But yeah, the point is that every generation basically feeds off the next one. And if it’s too easy, then it’ll be hard next time round.

And if it’s too hard, then, you know, you create a world that’s good, but then you end up creating kind of softer people.

So what what do we do about that? That’s the question. Maybe this feeds into your third truth, which is about what you leave behind.

So in a way, that the meme that I’m referring to, which I can’t remember verbatim kind of is talking about isn’t it is talking about our responsibility from one generation to the next, to create a world that is I suppose aligned with reality or at the very least, is going to create something that allows, you know, the next generations to thrive or whatever it is.

What what what what do you mean by that? I suppose that’s the question.

Terry: Absolutely. You know, I still have friends who read the obituary, you know, paper, or the obituary section in the newspaper or online, for two reasons, one to keep themselves humble, and two, to help them realize like you were talking about a minute ago, that we’re all going to die. You know, when I found out I had these tumors in my lungs, and I was going to have my leg amputated, I went with my wife to the mortuary and to the cemetery and to the church, and I plan my funeral.

And because I go on podcasts and talk about, you know, motivation, or I give speeches, or people read my book, I got some brushback from some folks that were like, you know, plan on your funeral, don’t you think that’s kind of defeatist? And I kind of laughed and, you know, looked at it was like, Well, the last time I checked, we’re all going to die. Don’t think anybody’s working on a cure for life right now. Every one of us is going to die.

But not every one of us is really going to live. And I heard a Native American Blackfoot proverb years ago that I absolutely love and it goes like this. When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. That’s what I want.

That’s what I’m looking for. You know, don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to hasten my demise in any way. But death is not nearly as scary for me, because I believe I have lived the purposes for which I was put on this world to do. You know, part of that is passing on what I’ve learned to my daughter, you know, my wife and I have one child, a daughter, and it’s like, you know what, yeah, you’re going to go through hard times, deal with it, suck it up, learn something from it, not just, Oh, honey, I’ll take care of you.

You don’t learn again, when you’re in those comfort zones, you learn from the difficulties and the struggles you have.

Oli: Like the death thing is really important, I think for actually, making all of this stuff work. So something I’m always going on about is, you know, people will disagree about just about anything these days, especially, but death is something that we can all at least agree.

I’m sure somebody out there will disagree, but 99.9 % of people will agree that death is a thing that happens. And so you can take that as a starting point for how to actually live a good life. And if death is inevitable, well, it just opens up so many different things that you need to embrace in order to live a good life. So the first thing is that if death is coming, that means everything is changing.

And so if everything is changing, well, okay, that means the static illusions and interpretations that your mind shows you of life are not true. And so you can, you know, improve your relationship with your mind in the way that we said, if death is coming, and everything keeps moving, that means you are going to have all these difficulties, and there’s going to be things that you have to learn to accept and blah, blah, blah. And so the death thing is, you know, is vital.

Like, maybe that’s an ironic word to use. But it’s vital in the sense that if you don’t embrace death, then you will never ever be able to live a real life, even if it’s just because you won’t appreciate your own time. Do you think that’s something that’s inspired you to be more motivated? The fact that, you know, death is coming, you’ve been planning your funeral, momentum or all this stuff. But the psychological consequence of that probably for you is that you’re just aware of the value of your time. Maybe I mean, I’m speaking of my own experience, but that’s how I, you know, I assume it might be.

Terry: I agree and people don’t don’t like to talk about it because it’s it’s unknown but it’s it’s the most fair thing in the world because we all get it you know we all get death once that’s it boom you’re gone and we are here for such a short period of time I mean even people that live to be a hundred years a hundred years is nothing you know I mean I just I read you that thing about what it you know the number of people that needed to do the right thing to you know to go the right way in order for you to be here and that was over 400 years there were 4,000 almost 4,100 people that needed to do the right thing at the right time in order for you to be here and that was only 400 years I mean so we’re here for such a short period of time and it’s over and life just keeps moving forward it’s not like you know oh Terry Dougherty’s gonna name you know a building after me or a street or put up a statue nobody’s gonna remember I was here except the people that I touched and I you know we all get caught up and you know I gotta make money I gotta have power I gotta have influence I gotta have a nice car I gotta live in the nice house at the end of your life the only thing that goes with you is the same thing that you brought into this world and that’s the love in your heart so I had a nurse recently asked me what it was like to have my foot amputated and my leg amputated and this is what I told her I said you know what cancer can take all my physical faculties but cancer can’t touch my mind it can’t touch my heart and it can’t touch my soul and that’s who I am that’s who you are all that’s everybody’s listening to us is and we spend so much time on dealing with our physical body am I wearing the right thing is my hair look good does my beard good I mean spend more time working on the things that you really.

