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stoke the fire within book




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How to Reach Age 101

The motivational programs I deliver are saturated with insights from the remarkable people I covered as a broadcaster . I made a point to emphasize positive news during my 23 years in the local news business. One of the most unique people I ever covered was a young man who once put his foot on backwards.


Mike Edwards was the first player in the history of college basketball to play with an artificial leg. Mike had been born missing a bone in his left leg. The leg didn't grow correctly, leaving amputation as the only option. A dedicated basketball player, Mike stubbornly held off on the amputation. As an elementary student, he would come home from practice and soak his leg in a bucket of ice to handle the brutal pain. Finally, it got to be too much. At 13, he had the amputation. He had been dealt a tough hand in life, but he didn't stop playing basketball.


Mike and his family moved to South Bend, IN. He didn't tell anyone about his leg and earned a spot on the varsity team at John Adams High School based on his basketball skills. He wore sweats all the time to hide his artificial leg. Eventually, he had to take off the sweats. You can imagine how surprised his teammates were! They really didn't know how to act around him. There was a period of awkwardness.


Mike sensed it. Even though he was one of the most intense athletes to ever play at Adams High, he also knew when to loosen things up. As the team rode a bus across town to a scrimmage, Mike took off his artificial leg and held it out the window and waved it at passing cars. His teammates got the biggest charge out of that. Everyone laughed! Then, when they arrived at the opponent's school, Mike put the leg on backwards! With the other school's administrators waiting outside the bus to greet the visitors, Mike walked off with one foot heading forward and the other foot heading backwards. The administrators just about hopped out of their pants!


Notre Dame noticed his determination, and invited him to be a walk-on player on the basketball team. The coach at the time, John MacLeod, was so impressed with Mike's attitude and knew his work ethic would rub off on the team. Mike joked that he was a 20/20 player. The only time he would get in would be if Notre Dame was up 20 or down 20 late in the game! Mike practiced like crazy, inspired his teammates and the community, and did get in a game. He made a shot and the thousands of fans erupted with a noise that was massive. I often think of Mike when I face challenging times.




I get a big kick every time I think about what happened after I delivered the Stoke the Fire Within keynote at a Teacher Appreciation conference near Indianapolis. It was just before the start of the school year. Teachers have intense jobs, but I have found the ones that often last the longest are the ones that can poke fun at themselves. After my Talk, a veteran teacher lady sauntered up to me. The key word is "sauntered." There were three other teachers there talking to me at the time. They kiddingly rolled their eyes at me as she approached. It was like they were saying, "Get ready for anything!" This teacher was rather stout, shall we say. She looked at me confidently as she made this observation about herself: "I'm a piece of work!"


"You don't say?" I replied.


"I'm 67 years old, " she said. "I've been teaching forever, and I still love it. When I don't, I'll stop teaching. I'm excited about the challenge of another school year. I'm glad to be back in the school building."


There was a pause.


"The only thing I don't like about coming back to teach at the end of summer," she said as she looked down the hall nonchalantly, "is that I have to start wearing my brassiere again...."


We all howled. She smiled, raised an arm with her hand tipped backwards, and sauntered towards her classroom! She was quite the character, but as I reflected on it later on I realized she had an effective way of dealing with stress. She sauntered. She was a cool cat. She just didn't let a lot of things eat her up. It had enabled her to click along nicely for several decades in Education.




I had a grandfather that lived to be 101. Everett Adams, Sr worked his garden until he was in his late 90's. His grandson, Bill Hubbard, his his longevity right on the head with this statement: "You don't get to that age without letting an awful lot of life's problems run off like water on a duck's back. Sure, when things don't go like you would have them go, it makes you wonder how you could've made it different, but you don't let anything consume you and forever take away what good there is in life"


Well said.



- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
574 807 2279 || Email Charlie