Saturday, July 8, 2017

MY LETTER TO SUPERMAN - STEVE GLEASON

Dear Steve,

I have to make a confession. I've put off watching your award winning film Gleason for months. When I learned you were diagnosed with ALS, I was shocked and cried. I can't image what you and your family must have felt, but the news hit me hard...

Almost as hard as the time you blind sided me during Blitz Pick Up my freshman year. You probably don't remember this, but I was lined up in the left slot. You were playing weak side linebacker on the far hash. I had the hot route over the middle and just after Birny threw me the ball and it hit my hands, you ear holed me and absolutely blew me up. I was five feet horizontal in the air because you hit me so hard. I somehow miraculously still held onto the ball and popped back up real quick to show that I was tough. No one seemed to care that this was a noncontact drill—maybe because I was a true freshman and you were a fifth year senior.

Either way, I learned first hand what the term meant to get your “bell rung.” My left ear was ringing for like two hours after that play.

That hit obviously was nowhere near as hard as the adversities that you and your family face everyday. As you say, “Awesome ain't easy,” I haven't been an awesome teammate. I've put off watching your honest and courageous journey that you documented in your movie for too long.

You see, you were like Superman to me—you still are, probably more so—and I cowardly didn't have the courage to witness your transformation...until last night. I balled my eyes out the entire film. I even went up to each of my three children while they were sleeping and put my hands on them, while I was sobbing.

Like I did after you blindsided me, you keep getting back up every single day. You've refreshed my lens on life, like you undoubtedly have with millions of others.

I'm writing this right now because I can't sleep. You and Michel’s bravery is both heroic and haunting.

I have to get a few things off my chest and share my feelings with you.

You probably haven't thought about me for a long time, but you've been on my mind for the past six years. The last time I saw you was late November 2011—just 10 months after your diagnosis with ALS. I heard you were going to be honored in Pullman that weekend to raise the flag as an honorary captain.

There was an event for you at the Palouse Ridge Golf Course that Saturday, and I knew I had to see you. I've never told you this Steve, but I've always looked up to you. While I was a naive, wide-eyed, and insecure freshman, you were the confident big man on campus and senior captain. But, what I've always loved about you is you’ve never acted like the big man on campus. You have always been so kind, full of energy, and open to talk to anyone—even me.

Though you made me sing the Cougar fight song in front of the entire team at the Cougar Fitness Buffet during fall camp, I didn't hold it against you. You made up for it when you came back to train with us in Pullman after your first year in the NFL as an undrafted free agent. You were learning to play safety and I was a slot receiver. We had some good battles that summer. You gave many awesome insights about what it's like to be a professional to not only to me, but many other Cougar players who looked up to you as well.

So back to your Cougar event in 2011, I remember seeing you walk through the venue door. You had a cane and something else unexpected. When I saw you I remember thinking, “Holy shit, Steve’s got a legit mustache.” It was No Shave November. You've always had the perfect combination of empathy, intensity, and a sense of humor.

Maybe it was fate or luck, but because I was standing closest to the door, I was the first person to hug you. After not seeing you for many years it touched me when you said, “Come in for the real thing.” We hugged and I felt so much love from you and everyone in that room. I've always felt some strange connection to you. Maybe it was because I felt we had a lot in common.

  • You went to Gonzaga Prep during the same time as my cousins Sarah and Peter Hession

  • We both were somewhat undersized as football players who didn't have that typical build or personality

  • Both of our fathers loved us but in an intense driven way

  • We both were two sport athletes who played football and baseball

I remember several conversations we had about how you juggled both sports. These mini-mentor sessions really helped my mindset and confidence that if you could do it, I could do it too.

I'll never forget the speech you gave to the team during early August two-a-days though. It was a hot summer Palouse evening and we were up in the Martin Stadium bleachers. Each week, one of the captains addressed the team with a speech. I can't remember Torry or Nian’s topic (I do remember Nian referencing that he was wearing a “young ass T-shirt” though. Being from Puyallup, I had no idea what that meant). I've never forgotten your message. The topic of your talk was to DREAM BIG.

This mantra has carried you through your entire life. Watching from afar, you have lived this creed to its fullest: as an athlete, husband, father, son, friend, trailblazer, ALS advocate, filmmaker, role model and a true inspiration.

Your Monday Night Football blocked punt may have been the symbol of rebirth to so many in New Orleans, but your will, grit, vulnerability, and vision living through ALS has given a rebirth to the masses. You can add my name to that list.

I’ve learned from you a couple valuable lessons that deal with maybe the two most powerful emotions a person can feel and possess: courage and love. Both emotions are different in their own right, but they share one common bond: fear. You can't experience either courage or love without fear being present—but the only way to beat fear is with a brave spirit and a faithful heart.