Oli: Yeah yeah yeah yeah that’s what it all boils down to in my view like the stuff that’s real about us and the stuff that’s unreal basically and these kind of things that we’re talking about you know facing challenges and going through trials and tribulations and yada yada all that stuff is just showing you what’s real and the real stuff like you’ve also said it never goes anywhere because what’s real is always real and all of these material things or these physical things or whatever it is that we spend our whole lives chasing that is superficial and empty and meaningless and not real and so most people are running around like we said because they’re conditioning just chasing things that aren’t real and actually by opening up to death and all these things you’re gonna be able to make choices that allow you to do stuff that is more real so just back to your third truth about you know what you leave behind is what basically what you leave in the hearts of other people how do we you know use the time that we do have before we all drop dead to kind of embody that truth.

Terry: I think we need to share our lives with people and I you know I when I was young I was I was a kind of a quote-unquote disciple of a basketball coach here in the United States by the name of John Wooden probably one of the one of the greatest college basketball coaches and our memory was being interviewed by a reporter at one point in time and you know I was sitting there listening to this and I was a kid you know I had a pad of paper and a pencil I’m like okay come on coach give me some good X’s and O’s that I can use you know you get better at basketball and the reporter asked him you know what’s the most important thing that you want your players to learn and understand and I was like okay come on coach give me some good X’s and O’s and he said the most important thing I want people to understand is love and I was like no no come on give me something good but really he wanted his players and the people around him to understand the importance of love love for what you do love for yourself love for your fellow man and I think in one word that is really you know and especially guys guys you know we don’t talk about that’s not something you know but it’s so important in our lives if we love each other which means you know we care about each other we support each other we want the best for each other instead of you know this what we talked about earlier you know what hey you got more money than I do or you drive a nicer car you know so I’m now comparing my life to you and thinking that you know I want what you have no you’re on your own journey I’m on my journey be happy for me in my journey help me along the way if you possibly can but don’t be an impediment don’t put something in my way don’t be a roadblock for me to get to where I want to be a lot so I would say the most important thing that we do for each other in our lives is to love you.

Oli: Yeah you’re right like a lot of guys especially don’t like talking about that but it is love and death that’s who are the most controversial topics but they’re the most real topics or maybe not controversial they’re the most avoided topics at a real level like we’re all gonna die and actually if we’re all gonna die it means we’re all precious because we’re not gonna be around forever and so actually love is just appreciating that I think it’s about appreciating how valuable every single person is and how valuable their lives are and how you know if we can get out of our heads and we stop judging ourselves and then judging each other and we stop judging life for what it is and how it works then we can just allow people to do what they need to do basically and they can have freedom because love I think is just acceptance and when you get when people give you acceptance you get the freedom that comes with it and if you can treat people like that which is personally it’s a work in progress like I’m not like I’m not saying I’m like a you know I’m the Messiah or something like I want to live like that most of the time like obviously life creeps in or whatever it is but if we can live like that I think then we at least increase the odds have been remembered for a little bit longer than when we’ve just dropped dead initially.

Terry: Yeah and but again I mean you think about all the people you know again what I what I read earlier there’s there’s 4100 people 99.9 % of those people you have no idea you probably have no idea who your eighth great parents were you know no idea what some but they are they set the table for lack of a better work for you you know they they had expectations they had goals they worked hard they did what they needed to do and probably in some really difficult times that we don’t I mean we think we got it tough now I mean you can you imagine having to you know kill your dinner every night.

They got that they did that and now you’re here yeah and I always say you know what it’s my responsibility to set the table for the next generation for my daughter’s generation you know and to leave that I hope I leave this world in a better place than when I came into it I can’t change the world but I can change my little corner.

Oli: I love that a little phrase you just concocted about setting the table I think that should be a thing but how do we bring this all around with the the final truth which is about not quitsing so we kind of talked about it a little bit at the start when we were talking about the motivation and discipline habits thing but how do we get to that place where we can be tenacious and not quit unless we you know we decide it’s the the real thing to do for whatever reason but how do we get to that place where we can keep going we don’t quit but we’re not so outcome dependent that we drive ourselves crazy trying to get certain results if if that makes sense?

Terry: It does and I think it goes back to kind of what we were talking about, you know, what’s your motivation, what discipline do you have, and what are the habits that you’re forming in your life. And the way I look at that quote about, you know, as long as you don’t quit, you can never be defeated, you know, I look at it personally and say, you know, someday my cancer, my cancer journey, my pain is going to end. You know, it may end through surgery, it may end through some type of new medication.

Quite frankly, it may end when I die. But if I quit, if I give up, if I give in to pain, then pain will always be a part of my life.

So again, I think it comes kind of full circle. You need to do the hard things, you need to face the things in your life that scare you, that make you uncomfortable, that are things that you’re trying to distract yourself from. And if you do that, you’re facing up to that pain. And once you can conquer your pain, you can move forward no matter what happens.

Oli: Wow. Like this, something actually kind of comforting in knowing that we are going to die one day. I know that I said that already. But like, actually, if you think about the extreme, the most extreme way of quitting is to kill yourself, right, is to commit suicide.

