Jim: Welcome to the episode 33 of Wrestling with Greatness. Today, I bring you Dr. Rob Gilbert. Dr. Gilbert is a professor of Sports Psychology at Montclair State University and he’s one of the world’s leading sports psychologist. He’s also a motivational speaker and he’s spoken to Fortune 500 executives to the U.S. Military Academy and everything in between. He studied motivation, I guess, in success of not only athletes but also successful business executives, high-earning salespeople and others.
I learned about him through one of my guests, it was Gene Zannetti of Wrestling Mindset where he mentioned Dr. Gilbert’s Success Hotline in the interview that I did with him For Wrestling with Greatness which was episode 11. I got the phone number and I called the Success Hotline a few times and I realized this was something that I had to add to my morning routine. And when I learned that Dr. Gilbert had a wrestling background, I realized I had to have him on the show. So Dr. Gilbert, welcome to Wrestling with Greatness.
Gilbert: Oh, thank you so much for having me and having listened to some of your podcast, I want to represent all the guys out there who weren’t successful at wrestling. I didn’t win an NCA Championship, I didn’t win an ACC Championship, I wasn’t a State Champion. As a matter of fact, in my whole life, I only won one wrestling match. But I owe so much to wrestling, I cannot tell you.
Jim: Well you know, I’ve had Olympians on the show. I’ve had guys like Lee Kemp who I know you’ve actually worked with in the past. I think you guys have either a book or some content out there or on Lee’s website. And we’ve had some amazing wrestlers on here. I’ve also had Tom Koulopoulos. He’s a CEO on an Inc. 500 company. I read an article that he also writes on the inc.com website. He was talking about wrestling in that article. During the interview when I interviewed him a few episodes back, he revealed that he’s actually never won a wrestling match in his entire career.
But he credits his success to the lessons learnt on the wrestling mat. Now, the show is not only just for former wrestlers but it’s for any former athlete. We’ve got a lot of other folks who listen to the show who’ve never wrestled. But they were athletes in their own right and they’ve taken those lessons from athletics and they want to apply them to their life. So tell us about your wrestling background, Dr. Gilbert.
Gilbert: Well, I went to Boston Landon School in Boston, Massachusetts. And I’m 68 years old so I graduated high school in ’64. Back then, most inner city schools and most big city schools didn’t have wrestling. I think Chicago was the only one. As far as I knew, the only wrestling was professional wrestling. Then I got to UMass and I’m’ wandering through the gym one day. This is ’65 I guess. And a future number one draft choice of the Cleveland Browns, Milt Morin, is pinning the kid from Dartmouth. But he’s a heavyweight wrestler for UMass. And there was something and I just loved it. I didn’t what I loved, I just loved it.
So the next year, I went up for wrestling. I never wrestled in high school and in that season, I was wearing Milt Morin’s uniform. He’s 6’4, 265. I didn’t fill his uniform out too well. But yeah, I just loved wrestling and I loved the workouts, I loved the ethic, I loved Dan Gable, I love everything. Till this day, I’m a professor now but just barely did I get my PhD. If I didn’t get my PhD, I would be coaching wrestling at Western Massachusetts still and I’d probably be just as happy as I am now.
I loved coaching wrestling. As a matter of fact, I loved coaching more than I love wrestling. It’s a little different now but the thing that’s so great about wrestling, kids are going to learn it from their coach. They’re not going to go to the playground, they’re not going to be part of a travel team. So there’s some things you mentioned in some of your podcasts, as soon as you know that somebody else is a wrestler, there’s a shared bond. So that’s what makes it so special.
Jim: Yes, it is interesting like that when one wrestler connects with another wrestler. It’s just that instant respect they have knowing that you’ve gone through some similar trials and tribulations and the pain and suffering that’s any wrestling practice, right?
Gilbert: Yeah. Well, let me tell you a little story about pain and suffering, because I’m a motivational speaker and I’m probably the only motivational speaker that talks about suffering, you know? So many years ago, I was at a book signing for Angelo Dundee. One of the greatest boxing trainers of all time. So in the end when we had the question and the answers, I said, “Mr. Dundee, who’s the hardest working athlete, who’s the hardest working boxer you’ve ever trained?” And he trained a lot of champions. He said, “Oh, that’s an easy one. Muhammad Ali. He outworked everybody.”
