One thing I have learned in 71+ years of life is that life is better than 90% attitude and I decided to write about this because it will probably help some of you people. One reason I am writing this is because I can't remember all of the times I have read about people who have committed suicide because they had one of the many problems I have gone through.
If you have a bad attitude, life is going to suck, if you have a good attitude, life is going to suck less. (You laughed, didn't you?)
I will use myself as an example and, to do that, I have to explain some things about me and my past. First, I started out in college studying mechanical engineering but it was too easy, became boring, and I am what we called hyperactive or today they call ADHD so I began to have trouble keeping my mind on my studies and I knew I had to study something that was more motivating for me.
This was during Vietnam and I knew that, with a mechanical engineering degree, I could easily end up designing, bombs, bullets, and other things to kill people. I thought about it and decided I wanted to spend my life helping kids learn to dream and achieve their dreams. I thought that would be fun.
When I was growing up, we were so poor that the only thing I could really enjoy was school sports because they were free so I decided to use coaching sports and changed my major from mechanical engineering to coaching but had not decided on which sport I would like to spend the rest of my life coaching.
Note that, purely by the grace of God, I ended up in one of the top 3 to 5 coaching programs in the nation and one of the best in the world partly because of all of the science we had to study.
Shortly after I made that decision, I found out about bicycle road racing, was very impressed with the challenge and achievement offered by that sport and fell in love with it. While studying coaching, the sports sciences, and athletic administration along with a number of sciences, I decided one day that I wanted to race for a while, coach for a while, and then manage my own sports program for a while with my idea of retirement being standing on the side of the road or a velodrome at 80+ years of age coaching teenagers to teach them to dream and how to achieve their dreams. I love helping people, which is why I write this blog.
I raced while I was working my way through college and became the 1969 and 1970 New Mexico State Road Champion. My racing was cut short because I was poor, working my way through college, there was no sponsorship allowed in amateur racing at that time, we had no pro racing in the US so I couldn't make money from my racing to pay for my racing, and my wife ran up some hospital medical bills that forced me out of college at the end of my junior year with me already taking senior classes.
So I took care of my responsibilities, served in the Air Force, and God finally saved me from that marriage with a divorce 12 years later so I went to LA to coach kids in bike racing. On with the dream, baby.
At that time, Los Angeles was the biggest, fastest, and most competitive road racing circuit in the US and my strategy was to jump in the biggest lake with the biggest fish and start swimming to prove myself as a coach to finish my dream.
I started out coaching several programs for others while working as a mechanic in one of the best pro bicycle shops in the nation but those people had their obsolete ideas about coaching (19th Century ideas) with me just being their baby sitter instead of really coaching. My hands were tied and I realized I was going nowhere.
After a few frustrating years, I founded the Los Angeles Racing Team with 8 beginners in bicycle racing, including my team manager I also trained up from scratch, and only recruited beginners because I had learned from those other programs that most people have to do things the way "everyone else does" and can't do things differently.
People, to be better than everyone else, you have to do things better than everyone else, which means differently. Different is not always better but better is always different.
I had already learned that me coaching experienced racers who were already doing things the way everyone else did them just didn't work so I recruited people who had no experience racing to train them up right from scratch. Basically, I crawled off in a corner and built my own program with me being the only coach in my program and the only person who knew anything about bicycle racing.
That was working great until about half way through my first season when the riders learned they were not training and racing "the way everyone else did", half of them just outright walked away from the team to join other teams that were doing things "the same way everyone else was doing them" and the other half hesitated with one foot inside the door and the other foot outside the door.
I had five good riders who saw the logic in my coaching, stuck with it, and quickly started winning beginning level races. That caused the hesitating riders to come back in the door and never look back. The Los Angeles Racing Team took off like a rocket. Hey, my stuff worked better than what the others were doing. All of that college paid off.
In just two years, with me being the only coach in the program, I built one of the best Junior teams (18 and under) in the nation with them competing and winning against top Juniors who had all been racing at least 4 to 6 years. In just three years, I had created one of the top women's teams in the nation with them consistently winning against women who had been racing 6 years or longer. In just 4 years, I had created one of the best Senior men's teams in the nation with them competing and wining against riders who had been racing at least 10 to 15 years.
The first experienced rider to come to my program for the coaching started in the third season when a Junior rider joined my program for the coaching because he told me he was tired of getting his butt beat by my top riders who he had been beating just a few years before. In the beginning of the fourth season, I had about half a dozen good senior men riders come into my program for the coaching including a former national champion.
Yeah, my stuff worked and worked well. I was bringing coaching for US bicycle racing into the end of the 20th Century out of the late 19th Century.
During the fourth season, we had obtained a national level sponsor that had agreed to sponsor us just $100,000 for the fifth season in 1990 to help us continue building the program. It was just enough for me and my team manager to make a minimal income while covering the basic expenses for the team so I could work full time on the team. Previously I had been working 40 to 50 hours a week to pay the bills plus at least 40 hours a week on the team. I now had more time to spend on the team.
