The Extraordinary Life Presentation
Hello everyone. Thank you for taking the time to join us on this call today. To those in other areas around the world, I’m sending you positive vibes this weekend.
Let me ask you a question “Who among you likes smoking?” It’s okay to admit it. Smoking is actually good for you. It is proven to lower your heart rate, reduce stress, calm your nerves, improve focus, look cool and is not as addictive as people think. So I believe everyone should have a smoke” That my friends is a complete lie. However only a few decades ago this is what people believed. We believed it was okay. In fact the doctors had their most recommended cigarette brands. Dunhill company claimed that Camel cigarettes was the brand most doctors smoked. Listen, We as humans are so easy to fool. We believe anything that we see on social media, the news, instagram, facebook, the guy we met at the grocery store. We live in a world where the truth is difficult to find.
So what is the point of pointing this out when this retreat is about living the Extraordinary Life. Living an extraordinary life has nothing to do with smoking. I bring this up because for years people believed in a lie about living an extraordinary life. For years people believed living an extraordinary life was about money, status, power, wealth. It was about the places you traveled, the restaurants you ate, the fancy cars you drove or the postal code in which you lived. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. That’s a lie. Why? Why believe me? Because I had it. I had money, prestige, influence and wealth. I traveled around the world, drove super cars, stayed in some of the nicest hotels and ate in the most expensive restaurants around. In fact, I ate Kobe beef, the most expensive beef in the world, in the town of Kobe, Japan. I had it all, until I didn’t. Today, I have a better understanding of living an extraordinary life and what it means. I will tell you today that living an extraordinary life has nothing to do with what the majority of people believe and more so about things that cannot be touched, tasted or felt. It’s something much more.
Over the next 25 minutes or so, I want to share with you my thoughts and why living an extraordinary life is not reserved for the wealthy, the privileged, the special or the elite few. An extraordinary life can be lived by each and every one of you on this call. And involves failing, falling and rising.
I do agree with one thing that living an extraordinary life, you need assets. It all starts with one asset. I’ve had many assets in my life but there is one asset that everyone needs to be able to live this type of life. It’s not money, influence, technology, political contacts, the coolest toys or the fanciest fashion item. It’s something we all have and if used properly, can manifest the life we deserve.
What is this asset? It’s You. You are the greatest asset you have. Your mind, your body, your soul, your will, your dreams. You and all its gloriously imperfect entirety is all you need. But unlike the lies we were told about living an extraordinary life, the memes we see on social media, the motivational quotes, that you can do it. Sure you can do it but the reality is that the vast majority won’t… living an extraordinary life is hard to achieve. That’s why we are on this retreat. That’s why they call it extra ordinary. It’s just beyond ordinary. But I will tell you, you can live it and Like many of the amazing guests before me I will show you how. Throughout my life I used many four letter words. Throughout this talk I’ll share a few four letter words as well.
Before we begin, let me tell you about my background. It alluded to some of my accomplishments. I was born from a middle class immigrant family in Toronto Ontario Canada. My family worked very hard. I barely saw my dad growing up as he worked nights and my mother worked hard to make sure our house was filled with love and encouragement. I grew up well. When I graduated with honors, I quickly climbed the corporate ladder in the financial services industry. Before the age of 30, I became the youngest and first visible minority to earn a Vice President title in western canada at the largest investment firm in Canada. From there I expanded my business ventures to real estate, investments, franchises, restaurants, clothing, consulting and media companies. I had my fingers in everything. I was recognized within my industry and the community as a leader and top performer. In fact, I won a National Award for executive of the year and World Vision Community Leader. And I became the first and only multiple award winner in a single year. I recently became a Leadership Ambassador for the Unity Way, which of course is now the largest charity in the world. Before the age of 35, I was a self made millionaire. By all modern day metrics, I was successful. I was living what people would define an extraordinary life.