So that got me more interested and I started reading some biographies of Ali. And here’s an Ali quote. Ali said, “I hated every minute of training but I said to myself, don’t quit. Suffer now and I could spend the rest of my life as a champion.” And I think that’s what we learn. We learn delayed gratification. We learn to lose weight. We learn to put in the time. We learn to work out 12 months a year. In the end, we know it’ll be worth it. In the end, if we can’t call ourselves a champion, we can call ourselves a wrestler. Which is fine for me.
Jim: Yeah, and that’s how success works, right? And we have to go through the pain and suffering first to become successful. You don’t become successful and say, “Oh, I’m going to start working really hard and working long hours,” and as an athlete, the extra workouts, or in sales, make the extra phone calls. It happens the other way around. There’s the pain and suffering, the challenges first. There’s a good friend of mine, a guy named Dr. Fischer. Dr. Mike Fischer now, who is a NCAA Division 1 national soccer player of the year who I went to school with at the University of Virginia. He and I were talking one time and he said, “You know Jim, you could be successful at anything if you’re willing to go through enough pain and suffering.” I thought that was an interesting, and a good point.
Gilbert: That’s true. And as a matter of fact, in wrestling, there’s no easy way. If you’re doing the move and it seems easy, you’re probably doing it wrong. And I worked with a lot of college athletes and two groups of athletes I respect the most are swimmers and wrestlers, because there’s no easy way. When you go to practice, there’s no easy way. I mean, if you’re on a golf team or a tennis team, give me a break. Not that they aren’t sports. But wrestling and swimming, the Dan Gable of swimming coaches was a guy named Doc Counsilman. You remember Mark Spitz? He was Mark Spitz’s coach.
The first day of practice, he would bring everybody up on the swimming dock and there’d be a banner. It was in Indiana University. There’d be a banner hanging over the pool and the banner just had three words on it; hurt, pain, agony. He said, “If you want to swim for me here at Indiana University, every day from 4 to 6.30, you have to come here and train until you’re hurt. But if you have higher goals and you want to be an NCA champ, you want to be a National champ, you have to come here every day from 4 to 6.30 and train until you’re in pain. But if you want to be the next Mark Spitz and you want to be a World Champion or an Olympic champ, you have to come here every afternoon and train until you’re in agony.”
So that’s what resonate with me because you know, I never wrestled in high school. Wrestled in college and I’m just a couple of years older than Dan Gable. And Dan Gable, you really have to respect this guy. He is a living legend and in my estimation, the best wrestler and without a doubt the best coach America’s ever had. So every once a while in my fantasies, I say, ”Wait a second. Why is Dan Gable so much better than I am? How come he won NCA Championships? How come he won a gold medal in the Olympics? How come he was never scored upon?” And I won one match. I mean, what’s the difference between Dan Gable and myself? A couple of years ago, he was giving a talk at Hamilton High School in South Jersey. And I went down to see him.
Somebody asked him what was his secret to success? He said, “When I was in school at Iowa State, we practiced [inaudible 00:09:54] conditioning and everybody would go to the locker room, take a shower and get dressed. Not me. I’d go to the locker room, put on a rubber suit, go back into the wrestling room, turn up the heat, then I’d jump-roped until I passed out. I said, “That’s the difference between you and me. That never even crossed my mind.” Now the thing is, he never passed out. But just having that willingness and that eagerness to bring himself.
So at Montclair State, unfortunately, they closed down our wrestling program. But we’ve had some tremendous wrestlers. As a matter of fact – correct me if I’m wrong – we had the first Division 3 wrestler who won a Division 1 Championship. Do you remember when you could still do that? So we had a guy named Ken Mallory. Now here’s a story I don’t tell to high school kids. Kenny Mallory, he was from my hometown in Boston. He never wrestled in high school. Between his junior and senior year, he went to the Boston Darby. He went to a pro- wrestling match and it’s in August.
He’s walking home and he goes by a YMCA. Late Saturday afternoon. He walks in and said, “You have wrestling here?” They said, “Yeah, as a matter of fact, the coach is downstairs.” Just by chance, Jim Peckham the former Greco-Roman Olympic wrestler – he coached at Emerson, he coached at Harvard – was there. And it was like when Cus D’Amato saw Mike Tyson. Within one year without even being part of the team, Ken Mallory won the Massachusetts State Championship.
