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ET-050: Demonstrating Character, Courage, and Empowerment in the Face of Personal Adversity

With Mr. Terry Tucker

ET-050: A conversation with Mr. Terry Tucker

and your host Wayne Brown on June 06, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Mr. Terry Tucker

Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET.

Today we’re off to one of my favorite regions on this great earth, the Colorado Rockies, and the capital city of Denver, which today is home to our guest, Mr. Terry Tucker.

Terry’s a sought-after speaker who believes in the power of a good story to motivate, inspire, and help people lead their uncommon and extraordinary lives.

His mission is to “consistently enrich and improve lives through inspiring, diverse, and uplifting content without sacrificing the relationship with his family and friends.”

This mission is accomplished by providing a world-class personal development experience through his books, coaching, speaking engagements, and podcast interviews.

As a footnote here at the time of the recording of this episode, Terry had been a guest on more than 500 podcasts, which for me not only shows that he is living his mission, but also speaks to the fact that Terry is an incredible individual with a powerful story to share.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“… About 10 years now. We moved here from Houston, Texas. I am usually the trailing spouse, I kind of go where my wife goes and she’s taken us just to some beautiful places. We lived in Santa Barbara, California, which I think of all the places we lived weather-wise was probably the nicest. We’ve lived in the Midwest. We were both born in the Midwest. We’ve lived in the Gulf Coast at Houston and here in Denver.

So it’s been great. It’s been a great ride with her. We’ve been married 30 years and I am very lucky to be Mr. Roberta Tucker, …”

Today’s Guest: MR. TERRY TUCKER

By combining his 10-year cancer journey with his diverse business, athletic coaching and law enforcement background, he delivers compelling, yet relatable presentations for conferences, online events, panels, meetings, and seminars.

And once you get to know Terry and learn about the extraordinary challenges that he’s overcome, and he continues to battle, you begin to appreciate why his story is so remarkable.

In 2020, Terry published a book, Sustainable Excellence, 10 Principles, to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. Terry Tucker believes everyone is born to lead uncommon and extraordinary life, and that has nothing to do with where you work, how much money you make, or where you live.

As Terry states, we’re not all born with the same gifts and talents, but we all have the ability to become the best person we’re capable of being.

A quick review of some of the jobs Terry’s held during his career gives us a glimpse of the reality that he’s open and willing to prevail over whatever life throws at him.

And I’m not going to list them all here, but here’s a handful of the roles that Terry’s held. He’s worked as an undercover narcotics investigator, a SWAT team, hostage negotiator, a high school basketball coach, a business owner, and most recently a cancer warrior.

I’ve had the pleasure now of speaking and engaging with Terry on multiple occasions, and I’m in awe of his positivity and love for life.

Final words from Terry:

“Yeah, let me tell you a quick story, and actually two quick stories. The first one, there’s a book that I read recently called Do Hard Things by a man by the name of Steve Magness, great book. But in the book, he talks about, I don’t know if it’s a researcher or a professor or who exactly conducted this study, but he took mostly young people into… Put them in a room with nothing in the room, but a table and a chair, no windows, couldn’t take their devices, were in the room for about 15 minutes. The only other thing in the room was a buzzer and if you press the buzzer, you received an electric shock. 78% of the men and 25% of the women shocked themselves, including one man who shocked himself every five seconds, which said to me, you need to be comfortable with yourself and we’re not.

And from a leader… You can be the greatest leader in the world, but if you’re not comfortable with you, then that’s a problem. So I would say spend 10 minutes every day just being alone with yourself. I’m not talking about prayer or meditation or anything, just let your mind go wherever it goes. But no devices, no distractions, just be alone with yourself.

And then this last story involves a nurse who asked me what was it like to have my foot amputated in 2018 and my leg amputated in 2020. And what I told her was it hasn’t been easy, I’m still learning how to walk again almost three years later. But what I did tell her was, cancer can take all my physical faculties but cancer can’t touch my mind, it can’t touch my heart, and it can’t touch my soul.

