News & Updates
March 12, 2018
When it feels forced. When the harder you try, the worse it works out. When everything you say is misunderstood, and everything you do is misinterpreted. When you start thinking something is just plain wrong with you, and there is no way up and no way out because, really, who would want you anyway? When you start having those feelings, and they start creeping into every aspect of your life, realize that you aren’t a failure, you have simply misapplied your passion into something which is not compatible with what you have to offer, or what you were meant to do.We get so spun up about what we should do with our lives, we lose sight of what we could do with our lives. We mistake acceptance for success, and chase the accepted instead of the unexpected, one day realizing we have worked ourselves into something we never really wanted but thought we needed, and now we just can’t fake the funk any longer. And that’s okay.It’s okay to be a misfit. It’s okay to lack acceptance. It’s okay to have gone down the wrong path, and it’s certainly okay to change course in exchange for what you were meant to do. The most successful among us, the truly successful ones, not the most distinguished or most decorated, but the ones who made a life of chasing their dreams, were all once the misfits who were misunderstood and misinterpreted. So make no mistake about it, you may not fit in, but why would you want to anyway?
February 19, 2018
Prove Your Potential
Nobody is going to do it for you. There always comes a point where you are going to have to do it yourself. People may see potential in you, they may see talent in you, they may see a future for you beyond your wildest dreams. And while that which others see in us makes us feel good, it’s not getting us anywhere. You’re never going to actually be what other people have the foresight to see in you, until you’re willing to prove your potential through personal action.Proving potential to yourself is a uniquely individual task. You can have a team, coach, or loved one push you, and those people will be essential in your journey to success, but in the end, the livelihood of your potential rests squarely on your shoulders. Its pulse needs a plan, its reality requires risk, and its future needs your unwavering follow through. Most of all, it needs YOU. Success isn’t going to just walk up and tap you on the shoulder because you look like a good candidate; more likely, it will walk up, punch you in the gut, and take your lunch money until the day you decide to get your shit together and fight back.Maybe the process will involve taking blind leaps forward, or maybe you’ll have to take a few steps back, or even start from scratch altogether, but either way, the decision to act is on you. Potential creates opportunity, opportunity calls for action, and action forms a reality which then creates the potential for opportunity. Sew the seeds of confidence from what people see in you, with the vision of a life you see for yourself, and create a blueprint of how you plan to combine the two into a reality which has always been waiting for you to arrive.
January 8, 2018
Who Not What
On January 7th in the year 2000, at a small gymnasium in Sumter, South Carolina, the students of Thomas Sumter Academy had gathered on a Friday afternoon to have a pep rally for their winter sports teams. In one of the final acts, a few of the school’s basketball players stole the show with a skit where they posed as highly unskilled cheerleaders, drawing laughter and applause from the raucous crowd of teenagers in the bleachers. This was nothing new for this trio of players, most notably a 17 year old Air Force brat by the name of Josh Peck. In the chaos of the pep rally, and the thunder of school spirit, nobody in that gymnasium had any idea Josh was about to change their world forever.Josh had grown up all over the world and back, as he and his mom went wherever the Air Force sent them. In his travels, he developed not only a trademark sense of quick witted humor, but also a deep sense of compassion for others. As Josh grew, he honed those skills to the point where every interaction with him would become memorable for the other person. Even the innocent fast food workers weren’t immune from Josh’s infectious sense of humor, where he would scheme up some sort of act in their brief time together that would leave them laughing, and with a story to tell.Although never the star athlete, he loved sports and was a beloved teammate, who could often be found donating his free time to coaching little kids. He would no doubt have them in hysterics, all while honing their fundamentals, and developing the same love for athletics he had. He cared deeply about those around him. That caring nature not only drove him to start bagging groceries at the local Winn Dixie just so he could pick up the tab when he and his friends went out to eat, but to also become the first line of defense in his mother’s dating life in the years following her divorce, where more than a couple potential suitors would fall victim to his exceptional quick wittedness as he attempted to scare them off.Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In the moments following that trademark skit, suddenly the world would be forced to reflect upon those feelings Josh had evoked in them over the years. As the gymnasium roared with the sound of the school’s fight song, Josh collapsed on the gymnasium floor, and in an instant, he would lose a battle he never knew he was fighting to begin with. Unbeknownst to him and his family, Josh suffered from an undiagnosed case of Marfan Syndrome, and the same enlarged heart which endeared him to all he came in contact with, would also take his life.Josh was my cousin. And I don’t tell his story for the sympathy, the fanfare, or the all too predictable “Life is short” speech. The message I want everyone to take from Josh’s story is that anyone, regardless of success, fame, or fortune, can forever change the world not because of what you are, but because of who you are. In Josh’s short 17 years on this planet, he used humor, compassion, and love, to make every interaction count. Close to a thousand people showed up to his funeral in the following days, and the family was overwhelmed with support, and stories of Josh’s kindness and humor. Josh’s compassion became a model for students at Thomas Sumter Academy, where his jersey, bearing number 14, hangs in that very gymnasium to this day. And his mother Randi, my aunt, would lead the charge in the months and years following, to have lifesaving defibrillators placed in as many schools as possible to help prevent such tragedies in the future.As for me, I have spent my life still trying to live up to that 17 year old kid. I live everyday chasing the principles he embodied, and trying to place the needs of others over that of my own, forever thankful I was able to see that even a teenager from Dalzell, South Carolina, can change the world. So remember, you are significant, you are meaningful, and although nobody has the power to change the entire world, everybody has the ability to change their world because of who they are, not what they are…even if it’s one life at a time.To learn more about Josh, go to http://joshpeckfoundation.org/-CPT Ryan
November 6, 2017
The Struggle Is Real
You will never figure out who you are and what you’re made of in the midst of success. The real you won’t surface when life is calm, cool, and comfortable. You will only see the true image of who you are when you allow yourself to experience the struggle. Whether it’s on the way up, or on the way down, the struggle is there to show you, prove to you, or remind you, exactly what your capable of, which will always exceed where you’re at, and what you thought.