Thank you for teaching me and others to fight through the fear and to dream big. Thank you for modeling raw vulnerability. Thank you for putting your family first (your wife Michel is one serious bad ass—we also share that in common—we married up). And thank you for never giving up.

As I write this, the date is ironically 7/3...the opposite of your Saint’s number 37. Even though your life has played out the opposite of what you’ve envisioned, just know that your legacy in this world and impact on the development of ALS technology is making a larger imprint than you could have ever done as a player.

I see you now more powerful than Superman. You are like Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars when he faced Darth Vader in that epic final battle where he said, “Strike me down, and I'll be more powerful than you can ever image.”

By sitting down in a chair Steve, you are helping me and others stand up—in relationships, life, and love.

You've inspired a new mantra for me. I want to live my life thirty-four-seven (347): your combined numbers as a Coug and Saint. Meaning, I want to maximize each day with compassion, courage, perspective, and passion, just like you. I'm going to live 347...twenty-four-seven (247).

All the best to Michel and Rivers. Tell your mom I said hello...she is one of the nicest people I've ever met, and I love seeing her when I go back to Pullman.

Have fun at Gleason Fest this year on August 12 in Spokane (event link here). I want to help reach our goal of raising $10K for the event (give here). We are expecting our fourth child on July 31, so I don't think I'll be able to make this one. I'm going to donate to Team Gleason though (give to Team Gleason here), and have my company match. I'll encourage others to do the same. I know the event is in good hands with Rian and “Shady” Grady.

Congrats on your beautiful film Gleason. It is a must see for everyone.

Until next time I see you Steve...just know that I love you and make sure that your head is on a swivel...I just might return the favor and blindside you with an ear hole shot of my own—I don't care if you're in a wheelchair.

Either way, as always: Go Cougs and No White Flags.

Sincerely Your Friend and Teammate,

Collin

PS: Below are some pictures I took with an old school disposable camera from our one year together as teammates. What a blast from the past!

This was on the bus while in Hawaii...that's Honolulu's Finest, J. Gess sitting in front of you.
That's you and and me throwing up the "hang loose" at the airport.
Looks like I'm trying to look tough here - again.
Here we are in front of Bohler. Nice cowboy hat by the way. That's me on the bottom right.
Left to right:  There's Coach Akey, Steve (Birny) Birnbaum, Adam (The Hawk) Hawkins, and Paul (PM Don) Menke.
Collin Henderson is the founder of Project Rise, which is a platform to help inspire and give individuals and teams the tools to master their mindset and be the best version of themselves.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

MY 30 SECOND PHONE ADDICTION HACK

While walking through the airport the other day, I made a startling observation—whether I was standing in line to check my bags, walking to my terminal, waiting in line to get a bottled water, or sitting at my gate—nearly everyone was on their phone. I call these individuals phone zombies: walking or sitting with their head down, checked out, and senselessly in another world. I'm often guilty of being a phone zombie as well (just ask my wife).

Does this scene look familiar?
I'm trying to change this.

Over a decade has passed since the release of the smartphone. No doubt these devices have helped streamline our lives into one simple operating system: our calendar, search engine, camera, main source of email, texting, GPS, Uber, TV, Netflix, video games, radio, and finding food or finding a date—the world is literally at our fingertips 24/7.

With the explosion of social media apps, every moment of down time it seems is filled with checking our likes, comments, views, and keeping up with the Joneses.

The new “reality TV” is watching YouTube, SnapChat and Instagram stories all day long (you can still get your fix of the Kardashians on Snap and Insta as well). While all of these features make life easier— including desperate times like keeping your kids quiet while eating at the Cheesecake Factory—this frequent phone checking habit has been shown to be as addictive as alcohol or drugs. The happy chemical dopamine is released, and we crave this neurological sensation every time we search, swipe, and tap.

However, there is a blind spot within our internal Air Traffic Control.

A 1998 study found that the more time people spent on the Internet, the more stressed, depressed, and lonely they felt. Not much has changed in nearly 20 years. A recent New York Times study showed that college students who spend more time on the Internet/Social Media are more depressed and anxious versus those who spend less time.
How many times have you said, or heard your significant other say, “Please put your phone away.”

I'm 100% guilty of this.

I need to spend less time on my phone, and more time on this...oh and baby number 4 is coming soon!
The world could use less screen time and more of the original face time. You know, the one without your phone.