This is what many people want others to see. This is what social media can portray. But the universe has a strange way of humbling you and bringing you where you need to be in order to become who you are meant to be. Before all this success and to this day, my life was riddled with failure and adversity. Don’t be fooled by what is carefully crafted in social media. It is all a lie.Not a complete lie but certainly not the whole story. Don’t believe all the motivational quotes and positive slogans on facebook. They are great but they are temporary boosts of inspiration. If we are like an asset like a sports car, motivation is like pressing the pedal to the medal and accelerating at full throttle. Eventually you’ll go fast but will run out of gas well before you hit your destination. The reality is that if it takes you an inspirational quote to be inspired, that is not sustainable. Your inspiration to live an extraordinary life must come from within. Inspiration without perspiration leads to disappointment. You must struggle. You will fall. You will fail. You will suck. The word suck cess says it all. It must suck first before it becomes a success. My life is all about this. Your life will not go as planned. It will be very unpredictable. I learned this at a very young age.
Now I’m going to date myself but I recall 35 years ago watching the Space Shuttle Challenger take off from Florida only to explode. It was January 28, 1986. My family was living in one bedroom. 5 of us were crammed in this one bedroom that my parents rented in my aunt’s apartment. My parents were young and just starting their lives. We didn’t have a lot of money. But like many hard working immigrant parents, I admired their bravery and courage to travel to a strange land to start a new life filled with hope. My parents always instilled that mindset, work ethic, confidence and of course hope for something greater. I remember us sitting around this tiny TV counting down the launch of the Challenger. Space travel was a big thing in the 80’s. In the 80’s space travel was popular. What made this memorable was that this was the first time a civilian would be launched into space. Her name was Sharon Christa Corrigan. A school teacher from Boston. I remember my family counting down, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 blast off. Everyone was so excited until they weren’t. 73 seconds into flight, the shuttle malfunctioned and incinerated killing all 7 crew members including Crista Corrigan. I remember as a child thinking moments prior to this take off that anything is possible. If this school teacher can go to space, so can I. As a child, to see 7 people explode on live TV can have some traumatizing effects. Especially when you grew up as a constant optimist. The lesson I learned in 1986 was that life isn’t fair. However anything is possible only if you are willing to take risks. Like taking 5.3 million pounds of thrust which is equivalent to 40 million horsepower blasting you into space. You may not succeed. You may fail. You may die. But you must try in order to succeed.
As of November 16, 2020 a total of 568 people have accomplished space travel from 41 countries. 12 have walked on the moon. If people allowed fear to take over, these feats of amazing human accomplishment would never be possible. The first four letter word is FEAR.
FEAR is one of the main reasons we don’t live an extraordinary life. We are afraid. I’m sure you’ve heard this acronym that FEAR stands for FUCK Everything And Run OR it can stand for False Evidence Appearing Real. In many cases what we fear doesn’t exist. If we fear getting hit by a car, we will never cross the road to try that amazing new restaurant. If we are afraid of flying, we may never experience the beauty of other cultures. If we fear rejection we may never meet the person of our dreams or close the big deal that can change the trajectory of your business. Fear won’t kill you. If you are scared of public speaking, think about what’s the worst thing that can happen. You forget your lines. I’ve forgotten 3 lines and stories in this speech alone. It doesn’t matter. It won’t kill you so learn to address and rationalize that the things that prevent you from living an extraordinary life, aren’t really there or haven’t even happened so why stress about something that hasn’t happened.
Much of living an extraordinary life is in our mind. Many of the speakers have discussed mindset so I won’t belabor that point too much but I agree with all of them. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have. The commuting power, the ability to create and visualize the future, the will to overcome adversity. The mind is amazing. Second four Letter word is MIND
Tony Robbins says that to have an extraordinary life you have to have an extraordinary psychology. An extraordinary psychology means you have to live in an extraordinary state. To have an extraordinary state you have to condition your nervous system, body, physiology and focus to be their best. To do that you can become extraordinary. However I ask you this question. Why doesn’t everybody do it? It’s not that you can’t. We all have the ability to do it. We all know how to do it. It comes down to our standards. Think about your own life. I know there are areas in your life where at some point in time, you shifted, you raised the standards and your life changed. Because whatever people have their identity attached to, they live. We live who we believe we are. If we say we are fat, you’ll be fat. You’ll do things that fat people do. You’ll give yourself the excuse to not work out. To not eat healthy. Do not take the stairs instead of taking the escalator. Because you’re fat.
