I’m Not A Victim

travis mills

The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances. 

Martha Washington

If you’ve ever felt like a victim you need to hear the story of Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills. Don’t miss listening to my interview with him on my morning show a little farther down the page as well.

Hw served three tours in Afghanistan before he was hit by a roadside bomb. He thought it was over for him. He even told the medic to leave him alone because he thought he had no chance to live. He lost all four limbs that day. What motivated him to stay alive was his wife and infant daughter back home.

When he got to Walter Reed Medical Center he was feeling pretty bad about his future. Travis told me what kick started his recovery was when another quadruple amputee soldier, Todd Nicely, came into his room and said, “You’re going to get through this.” That was the beginning of a long, painful process.

Travis now snowboards, bikes and even skydives. He created a nonprofit foundation to help other wounded warriors get back on their feet. He is a motivational speaker and he tours with a documentary about his recovery.

On my radio show he said, “I’m not a victim. Everybody has problems.” I couldn’t believe what a great attitude he had. Everybody has problems? Yes, but most of us let slow wifi service ruin our day. If we get the wrong order at the drive through we may be in a funk for hours. Travis is a quadruple amputee and he’s not complaining. Kind of puts it all in perspective doesn’t it?

Travis told me that his prosthetics are so great that there’s nothing he can’t do now. He’s enjoying life with his wife and child. His motto is: “Never give up. Never Quit.” He is definitely not a victim.

You can listen to my interview with Travis Mills here:

This above all, to refuse to be a victim.

– Margaret Atwood

You cannot be a victim and live out your Passionate Purpose. Everything that goes along with being a victim is in direct conflict with what you need to succeed. When you see yourself as a victim you are helpless, hopeless, depressed, self-pitying, blaming, negative and unlovable. Other than that, it’s a gay old time.

Your victimhood can be real or imagined, but no matter what bad hand life has dealt you, the beginning of your way out is believing that you control what happens to you from this point forward. Once you believe that, you have a chance. Now you have the beginning of the motivation necessary to change your life forever.

You must understand that you, not your parents, society, your government, or anyone else, you have the power to determine what your future will be. It doesn’t matter if your victimhood is real or phony. Until you give up blaming other people or circumstances for your failures and change your mindset from victim to victor, you will never truly succeed.

If that sounds harsh, just think about what Travis has dealt with. If he can overcome, why can’t we? Why can’t you? You can.

You can’t be a victim and heal.

– A. J. Langer

Go Big or Go Home?


We love going BIG, don’t we? We want a home run, not a single. We want a deep pass for 6 points, not a good three yard run for a first down. We love the slam dunk or the three pointer, not the layup.

I get it. I want the huge successes, too. There is definitely a time to go big. But what if going for the home run every time actually stalls your success? What if going slightly smaller is better?

I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.

–Abraham Lincoln

I just got back from vacation where I had the opportunity to go surfing again. (Even if you don’t surf, hang with me. I think everyone will get this analogy.) It was the first time in a long time back in the water. The waves were pretty good. The outside set was about five feet with decent form. I wanted to catch some of those.

So, I paddled out through some tough whitewater. I was physically drained by the time I got to the outside break. I immediately tried to catch a wave. My arms were noodles, I wasn’t able to pop up on the board and I wiped out.

Now I was back in the whitewater and had to struggle to get back in position to “go big.” This time I waited until my arms had some strength back in them. But, now the big waves I was waiting on weren’t coming as often. I tried and missed a couple more. After waiting another 15 minutes I finally caught a big one. It was sweet. Nice drop in and a good bottom turn. But then it kind of died out. Total wave time 8 seconds, max.

I was then faced with a decision: Should I fight through the whitewater again and wait another 15 minutes for one “big ride,” or should I try the inside break that isn’t quite as big, but is more consistent, has better form, and longer rides?

