How do you deal with heartbreak over something that you’ve been trained to be the best in the world at and now it’s over? Now you have knee surgery or an injury and your dream is taken away from you. That happens to a lot of us—it’ll happen to all of us at some point. How do you reengage? How do you get back up on the horse when the dream is over?
For one thing, I spent a lot of time alone after I had my heart broken—after I had seven knee surgeries. I was afraid. I was scared because I knew I was great at a thing but that thing I couldn’t do anymore. A lot of people go through that. They either get laid off or get a divorce. It’s some kind of heartbreak or game-changer and people usually stop. They’re so heartbroken that they’ll just stop. And I wanted to, too.
I wanted to stop because I just didn’t want to run all those miles to be great at something else. I just didn’t know if I had the energy to do it. But I spent time alone. I spent time talking to a therapist about the anger that I felt inside and just this desire to express myself physically but I couldn’t do it in a professional sport anymore because I just couldn’t do it. And I had to find a platform, a placed to put that TNT, that energy.
I found the stage. The mistake that most people make is they don’t take all that TNT to the next occupation, to the next dream. They leave it over here and let it die and don’t think there’s anything for them ever again. Well I say all of that mastery that made you great in that field over there, will also make you master this field over here. And you’ll be the best in the world over here but it’s a different place. You just have to channel it into the new platform. So my platform went from an NFL field to a theater like this—totally different worlds but I brought me to the second one.
I found out after years of training that I was just as good at this as I was at football. Anything I do, whether it’s writing or speaking or being a parent and husband, anything I do I bring the same aggression—the same dynamite that I have inside me—I bring it to all those relationships. And I bring it to performance. You must do the same. You can’t live the rest of your life heartbroken without doing anything about it.
I’m heartbroken. I miss football. I miss the guys. I miss being able to be one of the most elite athletes on the planet. I miss that so much and I’ll never have it again. But I could take that same TNT and I could put it in the next occupation. I want you to do the same because there was something, there was some heartache—some heartbreak—where you said, “Time out. I quit. I stop. I’m done.” I want you to reignite that energy in the next occupation. Now, whether it’s speaking or expressing, that’s what I wish it were because it’s a good way to get that energy out, be healthy and get paid a lot of money to do it. If you can express all the TNT that you have inside, you’re going to get paid a lot of money and influence a lot of people.
When you talk about impact, my position in football was to make impact on people. To really hit them as hard as I could—to run at full speed and hit them, make an IMPACT on them. My job is no different today. My job is to make an impact on people with words and physicality, not necessarily throwing my head into them, but impacting them in a different way, in a leadership way.
Think of the thing where you called, “time out” and your heart was broken and you said, “You know what? I can’t do it anymore.” And channel it into the next thing. That’s what life is all about. That’s what I always tell my kids, that’s what I always tell everybody. As soon as you have heartbreak, now you have a lot of ammunition. You’ve got a lot of emotion to draw from and that is pure power. Draw from it.