Etched inside the 2017 Canadian Lacrosse Championship
ring proudly displayed on my dresser is the inscription,
“What is Next”. The very slogan that
has propelled a team to a National Championship, has humbled me and taught me about life, love, teamwork, fear,
failure and fighting for your dream;
One shift at a time.
What is Next
under my breath in the midst of turmoil, these three simple words, “What is Next”, had typically struck a negative
chord with me over my recent years. They summoned a
sense of dread that whatever could happen
next may be a further
heaping of punishment, potentially worse than whatever
negative experience I had already encountered.
It felt like a recurring
case of cosmic irony that each time once those exasperated words left my
lips, more bad news would inevitably follow close behind And despite being so keenly aware of the potential risk
associated with uttering this phrasewithout
fail, when faced with a new dautingsituation, the words would incredulously flow out uncensored
once again, an exasperated,
Like Oliver Twist asking for
another bowl of oatmeal, I seemed to be unintentionally
asking the universe for another heaping bowl of steaming misery.
Maybe you have
experienced a situation like that before in your life, or perhaps you have good luck and haven’t found yourself in the face of scenarios where asking, “What
is Next” strikes a deep piercing fear.
Regardless, this book is a chance for me to share
my own story about a change of perspective, inspired by a Championship Ring,
that has brought these dreaded words new meaning.
I am learning
that the fear of “what is next”
can be the roadblock between you and the start of something great. It could be what stops you from finishing
that project you’ve been working so hard on.
It could be what gets in the way of starting a new relationship or
strengthening an old one. There are so
many situations in life where focusing on the
fear of what is next becomes crippling and ultimately paralyzes us with
doubt from making a move, and later fills us with regret at the thoughts of what
could have been. What happens if we look instead at
what is next as an opportunity to better focus
our present? To engage in a situation that will ultimately lead us a step
forward and not back as we previously feared?
The thought of a book urging you to
boldly explore “what is next” may feel like a horror
genre and to you, perhaps, a graphic novel of
nightmare status. Obviously, fear is a
natural human emotion, a common response to the vast uncertainties of
the future. For some of us, anxiety was further
ingrained in us as young people, and became a
conditioned response, holding us hostage in our “comfort zone”, never able to
explore our full potential. I can
understand, as it was how I, myself, lived for years.
When I think of the lessons I
learned and continue to learn during this difficult season of my life, I keep
getting pulled into the concept of What is Next. Watching the Peterborough Lakers focus on step-by-step development and
growth lead to the eventual Mann Cup championship (at the time I am
writing this, we have actually won three championships
in a row!), I witnessed that although their ultimate goal was
the eventual championship, the primary goal was the current game.
The coach would then
take each game and simplify every aspect into a series of smaller goals to focus on accomplishing first. Their success in each
game came from their focus on every period,
down to the minute details of each shift. Watching the transformation that took place
in the team, and the momentum that built with the accomplishment of the minor
tasks leading to the conquering of previously unsurmountable hurdles, I have noticed significant parallels we can draw from the team’s path to the Championship to integrate for success in our everyday lives. Success doesn’t come easy. We didn’t win every game; there were some
losses, there were some injuries, and every game was a battle. Everyday brought a different challenge and
small changes were necessary to make.
Everyday will be a struggle, everyday choices are made that will either
push us further towards our goal or they will take us a step back. Life
becomes an exercise in adaptability with focus.
As we begin to unpack and tackle
the steps in the “What is Next”
process I want to be clear that it is not a magic
mantra that will make all our worries in life disappear. By no means do I believe that following my process
will allow you to live a struggle-free life or a
perfectly smooth road in business. I offer no promise
that if you follow my process, you will have a seven-figure income in no
time. In fact, my own journey is far from over.
I am still in the midst of implementing this process myself. I want to be honest, real and authentic, and won’t pretend to be anything that I am not. So, I won’t be flaunting
an Instagram post of me beside a new luxury car,
or a vacation beach house in the South Pacific.
Rather, you may see me post a picture of my Kia Forte parked outside a
Starbucks, or on the bed of tow truck as my brakes
the words may not be a magic mantra to instant prosperity, I believe
that focusing on What is Next will positively change my perspective, and yours. I have no doubt that a new way of viewing
every aspect of life- entrepreneurship, goal setting, mentorship, teamwork,
coffee, conversation, even relationships- will give us the
necessary tools to negotiate and navigate through difficult situations, all for
a less problematic journey.