I chose to the inside break. Almost immediately I caught a good, long ride. It was easy to paddle back to the break and I caught another wave after a little rest. I kept doing this for about half an hour. In that time I enjoyed about 10 solid rides and didn’t kill myself trying to paddle out through the really rough stuff.

Instead of “Going Big” I went slightly smaller and had a blast.

This can work with our personal and business goals too. Instead of putting all your effort into that big client, how about getting several really good ones? Instead of trying to lose a pound a day, how about two pounds a week?

Is there somewhere in your life where you’re trying to “go big” and it isn’t working? How about going medium for a while instead? I know it’s not as sexy as the long ball or the hail Mary, but it might be better.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a horse master. He told me to go slow to go fast. I think that applies to everything in life. We live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but if we do each thing calmly and carefully we will get it done quicker and with much less stress.

–Viggo Mortensen

A Healthy Dose of Vitamin N

 “The successful man is the average man, focused.”


Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Is there too much to do and too little time? Are you spending all your time putting out fires instead of pursuing your passionate purpose and achieving your goals?

Does a one legged duck swim in circles?

Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious. We’re all busy and trying to do a million things. What’s your point?

(Get ready, big insight coming…)

You can’t do it all. You certainly can’t do it all well. You can’t even enjoy trying to do it all. So why do we try? Why do we fell guilty when we fail?

 “Focusing is about saying No.”

Steve Jobs

no joke

One of the easiest ways to get distracted is to say “yes” too much. We all want to be the “team player.” We don’t want to be called selfish, lazy, or rude. We want to say yes to our boss when she asks us to take on another project. We want to say yes to our colleagues who ask us for help.

But, will that help us get where we want to go? Is that the way to do our best work? Every time we say “yes” to what someone else wants from us, we are also saying “no” to time focussed on your goals and what you want. 

We need to administer a healthy dose of Vitamin N every day. We need to be comfortable saying, “No.” We can be nice in how we say no, but we don’t need to act like we’re doing something horrible by saying no, either.

Here are some ways to say no:

  • Thanks for asking me, but I’m in the middle of a project right now that I need to finish by my deadline.

  • I’m not the best person to help on this one. That’s really Jim’s specialty.

  • I’ve already committed to X right now. I know you will do a great job.

  • I’m not able to set aside the time needed to do that well.

  • I’m honored you thought of me, but I’m not able to help on this one.

  • No, I’m not able to do that.

It will take some practice getting good at saying no, but it will change your life. Try it out. See how it feels. Say “no” to someone today. Say “no” to two people tomorrow. It is liberating.

We have a special rule on the smart phone at the Knapp house. Here it is:

The phone is for our convenience, not for the caller’s.”

Just because someone calls, texts or emails you, doesn’t mean you have to answer it. You didn’t ask them to contact you and you are not required to immediately answer them. We don’t even look at the phone during dinner and family time. Later, we decide if, and when, we will return a call.

It’s one way we say “no” to demands on our time.

Does this sound rude to you? I used to feel that way. But another way to look at it is, would you let someone walk in your house, or place of business, and demand that you immediately meet their needs? Wouldn’t you call that rude?

This isn’t to suggest that you always say “no,” or that you never help out a co-worker or a friend. This isn’t carte blanche permission to say “no” to everyone. You will still say “yes” to your spouse, kids, boss, church, etc. but you won’t say it all the time.

The point is that you are strategic as to when you say “yes” and you make sure that “no” is not a dirty word. It will end up helping you, and everyone you care about, more than saying “yes” to all comers.

Give it a try and see what happens.

You Think, Therefore You Do


You become what you think about.” 

Earl Nightingale

Take a look around you right now. What do you see? A couch, a chair, walls, furniture, lights, windows? 

Everything you see was once nothing more than a thought. Someone had to conceive of the couch your sitting on before the plans were made, the materials were gathered and the work was done to make it and ship it to the store where you purchased it. Someone had to dream up the house you’re living in before it was built. I had to think of every word in this post in order to write it so you could be reading it right now.