When I started the program, a young woman named Vicki volunteered to be my team manager with me having to train her up from scratch because she knew nothing about bicycle racing or managing a bicycle racing team, nothing. She literally told me that she wanted to use my program to earn a lot of money she could put in a trust fund to live on the interest for the rest of her life while jet setting around the world.
I thought, what the heck, I needed a team manager and could help her achieve her dream at the same time so I developed a partnership with her where we both owned half the program and I would buy her out as soon as it got to making enough money so she could go jet setting, by which time I knew I could train up her replacement. I didn't know that she had greedy plans to steal the entire team so she could make twice as much money to jet set twice as well. I figured that me helping her would result in some loyalty from her and it didn't. Lesson learned, cover your butt.
By the end of the fourth season, I had built the best across-the-board road racing program in the US along with fledgling track and mountain bike programs. I knew that my program was still about 5 years from maturity but she only saw that we had one of the best men's teams and men's teams made the best money in things like sponsorships and merchandising. So, working with her greedy attorney, she began plotting to steal my team the next year so she could work a few more years, sell the team, and go jet setting with a lot more money.
That Christmas, after the fourth season, I took off 9 days to drive back to New Mexico to see family with her supposed to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet me with my kids to spend a week traveling around New Mexico seeing family for the holidays.
As soon as I left in my VW Bus for New Mexico, she said I was only an hour down the road, she told my top five men's riders that I told her to tell them to take a hike, you know, like I didn't have enough guts to fire my own people, and they now had very little time to get a contract on another team before the season started. She then recruited 3 riders who were loyal to her with promises she didn't plan to keep to help her steal the team from me. She later admitted this crap to me, you know, doing a little bragging to show how she outsmarted me by stabbing me in the back.
With my top 5 men's riders gone, I was in a situation where I had to accept her 3 riders because there were not any other good top riders on my team or left on the market that late in the season to keep our sponsor happy and paying our sponsorship. It took me about a month to bring my men's team back up to par with her riders resisting me every time they could to make me look bad but we were still doing very well with my teams beating nationally and internationally ranked teams, some of which were being sponsored 7 digits or more. I was kicking more than my fair share of butt but would have done better if she had not run off my top 5 riders.
In June through the middle of July I took my men's A team on a road trip to get them ready to go to Europe the next year while continuing to coach the rest of my team by phone by Vicki telling me race results each week and who would be riding which races the following weekends so I could set team structures and strategies and tactics all from memory for more than 120 racers and her relaying that information to the riders.
Based on their results, I had decided before I returned home that, after I got home, I was going to turn my men's A team pro, turn my women's A team pro (it would have been the first pro women's team in the world and would have really helped give a boost to women's road racing), and my men's, women's, Junior's, and Masters teams would all be ready for their first trip to Europe during the summer of the following year, especially with me having another off season year to finish getting them ready. I also planned to talk to the sponsor, Bruce McNall, who owned the LA Kings hockey team, about him buying out Vicki as a sort of present to Vicki so she could go jet setting 3 to 5 years earlier than planned and he and I would be partners so he would invest more in the team for me to make my next move with the team but Vicki had already screwed that up.
My plans for the following year were to give Vicki what she had said she wanted early, replace her with an MBA I could have easily trained up that fall, winter, and early spring season so they would be ready to manage an international team, train up four more people with business degrees for managing my top four teams on the road to handle the logistics for the trips to Europe and spend that fall, winter, and early spring training them up, hire 6 professionally trained coaches like me, who would have been trained to coach at least 15 to 20 different sports and I would only have to teach them one more sport and my system that fall, winter, and early spring, while seeing which coaches did best with which teams to decide which coaches took over each of those teams and my developmental program, hire 4 athletic trainers who were trained in sports medicine to have the four best seigneurs (pronounced swan-yays) in the sport with one each to provide medical support for my top 4 teams and spend that fall, winter, and early spring training them for their jobs with each team (I am also trained in athletic training), and work with a top bicycle sponsor to provide each team with a top level road mechanic.
Obviously, my team was ready to make a big move but it was still at least 4 to 6 years from what I considered maturity. Plus all of that staff would have not only made it possible for me to send my top teams internationally and still manage my developmental program but would have also freed up enough of my time for me to earnestly begin developing my fledgling track and MTB programs.
Did I tell you that I am trained to design, build, and manage the very large and complex university sports programs for any university in the world by one of the two best athletic administrative specialists in the US and one of the best in the world?
When I got home, Vicki and her attorney had managed to legally steal my entire team from me, she was only going to keep the men's team to turn them pro and go to Europe to begin making some real money, and she told me that she was afraid I would do well enough with the rest of my team to steal the sponsor back from her so she told the team that I had accepted an offer to coach a European pro team so the rest of the team had better get contracts with other teams as quickly as possible so that, when I returned, at least half of my remaining top riders had panicked and signed contracts with teams for the next season. I had nothing to sell for sponsorship to maintain or rebuild the program for the next year.
