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7 Lessons in Life

San Francisco, CAMDABASH for Augie's QuestI recently was listening to Augie Nieto speak at the IDEA Fitness Conference in San Diego and I began to cry. Augie is the founder and creator of Life Fitness and sold his company for several hundred million dollars several years ago. He is a true leader in the fitness industry and extremely popular in the “fitness equipment” world. He is probably in his mid-40’s, handsome, has a beautiful wife, and was receiving the IDEA Inspiration Award. Although it may seem on paper like he is on top of the world, I got really choked up and began to cry while listening and watching him try to speak. His story inspired me to sit down for a few moments and think about what really was important in my own life.

You see, Augie was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) 3 years ago and he was on the stage in a wheelchair with his wife and received a standing ovation for what seemed to be about 3 minutes. As I listened to Augie speak about his story of him contracting ALS (which I had heard before several times), it pained me to see his condition deteriorate so rapidly. As his speech was difficult to understand, I saw a spirit and soul in him that moved me so powerfully. It caused me to reflect that weekend upon the many things I am thankful for in my life. It also forced me to think about the lessons learned in life and how it is so important to stay true to what truly is important in life. Upon reflection, here are several of the Lessons on Life that I thought about after listening to Augie speak:

Become a Great Listener

It is said that “God gave us two ears and one mouth” so that we listen to each other twice as much as we talk. I challenge you this month to become a better listener and listen with intention. Truly listen to all you engage in conversation with—your clients, customers, family members, and random people you deal with in society. We never know when people are trying to reach out to us. If it falls upon deaf ears, we have missed the opportunity to positively affect someone.

Be Compassionate

Regardless of your occupation, family situation, or financial status, it is important to love, give back and spend time with those that are less fortunate. I am currently working with a man by the name of Marlon McRee. Marlon is a safety for the Chargers and a good man. Marlon “sponsors” several young men to come in and train at Fitness Quest 10 that otherwise couldn’t afford it. He is “fostering” a child that he wants to see get out of a bad situation in Florida and going to provide and show him a life that could be created if he works hard, has discipline, and keeps his nose clean. We all are capable of compassion and it feels so good when we give back and help someone else out.

Develop a Positive Mindset & Spread Positive Energy

Energy is created and we must foster this energy with our mindset. It all starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts control our words, our words control our actions, our actions create our character. It all starts with our thoughts. There are many ways to create positive energy. Some of them include:

  1. Focus on the positive in all situations
  2. Deal with potential negative repercussions immediately and don’t procrastinate or put them off.
  3. If there is “cancer” or negative energy in a group, cut it out before it becomes a problem.
  4. Avoid “negative” talk. Mom used to say “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I believe in this. Eleanor Roosevelt said “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; and small minds discuss people.” Positive energy attracts positive energy. Negative energy disrupts the flow of life. Do all you can to focus on positive thoughts and positive words.
  5. “Fake it until you feel it”. If you are not feeling great that day, continue to tell yourself that you feel good, you feel great, you are fortunate, you are blessed, etc. The more you tell your mindset you feel great, the easier it will be to transform your energy into a beacon of light.

Don’t Judge

Life is short and we sometimes try to “judge ourselves” compared to other people. Everyone has different gifts and strengths. Focus on what you do best and be appreciative of those around you. If someone trys to involve you in gossip about a client, friend, or family member, it is best to avoid the conversation all together. Focus on You and put all your attention and energy on who you are communicating with. We often spend too much time and energy worried about what other people think and what other people are doing. Focus on what you do best and appreciate the goodness that can be found in ALL people.

I used to get so nervous presenting at these large fitness conferences and performing motivational speeches. Now, I just remind myself each time and ask the question, “How can I serve to the best of my ability today and share my passion with those present in the room?” No need to judge any other presenters, attendees, etc. Be thankful for all the blessings we have and just do your very best everyday. “10 in—10 out” Put a 10 effort in everyday and reap the benefits of your labor.

Believe in yourself and in what you can Achieve

Many times it is easy to “listen” to the little birdie on your shoulder and hear all the things that you are not good at. Flick the birdie off and focus on your strengths. We ALL have weaknesses and we ALL have things we are working on to improve ourselves. If you over-analyze your weaknesses, you will get paralysis by analysis and never grow to reach your full potential. As the saying goes, “If you BELIEVE, you can ACHIEVE.”

The Power of Touch

Augie Nieto said it best the other day. He said “When we are born, all we want to do is be held. When we are dying, all we want to do is be held.” Let’s not wait until we are on our death bed, to “touch” someone positively. A simple pat on the back, a smile and friendly handshake, or a great hug to a friend or family member goes a long way to exchange positive physical energy. Touch someone today and make them smile. As a personal trainer, massage therapist, and bodyworker, I have seen thousands of people helped by the power of touch. What can you do to positively “touch” someone’s soul today?

Create the life you want by Committing, Creating, & Conditioning

In my first teleseminar last month, I shared my “Going for Greatness” talk and spoke about commitment and people that demonstrate commitment typically have the following characteristics:

  • Focus
  • Passion
  • Mental toughness

I spoke about “Connecting with Others” and how you can do that through measures such as:

  • Handwritten letters to friends or family.
  • Being “present” in conversation with them.
  • Look at people in the eyes when speaking as the eyes are the “windows of the soul”.
  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Go out of your way to do something nice for someone
  • Say hello, good morning and good evening to total strangers and smile when doing so. As William Butler Yates says, “There are no strangers in life; only friends we haven’t yet met.”

Lastly, I spoke about conditioning and how to be great in life, you had to have:

  • Physical conditioning.
  • Mentally focused.
  • Emotionally balanced.
  • Spiritually aligned.

Without these parameters, you are only going to be so good. OK does not equal extraordinary. Spend time on your physical conditioning (exercise, nutrition, ample sleep) and your life will have far less anxiety and tension. Your energy will thrive and your ability to succeed will increase.

I leave you with the following questions:

  1. What can you do to be a better listener?
  2. What can you do to show compassion today?
  3. What can you do to create a positive mindset more consistently and foster positive energy amongst your colleagues, co-workers, clients, customers, and family members?
  4. What can you do to relieve yourself of the pressure of comparing yourself to other people or to not cast judgement against your friends, competitors, family, or co-workers?
  5. What do you want to achieve and what can you do to 100% believe that you can achieve it?
  6. How are you going to positively “touch” someone today?
  7. Are you willing to commit to a life of greatness, filled with physical conditioning, mental focus, emotional balance, and spiritual alignment?

Remember, it’s not human “can” but human “will” that makes all the difference in one’s life. What will you do to achieve your extraordinary life? It’s all up to you!!!

Todd Durkin is a 2 Time Personal Trainer of the Year and Founder of Fitness Quest 10 & Todd Durkin Enterprises in San Diego, CA. He trains people from all walks of life, but is best known for the work he does with over 25 NFL Superstars. He trains the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush, Alex Smith, and Donnie Edwards amongst others. His expert staff of 30 trainers, coaches, and massage therapist/bodyworkers perform over 400 weekly sessions and help educate, motivate, and inspire the world to greater levels of health & fitness. Todd has 17 DVD’s on fitness & sports performance and has been featured in many national magazines and media outlets. His ezine newsletter “TD Times” is his way of connecting clients, trainers, coaches, colleagues, and friends from all over the world. He can best be reached via his websites,, or by using the contact form below: [easy-contact]

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