He came to Montclair State, won the NCA, won the Division 3 Championships. And then the second year, he said that the Division 3 Championships, he can’t make weight. And his coach says, “Hey Kenny, we have 20 minutes. You got to lose like an eighth of a pound.” He said, “Coach, I did everything I could do. I did everything I could do.” He said, “Kenny, there must be something that you can do.” So Mallory got up, went to the men’s room. Came back a couple of minutes later and said, “Let’s go. We’re going to make weight.”
And he gets on the scale, he makes weight. Coach said, “What did you do?” He said, “I’ll tell you on the way home.” So he wins the Division 3 Championship and they’re flying home to New Jersey, coach [inaudible 00:12:06] said, “Kenny, what did you do?” He said, “Well coach, I did everything. I shaved, I spit, I did everything. So I went into a stall and I made sure nobody was around and I punched myself in the nose as many times as I had to until I started bleeding and I bled [inaudible 00:12:22].” I mean, not too many sports have that type of commitment.
Jim: Sure, yeah.
Gilbert: So hurt, pain and agony, that’s what it’s all about. I know when I was in UMass, there were some recruiters from Procter and Gamble there who wanted to speak to our wrestling coach because they knew the same type of thing that would make somebody do more than expected in wrestling would be more expected in sales and in business.
Jim: Yeah, right. And you talk about hurt, pain, agony. That was a swim coach that had that up on a wall. How do you take those lessons? You work with a lot of college athletes and you speak to successful executives. How does somebody, whether they’re a wrestler or a swimmer or an athlete of any sport, how do they take those lessons and apply them to the real world?
Gilbert: Basically, whether you’re an athlete or a non-athlete, if you’re in sales or in business, if you’re a parent, there’s only one decision we have to make. Are you going to go all out or are you going to hold back? You could walk into any high school wrestling room anytime today and you could tell the kids who are going all out and you could tell the kids who are holding back. All you have to do is watch.
You could go to Broadway and watch a chorus line of dancers and you could tell the ones that are holding back from the ones that are going all out. So I think that’s what wrestling has taught me. See, it’s much better to go all out and lose than hold back and win. And you see this all the time. You see people playing it safe. One of the things we could learn from wrestling is to give your all, to lose the way. But then you still fail, but you know you gave a full effort.
It’s like your TEDTalk. You fail your way to success. They’re very few instant successes in wrestling but I mean, if we could just get it in our minds . . . because every day we take what’s called the ‘pillow test.’ So tonight when you put your head on the pillow, either consciously or unconsciously you’re going to take a little test. You’re going to say to yourself “Am I glad I did or do I wish I had?” So when you look back at the day, you’re going to say, “Am I glad I did? Am I glad I did more than expected? Am I glad I called that guy back? Am I glad I spent more time on a project? Or am I going to say I wish I had?” The more “I’m glad I did” we have, the more self-esteem we’re going to have. The more “I wish I had” we have, the more our self-esteem is going to go down.
So I know this was the thing that hooked me to wrestling. I mean you could imagine, not that UMass has a great wrestling program but we had a couple of good kids. But I used to just get beat up. I was a wrestling dummy. I knew nothing at the beginning. When I took a shower at the end of practice, I felt like a million bucks. I felt like, “Wow, I survived.” Way back in the ‘60s, there was a guy named John Lindsay who was a mayor in New York. Some journalist once asked him after his last stint as mayor, “Mayor Lindsay, what’s the most important accomplishment you got from being mayor of New York? What’s your number one accomplishment?” He said, “Just the fact I survived.”
Sometimes in wrestling, just the fact that we hang on, just the fact that we don’t give up that extra point and our team wins . . . and wrestling, there are a lot of wins. And you don’t have to be a winner to be a champion. And there are a lot of champions n wrestling. Like I know you’ve interviewed Kyle Maynard. Have you seen his YouTube video on climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro?
Jim: I have, it’s been a while since I watched the video.
Gilbert: Yeah, you have to watch this. This guy, what did he lose? He lost his first 36, 37 wrestling matches.
Gilbert: It’s just unbelievable. So he’s a true champion. But maybe not a winner but a champion. Given a choice, I’d rather be a champion.
Jim: Yeah, good point. For the listener, Dr. Gilbert’s rattling off some of these amazing stories and I could listen to these stories all day. You can listen to these stories as well because he has the Success Hotline. I’ve heard some of the stories you mentioned. Not all of these so far but I’ve heard a couple of them already that sounded familiar because of calling into the Success Hotline.