I thought about it for the last three months of that season while being paid to coach the team and decided the best thing for me and my riders was for me to cut them loose to go to teams who could provide them with the financial sponsorship to continue their careers and for me to return to college to 1) study law and 2) get an MBA to better protect my future programs, myself, and my riders from such crap.
You see, my attitude was that I didn't sit around throwing a fit because I had been screwed out of 5 years of hard work by a jerk. I learned, used that to improve myself, and kept moving forward. God took care of her because she and the team fell on their faces within 1.5 to 2 years, she ended up $100,000 in debt, and, the last I heard, she is teaching public school in Northern California. Yeah, her stupid plans worked well.
She reminds me of the story of the little dog who was walking across a bridge with a bone in its mouth, saw its reflection in the water, barked at the "other dog" to scare it off to get its bone too, and dropped its own bone in the water ending up with no bone. She didn't just screw me, she screwed herself and everybody else.
So I went to college to study law and get my MBA to better protect future programs. While I was there, my health was failing with no doctors willing to run tests on me because the greedy health insurance companies were putting pressure on doctors to not run tests on anyone who is not bleeding because the insurance companies didn't want those doctors to find something the insurance companies would have to pay for.
After I finished my MBA, I tried to return to bike racing by getting a job coaching a pro team only to find out that the national head coach had had me black listed in the US and Europe so no one would hire me because I had spent 1990 with my teams crushing his men's, women's, Juniors, and masters teams that were made up by him recruiting the best in each class in the nation and hiring the best coaches he could and, I found out later, he had also been doping his riders, even his teenagers, with me beating his doped teams with my clean teams that were trained up from scratch. He was cheating and still couldn't beat me.
Find a way to build my own program from scratch again, which he couldn't stop me from doing, and return to my dream. You learn, improve, and move on, baby. Life is a school full of lessons so learn from them.
With my health failing, my mother died and I was forced to move into her trailer I had inherited from her and have been fighting for my life. At first, yes, it tended to be depressing but I said, "Screw that depression stuff" and set my attitude to being me working to 1) find out what was killing me so I could begin to treat it to A) stop dying, B) stabilize my health, and C) begin recovering so I could get back to work on my dream, while 2) researching to find a business I could start up with pocket money to earn money to stabilize and rebuild my finances, and 3) develop the plans to hit the ground running as soon as I got my health and finances back instead of wasting some of that time after recovering developing the plans I needed to hit the ground running.
What have I done while fighting for my life?
It took about half a dozen years of running tests and different treatments to find out everything that was wrong with me so I could stop dying because I had been so sick for so long and then it took about another half dozen years to finally stabilize my health because I had gotten so sick so I could start using physical therapy to begin recovering my health and I have spent about 4 or 5 years doing my own physical therapy with gardening to get recovered enough to where I was finally able to ride a bicycle again for the first time in at least 15 years so I can now use that to have better control over my physical therapy so that I am now in the C phase working to recover enough I can start and manage a business to begin making money. It will probably take about one or two years more physical therapy before I can begin starting a business for income. I need to get recovered enough I can put in at least 60 to 80 hours per week.
Did the last 25+ years suck?
Yes, but much less than if I had permitted myself to get depressed plus I know that the stress of depression would have been enough to finish me off years ago, probably at least 15 years ago. If I had permitted myself to get depressed, I would have already died years ago.
Right now I am getting excited because I am in the latent stages of my plan to hit the ground running to finish my dream with my health improving AND I have the plans to use to achieve my dreams when I hit the ground running because I spent all of those years doing all of that research and designing. I could have just wasted all of that time with the wrong attitude.
I am determined that, by the grace of God, I am going to coach those teenagers to teach them how to dream and how to achieve their dreams.
Do I still have problems?
Yes, but they are nothing compared to what I had 15 years ago and those problems didn't seem quite so bad 15 years ago either because of my attitude.
Persistent old fart, huh?
And that is the nutshell version because it was much, much, much worse than that with me having to overcome quite a few other big problems while fighting for my life, some of which were caused by the poverty my illness had plunged me into. I learned to walk very closely with God. Good prayer, faith, and watching God work in your life really help build good attitude.
Note that not one time during all of those years and problems did I even consider committing suicide. I kept my focus on my dream, prayed daily for God to help me, and walked as close to God as I could. I never gave up on me or God no matter how bad it got and now I am glad I didn't give up because, by the grace of God, I am getting closer one day at a time.
Was it easy?
No, but nothing that is any good is easy. Some things are just easier.
Life is better than 90% attitude. If you have the wrong attitude, life will suck. If you have the right attitude, life will suck less. : I hope that inspires and helps some of you.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.