I remember when I was in kindergarten. Mrs. Harrell was an awesome teacher. By the time she got me in her class she had been teaching 40+ years. I was that kid that would always make a wave in class; not in an evil way. I was just a flood too big to hold back!
I entered kindergarten with a bang. I was ready to break open the floodgates and run through! Just ask anyone in that class at Sooner Rose Elementary in Midwest City, Oklahoma. I’m sure they’ll probably remember me. It was hard back then to keep me quiet. In fact, Mrs. Harrell once told my mother that I was the first student that ever made her think of retirement. I used to be embarrassed by that statement; now I’m kind of proud! That was the reason I won The Biggest Loser. In fact, it has been the reason for most of my achievements in life.
There was a time in my life when I wasn’t afraid. I would speak up when the teacher asked a question. If the band in high school needed a bass player, then I would go buy a bass and be the bass player…even if I had never played one. If the football coach thought I was too light at 175 pounds to be strong tackle, I’d just kick some rear and show him size didn’t matter when heart was involved.
When my wife Darci met me, she went home and told her mother she had met the man she would marry. It did take me a little longer to figure that out than her, but luckily for me I soon came around. Just a short time ago when I weighed in at 458 pounds, I asked Darci why she said that to her mother. What could be the reason she was immediately sure I was "the one." she answered without hesitation; "Because I knew you could accomplish anything."
That made me take a hard look at my life. There I sat at 458 pounds…feeling like a failure. I felt I was a failure to Darci. I felt I was a failure to my kids. I felt I had failed my entire family. I even felt that I had failed coach Epps…the high school football coach that took up for me when the when the comment came from above that I was "too small to be starting strong tackle on the Midwest City Bombers." but most of all I felt like a failure to me.
It seemed that my hopes and dreams of becoming a rock star, travelling the world and making a difference had gone so far down the drain that there was no way of getting them back. I remember looking in the mirror and asking myself, "What is wrong with you?!" there were days in my office at Sisemore Weisz and Associates, the Land Surveying and Engineering company where I worked, and would stare at the pictures of me with my bass guitar, standing on the stage with Donny Osmond at 175 pounds, feeling like the world was at my fingertips; I would just wonder what had gone wrong.
The answer ran over me like a freight train; I lost confidence and became scared. That kindergarten student that would yell out the answer when Mrs. Harrell asked the question without worry if anyone would laugh if he got it wrong…that 175 pound strong tackle on the team with the most tradition in Oklahoma High School Football…that boy that put the challenge out there to everyone that he would learn "Detroit Rock City" and "The Trooper" on a bass he didn’t even own by Saturday when everyone said it was impossible…that person now sat in the back of the class refraining from raising his hand because of the fear that he might be wrong. Why?
It happened slowly; I slowly gave up on my dreams of a music career, I slowly gave up on my college degree, and in effect I slowly gave up on me. I am wondering if while reading this you have remembered that dream that you once believed in. I wonder if perhaps you are coasting through life, hesitating raising your hand, waiting for someone else to answer so you can quietly and non-discriminately find out if you were right without the risk of letting others know you were wrong.
You see, what I didn’t get is that my courage and willingness to move through fear and risk being wrong or failing was the very thing that made me so boldly go where I had not gone before. It was the reason my 6th grade teacher Suzanne Phelps-Wylie had such confidence in me and asked for her "Danny hug" every morning. It was the very reason when asked who would be a good bass player for live performances with P.C. Quest my college professor Craig White said "Definitely Danny." It was the very reason my beautiful wife went straight home to her mother and told her, "Tonight I met the man I’m going to marry. Mom, I think he can do anything he sets his mind to." it was the very reason I felt like such a huge failure now…because I refused to challenge myself and had resigned to timidly stay right where I was at.
It was time for a change. I put my OU (that’s Oklahoma University) shirt on, grabbed my golf clubs and a camera, found my 1985 5A State Champion High School Football ring and put it back on my finger, and marched with my son to the driving range to challenge myself again. After hitting a dozen golf balls or so, I turned to the camera and boldly stated, "I am an athlete. See that ring? (Shoving my ring into the camera) I am proud of that. I can’t even walk around the golf course anymore and I am sick of it. All I need is for a chance; a chance to prove that I can be the champion that I once was. If you put me on your show, I predict that I will be the biggest loser EVER on your show!"
It was that boy boldly shouting out the answer! It was that young man kicking some rear to prove he was able. It was that kid betting everyone that he’d learn those songs by Saturday. It was that dream re-awakened to be a champion. And after losing 55.58% of my body weight in the shortest season in history on The Biggest Loser and becoming the biggest loser EVER in the history of the show, I promise you that it will not be the last mountain I will climb.
Now, as you read this and remember that young child within yourself with BIG dreams and no limits, I beg you to stop letting the fear of being wrong…the fear of failure…the fear of losing something you have hold you back from your goals and dreams. In fact, that fear is the very thing that will make you lose yourself. I promise you that you have everything it takes to achieve your dreams. You just need to stop stopping and start starting. Just wake up in your life, get back on your horse, write some new words, and take your second chance at life. It is right in front of you and you can do it. You just need to get yourself back.