Gilbert: I owe my Success Hotline to wrestling too. So before I came to Montclair State, I was in graduate school in UMass. I was also coaching wrestling for about a year at a little school, Hopkins Academy in Hadley, Massachusetts. And we would work out five, six or seven days a week. Then when I got to Montclair State and I’m a professor, especially my graduate students, I’d see them once a week. I’d see them Monday night or Tuesday night. And I said, “Wait a second, how can I be with my students every single day?” Because nothing happens once a week, you know. You don’t get improvement once a week.
I said [inaudible 00:17:27] be with my students every day when I only see them once a week. So I decided to have a hotline and it’s being going since 1992 and every single day, I leave a motivational message. One thing for sure, if you don’t like the stories right now Jim, do not call my hotline. But the thing is nothing in the world is more profitable than a story. If you’re a boss, a coach, a parent, you want to motivate people, you motivate them through stories. So the number’s 973-743-4690. I change the message at 7.30 East Coast time. And every day there’s a new message. Hopefully, there are messages you could use.
The only thing that separates . . . there’s a term called ‘moomba.’ M-O-O-M-B-A. It stands for “My only obstacle may be attitude.” So hopefully, just like coaches inspire us, I want to coach you. I want to get you to the next level. Can I tell you one of my favorite hotline messages?
Gilbert: So this is sort of like a wrestling story. It’s a judo story. And there was this kid who was sort of like Kyle Maynard. He was born without a left arm. And you know, he’s a young kid. He wants to play sports with his friends. At first, they’d let him play but after a while, how could you play football, hockey, basketball with one arm? So he became kind of isolated. He was the only child. One day, he’s watching ESPN and he sees the World Judo Championships. He asks his parents, and his parents had some money. He said, “You know, I’d like to take judo lessons.” So they checked around on the web and there was a former Japanese World Champion who was an older guy, who had his own studio. So they went down and met this sensei. He decided, the sensei, “Why don’t you come in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after school and I’ll give him a private lesson?”
So he’d come in every day, Monday, Wednesday and Friday to have his own private lesson. From the very beginning, the sensei will only show him one throw. Like a lateral drop in wrestling, sort of like a lateral drop-type throw. So the kid keeps up with the lessons but maybe he watched a Bruce Lee video and something happened and he snapped. He really got into it. He started watching videos on the Internet, started reading about judo.
He read that there was about 220 throws in judo. So the next day, he went to the sensei and said, “Sensei, I’ve been training with you for a couple of months. There are over 220 throws in judo but you’re only teaching me one. How come?” And the sensei nodded and said, “Yeah well, that is absolutely true. And the reason I’m teaching only one because you’re only going to need to know one.” Well, that didn’t make any sense to the kid. So they went on training and training and training.
A few months later, one Monday he came into his lesson. He said, “I spoke to your parents over the weekend and they agreed that I can take you to your first tournament on Saturday at a local high school.” The boy said, “Tournament? I’ve never done judo with anybody but you and I only got one move.” He said, “Trust me, you’re very well trained and you’re only going to need to know one move.”
Well, they got to the tournament on Saturday morning and there’s about eight or ten mats all over the place. And when it was time for his first match, the sensei had to literally push him out onto the mat. The kid gets out there and after the whistle is blown, his opponent sees he’s going against a kid with only one arm. He comes in to be a hero and bear hug him and the kid doing the only thing he knew out of sheer fear did his lateral drop and pinned his opponent.
And the kid was stunned, the opponent was stunned, the referee was stunned. The only person who wasn’t stunned was the sensei. He was like Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid. He was nodding and smiling. The same thing happened on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th matches. The opponents saw that they were going against a kid with one arm. They came in for the kill and he just flip ‘em, pin ‘em and now the one-arm kid is in the finals.
Now they have one mat in the middle of gym and everybody’s gathering around. And the friends he made through the days, “Look at who’s in the finals. He’s a black belt. He’s going to kill you.” Well, when that started, the black belt didn’t make the same mistake. He started throwing the kid all over the mat and piling up points. And the referee stopped the match and went over to the sensei and said, “Look, I’m going to stop the match before the boy gets hurt.” The sensei said, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. But give him one more shot. Just give him one moment more.” The referee agreed.