Everything that gets done in this world begins as a thought. From the first automobile to manned spaceflight to the Internet to cancer treatments to magnificent symphonies and works of art, everything had its origins in a thought. I find that incredible.

The same holds through for who you are. Everything you do and everything you are begins as one of your thoughts.

A man is what he thinks about all day long.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

You become what you think about themost. Or, you become what you think about all day long. You create what you think about all day long. You develop solutions and ideas for what you think about all day long.

What you think about leads you to who you are, who you will become, what you do and what you will do.

That sounds fantastic and unbelievable, doesn’t it? Test it to see if it makes sense to you. What have you ever done that didn’t begin with a thought? When have you ever made changes in your life that didn’t begin with a thought?

Ninety percent of our thoughts are automatic. We don’t even realize we’re thinking them. That’s our biggest problem with making changes. We have to change our thoughts before we can change our behavior. If we keep thinking the same things we will keep doing the same things. Is it any wonder we’re not getting any closer to our goals?

So, what are you thinking about all day long?

Whatever you focus on, you will tend to get more of it. Your conscious and subconscious minds will get the message that this is important to you. They will work all day and all night to help you with whatever it is you are thinking about. Isn’t that amazing?

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism

Your subconscious mind doesn’t care if you’re thinking negative or positive thoughts. Since you’re focussing on it you must want more of it, right? That’s the way your brain works.

Earl Nightingale, in his seminal work The Strangest Secret Ever Told, relates it to how a farmer and his field works. Whether he plants corn or poison ivy in his field, the field doesn’t care. It will grow one just as well as the other. The field doesn’t judge what you’re planting. If you plant poison ivy, the field doesn’t listen to the farmer say, “No I don’t want poison ivy, I want corn.” All the field knows is, the farmer planted poison ivy, so that is what the farmer is going to get.

What are you planting in your mind every day?

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Albert Einstein

When you spend purposeful, planned, time thinking every day about what you want, you will see your ideas, creativity and success grow exponentially.

There is ample time to think throughout the day no matter how busy we get.

Stimulate your conscious and unconscious minds to focus on what you want by reading your goals every monrning, noon and night. Let your mind dwell on them when you’re doing repetitive, low thought tasks like driving to work with the radio off, walking, running, gardening, showering, etc.

When thoughts come to you, write them down right away. If you’re driving, use your smart phone to record. (Please keep your eyes on the road and use the voice commands.)

You can also set aside 15 minutes a day to meditate and pray and then let your mind focus on what you want.

You will be amazed at the ideas that “come out of nowhere” while your shampooing your hair, or making it up that final climb on your jog, or when your 20 minutes into your evening commute.The human mind is an amazing thing. Why not learn how to use it and point it in the right direction to help you get what you want?

Make Your Own “Luck”


“I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.”

- Steven Wright

I received quite a few comments on my last post on my idea that “luck” doesn’t really exist. I’ve got a bit more to say about it.

You Can Create Your Own “Luck”

Although I don’t believe in what most people mean when they use the word “luck,” I do believe that you can create and act upon great opportunities that come your way when you constantly look for them.

Richard Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. He has done some interesting work on this. Wiseman has studied hundreds of self described lucky and unlucky people. He found that rather than being born with or without it, people really do make their own luck.

Chance, fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it doesn’t determine your success or failure. Instead, your thoughts and behavior largely determine how “lucky” you will be.

Professor Wiseman discovered 4 common principles among his subjects on becoming “lucky.”


1) Maximize Chance Opportunities

LPs (lucky people) are open to what some people call chance opportunities or coincidences or serendipity. They look for them and act upon them. Their also open to new ideas and experiences.


2) Listen to Lucky Hunches

LPs pay attention to that little voice inside them. They go with their gut.


3) Expect Good Fortune

LPs have a strong belief that things are going to work out for them. They always expect the best. This helps them create the future they want. LPs keep going in bad times because of their belief that good things are coming. It also helps them relate well with others. This helps them network and creates even more opportunities for them.