And that’s who I am, that’s who you are, Wayne, that’s who all these leaders, all these business professionals that are listening to us, that’s who you are. So I’m not telling you not to go to the gym and eat right and get enough rest and reduce stress, I’m not telling you not to do that, you should do that. But spend a little time every day working on who you really are, which is your heart, your mind, and your soul…”

0:00:00.0 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET. Today we’re off to one of my favorite regions on this great earth, the Colorado Rockies and the capital city of Denver, which today is home to our guest, Mr. Terry Tucker. Terry’s a sought after speaker who believes in the power of a good story to motivate, inspire, and help people lead their uncommon and extraordinary lives.

0:00:35.4 WB: His mission is to consistently enrich and improve lives through inspiring, diverse, and uplifting content without sacrificing the relationship with his family and friends. This mission is accomplished by providing a world-class personal development experience through his books, coaching, speaking engagements, and podcast interviews. As a footnote here at the time of the recording of this episode, Terry had been a guest on more than 500 podcasts, which for me not only shows that he is living his mission, but also speaks to the fact that Terry is an incredible individual with a powerful story to share.

0:01:10.8 WB: By combining his 10-year cancer journey with his diverse business, athletic coaching and law enforcement background, he delivers compelling, yet relatable presentations for conferences, online events, panels, meetings, and seminars. And once you get to know Terry and learn about the extraordinary challenges that he’s overcome, and he continues to battle, you begin to appreciate why his story is so remarkable.

0:01:35.7 WB: In 2020, Terry published a book, Sustainable Excellence, 10 Principles, to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. Terry Tucker believes everyone is born to lead uncommon and extraordinary life, and that has nothing to do with where you work, how much money you make, or where you live. As Terry states, we’re not all born with the same gifts and talents, but we all have the ability to become the best person we’re capable of being. A quick review of some of the jobs Terry’s held during his career gives us a glimpse of the reality that he’s open and willing to prevail over whatever life throws at him.

0:02:10.3 WB: And I’m not going to list them all here, but here’s a handful of the roles that Terry’s held. He’s worked as an undercover narcotics investigator, a SWAT team, hostage negotiator, a high school basketball coach, a business owner, and most recently a cancer warrior. I’ve had the pleasure now of speaking and engaging with Terry on multiple occasions, and I’m in awe of his positivity and love for life. So with that team ET, please ready yourself now to capture the insights shared by the truly inspirational Mr. Terry Tucker in this episode titled, Demonstrating Character, Courage and Empowerment in the Face of Personal Adversity.

0:02:51.1 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor Wayne Brown as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:03:07.9 WB: Welcome team ET. Great to catch up with you for another week, and excited to be bringing this guest on today. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way after we have our conversation. Terry Tucker is our guest, and Terry’s sitting over in Denver, Colorado. Beautiful part of the world. I have to say, Terry, I’ve not been to Denver myself, but I’ve been to the Rockies, the southern part of the Rockies, and I’m in love [laughter] with the area, so I can only imagine what it’s like where you are. Welcome to the ET project. It’s great to have you on the show.

0:03:39.7 Terry Tucker: Well, Wayne, thanks for having me. I’m really looking forward to talking with you today. And yeah, my wife and I have lived all over the United States and I really think that the Rocky Mountains are one of the most beautiful places that we’ve ever had the opportunity to live. I feel very fortunate, where we are right now.

0:04:00.4 WB: I had a guest on the show a couple of times, Dr. Lance Secretan, I don’t know if you know of him. He lives in Canada, but he spends half his time in Colorado. I think he’s 84 this year, and he’s still super active. He’s just released a book, so that’s why I had him on the show. But he reminds me [laughter] not because of the age, but he reminds me a lot of you, as I look at what you are doing with your career and with your battle against cancer and the motivational aspects of what you do, he’s recognized around the world as probably the number one inspirational leadership guru. And, when I look at some of the talks you have and some of the things you talk about, I really put you in the same boat. So I’m super excited to have our conversation. I’m eager to sort of unpack certain things around inspiration or around motivation and in particular what your take on the whole process is. How long have you been in Denver?