So when they blew the whistle, the black belt went in and made the same mistake. He went in for the kill, he went for the bear hug and what do you think happened? He lateral-drops him and pins him, the one-arm kid is champion. I mean, the gym is going crazy. People are coming up to him, they want his autograph. They want to take selfies with him. All he wanted to do was get on his cell phone and call his parents. It was the greatest moment of his life.
Well, when they finally got out of the gym and the kid had a trophy almost as big as he was, they’re driving home and they went over each and every move in each match. And when they’re right down the street from his house, he blurted out what was on his mind. He said, “Sensei, did my opponents let me win? Do they feel bad that I don’t have a left arm?” Sensei said, “No, no, no. Your opponents gave a full effort, whether they won or lost.” “If they gave a full effort, how come I won and they lost?” He said, “You won for two very good reasons.” “What are they?” “First of all, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in judo.”
The boy said, “I didn’t realize that. What’s the second reason?” “The reason why I taught you that throw and only that throw is because the only known counter for that throw would be for your opponent to grab your left arm.” So his biggest weakness became his biggest strength. And that’s how it is in wrestling. I mean, I don’t think anybody is talented in wrestling. You don’t have to be tall, you don’t have to be short. Whatever you have, there are moves that will work for you and I think that’s what’s so great about wrestling. Nobody is excluded.
Jim: Now, can we take our weaknesses outside of wrestling, outside of sports, can we all look at our weaknesses in life and turn those somehow into strengths? I mean, that’s what we want to do, you know.
Gilbert: It’s not only ‘can we,’ it’s ‘we do.’ I don’t want to tell you too much about my failings. Remember I told you I’ve won one wrestling match? Well, I wasn’t that good a student either. Matter of fact, when I was at UMass, I flunked out of school. But the people that published ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul,’ they published one of my books called ‘How to Have Fun without Failing Out: 430 Secrets from a College Professor.’ So if you find a great psychologist, say they work with kids who were molested, this person probably was molested, you know.
But most of the inspiring speakers I’ve heard in my life are people at AA and 12-step meetings. And how could they have that much wisdom? Well, they had to go through that. So I think our biggest weaknesses do become our biggest strength. Like you said in your TEDTalk, “Fail your way to success.” I mean, don’t try to not fail. You know the story, they once asked Thomas Edison how he dealt with the 14,000 failures he had before he invented the light-bulb. He said, “I didn’t fail 14,000 times. I learned 14,000 ways of how to not invent the light bulb.”
So our biggest weaknesses, those are the seeds to success. And isn’t it interesting how many great wrestling coaches were not great wrestlers. Like right around here, the legend is Bill Parcells. Everybody thinks Bill Parcells played pro-football. He never played pro-football. So you see these people, a lot of the great basketball coaches, they were on the bench. That’s how they learned to coach!
As a matter of fact, we won’t be able to name some superstar coaches who were superstar athletes. There were very few. Dan Gable was one of the few. In wrestling, there’s more than in other sports. There are very few superstar basketball coaches. Michael Jordan wasn’t a great coach. Larry Bird was a pretty good coach but that’s a minority.
Jim: Sure, I agree. Now for the listener, a little bit about the Success Hotline. You’ve done this since 1992 every day, which is the most incredible story of consistency that I think I’ve ever heard in my life.
Gilbert: No, no.
Jim: It’s what, over 9,000?
Gilbert: You see what happens, Jim, in the beginning, it’s sort of like training for anything. At the beginning, it’s discipline. But then it becomes desire. 1966, Gable decided that he was going to win the Olympic gold medal in 1972. He said – and this is in 1972 Sports Illustrated that I still hand out to my classes – he worked out once or twice a day every single day for six years. I just have to do a three-minute message. That’s no big deal. But you know, it would hurt more for me to not to. I couldn’t not do the message, you know what I mean?
Gilbert: I’m sure that was like that when you were a wrestler. I mean, you couldn’t not go to practice. It was such a part of you. I mean, you can’t even move and you still show up at practice.
Jim: And that’s what I really want the listener to hear. What we’re talking about right now, when you’re driven by something . . . and you have to identify what you’re driven by. You have to find it. But when you are, that’s when consistency can happen. That’s what gets you up early in the morning. I get up at 5 o’clock every day and I work on this podcast and some other content that I’ve been creating because I know what I want. I know the value that I’m creating, I know the impact on peoples’ lives that I’m having and it feels good to do that. So yeah, that’s a great point.
