Superman vs. The Lemmings

November 10, 2010

As a kid, I read comics whenever I could get my hands on them, but I didn’t start collecting comics until after my car accident.  I had been in the hospital for going on 6 months and I was growing tired of Judge Judy.  Unfortunately, TV was my only real companion.  My arms were simply too weak to hold a book.

Then, one day sitting in a 7-Eleven, I saw a copy of Batman.  It was small and light and I thought it might be a nice distraction to Mrs. Sheindlin.  I took it back to my hospital, and read it.  It was easy to hold and provided me the entertainment I sought.  The only problem was the book wasn’t one contained story–it was part of a serial.  In order to find out what had happened and what was going to happen, I had to buy other comics.

I was hooked.  My room slowly filled with issues of The Dark Knight, Superman, Captain America and the rest.  The more I collected the more I learned about the culture. There were issues that had variant (special) covers, issues that had been so popular they had done multiple printings–which made first printings all the more valuable.

Like everything else, the more rare a comic was, the more valuable it became.  This pursuit lasted years and more money that I care to admit.  But as I made my trips from the hospital to the comic book shop (which sometime took everything I had–to see what I’m talking about, read here) I noticed that the comics available in stacks were passed by, while the unique ones were clamored over.

Watching this, I realized that people are a lot like comics.  It’s the unique ones with variant covers that people want in their lives.  They’re the ones people are seeking out, the stories people want to know. At the same time, it’s the ordinary ones, the ones just trying to be like the rest that are a dime a dozen, and the ones that sit in stacks.

The difference is that everyone is unique and special—you just have to choose to put that on your cover.  You just have to show others the real “one of a kind” you.  And, for some reason, it seems like people today have a hard time doing this.  Some of it’s fear, some of it is insecurity, but it’s rampant and everywhere.  People trying to look or act like someone on TV.  It’s like we’re back in Jr. High and trying to be the cool kid.

There’s too many lemmings today—people willing to follow at any cost.

Being rare is harder than it sounds.  It takes courage.  There are lots of people who just don’t believe that they have all that much uniqueness to give.  But, there’s only one you—only one person that sees things the way you do.  Only one person with the gifts and talents you have.  Have confidence in yourself.  Find ways to let your own spirit shine.

There are only a few copies of the first Superman comic left and they are worth Millions.  But, that’s nothing compared to the worth of the one and only you!


Hey Coach!

November 18, 2009

This past week I had the chance to attend a fund raiser for The Christmas Box House, a great charity started by Richard Paul Evans—the New York Times Bestselling author of 16 titles including his first “The Christmas Box.”

After the event, He took some time to give me some great advice on my upcoming book, and it reminded me of a lesson I learned in my early days of little league football.

Throughout my entire Little League career, I was known as the kid who asked a question about nearly everything.  I wanted to make sure I understood every aspect of everything I was a part of—and everything I wasn’t a part of.

This was something the coaches were able to deal with, because they could always send me out onto the field.

Then, amidst my third year, I had an injury to my leg, and was sidelined.  I knew that I was still part of the team and therefore, continued to show up to practice.  But, unable to do anything but fill up the equipment bag, I stood by my coaches from the beginning of practice to its end.

With nowhere for me to go, my coaches were stuck and had to listen to me ask questions like, “Hey Coach, why do you have the safety line up there,” or, “Hey Coach, why don’t you fake the handoff then,” or, “Hey Coach, why do you only have three down linemen on that play,” and the like, all through practice.

Finally, unable to take another minute of my mini inquisition, my coach pulled the whole team in close and yelled out so everyone was clear, “If Hall asks one more question, EVERYBODY RUNS!”

My teammates looked at me to make sure I understood that none of them wanted extra laps, and practice continued.

Coach’s plan worked.  My questions stopped and the Coach got the silence he was looking for.  But, in the midst of his moratorium, I learned something I hadn’t considered myself.  If I took a minute and thought things out for myself, I could figure out many of the answers I was looking for.

It was easier to ask the coach, for he always had the answer and it didn’t require any work on my part.  After a few days of no questions, the coach allowed my inquiries as long as I had tried to figure the answer out for myself first.

