Why some people stay “stuck” in the same joyless job, relationship, or
environment for years dreaming for a change but not moving forward?
Have You Ever Wondered…
Why others can move past immense obstacles, find success, fulfillment, and leave a legacy?
I wondered the very same thing. I have witnessed clients, colleagues, and family members virtually stay imprisoned in a life without purpose or meaning. I have watched them contemplate change but not take the necessary giant step forward. Why?
Two words come to mind: “I can’t!” Which really means “I won’t!”
It’s interesting to listen to people dance around why they can’t do something, why they can’t change, why they can’t be healthier. There are so many phenomenal excuses. I can write the book of excuses because I
have heard them all. I know from experience that we often sabotage ourselves by creating protective walls that keep us comfortable. Sometimes the walls become so thick it seems impossible to break free from the safety of our comfort zone. It seems impossible to find new ways to overcome obstacles.
Moving Past the Obstacles
Recently, on my radio show “What’s Weighing You Down?” I interviewed Leo, a man who was born and raised in Romana iunder Communist rule. Leo shared his amazing journey of self-discovery, determination, and ambition to turn the impossible to possible. Leo told his story of living in a country where you did not have a choice to live your dream. You were told what to think, how to act, and what to do for a living. Leo explained that he and his family woke up at 4 AM on Saturday mornings so that all his five family members could shower before the hot water was shut off. Living in Romania under Communism meant going to bed at 10 PM because all
electricity throughout the city was shut off-even the street lights. Obtaining
groceries required a well-planned strategy. According to Leo, every family
member had an assignment. Leo would go to the bread line, Cristi, his brother, to the butter line, Daniela, his sister, the milk line, and Mom and Dad to the chicken line. And the chicken line meant chicken feet, necks and heads. There was no such thing as chicken breast. Leo described his life as fearful. He and his family were afraid to talk about a better life or how to change their situation because they were scared someone would hear them, arrest and detain them. You couldn’t trust anyone not even your best friend! Leo clarified that the people of Romania were brain washed to believe that their way of life was the only way. There was nothing more.
But Leo wanted more. By six years old, Leo, frustrated with his life, started
lashing out. This oppressive environment was so harsh that the only way Leo could release his unhappiness was through fighting. One of his neighbors saw Leo’s deep discontent and brought him to a wrestling room which proved to be Leo’s ticket to life. This metaphorical meaning of fighting for his life proved to Leo that he was strong–stronger than the Communist mentality. Leo wanted to stand out, be the best, and be different. he wanted an identity and felt that through wrestling, he could be the best. This was his opportunity.
Planning for the Future
Leo now knew something. He wanted to be free. He dared to dream really big–escapeRomania! But to do that he needed a career. Over the years, Leo became passionate about wrestling. He was 14 when he competed in his first World Championship and placed 4th inIstanbul,Turkey. Leo realized that being an athlete was the best ticket to freedom for him.
Wrestling was very hard on Leo. He had to lose lots of weight, undergo long hours of training and suffering. He explained that he spent many years starving in order to make his weight class for different competitions. Sometimes, he went without eating and drinking for days at a time. He and the other athletes were under constant pressure and threatened to be sent home if they didn’t do well. Finally, in 1999, Leo’s wrestling team had scheduled a trip to the United States Olympic training center to train with the U.S. Olympic Wrestling team. At the last minute, the trip was cancelled. Leo also told me that his passport was being held by the Romanian Wrestling officials. So, another obstacle stood in Leo’s way of realizing his dream. But, Leo, determined to change his life, resigned his job as a wrestler in the Romanian Army wrestling team. The military police went after Leo, harassed his family, and called him a deserter. Leo did obtain his passport six months later, sold some wrestling equipment, borrowed $300 from a close friend, and bought a plane ticket to Los Angeles,CA. On November 3, 1999, he arrived in LA with $10 in his pocket, a backpack, and knowing only four words of English.
Finding Success, Fulfillment, and Leaving a Legacy
So what makes Leo different? After landing in LA, Leo went straight to work. He got a job as a dishwasher and washing toilets. He was very excited! He came from a World Champion and Olympic hopeful to a
happy dishwasher. He never felt he was too good to do the job. He knew it was going to be a hard journey paved with different hard jobs and situations. But Leo was determined and willing to do whatever it took to reach his goal. He became the best dish/toilet washer in Hollywood. Next, Leo became a waiter while learning English. Then he learned to drive a car. His next goal: become a citizen. During his journey, he always asked himself if he was satisfied with what he was doing. He was happy but each job was leading him to his big dream. Leo continued to wrestle and in only a few years, he won several California State Championships, trained several US Olympians and was invited to the United States Olympic Center in Colorado Springs to train the US wrestling team. Leo also started college; but while attending, got injured during training. Another obstacle but not a deal breaker. Instead of tossing in the towel, instead of complaining or whining “Why me?” Leo’s attitude was “How fast can I get back on track?”
Getting back on track and staying focused helped Leo become a success. He saw results with every job and in every situation. He used his obstacles and turned them into opportunities which turned into possibilities. His attitude coupled with keeping his eye on his goal and re-evaluating each opportunity helped him in becoming who he was meant to be. He dreamed big and was determined and willing to do the “little” and more “menial”
jobs until his dream was realized. During one of his wrestling seminars, he met Kelly who owned a private gym in Encino. Kelly introduced Leo to personal training; Leo was offered a job as a personal trainer there. Starting with one client a week, Leo set his goals and worked hard. Within a short time, he had 30 clients per week. His ultimate goal: to own his own personal training facility. Leo went from dish washer to landscaper to waiting tables to owning RESULTS, his own gym in only over three years! He didn’t take his paycheck and buy fancy cars but stayed focused–his eye on the goal. He was passion-driven, seeking a better life. He didn’t let anything stop him–not obstacles, fears, limiting beliefs, what others thought. He remained positively optimistic. Leo’s mantra: it takes work, real work and commitment–but anything is possible!