Gilbert: And you know, the important thing is as a professor, do I have a lot of people that say, “Wow, this class changed my life.”? No. Do I have a lot of people that say, “Wow, these Success Hotline messages!”? No. But the thing is you have to believe that your podcast is making a difference. Whether they are or not, that’s out of your control. But I think the key thing is I believe this is the contribution I’m making, you know. And that’s within our control.
So I’m sure when you’re working on your podcast at 5 in the morning, you don’t have to do it, you want to do it. I guess that’s one way of saying, are you a ‘got to’ or a ‘get to’? With my students, I say, “Did you got to go to school or did you get to go to school?” There’s an energy in ‘get to.’ “I get to go to practice. I don’t got to go to practice. I get to go to the tournament. I get to go against the number one seat. I don’t got to.” It’s a whole different thing.
Jim: Is there a power in just those words, in changing how you talk to yourself and how you speak, whether internally or externally?
Gilbert: Absolutely. But the thing I try to impress upon athletes is the words are important but the actions . . . you start moving like a champion. There’s a great book coming out now called ‘Presence’ and it’s about how when you start moving like a champion, you start feeling like a champion. So our actions change our attitude, our motions change our emotions and our movements change our moves.
Most people say, “When I feel happy, then I’ll smile,” but the truth of the matter is when we smile, then we feel happy.
Jim: I just shared that at our youth wrestling practice two nights ago.
Gilbert: You know, this goes way back. There’s a wrestling coach in Granby High School in Granby, Massachusetts. He did a study way back in the 1970s and he found that 70% of the wrestling matches at the high school level was won by the person who got the first takedown. I don’t know it that’s still true. But you get the first takedown, you start acting really, really into it.
So I mean, the exciting thing is we might not be able to change our thoughts or our feelings but we definitely can change our actions. So you know, you don’t feel like running. Then you go running then you feel great. So you put your body in motion and the emotions will follow. And I think with all the lack of success I had in wrestling, the thing that really hooked me to the sport is when I made it through practice, I felt like wow, I made through war. This is my D-Day. I got through this. And there was a lot to be said about that.
Jim: I talk a lot on this show about habits and I ask all my guests about different habits they have. One habit I’ve picked up now is I call this Success Hotline. It’s part of my morning routine. It’s one of the things I do. And I don’t do it every morning. I have different things I do on certain mornings. This is a regular thing that I do and I’ve got an alarm actually that goes off on my phone and while we’re talking here a little while ago, my alarm went off to call the Success Hotline. So that’s one of my rituals and routines that I build into my day.
Gilbert: Want me to tell you today’s message?
Jim: Yeah, I haven’t listened to today’s message.
Gilbert: OK, I’ll tell you the message. Of course it is few days before Christmas so it’s a Christmas message and I don’t know about down in Virginia but A&P closed down all over the country. So this guy worked for the A&P for over 30 years. He didn’t have a good job. He just stocked shelves. He was in his ‘60s now and he was a nice guy. He didn’t much of a life. He lived by himself. He didn’t even have a car. He walked to the A&P.
But his brother was a different thing. His brother was a high powered executive. And every once in a while, he’d drive his Bentley or Ferrari and pick up his brother and take him out to dinner or something Well, now it’s Christmas day and the older brother comes to take him because his brother lost his job and all that. So they go to a diner, they eat. Then the brother says, “Why don’t you drive me home?” “What do you mean drive you home?” He said, “You’ll just have to drive me back. Merry Christmas, this car is yours.” He said, “You’re giving me this car?”
So he drives him home, goes back to his apartment and spent the rest of the day polishing the car, not that he needed. And then a kid from the neighborhood said, “Oh my god, where did you get this car?” And he tells him the whole story about his rich, older brother who gave him a car for Christmas. And the eight year old boy said, “I wish . . .” and you know what he’s going to say, I wish I had a brother like that. No. This kid said, “Wow, I wish I could be a brother like that.” Imagine that, it’s about others, you know.
Jim: Yeah, it’s about giving and helping others.