4) Turn Bad Luck to Good

Finally, when bad things happen to LPs they don’t think about them the same way unlucky people do. Instead, they truly look on the bright side andsearch for solutions.  They think, “It’s not that bad.” “It could have been worse.” “I can learn something from this.” “Here’s how I can fix it.”

This allows LPs to quickly get back in the good luck groove.


To learn more about how to increase your good “luck” check out Professor Wiseman’s book, The Luck Factor. Then put some of these ideas into practice and let me know how “lucky” you become.


Copyright 2014 all rights reserved

Do you believe in luck?


I saw something sad in the news the other day.  A recent CNN poll asked 1,003 adult Americans:

Do you agree or disagree: The American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.”

Sadly, 59% agreed. Some 63% of those aged 18-34 agreed that the American dream is virtually dead. What do you think?

If you believe the American dream is dead, you’re right.

If you believe you will never be a success, you’re right.

If you believe you’re not lucky enough, or not talented enough, you’re right…for you.

How would you ever expect to succeed with those beliefs holding you back? Unfortunately, we are bombarded daily by so called leaders, experts, and friends telling us how we will never be able to fulfill our dreams and accomplish our goals. Some of them are trying to “help.” Some of them are jealous. Some of them are trying to excuse themselves for not reaching the level of success they’d once hoped for.

I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike?

- Jean Cocteau

Regardless of their reasons for feeding us that defeatist philosophy, if we believe them, they will be right.

But, if we reject those negative beliefs and stay focused on our Passionate Purpose we will achieve more than we ever thought we could.

A little bit of my story

Before and after I had my own syndicated radio talk show, I guest hosted for other national programs. I can’t tell you how many people would comment on how “lucky” I was to fill in for so many big name radio stars.

The truth is luck had nothing to do with it. I worked hard at becoming a good host. I asked for, and acted on, the constructive criticism that I received and kept getting better. I continued making demo tapes and sending them to program directors all across the country.

Then I started asking the producers and hosts of the national shows if I could fill in for them when they were on vacation or whenever they needed someone on short notice.

When one of the hosts got sick, and they needed someone to fill in at the last second, was it “luck” that I often got the call? Once I filled in, and they liked what they heard, was it “luck” that I was asked to guest host again?

When a smaller syndication company was looking for a new national host, was it “luck” that I was one of the ones they interviewed for the position? Was it luck they ended up choosing me?

Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it, and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: hard work — and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.

–Lucille Ball

You can do it. Go make your own luck!

Copyright 2012 all rights reserved

Havin’ a bad day?



You know its a bad day when your fat pants are tight

– Unknown

Man, I had one today. I do a morning talk radio show every weekday from 5-9am. I get to work at 3:30am and need every minute I have to read up on the latest news, research, outline the show and get prepared.

I spend a couple of hours every night researching stories for the next day. I email them in a PDF document to myself so I can print them out at work. This morning, the file corrupted. It took me 15 minutes, instead of 30 seconds to print it out.

My producer is on vacation, so I have different people filling in for him. Producing my show isn’t just pushing a couple of buttons.

You have to know how to:

Cut and load soundbites in from newsmakers so I can play them on the show.

Screen phone calls and pot them up

Manage the breaks with traffic, weather, advertisements, national and local news

Bump in and out of breaks on time – the timing must literally be down to the second

 The guy today didn’t know how to do all that. Whoops. Not his fault. Just bad communication all around. So, I had to train him on the fly. It made it hard for me to be truly prepared when the show started and throughout the show.

Several times during the morning I felt my blood pressure going up. I was starting to complain in my head and do the whole “why me?” bit.

But I’ve been working on having more Joy in my life. I’ve read a few books on it and most agree that focussing on the things that are going well, and on the solutions to whatever problems you are facing will help you feel a lot better than focusing on the problem. This doesn’t mean you ignore the problem. Face the problem and find the solution.

I started listing in my head all the things that were going right.