I've been on a recent kick to increase my mindfulness muscle by studying the positive effects of mono-tasking. I've discovered the power of living in the NOW, through putting my phone down, focusing on my breath, and listening to my thoughts. These simple actions are just too powerful to not apply. From better relationships, sleep, less stress, improved memory, and a healthier mind, body, and spirit—I've seen positive results while practicing a new technique when I get seduced by the Apple (iPhone).

If you are like me and trying to break the habit of constantly checking your phone, I offer a system that I created called BREATH. It's based on the game-changing positive psychology finding of what Dr. Heidi Grant from Columbia University calls an “if-then plan.” Meaning, you create a predetermined plan to substitute a bad habit with a more productive one. For example, if X happens, then I'll do Y.

If-then plans have been proven to increase the likelihood of breaking a bad habit by nearly 300 percent!

Discover the power of NOW
When I get the urge to check my phone during the many idle moments throughout the day, I'll practice the BREATH technique. Here it is:


B - Breathe
R - Release
E - Explore
A - Affirm
T - Thankful
H - Hope


BREATHE
When I have a break in the action—in my car, on the couch, or standing in a line, instead of checking my likes and emails, I'll focus my attention on my breathing. I'll take one to three deep breaths in through my nose, and out through my mouth. This simple act refocuses my energy, and changes my physiology (and urge open my phone). Trust me, the emails can wait.


RELEASE
With each exhale, I release any tension or tightness in my body. I do a quick body scan, and relax my tense shoulders and tight butt cheeks (what can I say, I love leg days at the gym). As I continue to exhale, I release any negativity or unproductive thoughts that I've been stressing over.


EXPLORE
In this relaxed state, I allow my mind to wander wherever it wants to go. I try to let my subconscious brain take over. The goal is to explore how I can make the day better for myself and for others.


AFFIRM
You don't need permission from anyone to be great. Instead of relying on likes, comments, or views to improve my self confidence, I give myself a few words of affirmation. Plato once said, "The first and greatest victory is over self.” Self love is sometimes the hardest one to give. By practicing positive self talk, I use this time to focus on my strengths, and get less consumed by my blemishes and shortcomings (which is an easy trap to fall into using social media—even for a husband and father of three like me).


THANKFUL
I’ll use this time of mindfulness to run through my gratitude checklist. I’ll visualize and feel the many blessings in my life that I'm thankful for—my wife, my kids, my health, and my career. This act of gratitude might be the most powerful step of all.


HOPE
1 Corinthians offers the trinity of transformation: faith, HOPE, and love. I conclude my quiet me-time with a quick prayer of hope for my goals and for those I love. I see my goals as if they're already done. I often leave this meditative state in a place of flow: completely present in the now—with myself and a larger force more powerful than me.


When I complete my BREATH exercise, I end up feeling more satisfaction exploring my subconscious and soul than I ever would exploring all my iPhone apps.

Let me clarify, I'm not against smartphones. Due to work, being married, having kids, and having loving social relationships, my iPhone allows me to see and do things with much more convenience. However, I'm just trying to practice more self-care and invest more into my mental health than I am in my profile...which often times it is hard while producing a lot of creative content.

So the next time you get the urge to grab your phone while stuck in traffic, at Starbucks, having down time at home, or are at the airport, try to check-out, by checking-in to your BREATH.

If you use this technique just three times a day, you’ll boost your inner battery, which needs a recharge, just as much as your smartphone.



I created a free iPhone background as a visual queue for you guys - a way to remind yourself to follow these steps when you naturally would unlock your phone. 

You can download the background HERE. 

How to make this your background if you’re not familiar: Open this image, save to your phone by holding your finger down on the image until a menu pops up. Select “Save Image” - the image will now be saved in your photo album. From there, you can set as your wallpaper by selecting the image, tapping the lower left hand box with the arrow in it, and choosing the “Use as Wallpaper” option. 

Collin Henderson founded Project Rise to inspire individuals and teams to be the best version of themselves.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

THE BANNISTER EFFECT: HOW TO TURN THE IMPOSSIBLE INTO POSSIBLE, WITH THE POWER OF BELIEF

People said it couldn't be done. It wasn't possible. The closest any human had ever come to running under a 4 minute mile was in the 1940’s, with a time of 4:01. Track athletes and experts believed the human body just wasn't built to beat the 4 minute mile barrier.

After a subpar showing at the 1952 Olympics, medical student and Britain’s best mile runner, Roger Bannister, had a clear goal – to be the first athlete to run a mile under 4 minutes.

Mind over matter legend, Roger Bannister
Due to his rigorous scholastic schedule studying to be a neurologist, Bannister would train his body physically running sparingly – a simple 30 minute daily interval routine was all he needed to prepare his body. While training physically was important, his self belief and vision made all the difference.