My hope and prayer for this book is to help encourage and lead young entrepreneurs with realistic tools and an honest portrayal of growth that is unlike most self-help and business-help books on the market. This manuscript was designed with my own kids in mind. They are my “why”, the reason I continue to strive to live a better life. I want to leave them with a piece of me and share my story so that as they get older, they can look at, put the suggestions into practice, and avoid the pain their dad went through. It is a guide for all of us to integrate; suggestions on a way to live that will take a journey from despair to hope.
Why I need this book in my life
My job as
Head Athletic Trainer with the Lakers consists of getting the athletes ready for the game, then watching the game intently from the bench to be ready
to attend to any injuries that may occur on the floor. It is easy to get drawn into the intensity of
the plays from my close vantage point alongside the players; sometimes I
take my role a step further and will interject my own encouragement for the guys, or vocalize my displeasure for the biased
officiating that seems to take place at most home games (in my opinion anyway!). It’s
true, I may have been told on a few occasions to settle a little, but as
you can imagine, I am invested in this team and these players
have become like my brothers!
Two hours before every game, I am
there ready to roll with a coffee and various forms of athletic tape. The usual suspects will stroll in, take a seat on my treatment table, and the process of casting their weak or damaged
joints or muscles will begin in preparation for the
game. In the sport of lacrosse, the
ankletends to be the most common joint
in the body that needs a little extra external support. I cannot begin to calculate how many ankles I
have taped in my career as an Athletic Trainer.
It has become almost second nature, and if challenged, could likely complete a sexy
closed Gibney application with my eyes closed!
The application said tape is done in a
complex pattern with several ankle locks,
stirrups and figure eights, and reverse sixes using varying degrees of rigid
tapes, thereby securing the joint in a
particular position. This temporary “casting” serves as a short-term solution to limit
instability and help protect the previously damaged or weak ankle from rolling
if it encounters a compromising position during the action. This ensures each
player I tape feels confident and comfortable to perform at 100% for the span of the game without any mental or physical hesitation
that their ankles are at risk. This part of the job is incredibly
rewarding. When a player who may not be
able to play otherwise, is able to contribute to the teams success and knowing
I played a role in that, brings a certain amount of silent pride.
On the flip
side, the frustration of being a
therapist is having the knowledge that with a little bit of rehabilitation and strengthening, the
physical act of temporarily taping an ankle,
wrist, elbow, etcetera, would not be required. If the athlete were able to take the time to rehabilitate properly
with a series of progressive strengthening
exercises, in most cases it would be possible for them to play without
the external “band-aid” of tape, which doesn’t
actually fix the problem, but merely acts as a
temporary sense of stability. In my job I seek to work with my athletes to
provide both short and long term solutions to enable them to become their
strongest whole and strive for peak performance every time they step on the
field of play.
I’m a fixer. Insert sarcastic gasp
of shock and surprise!
life has been built around my need and desire to
help others. In my career, my family, and my day-to-day interactions with others, I am constantly looking
for ways to help fix. Whether it is with a coffee and conversation, a simple
hug, or a text to a friend, it brings me joy to help. In my career, I work
diligently and with a sense of honour that my clients trust me with their
health, and I try to do everything I can within my scope to ensure they get the
best possible care and attention they deserve. It
is my goal to help fix whatever problem or impairment
they have brought to me to deal with. This
desire to fix everything has brought a great sense of
accomplishment, joy and satisfaction in many ways as I helped others and yet,
it has also brought so much destructive and negative emotion into the
last several years of my life. Trying desperately to fix all things in my life, all at once, even things falling well beyond the scope of my ability or knowledge base-
to fix my marriage, to fix my debt, to fix my addiction, my anxiety and my
depression, seemed to instead continually bury
me deeper and deeper into a grave of further
When I consider the last few years,
I have tried to fix my problems. I’ve
tried to fix my high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, with medications.
I’ve tried to fix my addiction with self help books, strategies and counseling.
However, the fixes I was trying were merely
solving a temporary symptomatic response. It can seem quick and can give a
false sense of security, but the fix does not provide a
solution that will create change long-term.
