My Awakening

by | Jul 12, 2023 | Essays, Latest Essays

It was my personal awakening that set me on the collision course with a career as a Krav Maga instructor, business owner and eventually a performance life coach. Along the way, I earned a 4th Degree Black Belt, started several Krav Maga schools, became an Advanced Force Training Instructor, a SIMUNITION Tactical Instructor, founded GZTac Shooting school, launched Kravology (a self-defense blog), developed QUORUNDAM (the 24 hour Krav Maga crucible), and certified with Unbeatable Mind as a Performance Life Coach.
That sounds like a lot when I read it back to myself, but it doesn’t mean much without the learning and lessons I have collected over the past 20+ years. Without those lessons and the reflection, all the successes in the world are simply an exercise in box checking – eventually amounting to nothing. Yet, these things came in the aftermath of my awakening – at least the beginning of what would be a decade of events that would pull me slowly from my life as a “story teller.”

My awakening was a rude one.

Something spooked the gunman.

He spun back around at me in the midst of his retreat with a sense of urgency. He again raised the pistol – leveling it at my chest from no more than 30 feet away.

And then…nothing…nothing happened.

The gunman turned the pistol slightly in his grip and looked puzzled, as if something was wrong. It appeared as though the pistol had misfired. He looked back at me. I raised my palms slowly at him to signal that I wouldn’t pursue him. The last thing I wanted was for him to have a powerful impetus to get that pistol working.

The getaway car was now in view, slowly trolling the path where the street met the parking lot. The gunman whirled back around and hurried to the vehicle. It was over. No one was hurt, but I was changed forever. This was part one of my awakening.

In the aftermath of this altercation, I would process a myriad of emotions, some festering into a kind of illness born of anger that had to be squarely addressed. I was changing, morphing, even deteriorating to the point that I had to do something powerful. I was experiencing, at a biological level, what Talent Code author Daniel Coyle calls “ignition.” The deeply seeded need to belong. For me, I wanted to belong in the company of Krav Maga warriors, so this would never happen again. Period. End of story. No negotiation. No hesitation. Never again.

Looking back, I marvel at the irony of what a blessing that night would become – shaping my life and the path that took me to the right kind of success, my wonderful wife, amazing children and a growing awareness that life may not be entirely defined by what happens to us, but rather, what happens for us.

The entire left side of my face came crashing down and smacked the floor with a resounding, deep thud that still rings in my memory of that day – the day I had begun the long journey to reclaim my life and to eventually yet unwittingly discover my unique purpose. It was at the end of “hour one, day one” when my face met the mated floor of the Krav Maga National Training Center in West Los Angeles, California. As the instructor, Wade, called a cessation to the madness that had run on for more than 60 minutes straight, I collapsed – the left side of my face flattened on the mats below.

I had shown up physically unprepared for what was happening and would continue to happen for seven straight days – up to 10-12 hours a day. My heart pounded through my temple as powerfully and as loud as the thud my face had made when smacking the mats. I gasped for a breath, making an unnatural barking sound. My adult onset of asthma had been triggered, and the subtle barking cough continued.

As I lay motionless and exhausted from responding to the commands of the instructor-in-charge – who seemed like he harbored a genuine hatred of all twelve instructor-trainees – I knew I would likely die here. My heart was beating out of my chest, my arms and legs were swollen with blood due to the intensity of the training, I could barely breathe, and I had very little if any capacity to direct and focus my motor skills. I tried to get up, but the muscles in my core, legs and arms simply wouldn’t respond.

It was at this moment, nearly broken on the floor, that I uttered these words to myself, “I might die here, but I’m not going to quit.”

With that unmoving internal commitment locked in, I drew a semi-deep breath for the first time since the madness had started. And, without any thought, I found myself on my feet headed to my gear bag with what little precious time I had left before the madness started again. I was consumed by commitment – pure intention. I had chosen the “all or nothing” approach.

It was in this unfolding scene of my life that I discovered something very powerful. I had experienced and was drawing from a potent M/O – short for what I now call my “Motive for Operating.” I had come face-to-face (or face-to-mat) with one of the most important principles of life performance.

…With a powerful and deeply authentic M/O, anyone can consistently do what others see as impossible. This is simple math. A powerful, unique M/O compels the determination, dedication, and discipline necessary to…

…“do what others won’t today; do what others can’t tomorrow.” – Ted Yoho.

The fuel for success is rooted in our focused motivation to perform powerfully and consistently over time. And that motivation to perform beyond the short term can only be sustained by a meaningful and unique connection to something bigger.

At the time, I had no idea where the unwavering strength of that M/O would take me. Over 25 years later, I realized I had been given a gift. I had glimpsed and subsequently lived out a powerful discovery. That discovery – created through a decidedly negative experience – would inform and guide my vocation for decades to come. I would even discover my purpose through the path I was set upon through the profoundly negative experience that started this all.

What about you?

What’s your M/O?

What do you want to achieve?

What can you connect to that creates a powerful reason to aim yourself at something worthwhile?

Awaken to the power of your authentic M/O. It’s time to do more and be more.

7 Pillar Worksheet

The uneasy feeling you keep ignoring won't go away. You're living a life that's unworthy of your unique purpose, and you realize you've got to do something.  Where do you start?

Download the CONQUER CULTURE 7 PILLAR WORKSHEET and launch a 3-step process to ignite your personal reclamation.

7 Pillar Worksheet
My Biggest Challenges