0:05:01.9 TT: About 10 years now. We moved here from Houston, Texas. I am usually the trailing spouse, I kind of go where my wife goes and she’s taken us just to some beautiful places. We lived in Santa Barbara, California, which I think of all the places we lived weather-wise was probably the nicest. We’ve lived in the Midwest. We were both born in the Midwest. We’ve lived in the Gulf Coast at Houston and here in Denver. So it’s been great. It’s been a great ride with her. We’ve been married 30 years and I am very lucky to be Mr. Roberta Tucker, so.

[laughter]

0:05:45.5 WB: Whatever works, it’s fantastic. I have to say. I know that you’ve mentioned in your writings that you’ve had a lot of different opportunities, probably as a result of following your wife’s career as well. Which one really stands out as most memorable job or role that you’ve played?

0:06:04.3 TT: I think it would have to be my time in law enforcement. I had some corporate jobs prior to getting into law enforcement, but it was always my purpose, my passion. My grandfather was a Chicago police officer from 1924 to 1954. And I really didn’t know him. He died when I was six years old. But my grandmother lived until I was in college. And so I got to hear a lot of the stories of the things that he experienced and things like that. And he kept scrapbooks. So I have all kinds of articles and things like that back in the 1930s and things like that. So I really wanted to follow in his footsteps. And so it was just so much fun for me because I got to do things that I enjoyed.

0:06:56.4 TT: Part of what I did in law enforcement was I was an undercover narcotics investigator, and people always laugh at that if they know me because I’m six foot eight inches tall, and people are like, “You were undercover?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I was.” And I never grew my hair long. I never grew a beard. I never did any of that. And when people ask how you could be successful in that. And I always used to tell them that in that industry and illicit drugs as an industry, if you have money, you’ll find somebody to sell you drugs, because it is a greed motivated kind of industry. And the other thing I got to do in law enforcement was I was a SWAT team hostage negotiator, which was also a tremendous… I’ve learned a lot, worked with a lot of great people and had a lot of fun doing a very stressful job.

0:07:50.2 WB: Yeah. Look, I can only imagine what that must be like. And I want to go deeper into that as we go into our conversation. ‘Cause I think our listener base executive talents or leaders by another name, and I think there’s probably a lot of learning that we can take from that experience. Let’s talk about the narcotics for a moment. I mean, I often wonder, I’ve spoken with people who were interviewers for recruiting spies, and I often wonder how do you actually transition out of those, it must be a different world that you’re living in at that moment in your life. How do you actually transition or how do you keep that separation in your world?

0:08:30.7 TT: Yeah, it is, to go from working in a uniform in a marked car and answering radio runs and things like that. And then transitioning to… I mean, we worked out of a warehouse that had office space in it. Our cars were constantly, our unmarked cars were constantly changed out so that people wouldn’t realize that that’s who we were and things like that. But we were a street level unit. I mean, we bought from the guys on the corner and things like that. And it was great. And I mean from time to time, we got to work with the Federal Law enforcement agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA here, which was always great because of… And I’ll give you a quick example, if I caught somebody with drugs and say a gun, in order for me to charge them with a gun offense under a state statute, one, I had to have the gun. And two, the gun had to function. The gun had to work.

0:09:31.1 TT: For the feds, the feds could be up on a wiretap on somebody. And the person on the wiretap says the word gun. Well, that can be a federal gun charge. They never have to have the gun. They never have to get the gun. It never has to work or anything. And that’s why a lot of times you’ll see these people that have 20, 30, 40 count indictments. Yeah. It’s because they were up on a wiretap on them. The guy said gun 25 times, so it was great to work with the feds because their penalties were much greater a lot of times than what we would get for people that were really bad people that were really trying to hurt the community. But they liked working with us because for me to get a search warrant on a house, it was a one and a half page Affidavit. A federal Affidavit could be 40 pages long, it was just a lot easier for them to work with us in different capacities.

0:10:26.3 WB: Right. From the family perspective, how did your wife cope with what must have been daily fear that things would go wrong on the street?