If you say you are broke. You’ll do what broke people do. Your relationship with money will be poor. You’ll spend money when you don’t have it. You’ll look down on people with money. You’ll live a life of deficiency rather than surplus. You will attract debt rather than wealth.
If you say you are a terrible person because you made a mistake in your life, you will manifest those things. You will have thoughts that terrible people have. You’ll give yourself excuses to lie to others and to yourself because you have told yourself that you are that mistake.
Again what gives me the credibility to know this?
Because I was fat, out of shape and unhealthy. I could have easily drunk myself to the bottom of a bottle or overdosed on drugs when I worked on Bay Street in the Financial Strict. But I decided to change.
I know this because I was broke. I didn’t know if I could pay my rent, buy groceries, or keep my cell phone working. I had dreams of being an amazing DJ and recall selling all my DJ equipment because I had a negative balance in my bank account and rent was due.
How do I know this?
Because I made mistakes. It cost me my marriage. I paid the price. For years I told myself that I was that mistake. I was a terrible person. What happens when you do this? You start to believe it. You start to hate the person you are in the mirror because terrible people don’t deserve love. How can you love others when you don’t love yourself?
I felt all of these feelings behind the mask of success. The social media facade. The fancy cars, expensive suits, accolades. None of that means anything when your world is crumbling. This is what happened. I lowered my standards. I believed in doubt. As a business person and professional salesperson who has turned a tiny territory from almost zero in sales into one worth $400Million with generating $120Million in sales a year. You’d think I am an amazing salesperson. But let me ask you. Who do you think the best sales person in the world is? He’s living rent free in your mind. His name is doubtful. Doubt is the best sales person in the world because he has one product to sell you and he relentlessly sells this 24/7 365 days a year. If you don’t have a resilient mind, you’ll start buying what doubt is selling you. And you will deprive yourself of the opportunity to live an extraordinary life because you doubt what you are capable of. So own your mind.
I remember one day, I crawled into bed. My wife was lying down. She was reading a book. I leaned over to her and said we have to talk. I said “hun, I failed.” She says what do you mean?” I said “My real estate venture failed. I lost our money.” She says “What do you mean? Lost out money.” I said “ I took a risk, I didn’t calculate that risk properly and the deal went sour. I lost our money.” That year I lost over half a million dollars if business deals went wrong. I failed. I remember my wife turning to me with tears rolling down her cheek telling me “I don’t know anything about business and I trusted you.” At that time, I lost our life savings. I failed and I had to start from scratch all over again. You will fail over and over again. That’s life. But just like Fear, if you allow that to become your narrative, your story. That you are a failure. You will not live an extraordinary life. You may live a safe life but not an extraordinary life.
The third four letter word is FAIL.
To FAIL is imperative. When I said FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. FAIL stands for Found Another Important Lesson.
Throughout my life I have failed. In business I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I failed miserably in my marriage and lost the trust and bond of many of my loved ones. I failed myself because I allowed negative thoughts deep into my mind and allowed weakness or vulnerability to become an excuse to make poor decisions. I didn’t control my MIND, I believed in FEAR and eventually I failed.
However, the more I have failed the more lessons I have learned. I have learned to become a better business person and less trusting of the partners I deal with. I learned how to become a better husband, friend and overall human being by swallowing my ego. I learned to forgive myself. I am not mistaken. I made a mistake but I am not my mistake. If you never make mistakes it means you’re not trying to live your best life. When you fail or when shit is happening in your life, don’t ask yourself “Why is this happening to me. Ask yourself what is this experience trying to teach me?” Failure is a humbling yet honest teacher. So FAIL often, Fail early. Fail Forward.