Twenty-five plus years later, I’ve found the same principle applies.  I have questions and doubts and I often look around for a person, article or book to spoon-feed me the answer.  Those resources often play the role of helpmate, but I also find that if I just take the time to think things through, and trust in myself, I can find the right answer all on my own.

Trust yourself, trust your gut, you know more than you think.  Believe in you.  You have more to offer than you give yourself credit.  Use your resources wisely, but go with what you think is right and quit asking the proverbial, “Hey Coach!”


Be an Enabler + DVD Giveaway

April 17, 2009
There was a little bit of a snafu with the post so I’m extending the giveaway to Wednesday he night 9pm PST. If you list your Enabler before then, you’re in. Good luck!  Jh-
Two Great Enablers.  Florence & Elmer Hall

Two Great Enablers. Florence & Elmer Hall

We so often hear of people who are enablers. They encourage and allow others to continue their lives filled with bad habits. For example, if someone were living with an alcoholic and created an environment where alcohol was easily obtained, or easily accepted the excuses the alcoholic used to drink, that person would be designated an enabler; enabling the alcoholic to continue with their bad habit.

Over and over on the small and large screen and in print we see, hear, and read of enablers. We take note of these people working hard, or completely ignoring poor habits thereby perpetuating those habits or actions that hurt and damage lives.

Because of this new and popular way of utilizing the words enabler and enabling, they’ve taken on a negative connotation. But, it can be a powerful thing to enable. Putting our efforts toward enabling positive and moral actions and values can make a real difference in others lives for good.

The world today so badly needs enablers. It needs people enabling others to set goals and become better. The world needs people enabling positive mental attitudes, and promoting environments where serving others is more accepted and lauded. In these dark times there must be those willing to actively enable good works and moral strength in order to yield lives lived well.

As I look back at my life I know that I’m the person I am today because of the enablers who helped me along the way. In considering the enabling I’ve enjoyed in my life I remember the following people especially:

  • I think of my Grandma & Grandpa Hall who taught me to love others unconditionally and live a life filled with righteousness.
  • I think of my Grandma Ashby who taught me that there is no value in complaining.
  • I think of my parents, the ultimate enablers, who taught me to look for the good in every situation. They taught me the importance of being positive in the face of any adversity.
  • I think of Major Weaver, a scout leader, who taught me the importance of patriotism and love of country.
  • I think of Darren Haskins and Ben Hendry who allowed me to see how far a little kindness could go in a young boy’s life.
  • I think of Dave Checketts who gave me the opportunity to grow through the lives of great young men when most people wondered if I was ready to grow at all.
  • I think of Maren Mouritsen and Tammie Quick who taught me more about listening, leading and doing what’s right than most people ever have a chance to learn.
  • I think of Gary and Judy Coleman who taught me about acceptance because of the environment of acceptance they fostered in their home.
  • And, I think about Kolette whose pure love has allowed me to love more purely.

Although this list is far from complete, these enablers, along with countless others, have made a real, lasting difference in who I am today. I’m frightened to consider who I might have become had I not experienced the environments these people created and the motivation they provided.

We must enable. We must put people in situations where they can succeed. For, often that taste of success can push them forward and create in them a desire for more. We must show people that they can be better than they are, regardless of how good they are already. We must push people to do great things and become great people, and if we have pushed them a little we must push them even more.

In today’s world where people seem lost and character has become a word some can hardly define, positive enabling is the answer. We have to look for ways to further enable others to become the best they can be. Remember those who have enabled you, and take the opportunity to pay their work forward.

There are so many out there waiting to find out who they can become and what they can do. In many cases your enabling will be their answer.

Be an enabler.


In order to remind us all of the power of enabling, I am doing a giveaway associated with the enablers. Leave a comment where you name someone who has enabled you to become the good person you are today. The winner gets an autographed copy of my DVD. The contest closes at 9 PM PST Monday, April 20, 2009.

