Tag Archives: exceptional you

Steve’s Favorites: If I Get to Five

This post was originally posted in Steve Gutzler and Leadership Quest’s blog on January 17th, 2012. 

Naomi was only four when she arrived at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City. She had a complicated brain tumor that was wrapped around two arteries. This was over 25 years ago and pediatric neurosurgery was still in its infancy.

Dr. Fred Epstein, the founding director of the institute, was commissioned to removed Naomi’s tumor in the course of two delicate surgeries that were both deemed “a long shot.”

After Naomi survived the first surgery, this feisty girl with dancing eyes and a bandaged head pronounced:

“If I get to five, I’m going to learn how to ride a two wheeler!”

Each day leading up to the next surgery as Dr. Epstein made his rounds, there was Naomi making her bold statements:

Monday: If I get to five, I’m going to beat my older brother at tic-tac-toe!

Tuesday: If I get to five, I’m going learn to tie my shoes in double knots!

Wednesday: If I get to five, I’m going to learn to jump rope backwards!

What Dr. Epstein was learning from this courageous little four-year-old girl was :

  1. You can draw courage from a four-year-old
  2. Courage is greater than fear
  3. She knew that getting to five was an “if” and not a “when” proposition

Naomi understood that in order to get to five years old, she needed to look forward to the next level of mastery, like learning to tie her shoes in double knots or learning to jump rope backwards.

Naomi survived both surgeries and although there was some brain damage, her courage has sustained her. She has since stayed very close to Dr. Epstein.

Exceptional You 2.0 Question

You must be honest- How are you doing with determination to embrace the next stages of your life?

To get to that next level and next stage in business and leadership, it will require the pursuit and mastery of new skills!

Naomi reminds us that even when “inoperable” is stamped across our lives, we need to strengthen our resolve to never give up. She was determined to make it to five so that she could learn new skills. We must strengthen our resolve to never give up in dire situations, not on a child, not on a relationship, not on our business, and especially not on our dreams, no matter how daunting the next challenge is. Just go for it!

I am sure if you are like me, life can get pretty messy and mundane at times. At other times, it can become overwhelming and burdensome.

But children, like the elderly, can teach us about courage and character. For one thing, children live life in the moment, they usually take on just today. Remember, today matters! And the elderly, well the aged don’t have the strength to live much more beyond today. Like Grandma Gutzler used to tell me, “I am just happy to be alive today.”

Six Take-Away Truths from Naomi and Dr. Epstein

  1. Hold someone’s hand
    “We can do no great things. Only small things with great love” Mother Teresa
  2. Live in the moment
    “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time” Abraham Lincoln
  3. Face your Fears
    “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear” Ambrose Redmoon
  4. Believe in Miracles
    “Sometimes children teach us character, other times they teach us child-like truth which leads to miracles.” Steve Gutzler
  5. Play your Strengths
    “I don’t think I shall easily bow down before the blows that inevitably come to everyone” Ann Frank
  6. Love without Boundaries
    “Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it is breaking.” Tin Woodman from the Wizard of Oz

The Book:
if I get to five- what children can teach us about courage and character.
By Dr. Fred Epstein, MD

Today matters, live it with fresh courage, faith, and child-like determination.

Exceptional You 2.0: The Pixie Kitchen

I live in the Seattle Area but I grew up in Portland. As a young boy my parents would take my sister and I on a couple hours drive to the Oregon Coast. One of our favorite destinations before hitting the beach was the “Pixie Kitchen.” It was a unique restaurant with all sorts of colorful rooms and enchanting rides. My favorite room was the Room of Distortion. It was filled with mirrors that would change how you looked. Sometimes you would be tall and stick-like. Sometimes you would be short and stocky. Sometimes you were wavy and sometimes you looked smushed! We would all get the giggles and have a blast living in that world of make-believe.

Looking back now on the Room of Distortion, I think to myself,

What is your view of yourself?

I’ve come to realize that during coaching and training experiences, business executives, professional athletes, and even recognized celebrities all view themselves through a mirror. That includes you and me. We all have a fun house mirror image of ourselves. That image of ourselves dictates a lot of our behavior and performance level.

Sometimes our image is strong and confident, while other times it is weak and insecure. You might feel lovely and beautiful or ugly and unattractive.

Remember: That image is powerful and can dictate how we behave and how well we perform in daily activities and one time experiences.


Start with the Right Mirror Image

You’d be surprised at the number of high-profile clients who struggle with self-image, self-concept, and self-esteem. Start by creating an image of yourself based on self-worth, not what an overbearing parent used to tell you, or a highly critical boss. It shouldn’t be based on the number of hairs on your head or your body weight or the clothes in your closet. Instead, focus on what is good and right about you. Focus on the things that say how exceptionally smart and talented you are. On the things that depict how beautiful and handsome you are on the inside. Things that show you that you are gifted and compassionate and created for success and positive contribution.

I coached a professional golfer who, at one time, was in the top 10. But over time, he got beat up by his defeats. Soon his image sunk and his game went down with it. We literally started from ground zero and rebuilt his self-image brick by brick by focusing on personal accomplishments.

If you looked at him now, you would have thought he was an attractive and confident athlete his whole life. But in reality, he was once very fragile and in need of some serious self-image repair.

How did we work together to turn his self-image around?

We made a list of 6-8 personal affirmations. We looked at them each day and repeated the Exceptional You affirmations. We literally stood in the mirror and spoke the affirmations out loud to ourselves.

  1. I am an exceptional person of high performance
  2. I am healthy and fit and attractive
  3. I am gifted and confident
  4. I am positive and magnetic with a personality that draws people to me
  5. I am caring and compassionate for others
  6. I am a thought leader and success achiever
  7. I am soulful and spiritually centered

Your list should reflect you and your talents, the areas that you are exceptional. We don’t all have the same areas, that is why we can all work together and bring new things to the table. Maybe you don’t have one of the same qualities as your older sibling, but there is no doubt that we all have something. You are exceptional.

Listen to the Right Tapes

Recently, I coached Karen whose self-image plummeted over the years due to her father’s destructive and cruel words. She struggled with her weight and with feeling unattractive. She had grown up in a home where she was compared to her younger sister who was “the pretty one.”

She said, “Steve, every time I was to reach for success I hear my dad say ‘you’re fat’ or ‘why can’t you be more like your younger sister?’”

To help her, we made Karen 3×5 cards with new statement about who she was as a person. We removed the old dated 8-track tape stuck on repeat in her mind and upgraded to a digital message of positivity, power, and purpose!

TRUE STORY: This then single, quiet, and insecure young woman is now a Microsoft executive married with children and she looks wonderful! She is radiant and confident.

Actions that drive new behaviors

Replace those old, negative thoughts with thoughts of the new Exceptional you! Then watch your behaviors slowly start to reflect those beliefs and uncover that new you. Be intentional about your messaging and be deliberate to correct those negative thoughts that will creep in every once in a while. Listen and repeat the positive.

This coming year’s results will be determined by your mirror image. Align it to your Exceptional You!


Play Big Inner Circle Starting in 2012! Sign up will begin soon!
Includes a Weekly Coaching Video Series and Monthly “Call In” with questions and answers.
What’s the cost? Only $27.00 per month. This elite coaching program will include spectacular content to help each of us experience our best year!

10% of profits will go to charities including Compassion2one. Thank you!