The struggle is real. It brings out the realness in all of us. When we are just starting out, it shows us what real work looks like and that we always have more to give. When we start reaching our goals, it shows us the real value is not in the achievement, it’s in the work it took to get there. And when we think we are at the top of our game, and we start getting a little arrogant, complacent, or even lazy, it brings us back to reality, shows us humility, and can reignite that fire to achieve through adversity.
Don’t fear your struggle, be real with it. Whatever your struggle is, don’t look at it in terms of what it is keeping you from, look at it in terms of what it is giving you, because it is giving you so much more than just a hard time. It is giving perspective to your life, value to your achievements, and a reality check to your ego, which are all essential pieces to the puzzle of success. If you are in the struggle, embrace it. If you are hiding from it, go find it. And if you don’t think you need it, that’s when you need it the most. The path to your dreams is built on reality, and paved by the struggle, so take every step with pride, and go get what you’re really here for. – CPT Ryan
October 9, 2017
Out Of The Darkness
No different than the night sky reveals the stars, the moon, and the wonders of the universe, the dark times you encounter in your life will reveal a side of you which you never knew existed. We fear the dark. We fear what it represents, we fear what it shrouds, and we fear the blindness that comes with it. Conversely, we love the light because for its predictability, normalcy, and far reaching sight. When it comes down to it, darkness exposes a vulnerability which we are extremely uncomfortable with, but in reality it exposes so much more.
The light shrouds from us what we are truly capable of. It hides our strength, our will, our determination, and even our compassion for others. You are going to go through dark times whether you like it or not, whether you’re prepared or not, and whether or not it’s convenient for you. You can hide from it, ignore it, try to get your friends to face it with you, but in the end it’s on you to walk into the darkness and search for what lies beyond its veil. It is there, far from the comforting rays of light, where you will find what you are actually made of.
You were not built just to merely exist, you were literally born to survive, adapt, overcome, and repeat. Whatever dark times you may be going through right now, or will go through in the future, do just that…go through them. Don’t get caught just staring into the darkness, because it’s all you will ever see. Go through it. There will always be growth, there will always be lessons, and there will always be light on the other side, but you have to be willing to go through it…albeit one small step at a time.
September 5, 2017
Opportunity can only be seized when two things take place. First it must be seen, and second it must be prepared for. Without both sets of circumstances converging upon an opportunity, it will pass you by, or slip through your fingers. You can prepare for opportunity all you want. You can have all the degrees, the skills, the fitness, and the connections, but if you can’t see opportunity knocking on your door, you’ll never let it in. Conversely, you may see the endless opportunities in the world, but if you haven’t put in the painstaking preparation, you are damning yourself to a life of watching from the sidelines while other people get their “Carpe Diem” on.
So you’ve tirelessly prepared, and you’ve locked an opportunity in your sights…how do you now parlay that opportunity into success? There is a fundamental difference between sight and vision. Sight is merely identifying something based on the recognition of certain traits and characteristics of what you can see. Vision is your ability to see that which may not actually be within your sight yet. It’s one thing to be ready to seize an opportunity, but it’s a completely different animal to know what to do with it once it has been seized. That takes vision.
Countless people have taken opportunities which they have seen rise out of preparation. But the truly successful among us have seized the opportunities, exploited them to their fullest potential, and used them to move on to the next one long before it actually happens, if only in their mind’s eye. If you a preparing to seize an opportunity, don’t be taken by surprise when it happens. It should just be part of the plan. And when the people ask “Could you have ever imagined this level of success?”, you should be able to tell them you didn’t just imagine it, you visualized it, and you’re right where you always knew you’d be. – CPT Ryan
August 28, 2017
Opportunity of the Underdog
What is it about the underdog that captures our imagination? What is it about the person who shouldn’t even be in the arena, who, despite the odds, choses to step in anyway and roll the dice? Through success and failure, the underdog gives us unabashed inspiration and hope, because through their eyes we see our own doubts and insecurities momentarily melt away, as our eyes open to what can be accomplished by a vision and dedication unhindered by fear and failure.