Just Listen

November 6, 2008


As you may have already guessed being a 16 year old and getting access and permission to use a power wheelchair opened up all sorts of interesting scenarios. For example, there was the time my brothers and I came across an old water ski rope in the garage. We thought about the rope, thought about the manual wheelchair that I used as a backup, and put two and two together. Minutes later I was sitting in my power chair in the middle of our street with one end of the ski rope tied to the back of my chair, and the other end firmly grasped by my brother Brandon. He was sitting in the manual chair about 10-15 yards behind me. He said, “Hit it!” and we were off.  I floored my power chair as he “skied” behind me. You can imagine the look on my mother’s face as she pulled into her subdivision with me driving as fast as I could down the street and my brother weaving back and forth from sidewalk to sidewalk.

It was after some such shenanigan that my mother took me aside and reminded me that my $15,000 power chair was not a toy and should not be treated as such. She warned me of the dangers that can come from “messing around” with such an expensive piece of equipment. She continued, and reinforced the fact that the chair was my responsibility and asked me if I understood. I told her I did and that I would be more careful in the future.

When I was in high school I was always very involved in student government. At my school, that meant that fourth period was spent in leadership class. This class wasn’t so much a place to learn about leadership as much as it was time for us to complete the tasks that needed to be accomplished in our respective offices. It was time to schedule DJs for dances, make sure service projects were planned, prepare for upcoming pep rallies and so forth.

However, if all of your assignments were fulfilled, then it was time that could be filled in any way we could imagine. We would simply check-in with the teacher over student government, give him our report, and we were off.

On one such day during my junior year, some of the senior officers and I began to talk about how “funny” a Funny Car was.  For those of you out of the know, the funny car is one of those racecars that has big wheels in the back and small wheels in the front. When it takes off it does so with so much horsepower but the front wheels fly off the asphalt and into the air. They stay like that for a few seconds as the car races down the track when they eventually come back down to the ground.

During this discussion, we noticed that my wheelchair also had big wheels in the back and small wheels in the front. We began to wonder. What would happen if we lined up in the hallway and used every bit of horsepower the chair could muster while someone simultaneously pulled back as hard as they could on the back of my chair?

The first try was a success. I threw the joystick forward it as hard and fast as I could, my friend pulled back as hard and fast as he could and for a few feet I rode a “wheelie” down the hall. It was beautiful. Just like the Funny Cars we’d spoken about.

We knew that if we could go a few feet on our first try a little more power and a little more pull could take us farther. Again and again we tried. Each time going a little farther than the time before. The hour was about over and lunchtime was about to arrive. We felt like we had one more shot. We decided to go all the way to the end of the hall and see if I could ride the back wheels the entire length of the hallway. Such a length could not be achieved using our normal configuration. We figured that the only way to keep the front wheels up long enough was to double the weight on the back of my chair.

At the very end of the hallway we prepared for our run. Two of my friends were on the back of the chair ready to pull with my hand poised on the joystick ready to give her all that she had. “One, two, three, go!” we exclaimed. The chair flew forward as my friends pulled back and just as the front wheels began to leave the ground we heard a deafening snap.

All that force going in opposite directions had caused the back of my wheelchair to break off completely. The chair continued to move forward for a few feet and as it did my back hit the ground and I slid completely out of the chair. Laying on the ground with a bump on my head I realized that my backpack had split open and I was surrounded with my books, notepads, and papers.

Just then the bell went off for lunch. Hundreds of kids began to fill the halls stepping on, over, and around me as best they could. My friends were shocked to say the least. After a half emptied, they helped to put me back in my backless wheelchair, and kept me sitting straight up as we slowly move down the hall trying to come up with a solution. Eventually we made our way to the welding teachers workspace where he helped us weld together the back of my chair as best he could. The job was good enough to get me home, but not good enough to fool my mother, or good enough to make it so the chair didn’t have to be repaired.

As I lay on the floor, my mom’s words of caution rang in my ears. Through the rest of the day and into the night I thought about how much easier my day would have been if I had just listened. Just listening would have saved me a lot of grief, a lot of pain, and a lot of money.

Every day everyone gets little pieces of counsel. Sometimes they come from a loved one, sometimes from a mentor, sometimes from a peer, and sometimes from our own conscience. Whether they come as words of advice or impressions to our heart, our lives end up so much easier and better if we would just listen.

So the next time you get a word of warning or impression to change, just listen and you’ll keep things intact instead of broken in the middle of the hall getting stepped on by every passerby.