When I came in this morning the printer had paper in it and it was working! (That’s actually rarer than you would think.) My corrupted file did finally print. If it hadn’t I would have lost 2 hours of work and not been as prepared for the show as I should be. The producer was working hard to get up to speed and to do what I needed. He had a good attitude. Everything was going to work out.

It worked. It helped me stay calm and enjoy my work. I had a good show and the listeners had no clue how hard the morning was.

No doubt I would have liked things to go differently this morning, but by focusing on solutions and what was going right, I was able to maintain my Joy.

Good luck to you the next time your day isn’t going so great.

 The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.

– Dennis S Brown

Never Give Up


Before you quit, remember why you started.


Have you ever given up at something? I have. It made me feel lousy. It made me feel like a failure, like someone who would never do anything great.

It made it easier to quit the next time.

I credit one of my coaches for shaking me out of that funk. He pushed me harder physically and mentally than I had ever been pushed before. When I was tired, he wouldn’t let me quit. When I thought I wasn’t being treated fairly, he pushed me to find a way to make things better. When I thought I couldn’t go one more step, he encouraged me to go another ten. After a while I started to realize that the only way you can truly fail is to give up. That sounds simple and corny, but it’s true. If you never give up, you can’t fail.

Get that in your head. Write it down. Hang it on your bathroom mirror. Read it when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night.

Remember why you started. Remember that burning desire you had inside. Fan those flames instead of letting the fire go out. Set a new goal. Create a new short and long term plan to get there. Do something small each day that will lead to your success. 

The only way you fail is if you give up.

“This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

 – Winston Churchill, Harrow School, 1941. (It is commonly believed that Churchill stood up, gave the three-word speech, “Never give in!,” and sat down. This is incorrect. Source: The Churchill Centre.)


What if you were just about to graduate?

grad photo  



What if you were just about to graduate?

You cannot get to the top by sitting on your bottom.

– Proverb

 My daughter is in one of the school choirs at her high school and we went to their final “Spotlight” concert of the year last week. The different groups sang classical, pop, a capella, and songs from musical theater. Most of the seniors also got to sing solos of their favorite pop hits. A couple small groups of seniors created their own a cappella mashups.

It was easy to see how much these kids loved each other and enjoyed singing together. There were lots of tears and hugs at the curtain call. They were torn between the pain of knowing they would never be this close again and the joy of knowing they were about to graduate, going out into the world, and seeing which of their dreams they could accomplish.

I started thinking about how it will feel three years from now when my oldest graduates and goes off to college. I will cry like a baby, but I will also be so happy for her to have the chance to do anything she wants with her life.

I also started wondering: How many of these kids will truly take the time and effort required to find and pursue their Passionate Purpose? How many will live an Impassioned Life and how many will default to just going along until they become the Assistant to the Assistant Manager?

All of us still have both options. We can choose right now to discover and pursue our passions or we can just keep doing what we’ve always done until we’re dead. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true isn’t it?

The good news is it’s never too late to start your new life.

Which option will you choose with the life you have left?

You ARE Talented Enough – My interview with author Daniel Coyle

the little book of talent


Here’s my interview with Daniel Coyle on talent and how to grow it.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t have enough talent to excel at what you want to do? Have you ever given up on something because you just weren’t “born” with the talent to be great at it?

I have good news for you. There is a lot of research supporting the idea that talent isn’t born, it’s made.

All “talent” is really just skill that we’ve acquired. In fact, studies show that the only factor that truly correlates with how good someone is at something is how well and how long they have practiced their skills. Yes, they even found that to be the case with “child prodigies.”

I highly recommend the two books on talent by Daniel Coyle.

The Talent Code  explains how talent is grown. There are some great stories and research in this book that I found compelling and encouraging to those of us looking to improve ourselves and our children.

The Little Book of Talent is full of tips on how to put these ideas on growing talent to work in your daily life. There are even some great ones on how to coach your kid’s team.

Check ‘em out and let me know what you think.