I know this too well. I have slid
back into my depression, addiction on a few occasions because my attempted fixes weren’t addressing the root cause of the symptoms. It
is the same way when a client presents limitations and impairments due to pain
and dysfunction. Treating the symptoms might result in temporary relief, but
until we unveil and begin to treat the root cause of their dysfunction, the
symptoms will continue to return…and that is frustrating for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to mental,
emotional and physical health, symptomatic relief is important, but it must correctly address the injury and have a plan in
effect to carry over from temporary fix to long-term rehabilitation.
attending counselling in a personal attempt to do just that. As I sat in my counselor’s office, we
talked about setting goals
of small change. He/she suggested taking a step back from trying to come up with a “fix”
to solve the seemingly daunting
and insurmountable issues I was dealing with;
try to focus on implementing
small daily tasks that invoke a change in order to begin
to see small steps forward in my healing journey. The concept of healing versus fixing struck a chord with me. There is a big difference
between the two and we often confuse the notion that our deep hurts and scars
can be “fixed” when in fact, we need to “heal” to become whole. What a revelation
that was – I
won’t heal if I’m simply trying to fix.
Healing is long and healing is difficult. There is a vulnerability and
openness that comes with the healing process that is uncomfortable and often
embarrassing. It involves a deep dive into the
dark places that we have avoided, in order to
unpack and uncover the root of our symptoms. It means
facing the broken relationships, acknowledging
the past traumas, recognizing the hurt and the
pain, and finding ways in which to let the negative experiences and/or mistakes that have been made, rest in the past
and no longer affect your present. This is not
easy, it takes work.
to work on this concept of true healing, personally. I have the tendency to become easily
overwhelmed when there is too much to do, the problems become too complex, and
I can’t seem to figure out how to create an effective fix. When this happens, I
sink into a negative narrative and allow the
helplessness and hopelessness to invade my thoughts and nothing gets done. I had been trying to fix everything instead of facing
the demons preventing me from healing. For me, the shift in mindset to make small
daily changes as opposed to taking a big picture, all at once approach to
dealing with life’s obstacles, is allowing me the opportunity to slowly
begin to heal. It has not been
easy. During the editing process of this
book, I had to take some time away for self care and rest. I again became overwhelmed with the heaviness
of my situation and fell into a deep, negative, emotional spiral that could
have very easily landed me in a hospital bed.
Fortunately, a counselor recognized the demons I was fighting and was
able to make suggestions to curve my narrative and change my trajectory.
This decision to alter focus, take
a different approach and focus on small changes towards true healing speaks
into the concept of living with the attitude of “What is Next”. Travelling a
long distance cannot be completed in one step, the road may seem incredibly
long and daunting, but the journey can only start with a small step forward in
the right direction. I have begun identifying my goals; I know that I want
to be debt free. I know I want to break the cycle of my destructive mental health patterns. I
know that I want happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship. I no longer want to be a slave to my
situations, and want to one day be eventually
Knowing these things, I began writing these goals down in
a journal. The
first step was to acknowledge that there
is a place I need to get to; a destination at the end of this journey where I
will hopefully find peace and an absence of this current suffering. From there, I began
to unpack those goals, asking how small adjustments in everyday life can lead
me to put one foot in front of the other, each step leading me closer to my
goals. Some were as simple as waking a little earlier in the morning, finding
time in the week to be physically active, creating space to sit, be still,
write, read or listen to inspiring content.
There were long term goals set out, but the daily changes began to
affect the attitude to accomplish the next step. To ask What
is Next , without becoming overwhelmed.
Taking the past into consideration, learning from what needs to change,
writing them down and taking that small step forward. This is where my journey is now. I am in the
process of figuring out what is next
and where I need to go from here. I will continue to have days where I will
have taken a step backwards, but I will consistently ask the question of what is next? What can I learn from the
process that will enable my healing to continue to take place.
For now though, I will leave the
band-aid on my soul as I find the path towards
healing. It is going to take a long time, but I will choose to heal, not just fix.
and Life Lessons
in permanent marker on the tape of several lacrosse sticks, across
the back of several helmets, players and fans decorated their
multiple social media accounts with one simple word – “WIN”.
This was the ultimate goal of the 2017 Peterborough Lakers Lacrosse
season. This is the Lacrosse Team I call my family from May to
September for the past nine seasons. Every
season is a privilege being Head Athletic Trainer for
incredible group of gentlemen I call brothers, yet
this particular 2017
season was one that would
forever change my outlook on life. It
is one I will not soon forget;
one that has taught me about myself,
and has also
shaped a new approach to my life and business.
give some context, at the beginning of the 2017
season, I had
the unfortunate process of a marriage separation, a twenty-year
relationship that was potentially ending. This was
the most damaging, incredibly heartbreaking and difficult time of my
life to date, especially as it also involved
the lives of our five beautiful children. As I struggled to
understand how to navigate my current severed relationship and
find the new ‘normal’
that came with it, I was
consistently fumbling through my day to day in
a depressive, dark, angry
and frustrating time. While
coping with emotions of my crippling home-life
situation, I also had
a business I was
struggling to maintain.