Sudoku: The Puzzle With All The Answers

October 25, 2008
A finished Sudoku puzzle

A finished Sudoku puzzle

About a year ago I became a part of the Sudoku craze. I was getting ready to go on a big trip, and that meant loading up my iPod with new music and maybe a movie or two. It was around that time Apple allowed you to load games onto your iPod as well. Looking around for a game that would give me something to do on the plane, I decided on Sudoku.

I had never really played the game before, but I’d heard that it was fun and one that could effectively eat up some time. The game had good ratings on iTunes and so I decided to spend the $7.99 and take a chance.

Later, on the plane, the flight attendants let us know that we were cleared to use our electronic devices. I pulled out my iPod, opened up the game, and within about 15 minutes I was addicted. I played the game on the entire flight, throughout the entire weekend, during the flight home, and every night for the next two months. It got to a point where I would play it deep into the night, and then, when I finally tried to go to sleep I would see the empty boxes in my dreams.

It was in the midst of this compulsion that I realized that lying in front of me on my iPod was actually an excellent type for life.

The only way you can win at the game of Sudoku is to make sure that every line and every square is perfectly completed with the numbers one through nine. Each number however, can only be used once. That way, every line and every square uses each number carefully and uniquely.

Like the numbers in Sudoku’s squares, we are all each of us unique. There is only one  “1”, only one ”2”, and so on. Also, just like the puzzle, we work hard to find the place where we belong. If we try to hard to be just like the other numbers in our line or square things begin to fall apart.

In the end, the game is only successfully completed when all the spots are filled with their unique values. Like the puzzle, our experience in this lifetime fails if it is simply filled with a different version of the same person. Conversely, our lives are complete when they are filled with people from all walks of life, with all sorts of experiences and any “number” of ideas.

So, let’s use Sudoku every day by being comfortable with who we are, not worrying about copying others. Let’s keep our “value” by being true to who we are. And, let’s fill the lines and squares of our lives with people that are different, always learning from their unique experiences. Following these instructions, our lives will become more rich, successful, and complete.

Sudoku really is the puzzle with all the answers.


Cooked Bananas or Grilled Cheese?

October 23, 2008

In the summer of 1986 my diving accident put me in the hospital for three months. I wasn’t there long before I realized that the myths and legends I had heard about the horrors of hospital food were all true. It’s amazing the things that they can come up with in a hospital kitchen.

While I was in ICU, they brought every meal to my room. Once I moved to the rehab floor and my health improved, I would go to what they called the “Day Room” to eat lunch and dinner with the rest of the patients in the unit. They wanted us out of our rooms as much as possible and the camaraderie I had with the other quadriplegics made the days go faster.

In the “Day Room,” we would sit and wait until the food service workers brought us our food. They would walk in, load up the buffet bar with the food, and then stand back and announce what we would be eating that day. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the words “Liver,” “Goulash,” or, “Scrod”   They even found a Way to screw up the things that actually sounded good, like lasagna, burritos, or hoagies (I mean seriously, how hard is it to make a hoagie). No matter how bad the food was our options were few. In fact, there was only one way out.

Each week every patient could get one pass. This pass allowed you to go down to the hospital cafeteria and order anything you pleased. I understand that to the average reader the hospital cafeteria doesn’t sound like much of an out. But, when you’re stuck in the hospital the cafeteria sounds like the finest steakhouse in the world. In my life I have learned there are few places that execute a grilled cheese sandwich as well as a hospital cafeteria.

A tasty grilled cheese sandwich

A tasty grilled cheese sandwich

We treated these passes like gold. You had to be very careful that you didn’t squander your pass on something that was mildly bad when something terribly bad could be coming later in the week. At the same time, you didn’t want to hoard your pass  and eat something terribly bad when the rest of the week would only be filled with the mildly bad.

For the most part, if you were smart, between the food that friends and family would smuggle in and the passes a person could make it without having to eat anything you’d later regret.

One week however, the kitchen staff really outdid themselves. We ate bad meal after bad meal, and by Saturday everyone had used their passes. That Saturday, just like every other Saturday, they brought in the trays, loaded up the buffet, turned, and announced the meal.