My journey from here to there was often a lonely one. I had friends come and go. I had relationships fall apart. I had to be willing to be wrong and admit when I was wrong in order for me to grow so that I can change. You see growth is when you make decisions. It is when bad habits are dropped, wrong priorities are changed, and new ways of thinking are embraced. This happens only when we question ourselves enough that you decide to make a change. Throughout my life I questioned myself. You will question yourself. Are you good enough? Is this presentation worthy of listening to? Is my definition of success the right one?
I remember sitting with a very high profile client 10 years ago. We were having dinner in a fancy restaurant in downtown Toronto called Mortons Steakhouse. During our meeting he asked me, “Mike you’ve accomplished a lot of things. You’re the youngest VP in the company, you make a lot of money, you’re well respected among your peers. What’s your biggest accomplishment.”
Without hesitating, my answer was 4 words.”Learning to walk. Twice.” He was confused just like many of you are at this moment.
It was 1999 and I was hard core into mixed martial arts. I love it. I would train religiously with friends. Hit pads and fight guys 50lbs heavier than me. I was in amazing shape and I felt unstoppable physically. One day I was doing a martial arts demonstration. I was going to explain to the audience how I could catch a kick and sweep my opponents legs from under him. Unfortunately things went wrong, he lost his footing and fell awkwardly on my left leg.
Instead of landing on the ground, his 230lb body collapsed into my left knee destroying my leg. I laid on the ground and saw my mangled left leg with the bottom of my foot facing me. I immediately snapped it back in place. I was rushed to the Centenary Hospital immediately. When the doctors diagnosed me, they said there’s good news and bad news. What do you want first? “The good news?” You didn’t break your leg. “And the bad news?” “You didn’t break your leg.” He responds. I was confused. Essentially he said, The good news is that you didn’t break your leg but the bad news is that it would have been better if you broke your leg. Instead, my knee was impacted so badly that it tore 3 of the 4 ligaments that hold your knee in place. If it wasn’t for your MCL and the skin around your knee, the bottom of your leg would be dangling out of place. Worst of all I stretched the nerve that ran down my leg. This was the peroneal nerve. The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve that supplies movement and sensation to the lower leg, foot and toes. I was essentially paralyzed. The doctor said “Your nerves are like a noodle. It can stretch but if it’s stretched too much it will snap. Many of your nerves have snapped. Those remaining were so stretched that when they come back together, the nerve endings may not align properly. This dysfunction is a type of peripheral neuropathy. Michael, your nerve damage is so severe that you will have a 95% chance that you will walk with a permanent limp. You will suffer from a condition called drop foot and you will never be able to run or jump ever again. You may need a cane for the rest of your life. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was at the peak of my physical health. I was a break dancer, an athlete. Heck I won most improved player on my varsity volleyball team. I was 5’6” with amazing jumping ability and here I am paralyzed for life. How can I be a superhero with a limp? I asked him what were my chances of recovery. He said with the extent of my nerve damage, he has only seen 1 person recover. If after 1 year your leg doesn’t recover, you will be paralyzed for life. Depression hit me hard. As a result I ventured down a dangerous road of substance abuse to numb the constant pain both mentally and physically. I wore a massive cast from my toes to my upper thigh. For a full year I couldn’t feel anything below my left leg. You could have stabbed me and I wouldn’t feel it except for sharp electrical shocks. I knew the odds were against me. For 18 months I fought depression and suicidal thoughts. I recall standing on a bridge with my crutches overlooking the highway 401 wondering if I would die instantly. I was in a dark place. One day I was watching a movie called Kill Bill in which the Black Mamba willed her paralyzed leg into moving again. At the same time a movie starring Jason Scott Lee came out called dragon. The Bruce Lee Story. Both Black Mamba and Bruce Lee willed themselves to be able to walk again. Despite being in a dark place, I prayed and visualized myself walking. I bought this electric muscle massage machine called Dr. Ho’s which sends electric shocks to the muscle. I needed to make sure the muscle surrounding my nerve would not atrophy and die. After 18 months, my toes started to move. After 2 years I was able to walk without a cane. After 3 years I ran a mile in about 7 mins. The average runner runs a mile in 9 mins. The elite marathon runner runs a mile in about 4-5mins. Now my leg has recovered to about 85%. I still have paralysis and not all of the feeling has returned. I still have to consciously think about raising my left ankle or I may just trip on it. However on one leg I learned not only how to walk but to run at a competitive pace.