The distraction and
stress of my home
relationship was seeping
outward into all parts of my life,
causing an eventual collapse of everything I had built for the
fourteen years. It
felt like being on the
receiving end of a punch from Andrew Suitor, arguably the toughest
guy in professional lacrosse (and
one of the nicest most genuine guys I’ve ever worked with).
Stumbling around, seeing stars, and not even sure which way is up,
knowing the importance of continuing forward, but just not finding
the proper footing. I
would try to bounce back up, but it felt as though the world was
spinning, rendering me
the smallest tasks were becoming daunting, and
the personal punches just kept coming.
I could do nothing but wait for the next inevitably devastating blow.
On several occasions three familiar words crept into my conscious,
and I could hear my dejected
“What is Next?”.
no answer, but the cold echo of my defeated tone. Days
became incredibly long; nights were filled with questions and
sleeplessness, and being newly
and alone just complicated
my thoughts, creating
anxiety and depression I had
never experienced before. I found little joy in my job and in the
business I created. I was miserable in every
sense of the word, and I’m sure those I rubbed shoulders with
(literally and figuratively, being a registered massage therapist)
found my presence a dark, depressing cloud to be around. I
began to turn to alcohol
distract myself from, thoughts
of suicide were very real and frequent. This
served only to further complicate
the pain and suffering I
was experiencing. Aside from the days I had my children, with
a limited custody agreement in place,
there was only one other bright spot in my week, a small window of
time that I could escape the implosion of my world. This was the
time I spent
with my brothers on the Peterborough Lakers Lacrosse team. For
the most part, the players
and coaches were unaware of my personal situation, so
for a few hours once or twice a week, being around them was an escape
from my reality. It was a place I felt validated, appreciated and
wanted for my expertise and the job that I did. I
was able to focus strictly
on the players and the game. I can honestly say that I owe a great
deal of my survival to this
team for providing me that reprieve.
Most of them will never know, which is why these pages are not only
dedicated to my children, who save my life and give me a reason to
wake every morning, but it is also dedicated to the men of
Lakers Lacrosse, who set an
example of what it means to fight when you are down.
did the 2017
season of lacrosse lead
to a change in
perspective? How did I pull from
it life changing principles
and a new approach to life, business and relationships from a game?
Being the Son of a Pastor, I have observed, learned and inherited the
ability to find the metaphors hidden in the mundane or meaningless.
Like a Jedi master can summon the force to lift a spaceship out of a
swamp with one of the world’s, nay Galaxy’s, oldest and most
motivational little green men on his back, I could probably find some
deep life lesson in why anything wrapped with bacon seems to suddenly
become appealing to the pickiest of eaters. Now to the Coaching
Staff’s credit (Mike, Bobby, Tracey & Paul), the lesson I
learned wasn’t hard to latch onto. Again, to the Team, it was
about the game of lacrosse, but to me it carried a weight that I
could not shake. It also helped that we went on to win the Mann Cup
Canadian National Championship! In fact, we have since won our third
championship in a row and are pursuing a four-peat this coming
season. This simply illuminates the importance of a “What
is Next” approach and how
dominant this mentality can be!
the first round of the 2017 Major Series Lacrosse playoffs, our team
began to struggle. We entered the playoffs with a 17-1 record as the
top ranked Team in the League, and the one most expected to bring
home the coveted Canadian Championship. The coaching staff had spent
the previous five years unable to win the Mann Cup;
we had been to the finals, but fell short. Therefore, the team,
staff and executives went through some changes and had rebuilt for
this particular season, acquiring some of the top names in the game
to join our quest for the Cup. In most sports, you would expect some
loss of support from the fans when a dynasty organization like the
Peterborough Lakers goes through a five-season drought, but with the
most dedicated small town fanbase and a sold out arena every game,
happen to the Lakers. There
is something you need to understand about lacrosse in Canada.