Gilbert: “I wish I could be a teammate like that.” I have a kid that’s in the 4th grade – well she’s not the 4th grade anymore but – she used to come to my classes and talk about what it’s like to be a great teammate. And the reason I invite her is because she was coached by one of my students. Her name’s Angela. He told me this story. I bring her to class just to tell this story.
So it’s the second week in their church basketball league and one of the kids on the team that wasn’t particularly friendly with – her name’s Catherine – missed a few practices. So on Saturday morning after she missed practice on Thursday and Friday, Angela called Catherine and got her mom on the phone. She said, “Could I come over and see Catherine and show what she missed in practice this week?”
OK. When’s the last time you had someone say, “Hey Jim, you missed class. Could I give you the notes?” It’s about others and we see that in wrestling because we share such a journey together. We see people helping each other lose weight, helping each other drill, help each other go through the pain, deal with defeat.
Jim: And I really want the listener to think about those lessons that they learned when they were a wrestler or athlete of any sport and figure out how you can apply those directly to your life today. Here we are in the holiday season and how do we apply those lessons to your life now and take those actions . . .
Gilbert: Let me ask you a question, because you’ve been a wrestler and you’ve been a coach. Now you’ve done a lot of different things. You have a family. Is there anything you’ve ever done in your life that’s been more difficult than wrestling?
Gilbert: We know that if we made it through wrestling, we can make it through anything.
Jim: Yeah, absolutely.
Gilbert: You have trouble in school. This was in school. I said, “Wow, I’m having trouble with algebra or calculus.” I said, “No, I’m not breathing hard, I’m not sweating, I just have to sit here and learn it,” you know.
Jim: Sure. And you have to consciously think back about the times that you’ve been challenged as an athlete and as a wrestler. When you’re going through difficult times now as an adult, you got to think back about those times when you’re an athlete and when you’re competing and bleeding and struggling and you have to do one more sprint at the end of practice when you had nothing left in you. And there’s a guy next to you that you don’t want to lose to him, you want to beat him in a spurt but you got nothing in the tank. You got to think back on those times when you’re out in the middle of the mat, when you’re losing . . .
Gilbert: In addition to the things that you’re saying, the thing that makes wrestling different from the other sport is when we leave practice, 24 hours a day, we still have to be concerned about our weight. It doesn’t end.
Jim: Yeah, and it helps you whenever you got to work late at night and when you got to work when you’re tired and be uncomfortable. You got to go into a big sales meeting and you feel sick and under the weather but you got to perform. And you can draw on those experiences like so many of my guests have shared, you know. Astronauts and fighter pilots and CEOs and other motivational speakers like you, and authors etc. that share these amazing lessons.
Gilbert: You know, did you ever interview John Irving?
Jim: No, not yet but he’s on my list. I know who he is.
Gilbert: I’m talking about the only decision we have; are we going to go all out or hold back? When I was at UMass . . . and he’s the guy who wrote ‘The World According to Garp’. As a matter of fact, I think his first book was called ‘The 158 pounds’ something. It was about wrestling. So he was a wrestler and so, he is on the Faculty of Mount Holyoke. Every once in a while, I would see him at an Emerson College wrestling match and I was too afraid to approach him.
So that’s one of my regrets about being in UMass, is I never spoke to John Irving. But he’s a guy that loves wrestling and it shows up in all of his novels.
Jim: Well, I have a private Facebook sort of networking thing for all of my guest and of course I’m going to invite you into that private Facebook group. And then if I can get John Irving on, then you guys will be both in that Facebook group and you can connect there.
Gilbert: OK, let me give you and other people out there a wrestling trivia question.
Gilbert: Famous more from my generation than younger generation. A very famous actor who was an NCA wrestling Champion and St. Laurent’s College. I think he was a heavyweight.
Jim: Oh boy, I think I know this. I’ve heard this.
Gilbert: He was in a movie called Spartacus.
Jim: I know the answer but I can’t pull it out of my head.
Gilbert: Kirk Douglas.
Jim: Yeah, of course.
Gilbert: Michael Douglas’s father was a wrestler. And I also read, is it true that Robin Williams was a State Champion?
Jim: I don’t know if he was a State Champion, I know he was a wrestler. There’s a long, long list of presidents and politicians and business people and Hollywood celebrities and professional NFL players . . .
Gilbert: In your TEDTalk, you mentioned that Lincoln was a wrestler.
Jim: That’s right, absolutely.
Gilbert: Yeah. We have a great tradition to uphold.