With a clear stretch goal (his best previous mile time was 4:03), the Harrow, England native would often close his eyes and visualize every step of the race. While creating this image mentally before it happened, Bannister would see the finish line, hear the roar of the crowd, and feel the excitement of making history.

What separated Bannister from the others who had tried and failed, was that he believed with all of his might that he could do it. He even would place a little piece of paper in his shoe while he ran that read 3:58.

This belief, clear vision, and determined practice paid off.

On May 6, 1954, the world of track and field was forever altered. Once was thought as impossible, was now possible. On an overcast and windy day (which finally died down), medical student Roger Bannister defied the odds and ran a world record, 3:59.4 second mile. The 3,000 plus crowd went wild. He had done it. Bannister defied what even physicians said couldn’t be done. What began first in his mind and felt in his heart, later became a reality in the record books.

Bannister inspired millions that day – including his rival – Australia’s John Landry.

Just 46 days after Bannister shocked the world, Landy beat Bannister’s record.  Not to be out done, the two paired off in what was dubbed as The Miracle Mile in August later that year. While trailing most of the race, Bannister beat Landy on the final turn.
In heroic fashion, Bannister passed Landy running down the final stretch. Landy made the mistake of looking back to his left, while Bannister passed him on the outside.
Bannister defied the odds again. What seemed like a raced he couldn’t win (he trailed nearly the entire race), Bannister battled back and won more from his faith than from his feet.

Bannister’s goal that was written in his shoe came true. He posted a time of 3:58.8, while Landy finished just behind him with a time of 3:59.6. At that point in history, both runners had posted the top four mile times in the world.

For decades, people thought that breaking the 4 minute mile was unbeatable, but because of Bannister’s accomplishment, he inspired nearly a dozen runners to beat the 4 mile barrier within two years of his record.

KEY LEARNINGS:

  • Bannister turned his 1952 Olympics failure of not medaling into fuel to improve

  • He started his training with a clear goal, and visualized it occurring daily

  • Bannister broke his goal down into smaller goals including shaving each lap by a specific time

  • He carried over his discipline as an athlete into a successful career as a doctor of neurology

  • After decades of believing something couldn’t be done, Bannister inspired hundreds of track athletes to BELIEVE and BEAT the 4 minute mile

Look at your life right now. What do you or others around you think to be impossible? Use Roger Bannister’s story as inspiration and as an example: With a clear vision, belief, and practice...you can create the Bannister Effect and turn the impossible into possible...and inspire others to do the same.

Aside from needing to learn how to iron his pants, Collin Henderson founded Project Rise to be used as a platform to inspire others and teams to master their mindset, and be the best version of themselves.


Monday, June 19, 2017

4 TRADITIONS WE DO TO IMPROVE OUR KID'S MANNERS AND CONFIDENCE


If you are a parent and have young children, here are two concepts to consider:

“Some habits are more important than others – the right habits have the power to transform your life.”
-Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

“The type of emotional support that a child receives during the first three and a half years has an effect on education, social life and romantic relationships even 20 or 30 years later.”
-K. Lee Raby, Lead author of a study published in the journal: Child Development

Being a student of positive psychology, having a deep curiosity in human performance, and being a devoted father of three children 5 years and under, I’d like to share four simple activities that we do as a family in the attempt to shape their confidence, manners, and well being.

Baylor (5), Winnie (1), Bellamy (3)
By no means do Kendra and I have everything figured out as parents – trust me, we fail a lot (is Mickey Mouse a legal babysitter?). Nor are our children perfect angels. We have our fair share of tantrums and timeouts. However, with the aim to guide our kids to be their best self, I'm going to share a few family rituals centered around what are called keystone habits.

A keystone habit can spark chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.

Below are four keystone habits that Kendra and I hope will set off a cascade of more good for Baylor, Bellamy, Winnie, and baby number four coming next month (prayers for sanity and sleep are welcome!).

1. Eat Meals Together As a Family
Eating together as a family around the table – especially dinner – may seem small, but has a huge impact.


As Duhigg writes in his book The Power of Habit, "Families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence."

We make it a point to sit down together, put our phones away, turn the TV off, and pretend like it's the 1950’s and talk. We 100% make this a consistent routine. Kendra cooks one meal for everyone – even our 1.5 year old Winnie is expected to eat what is served. No one can leave the table without asking permission to be excused.

This nightly habit helps our kids to learn patience, discipline, and to expand their palate. These skills will serve them as they are older and this definitely pays off when we eat outside our house or at a dinner date (packing different food for the kids is too much work for us!).