0:10:37.5 TT: Yeah, you always knew that that was part of the job. I mean, I got shot at a couple times and that kind of rattles your cage a little bit. When somebody whizzes a bullet by you and things like that. And I told my wife things. Our daughter was young at the time. We didn’t share those kind of things with her. And she just knew that was part of the job. But she also knew I worked with good people. Safety was our number one goal. I mean, I don’t care how big, we were trying to buy a kilo or several kilos or whatever it was, it didn’t matter. I mean, if you didn’t get them today, you’ll get them tomorrow. Safety was always number one. We always tried to be as safe as we possibly could. I remember one time I was buying drugs and I always wore my bullet resistant vest, my bulletproof vest underneath my clothes. And I had a prostitute get in the car and she ran her hand across my chest and felt the vest. And I played it off like, “Oh, don’t do that. I’ve got broken ribs. I’ve gotta wear that.” You have to act a little bit.

0:11:47.5 TT: I remember my old partner who was female, came down to the unit and she called me one day. I was working the night shift, she was working days. And she said, “I have these kids, basically young people that wanna come down, this was Cincinnati, Ohio, come down from Dayton, Ohio, and they wanna sell you mushrooms. Will you buy from them?” I’m like, “Okay, yeah, sure.” I said, but what’s the backstory? I mean, they’re just not gonna buy from some guy they don’t know. And she said, “Well, what do you wanna do?” I said, “I don’t know.” Let’s, how about, if I became a professor of Metallurgy from the University of Cincinnati. I don’t know anything about metal other than you put it out in the rain and it rusts. That was my extent of that, but again, that was my cover. I met them in the park. I had a briefcase, jumped in, gave me the mushrooms. I looked at them, I gave them the $200, and all of a sudden they got swarmed by some marked cars and the rest of my team. It was, you had to act a little bit. You had to improvise. I didn’t take any acting lessons in college, but I learned on the job. [laughter]

0:12:54.9 WB: How did you move from narcotics to the SWAT team and being a hostage negotiator? What was the trigger that helped that to happen?

0:13:07.6 TT: Part of it, I was doing both at the same time.

0:13:10.9 WB: Okay.

0:13:11.1 TT: We were not a full-time SWAT team. I’m really gonna date myself now, but at the time we carried pagers, when the pager went off, that was your cue to kinda… And there were times I was working in the drug unit where I had to say, “Oops, there’s a call up, I got to go.” And things like that. But I always had an interest in SWAT because I always wanted to be part of the best. And usually in law enforcement, the SWAT team are usually the best officers. They get the best equipment and the best training. When there was an opening on the negotiating team, and for those who don’t know how SWAT is usually organized, there’s usually the tactical group, and those are the men and women with the guns and the toys and things like that.

0:13:53.0 TT: And then there’s the negotiating group and I always used to joke with the tactical group that if we did our job, you didn’t get to use all your toys and things like that. It was just something that, it was just a great opportunity. We worked with a psychologist, we worked with great people, and we try to deescalate, usually a very scary, very critical, very anxious situation and try to get another human being out alive to be honest with you.

0:14:24.4 WB: If we try and apply the role that you played as this negotiator, if I look at that from a leadership perspective, what parallels would you be able to draw from working as a leader on a day-to-day basis? What are some of the learnings perhaps that came out of being a negotiator that could apply in leadership?

0:14:45.7 TT: Yeah, we could spend about nine hours talking about that, but I’ll give you some highlights. One of the things that I learned as a negotiator was this formula, and if I can remember it, the formula was 7-38-55. And that had to do with how you convey a message. If you wanna tell me something, if you’re gonna explain something to me, 7% is going to be the words that you use.

0:15:10.2 WB: Right.

0:15:13.2 TT: 38% of it is going to be my tone of voice, and 55% of it is gonna be my body language and my facial expressions.

0:15:22.3 WB: Right.