Jim: We do, and having a guy like you on the show really helps pull those lessons out from being a wrestler and use those in our lives. So Dr. Gilbert, thanks so much.
Gilbert: Could I just give a couple of resources?
Jim: Please, of course. I was going to ask you to.
Gilbert: First of all, my hotline, 9737434690.
Jim: And for the listener, I’m going to have a link to this Success Hotline in the notes for this show in the action plan. I’ll create an action plan with some of the resources and quotes etc. from this show. Those will be at jimharshaw.com/33 for the listener. Go ahead, please.
Gilbert: And my tweets are @SuccessHotline. I don’t tell you what I have for dinner, I just have quotes. Just the best quotes, I’ve had like 1,600 great quotes. And the other thing is, unfortunately I don’t coach wrestling anymore. But once a coach, always a coach. But I coach people on speeches and speaking, whether they’re giving corporate speeches or motivational speeches.
And this is free of charge. Anybody out there that you need a story or something that will help with your speech, I would love to help you. You can call me directly at 9737434428. Let me repeat; this is a free service for anybody that’s a former wrestler or a coach who needs help with his speech. I would love to help you. Especially if you’re nervous about giving the speech. But you know, we’ll try to overcome that too.
Jim: Wow, that’s incredible. So I’m going to write that number down too by the way because I’m going to be calling you.
Gilbert: OK, anytime. And thank you for the service you’re providing. And it’s a pleasure to speak to all these wrestlers and former wrestlers. Are you going to be in New York City for the NCAAs in March?
Jim: I will. Will you be up there?
Gilbert: Yeah, I live 12 miles away.
Jim: Well, we’ll try to connect.
Gilbert: I could not believe several months ago, I was in Manhattan and outside Madison Square Garden, they had this huge banner ‘NCAA Wrestling.’ That’s the first I knew about it.
Jim: Yeah, I mean I can’t wait. There’s a lot of buzz in the wrestling world about it and what a great place to have the National Championships.
Gilbert: So could I just end with one story?
Gilbert: Many years ago, I think it was 2001 when they were going to have the World Championships in Madison Square Garden. World Championships in New York City but because of 9/11, they cancelled it. A few years later at the beginning of school in September and the World Championships were again scheduled for Madison Square Garden, I came in one day and our wrestling room . . . I can’t remember the name of the country, but one of the break-off country from the Soviet Union.
They were working out. They were working out for the whole weekend in our wrestling room. Then our wrestling coach says, “You want to meet the greatest wrestler of all time?” He introduced me to Alexsandr Medved.
Gilbert: Do you remember the poster with Medved suplaying Chris Taylor?
Jim: Oh yeah, that’s a classic.
Gilbert: So [inaudible 00:41:42]. Now, this is a big thing for me. I don’t know if anybody can relate to this. He speaks broken English and one day he says, “I want ice-cream.” So I’m driving Aleksandr Medved, some people think the greatest wrestler, in my car. And he treated me . . . I’m a wrestler, he’s wrestler and I’m saying he’s a god and I’m not a god.
Jim: Yeah, there you go. That’s the mutual respect wrestlers have for each other. How cool. How great is that.
Gilbert: And I even paid for his ice-cream.
Jim: Yeah? You did? Great, that’s great. Well, Dr. Gilbert, I appreciate you making time for this.
Gilbert: Oh, this has been so much fun.
Jim: You made a quick turnaround. I asked you yesterday and you jumped right on it today so man, that’s really cool.
Gilbert: Well, what’s more important than wrestling, right?
Jim: Thank you so much.
Gilbert: So we’ll have to get together at the NCAAs.
Jim: Absolutely. We’ll make a plan for sure. I’d love to do that and look forward to shaking your hand in person.
Gilbert: And I’m going to predict that Virginia is going to have a National Champion this year.
Jim: I hope so. We got a couple of studs.
Gilbert: For the listeners, all the resources for the show is going to be at jimharshaw.net/33. That’s just the number 33. You can get the action plan for this episode. All the quotes and resources we mentioned in the show will be on there. You can download it for free. As well as both of the phone numbers for both of the success hotline as well as calling Dr. Gilbert if you have questions about making a speech or something like that.
So thanks Dr. Gilbert and for the listener, remember to attack the day with intensity and focus and outwork everyone because you can’t get pinned when you’re on top.