The underdog will always operate at maximum capacity, because they have to. They have willingly chosen to place their back against the wall, check their ego, and be overtaken with the obsessive motivation of proving the world wrong. They have found comfort in their role, and would rather live there than at the peak of the mountain. So as they summit one challenge, they instantly look for the next climb of insurmountable odds. It is all about risk, humility, and survival, culminating in a grit that far exceeds perceived potential.
Step into the role of the underdog. Instead of seeing it as a disadvantage, start seeing it as an opportunity. If you are succeeding when everyone expects you to, then you really aren’t challenging yourself. Dare to chase success into the farthest reaches of impossibility, where the only thing between your back and the wall, is what you are truly made of. In the end, when the dust settles and arena falls silent, you will find that the lines between success and failure have blurred, and that which truly mattered is what being the underdog taught you about yourself. – CPT Ryan
August 24, 2017
Let’s face it…we’re all weird. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it; you’re weird, I’m weird, we’re all weird. We all do weird things, in weird ways, at weird times, all while having weird thoughts bounce around our heads. With general weirdness being such a huge part of our everyday lives, it seems weird that being weird, or being labeled as weird, is nothing less than terrifying for most people.
Your weirdness and how it affects your success is a product of your ability to identify it, define it, and ultimately employ it to your advantage. Don’t get it twisted; weird is something identified as different than what people are used to seeing, and different is adaptation in motion, and adaptation is survival. Once you identify that which seems weird to other people, is actually nothing more than a difference of opinion, own it, don’t run from it. Define what it is that makes you different, instead of being defined by chasing “normal”, scared to death of facing someone’s ill informed opinion.
Lastly, make it work for you. The most successful among us were, at one point, considered weird or strange outcasts, all because they had a quality, trait, or vision, that was different than what people perceived as “normal”. The difference is, they turned it into a strength, which they then turned into a brand, which then morphed into the latest trend everyone else wanted to be a part of. So don’t hide what you think makes you different, because your weirdness is opportunity disguised by insecurity, waiting to be empowered, so it can separate you from the rest of the pack. You are different by design, not default, so grab ahold of it and take it with you, because the true tragedy in life is not to be weird, but to be normal.- CPT Ryan
August 14, 2017
What Lies Beneath
Where and when do you find the best version of yourself? Society would have you believe your best version lives on the red carpet, where you are draped in only the finest clothing, garnished in the most expensive jewelry, sparkling under the flashes of a thousand cameras, and beloved by friends, family, and thousands of adoring followers. This belief has become so heavily ingrained in us, that we will do anything and everything possible just to prove to the outside world, and even ourselves, we have secured our spot on the coveted red carpet of life. Furthermore, we will hang on to that spot with reckless abandon, even at the cost of who we who we really are, what we really want, and reaching our full potential.
As vindicating as it may feel to show the world you have reached the pinnacle of self-development from the picture perfect stage of glitz and glam, where you have seemingly achieved everyone else’s wildest dreams and expectations, the very best version of you is lying somewhere beneath that red carpet, just dying to come out. The best of you will only be exposed when the carpet is pulled out from under you, where you can no longer depend on the clothes, the jewelry, the cameras, and supporters, to give you what you think you need in order to make you feel successful.
Sometimes the best thing that can ever happen is for you is to lose it all, when you are all of a sudden forced to see that the only person you need to depend on to find true happiness and fulfillment in this life is yourself. If you can’t depend on yourself, that means you have to depend on everything, and everyone, else in order to fill in the gap. Don’t be afraid to pull the carpet out from under your life sometimes in order to find the way back to yourself, because it’s not the fall from it we fear, it’s what we will find underneath. – CPT Ryan
August 8, 2017
Line It Up
The lines. Everyone seems to think they know just where they are, and they will love telling you their definition of them. Sometimes they are crystal clear, but most times they are blurred, leaving you to discover and decide exactly what, and where, they are. They exist in your imagination just as much as they do in your reality, constantly tempting you to place your reputation, your future, and your dreams on them, all with an underlying fear of crossing their boundaries.
Thick or thin, blurry or clear, know the lines will be there in everything that you do. You will need to toe the lines in times of adversity, draw the lines when enough is enough, lay it all on the lines when the reward outweighs the risk, and fall in the lines when your ego gets checked. Sometimes, it will be your mission to seek out the lines created by everyone else, and not only cross them, but destroy them entirely in the pursuit of something the world has never seen before.
Define your lines. Each one will be in a different place, in a different shape, and a different form. All will require a different plan of attack, at varying levels of aggressiveness and audacity, but all will be crucial in lining up your path to success. Don’t be fooled into thinking the lines exist solely to draw you into a box, or paint you into a corner. Instead, see them as an unfinished blueprint waiting for you to read between the lines, color outside the lines, sharpen old lines, and draw new lines, all in order to create a line by which you will be proud to walk for an eternity. – CPT Ryan