They said, “Tonight’s dinner is a delicacy,  We’ve prepared cooked bananas, wrapped in ham, dipped in cheese sauce.”  I couldn’t believe it! I had never heard of anything like this in my entire life. I remember thinking, “I don’t know where that’s a delicacy, but I never want to go there.”

Cooked bananas, wrapped in ham, dipped in cheese sauce.

This was bad. This was the worst meal we had ever been served by a mile, and none of us had a pass left. We looked at each other with great concern, and then made a decision. We would go to the nurses together and ask them to give us an extra pass.

We all headed to the nurse’s station. I’m sure this was quite a sight. A gaggle of people, men and women, sitting and standing, with wheelchairs and walkers, using canes and crutches heading down the hall. With all this in front of her, the head nurse figured out a way to get all of us passes, and together we headed down to the hospital cafeteria.

That day, I learned the power of cooperating with my fellow man. I saw that as a group we could get more done, more effectively, and more quickly.  I’m quite sure that had I gone to the head nurse on my own, she could have found a way to turn me down and send me back to the cooked bananas in failure. But, together, I realized that not only did we get to enjoy the cafeteria’s grilled cheese, were able to get a taste of success as well. This experience showed me that if I thought of the well-being of the group instead of only selfishly considering myself I could increase my potential and productivity.

Since then, I have found the same concept to be true in the normal every days of my life. When I think only of myself I am able to get a few things done. But, when I think of how my efforts can not only benefit me but can enable others as well it is amazing what can be accomplished. When groups truly cooperate and synergize, then the talents of the many are maximized and the weaknesses of the few forgotten.

So, next time you have to choose between doing things only for yourself, or cooperating and utilizing the power of the group ask yourself; cooked bananas, or grilled cheese?


Shun Fujimoto

October 18, 2008
Shun Fujimoto after the Montreal Games

Shun Fujimoto after the Montreal Games

The 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada was host to one of the greatest acts of courage in Olympic history. The Japanese team arrived with high hopes for Olympic gold. They knew however that in order to achieve this lofty goal they would have to win out over the incredibly strong Russian team.

As competition began Shun Fujimoto, a member of that Japanese team, found himself up against unthinkable decision. During his floor exercise, he’d broken his leg. He now had to choose whether he would continue, working to help his teammates succeed, or, give up and hope for the best. Obviously having had this kind of injury no one would question his lack of desire to move on.

But,he did move on.  He reasoned that his teammates would need every point he could contribute. So, without telling anyone, the judges, his teamates, or even his coach, Shun moved on to the next apparatus; the pommel horse. He did well in this event, scoring a 9.5 out of a maximum 10 points. As difficult and daunting as this task was he knew that it would pale in comparison to what lie ahead.

The apparatus that followed was the rings. Shun knew that success in this event would be largely dictated by his ability to successfully complete the high-flying dismount. The level of concentration this challenge would require would be an entirely different matter altogether. But, true to form and thinking of the success of the team he assumed his position and began his routine.

Shun flew around the rings in near perfection. His performance was almost flawless. But as he moved through his routine he knew that in order to get the score required he would have to nail his dismount, a triple somersault with a twist.

Tears filled his eyes as Shun’s leg absorbed the force from his 136 pound body hitting the mat. His leg gave way just a bit, and gritting his teeth he threw his arms in the air.

He tore ligaments in his leg, dislocated his knee and had to withdraw from the rest of the events, but, in the end, the judges awarded him a 9.7, the highest score of his career. The Japanese team was awarded the gold and they beat the Russians by .4 points (the smallest margin of victory in the history of the Olympics). Everyone on the team knew that without Shun’s courage this victory would never have been achieved.

Later, reporters asked Shun about his experience. He replied;

“It brought tears to my eyes. But now I have a gold medal, and the pain is gone.”

In our lives there are surely times when we have to pull together all the courage that we can muster, and move forward. Often, we feel injured, or less than a whole, and many times are “teams” success relies on our ability to complete the tasks that are ours.

We will do better and more easily find the wherewithal to succeed if we will remember Shun’s words and example. For, no matter how difficult our struggle is today as we work towards our goals with dedication and resolve, then someday like Shun we may be able to say;

“[The adversities in my life] brought tears to my eyes. But, now I have [reached my goals] and the pain is gone.”


Below you can find a short video on Shun