Now if you follow me on social media, you may see videos of my working out or running. It’s not because I want to show off that I’m in shape for my age. It’s because if I gave up and was just a statistic, I’m not supposed to walk. Heck I almost was never able to even get out of bed. To get to where I am now is a miracle. So fitness has and always will be so important to me. Taking care of my body or what was left of it saved me from killing myself. Crawling out of my first dark place in life and learning how to walk for the second time against all statistical odds is one of my single greatest accomplishments so far. I have countless stories throughout my life about failure and adversity. We all have them. Every speaker has spoken about them. One common thread is that despite all of the adversity, they all decided to RISE. You will get knocked down but you must rise with intention, intensity, confidence and fearlessness to execute the things you need to live an extraordinary life. To me, RISE stands for the Right Intentions Successfully Executed. So no matter what, have the right intentions to get up and successfully rise. My fourth four letter word is RISE
To me living an extraordinary life is living it on your terms. It’s finding happiness, fulfillment and purpose without fear of external factors. It’s not saying that external factors won’t impact you. It’s that they don’t scare you anymore.
I also believe that living an extraordinary life isn’t just checking off bucket list items. Life isn’t a to- do list. I believe you NEED to have structure as you’ll be living aimlessly. But life is a state of being. It’s a choice of how you live. Yesterday is gone. You can’t relive it. You can remember it but it’s done. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Today is all you have. Today is the moment to live an extraordinary life. I choose to live every day with intention and purpose. My life and all of our lives are simply a culmination of choices we have made in the past. Stuff will happen. Shit will happen. Rocket ships explore. But how you decide to react to it is up to you. Develop those habits, those rituals, those mindset exercises, anything that allow you to live with intention.
Life is like a marathon. It’s both easy and it’s hard.
One step forward at a time.
Success is a series of good decisions compounded over time. Excellence at that point becomes a habit. Therefore success can become a habit. If we can talk ourselves into not doing something or feeling down about ourselves then we can talk ourselves into doing something awesome and feeling good about ourselves.
I want to leave you with skills that you can take right now that will help you develop habits to live an extraordinary life. These are things I do every day. No matter what, I have to complete these 5 rituals every day.
- Strength. The moment I wake up, I do something physical. Push ups, jumping jacks, run, walk, anything. Every day you must do something physical. A body in motion stays in motion.
- Knowledge. Learn something new every day. I read 20 pages every day. I read a book every two weeks. I’m always reading. Feed your brain and open your mind.
- Connections. I connect with at least 5 people everyday. I mean make meaningful connections. Reach out to an old friend. Share the things you just learned to someone you are mentoring or a friend needs help. Humans are meant to connect.
- Commerce. As much as money isn’t everything, you must do something that progresses you forward economically. Warm hugs, and positive thoughts won’t put food on the table nor will it cure world hunger or educate kids in third world countries. There is no shame in making money. There is only shame in making money and not doing anything good with it.
- Reflection. Everyday, practice mindfulness. Think about your day. How did you feel? What did you learn? What made you happy? Did you have fun? Reminisce about the feeling you had. Practice medications. I meditate twice a day for 15minutes each to get into an alpha state. Reflect, forgive yourself if you made a mistake,
If you do these 5 things everyday and these are the only things you do, you will live a successful life.
Again. Your homework is to reflect and be cognizant about how FEAR is impacting you. How do you view yourself when you FAIL? How are you mastering your MIND? Remind yourself to RISE
Finally, create those habits that I mentioned that will guide you to success, fulfillment, connection, spiritual and economic wealth.
Remember You got this. This is your time. I have faith, love and confidence that you can and will live an extraordinary life.