Peterborough Ontario has produced (and continues to produce) some of
the World’s top lacrosse players;
Shawn Evans, John Grant Jr., Tracey Kelusky, Zach and Josh Currier,
Cory Vitarelli, Jake Withers, to name a few, all born and raised in
Peterborough. Just Google “Peterborough Lacrosse”, and be ready
to be amazed at the pedigree produced in such a small town.
to the game… We were facing a third-place team that finished the
season at 7-9,
and continuing to play the way we began the series would have sent us
to the golf course much earlier than expected with
a disappointing end to a successful regular season. It was clear that
players were over-confident and selfish in their own ability, not
trusting or respecting each other, those who were not over confident
were simply not trusting in their own abilities. They were playing
as individuals, and they certainly were not relying
on following their Coaches
experience and wisdom.
recurring theme throughout the following pages will be the concept of
trust. I have already alluded to the Team’s lack of trust in
themselves, each other, and the coaching staff, which lead to a
disastrous start to the playoffs. Why is trust so important to
business or personal growth? A lack of trust will breed fear.
When the ability to trust is damaged, whether due to relational
breakdown, physical or mental hurt, or selfish, prideful motivation;
fear. Fear reduces our capacity to fully engage in meaningful, true,
real relationships. In the context of sport, we begin to play for
ourselves, unable to rely on the ability and the strengths of others
around us. Trust is also a two-way street. One can not expect to be
without experiencing the opportunity
to trust in others also. In this young(ish), novice authors opinion,
this concept is the root of many relational breakdowns and tension
between parties. When trust is broken for whatever reason, there is
a fear that enters the relationship which causes future hesitation in
placing trust. This fuels
a breeding ground for misunderstanding, misinterpretation and
damaging assumptions that can create a toxic wasteland of hurt and a
cycle that is near impossible to break.
during this surprisingly difficult first-round series, the Coaching
Staff and Team Captains met behind closed doors and decided that the
team could not win if they continued to play with
a lack of trust and cohesiveness.
the downward spiral the team was falling into,
the Coaches rallied
the Team and organization
with a challenge to focus on the word ‘WIN’.
The word was significant not only for its eventual champion
conquest, but for two acronyms which were devised to focus the Team’s
come together to play as a unit.
word meant more than the Webster’s dictionary definition of “to
finish first in a race, contest or the like”.
Is Necessary’ and ‘What
Is Next’ became the
mantra during each locker room speech, every time-out chat, written
on the shaft of most sticks, and echoed by team members throughout
each possession. It even travelled to the inevitable social media
hashtag, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, MySpace, and Facebook with
pictures rallying a team and a city of over eighty thousand strong
Lakers fans. Our little hub of Peterborough Ontario, a city with a
population just north of eighty thousand1
, was a buzz about the Lakers and their quest for the Mann Cup and
lacrosse supremacy. In a world where social media is king and all
the kids speak in hashtags; #WIN
did it mean for the game?
focus of #WIN
for our team was to do what you as a player needed to do, five
minutes at a time; one shift at a time. Trusting your teammates,
trusting yourself, and trusting the coaches for five minutes or for
one shift at a time. Not allowing fear or doubt to enter the
picture. After five minutes had past, ‘what
is next’ could be heard loud
from each offensive and defensive coach. From my little perch on the
back corner of the Lakers bench, I watched this mantra unfold and
begin to change the determination and focus of the players and team.
was quite remarkable to be honest. A goosebump activating, chills
inducing Movie Moment.
have never been a part of anything in sport so significantly
brilliant and awe inspiring as watching a team completely change its
focus. They began to trust; fear was gone and there was no doubt in
the ability of those next to them. However, the most surprising of
all, and possibly the most meaningful, was that the strategy didn’t
change, the ultimate goal didn’t change, set plays the team had
used from game one of the season were the same, positions remained
the same, the only thing that changed was where and what the team was
focused on and the attitude in which they approached each shift. I
don’t think it was a coincidence that the team began to win despite
not changing their approach to the game itself, but that they began
to win when their individual focus changed from long-term to
short-term series of goals throughout the journey toward their
ultimate goal. This change was so evident to me, that I wondered if
it could be implemented in my current life; from my business, my
current relationships, my finances, to my life in general?? Could a
hashtag really hold such powerful, life altering wisdom? I decided
at that point that I would begin to adapt the “What
Is Next” mentality into my
own situation and my own struggling version of life’s game. I
haven’t won anything yet or haven’t come close to the successes I
dreamed of when I opened my business, but could this be the way I can
find satisfaction or fulfillment in the daily grind pursuing whatever
it is I’m chasing?