Search and ponder for as long as you wish, but there is only one word to accurately describe Wayne Elsey. That word is Passion.
When I first met Wayne in 2010, his passion for helping those in need swept over me like a tidal wave. It was as infectious as it was inspirational. Now, as he embarks on this new endeavor, his passion for what lies ahead is even further intensified.
Wayne, like all achievers and life changers, possesses three key traits that separate him from the heard and allow him to make a difference in this world. In my most recent presentation, “I Want, I Will, I Win,” I highlight three individuals who demonstrate their own special greatness with the hope that these stories will allow you to recognize your own, unique gifts. I’m grateful to Wayne for allowing me to share those stories here for you now.
Jerry Rice is arguably the greatest NFL player to ever lace up his cleats and step onto a football field. He played for 20 seasons, won 3 Super Bowl rings, and holds nearly every record for an offensive player, including most touchdown with 208.
Jerry Rice grew up in Starkville, MS. As a child, he became quite good with his hands by helping his father out with his stone mason business. But it wasn’t until his high school principal caught him skipping school that he even considered playing football. You see, Jerry’s principal saw Jerry leaving campus and called out to him. When Jerry heard the familiar, authoritative voice of the administrator calling after him, he ran even faster. The principal took notice of young Jerry’s speed.
When Jerry returned to the school he was immediately called into the principal’s office and given a choice. He could either be disciplined accordingly or put his speed to good use and join the football team. I think we both know what he chose.
A full scholarship wasn’t far behind. In college, the young star began to see that the harder he worked, the better he became. So he worked harder. And harder. And harder.
By the time Jerry Rice was drafted into the National Football League, he had begun incorporating “deliberate practice” into his training regimen. As Geoff Colvin writes in his wonderful book “Talent Is Overrated,” this is the ability to see what exactly needs to be worked on and the most effective way to work on it. Jerry Rice did just this my customizing his training to make him the best wide receiver in the game rather than the best football player in the game.
Jerry Rice had the WANT and was willing to go to extreme lengths to make his dreams happen. Sound familiar?
I’ll now share the story of a young woman who, when faced with life’s biggest hurdle, did not allow failure to become an option.
In 2010, Mayelle was living in the city of Port au Prince and working for the UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti. Her story was told me while Wayne and I were visiting Haiti on a shoe distribution trip. Neither one of us will ever forget it.
On January 12, 2010, Mayelle was attending meetings at the Hotel Montana in the center of the city. At 4:53pm, her world literally began to crumble. The rumbling began slowly and continued get stronger and stronger. As the floor and ceiling began to crack, pieces of concrete falling upon the heads of those in attendance, Mayelle fled the meeting room, made her way down the crumbling staircase, and found herself on the street below.
Confusion and chaos ensued as the 7.3 earthquake roared on. To date, over 250,000 lives have been lost as a result. Hundreds of thousands more were left homeless. Among the cries for help, Mayelle focused on one thing…getting to her mother’s house.
Mayelle’s childhood home was several blocks away. With the sidewalks destroyed and motorized transportation an impossibility, she began walking toward the street where she hoped her mother was safely hiding. Her journey, hindered by the fact that she had lost one of her shoes while fleeing the hotel, would be treacherous. In spite of the risks involved, Mayelle was determined to make it to her mother and set out on her journey.
She struggled through the rubble, assisting others when and where she could. She fell repeatedly but always got right back up. With each step and with each tear that rolled down her cheek, her determination became stronger. Finally, after what seemed like days, she could see the house.
The front porch had been separated from the foundation. The windows were broken and the front door hung loosely from the hinges. As she made her way inside, the shards of glass pierced through the sole of her one bare foot. Slowly she went from room to room. The living room was empty. Both of the tiny bedrooms were empty. The bathroom was empty. The kitchen was a different story.
Mayelle’s mother, terrified, was clutching the kitchen sink. The repeated aftershocks had given the surviving Haitians a false sense of safety but she was taking no chances. She only let go to rush over into her daughter’s arms.
They held each other and cried. The fear became relief and finally they were both able to smile. It was then, in the small home that had always been her safe place and, in an odd way, still was, that Mayelle realized she had made that incredible journey with only one shoe.
Today, Mayelle displays that shoe on her mantel as a daily reminder that nothing is out of reach or impossible if your heart is in it and you say, I Will.
Finally, I want to tell you of a lunch I had recently with a man named Dick Grob. Dick is not a household name and no one asked for his autograph during our meal at a pub in Las Vegas, but he knows what it’s like to be a superstar better than anyone.
From 1969-1977, Dick Grob was Elvis Presley’s head of security. He was right by The King’s side for over 1100 concerts. He loved Elvis and misses his friendship every day.
Over burgers and onion rings, I asked Dick what he believed Elvis had that made the world fall in love with him. What is the elusive “It” or “X Factor” that we hearbso much about but can never be accurately described? Obviously he possessed an angelic singing voice and a stage presence like no other, but there had to be more. Dick smiled as if to say, “Get ready. Here comes the truth.”
From the moment Elvis sang the final note of “Can”t Help Falling In Love With You” to when he was in a moving car leaving the arena it was never more than 45 seconds. Dick would throw a towel over his shoulders and keep a steady hand on Elvis’ back as they literally ran through back hallways, past screaming fans, and into their waiting vehicle. By the time the infamous “Elvis has left the building” announcement blared he was blocks away.
Once inside the car, Elvis would don his large gold sunglasses, look over at Dick and ask, “How was I?”
How was he? As if the thousands of screaming fans filling one sold out concert venue after another wasn’t enough of an indication of how things were going for him he sought out even more feedback! He wanted to know about certain notes, lighting and sound issues, etc. In other words…he cared about the product. He truly felt his fans (customers) deserved the best and he never stopped striving to give them exactly that. Elvis knew in his heart that to truly WIN you can never stop growing, learning, and improving. You don’t get to be The King working by a joker’s standards.
I encourage you today to write these six words down on a piece of paper, enter them into your phone, make them your screensaver, or simply commit to repeating them to yourself throughout the course of your busy day…
I Want…I Will…I Win!
Really get into it. Let them fire you up and turn you on. You’ll know when the phrase has connected with your core because you will feel it physically. It will be a rush surging through your veins and you can then apply that pure, authentic energy to your individual passion.
As I write in my book, “Life In The Bonus Round: A Game Show Host’s Road To Success & Fulfillment,” it doesn’t matter who you know as long as you know who you are. Only you know what you want your life to be and now you know how to achieve it.
Please follow me on Twitter @ToddNewton and share your successes. I wish you all green lights!