0:15:22.5 TT: And if you think about that, most of it is your body language. When we were negotiating with people, we weren’t face-to-face. It wasn’t like you and I are right now where we can see each other. That huge part, more than 50% of how we communicate, we didn’t have access to. We had to figure things out based on what people were saying, what they weren’t saying, and how they were saying it. And the overarching umbrella of what we did as negotiators, and this applies to any relationship, whether it’s business relationship or our families or our children or anything like that is trust.

0:16:00.9 TT: We never lied to people. People would say to us, “Hey, I’ll come out, but you have to promise me I’m not gonna go to jail.” And we would have to say to them, “Well, I’m sorry. When you do come out, you are gonna go to jail.” And we would deflect that conversation to something that was, more positive. And the reason we didn’t lie wasn’t because it was some good tactic, but it was just, there was a very good chance that a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, we would be right back negotiating with that same person again, potentially about the same problem. And if they thought, “Hey Tucker, you lied to me, two years ago when we were talking before.” Well, my credibility’s out the window and you’re gonna have to bring another negotiator in.

0:16:45.1 TT: Trust was a big thing, how you communicate, the way your message is delivered was a big thing. And then one of the other things we used was what we used to call tactical empathy, which was help me understand why we’re here or what’s going on here. Again, understand, not agree with, I may be negotiating with a guy who just killed three people and it’s like, “Help me understand what the situation is. I’m not necessarily gonna agree with you, but I need to know.” And by developing that, okay, he gets me, then okay now he can trust me and hopefully we can get the person out safely.

0:17:26.3 WB: Yeah. I can imagine a lot of, from a psychological perspective, there’s a lot of reasons for that approach, making that connection by being open to hear their story, give them the chance to share what’s going on for them really helps that person to settle as well. It’s not in the heat of the moment, you are coming in guns firing, they’re coming in this tense, you’re giving them the opportunity to relate and share, which helped them to settle and calm a little bit as well. I fully appreciate that.

0:18:02.9 WB: You mentioned something there before that resonated as a coach listening for the unsaid. What’s not said is often as powerful as what’s being said. I’m guessing most of this is not, as you said, you don’t see each other, so most of this is over a phone or it’s somehow speaking between walls type of thing. How do you pick up on the unsaid when you aren’t able to see the person?

0:18:31.0 TT: Yeah, part of it is, there was a movie back in the 1990s where Samuel L. Jackson played a hostage negotiator. And the guy was like Superman. He did everything. And I always get the… Is that the way it’s like? No, that’s absolutely not the way, we do this as a team. Part of the team, yes there’s one person that is negotiating with the person and then sitting right next to them is another negotiator that’s listening to everything that’s going on, not saying anything, but listening. And then we had three or four, maybe even five more people doing what I used to call working the crowd. Trying to gather intelligence. Why are we here? What’s going on? What precipitated this caller? And you might get a note as the primary from the secondary that says, don’t talk about his mother, because somebody found out that he had a big fight with his mother before this started, and that caused him to barricade himself with a gun and he is threatening suicide.

0:19:31.0 TT: We tried to get as much information, intel, so to speak, from the people that called us, that were his family members, his coworkers, whatever those were. And so that would help us in a little way, to one, steer us toward why we were really here. And Wayne, there were times where, I mean, we spent hours over here talking about something when the real problem was over here. But they didn’t have the confidence, they didn’t have the trust in us yet to say, “Well, hey, Terry, what’s really got us here is this.” And so sometimes that’s why these negotiations took hours.

0:20:12.7 TT: And if you think about kinda like what we did, if you think about a seesaw or a teeter-totter at the park we all grew up on, usually when we’re starting a negotiation, the person’s emotional side is way up in the air and their rational side is way down on the ground.

0:20:31.2 TT: And by using this tactical empathy, we kind of try to bring that teeter-totter kind of equilibrium, and eventually get it to the point where their rational side is up in the air and their emotional side is down on the ground. And a lot of times, because, I mean, let’s face it, we all make better decisions with our rational brain than our emotional brain. And a lot of what we used was, you would say something to me, and I would say the last three words that you said. Say the last three words you said. And I would just shut up. One, that led you to believe that I heard what you just said because I just parroted back to you the last three words you said. And secondly, that silence is uncomfortable to us. We don’t like that.