If things get so bad that you do that, then obviously you’re in a lot of pain and, you know, that’s just awful. But actually knowing that you’re going to die one day anyway, can kind of release you from that. Because like you’ve said, you know, things do keep changing. It might be really hard now, but you know, you’re going to die one day anyway.

So you might as well find out, just stick around and find out what’s going to happen. And it’s this, you know, that I’m giving a very extreme example. But even if you’re just, you know, you’re working on your business, or you’ve got a creative goal, or you’re writing a book or whatever it is, you’re trying to learn a yoga pose or something.

Just keep trying, like find out, I think that’s a really good philosophy or a good approach, this kind of experimental way of doing it, just find out it’s about letting go of the control. Do you think that makes sense?

Terry: It totally does.

Absolutely. You, and this is definitely something I’ve learned through cancer. I used to be, you know, I was the type A personality that I needed to always be in control. And cancer has taught me I am totally not at all. Yeah.

Yeah. You know, when I, when I found out, you know, I was having my leg amputated, and I had these tumors in my legs. About six months ago, my oncologist showed me the CAT scan of my lungs. And I have no medical background.

I don’t know, you know, what should be there and not. But I had fluid all around the pleural spaces of my lungs, had these big tumors in my lungs. And I looked at my oncologist and I said, how was I alive? And he kind of got this smile on his face and sort of shook his head.

He’s like, I don’t know. Wow. You know, which said to me that, and I have a very strong faith that God’s not done with me yet. You know, when I die, where I die, how I die, way above my pay grade. So I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about dying.

I spend more time worrying about living and what I can put back into this world.

Oli: I think that, that, that final sentence that you just said really kind of, you know, it sums everything up, right? Like it hits the nail on the head.

That’s what it’s about. Just living. I know, I know that’s, it’s almost too simple again, but it comes down to having that mindset that lets you really commit to life. Basically, that’s what you’re doing. You’re committing to life because the lessons you’ve learned, these four truths can help anyone do it.

Have you got any final words to sum all this up? We’ve been talking quite a while. I didn’t realize how quickly the time had gone. I never do.

I should probably pay more attention. But anyway, have you got any final words to sum this up? And can  you tell people where they can find you as well? If they want to get in touch or read your writing or any of that stuff? Sure.

Terry: I’ll start with the last part first. I have a blog that I put up a thought for the day, every day. It’s called Motivational Check. On Motivational Check, there are recommendations for books to read, videos to watch.

You can leave me a message and things like that. But will get you to me. My book Sustainable Excellence, you can get pretty much anywhere. You can get a book online, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, iBooks, wherever you can get.

You can also get it at But let me leave you with this story. Here in the United States, I’ve always been a big fan of westerns growing up, sort of the Cowboys and Indians thing. And 1993, the movie Tombstone came out. You may have seen it. It’s one of my favorite films.

I was, yeah, that’s what I’m… Yeah, huge blockbuster. It started Val Kilmer as a man by the name of John Dock Holiday. And Kurt Russell as a man by the name of Wyatt Earp. Now Dock Holiday and Wyatt Earp were two living, breathing human beings who walked on the face of the earth.

They’re not just made up characters for the movie. Now Dock was called Dock because he was a dentist by trade, but pretty much Dock Holiday was a gunslinger and a card shark. And Wyatt Earp, his entire adult life, had been some form of a lawman.

And somehow these two men from entirely opposite backgrounds formed this very close friendship. And at the end of the movie Dock Holiday is dying of tuberculosis at a sanitarium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which is about three hours from where I live. The real Dock Holiday died at that sanitarium and he’s buried in the Glenwood Springs cemetery. And Wyatt at this point in his life is destitute.

He has no money, he has no job, he has no prospects for a job. So every day comes to play cards with Dock and the two men pass the time. And in this almost last scene in the movie, they’re talking about what they want out of life. And Dock says, you know, I was in love with my cousin when I was younger, but she joined a convent over the affair, but she’s all that I ever wanted. And then he looks at Wyatt and says, what about you Wyatt?

What do you want? And Wyatt kind of nonchalantly says, I just want to lead a normal life. And Dock looks at him and says, there’s no normal, there’s just life and get on with living yours. Ola, you and I probably know people that are sitting out there maybe listening to us that are like, well, you know what, when this happens, I’ll have a normal life. But when that occurred, I’ll have a successful life. Or when this arises, I’ll have a significant life.

What I’d like to come to you, get out there, find the reasons you were put on the face of this earth, use your unique gifts and talents and live that reason. Because if you do it, at the end of your life, I’m going to promise you two things. Number one, you’re going to be a whole lot happier.

And number two, you’re going to have a whole lot more peace in your home. Terry, that was beautiful.

Oli: Thank you so much for coming on this podcast and sharing all this stuff.

Terry: Well, thanks for having me. I enjoyed talking with you.

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