2. Thank You Cheer
One of Kendra and my non-negotiables as parents is to raise our little Hens with manners. The two pillars of having sound manners are these two phrases: Please and Thank You.

A fun way we model and encourage this behavior is what we call the Thank You Cheer. While we are sitting down together as a family and our meal is served, whichever parent didn't prepare the food (which 95% of the time is me) leads this group activity of thankfulness.


This cheer was inspired by the “team breaks” I used to do as an athlete. After practice, we used to all put our hands in the middle of the huddle and all yell out the same word or phrase in unison.

When we are all sitting around the table as a family, we can't put our hands together as a group (#shortarms #can'treach). Thus, each person puts one hand on top of their other hand – which signals they are ready to begin the cheer. Once all hands are in the correct position, on the count of three, we all lift our hands in the air and yell, “Thanks Mom (or Dad)!”

This is a simple and fun interactive game that uses movement to practice the winning habit of simply saying, “thank you.” Often times if I forget, either Baylor or Bellamy will put their hands on top of each other to signal the Thank You Cheer. Gotta love the accountability!

This is a fact that I know to be true: manners go a long way...especially saying these powerful words daily, “Thank you.”

3. Praying Out Loud Before We Eat
Public speaking was a big fear of mine in my teens and as a young adult. I wasn’t alone with this trepidation. National surveys show that more people fear giving a formal speech then death.

Knowing this, we've tried to help our kids practice public speaking at a young age – even as simple as praying out loud.

Bella is our resident prayer expert. She starts every prayer with, "Dear Jesus, we pray for our life..."
I usually lead our family in prayer, but several times a week (and now it seems almost daily) we let Baylor and Bellamy take turns praying out loud before we eat. We've noticed over time that both have improved in choosing their words and speaking with more confidence. Bellamy is more of a natural and will even volunteer to pray when we have guests over (this makes me a proud daddy), but Baylor has made great strides as well. Months before, he wouldn’t even participate, but after much practice, he now volunteers.

This routine serves three purposes:
  1. It helps our kids establish a pattern of giving thanks
  2. They get a microdose of public speaking practice
  3. This encourages them to connect spiritually

We believe these are all great habits that one can't enough of.

4. Happy Breakfast/Super Excited Dinner
One weekend this winter, our entire house got hit with the Black Plague. It started with me and I passed this gift of death to our whole family. It was nasty. I mean, stuff was coming out of every orifice.

This was Baylor’s first time throwing up and it really triggered what we call “Mr. Worry.” That experience was quite traumatic for him and he often would worry that it would come back again.

The fear of getting sick even impacted his confidence and desire of going to school.  Because of this we had several tearful dropoffs. Especially when he overheard his teacher discussing with a parent about a student being sick. On this day, Kendra even had to come pick him up.

Recognizing this pattern, Kendra and I have developed several strategies to quiet Mr. Worry. One of these techniques is called Happy Breakfast and Super Excited Dinner. Understanding the powerful effects that starting your day off with gratitude can have (ex: writing in a gratitude journal, saying prayers, etc), I created a game that the kids love. In the end, you can't be grateful and fearful in the same time.

How can you trick your kids into being grateful?....Make a game out of it.
Henderson baby #4 coming soon!
We all take turns going around the table sharing one thing that makes us happy. After each person shares, we count to three and all at once pound our clinched hands into the table and say together, “Happy!”

This act helps us focus on positive things and gets the day started on the right foot – especially for Baylor. This helps him, and our entire family begin the day with a smile.

Once we circle back as a family at dinner, we go around the table and share what made us super excited from the day – it could be an activity, a game, a toy, or even a person. After each person’s turn, we point our fingers in the air, twirl them around, then touch the table in a quiet almost whisper like voice and say, “Ssssssssuuuper excited.” (With a big emphasis on the “S”).

These exercises foster communication, dialogue, and tend to quiet Mr Worry. Winnie usually says she is either happy or excited about Moana, but I love to hear what B and B come up with each day.

After doing this for several months now, the older kids usually lead this breakfast and dinner tradition. I'm proud to say that Baylor closed out the school year without any nerves being dropped off at preschool. A lot of this growth was his own doing, but I believe this daily habit played a significant role as well.

Great read for parents with kids of all ages
What are you doing to improve your child’s well being?

Kendra and I are still learning each day as parents. We have our fair share of ups and downs. But, we believe that investing in our children’s development is like compound interest – the earlier and more we invest – the greater the return for them in the future.

I hope these four rituals spark some fun and new habits for you and your family. Taking the time to love, model manners, and have fun as a family, are the greatest investments of all.

Collin Henderson is the creator of Project Rise, which is a platform to help individuals be the best version of themselves.