0:21:17.5 TT: And so that would get the person talking again. So a lot of times the person would give us what we needed, even though they didn’t even realize they were doing it. What was said, what wasn’t said. Eventually, they would say what wasn’t said because they didn’t like the silence and they just wanted to keep talking. So there were all kinds of little things that we would do to just to try to get people talking, burn off that emotional energy. And it would be hours before we even talk about a solution to the problem of why we were there.

0:21:49.0 WB: I was just recalling a great book that I read a long time ago. I think it was called Crucial Conversations. I’m not sure if you ever saw that, but it was related to hostage negotiation as well. And I recall there was something about that in that book as well. So look, I can make a lot of parallels from a leader’s point of view, to how I could leverage that knowledge, hostage negotiator, in situations where you are in conflict in the workplace and giving the other party the opportunity to really calm down and to become more rational and to share their story, right? Is essentially what you’re trying to achieve.

0:22:31.6 TT: Especially when you’re negotiating in a business perspective where nobody’s life is on the line. I mean, you might get fired if you don’t get the negotiation done or something like that, but where nobody’s probably going to die if you don’t do your job, but information is power and even negative… People get emotional and they get attached to it. And that’s in a way, is a good thing because they’re giving you the unsaid. If I say something and you get all emotional about it, well, okay, that to me, if I’m negotiating with you, is a trigger point. That’s something that means something to you or something you’ve got to have or something you don’t want. And I can use that to further the negotiation on my side.

0:23:16.9 TT: But one of the things I said, we don’t… We never lied to people. And I think it’s real important in a business negotiation, especially if it can be contentious, just say to the person, hey, look, I want you to feel like you are heard and understood, and that we are negotiating in good faith. If at any time you feel something’s not right. You feel I’m taking advantage of you, I want you to say, Hey, let’s stop for a minute. Here’s how I feel. And my question back to you, when you say that is gonna be, “Well, why do you feel that way?” And then we can start… Because if you don’t trust me and I don’t trust you, it’s almost impossible to do any kind of a good negotiation.

0:24:02.5 TT: And I’ll end with this. People a lot of times say, “No, no, I’m not gonna do that.” No is better… No deal is better than a bad deal. So if somebody says, no and we can’t get this thing done, that’s better than doing something that down the road you’re both going to regret or isn’t good for both of you or both your organizations.

0:24:25.8 WB: It sounds like there’s almost a degree of psychological safety in the Edmondson’s work, and you’re trying to establish that trust, that framework that you’re going to operate within at the very beginning, which allows the process then to flow. I know that you also put a lot of time and energy at the moment into talking about purpose, looking at values, looking at people need to have a purpose. So I wonder if we could dive into that area as well at the moment, and just talk about, you’ve been battling cancer now for 11 years, I think. How much has your purpose in life changed through the cancer to where you are now?

0:25:16.9 TT: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think we all have a purpose in life and Viktor Frankl, the concentration camp survivor from World War II talks about how people, there’s an absolute purpose for everybody here. And it’s incumbent upon all of us to find that purpose. I think he even goes so far as to say we have a moral obligation to find our purpose in life and to live it.

0:25:44.4 TT: I think my purposes over the course of my life have changed. When I was young, I was an athlete, I was a basketball player. I played basketball in college. And then as I got into more adulthood I felt my purpose was to be in law enforcement. And now, in all honesty, as I’m coming to the end of my life, I think my purpose is to put as much goodness, as much positivity, as much motivation, as much love back into the world as I possibly can with whatever time I have left. So I think my purposes have shifted and let me say this, it would be great if we could all have our purpose align with our job or our occupation, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

0:26:32.1 TT: I mean, your job could be, this is what you do to pay the bills, but your purpose is over here to write, to paint, to be a podcast host. Whatever it is. And I always tell, especially young people, if there’s something in your heart, something in your soul that you believe you’re supposed to do, but it scares you, go ahead and do it. Because at the end of your life, the things you’re going to regret are not gonna be the things you did. They’re gonna be the things you didn’t do. And by then, it’s gonna be too late to go back and do those things.

0:27:06.1 WB: So, as you look at the years ahead of you, at the moment, you are very engaged as a motivational speaker. You are really contributing to community as a whole. What is the purpose that you want, you hope to achieve as you go forward? What do you wanna leave as a legacy?

0:27:25.6 TT: Yeah, that’s a great question. And nobody’s gonna name a street or a basketball court or building after me. So I mean, my legacy is not gonna be in that regard at all. But I think our legacy should be about the lives that we touch and the way I’ve looked at life, a lot of my life, is that we are born empty. And that when we get into life, when we get out of school, whatever that is, high school, college, military, whatever, and we get into life, that our job seems to be, we need to fill our empty self up. We need to have a great job and make a lot of money. We’ve gotta have a great family. We’ve gotta drive a nice car, live in a nice house, be very educated, all that stuff. And it fills us up.

0:28:14.7 TT: And what I’ve come to understand as I’ve gotten older, is that it’s just the opposite. We’re not born empty. We’re born full. We all have unique gifts and talents. And because we’re born full, our job or our purpose should be to empty ourselves out for the betterment of certainly ourselves, our family, our coworkers, our community, our God, whatever we believe in. And if you look at that, if you look at it from that perspective, there’s so many miserable people that are powerful and loaded and influential. But if you look at it like, it’s not what I get, it’s what I can give in my life. Think how much better this world would be.

0:29:05.9 WB: Absolutely. As you’re saying that, I’m thinking back over my own career and the great people that I’ve had the opportunity to meet, doing this podcast is so rewarding because you get to meet fantastic people just like yourself. There seems to be a common thread to me with all the people that I’ve come across. Those that are brutally genuine, authentic, and successful, tend to have that similar belief, that it’s about giving to others without any expectation, without any, I’m gonna give to you and in return I expect something back. There’s this genuine commitment to serving the greater need of others. And I really admire people that have reached that level. I would love to be there. I’m not there myself I have to admit, but I would love to be at that level. That’s one of my aspirations. That’s part of what I’m doing with the podcast and with my company.

0:30:05.4 WB: So I really take my hat off to you and to others that are heading down this road. You also list, I think it’s about 10 values. My own take on your values is that the order of priority of the value may shift, but the value tends to be more poor rather than the purpose, which I fully agree with you, shifts as you shift in your life. How have you found your values over the years? Do you reassess them on a regular basis? Maybe the first question.

0:30:44.7 TT: Yeah, that’s a great question. And it’s interesting you say that. I think so many people, we talk a lot about goals. I’ve gotta have goals, but that word you just use values. We don’t talk about our values very much in life. I remember when I was… I interviewed for a marketing position one time, and I went in and interviewed with the senior vice president, and we spent 90 minutes, an hour and a half, talking about the first basically 20 years of my life. What was it like growing up? What was it like playing basketball? What was it like having knee surgery? What was it like college et cetera? Not one word, not one thing was asked about marketing or my philosophy on marketing or what I’d done in marketing or anything like that.

0:31:34.5 TT: And I remember, I ended up taking the job and I remember talking to him later and I’m like, pardon me for asking, but I thought your interview style was kind of goofy. What was behind that? And he said, he said, I got plenty of people around me that’ll tell me whether you’re technically good in marketing, whether you would be a good fit for this job and this team. He said, but I want people of good character. And he said, “I believe character is formed in the first 20 years of your life.” So I spent that 90 minutes asking you about basically what it was like growing up.

0:32:16.3 TT: And he said believing that character is formed in the first 20 years… And now you can develop certain parts of your character as you get older and stuff like that. But the big, the brunt of your character is developed in the first 20 years of your life, he said so that’s why I asked you all those questions. That’s why I asked you what you learn from your parents, what you learn from basketball, what you learn from going to a military college. I wanted to know what kind of a person you were character-wise. And I think if you know what kind of character you have, I always say character is caught not taught. You’re not gonna read… I mean, you may read some stories, but you’re not gonna learn how to be a person of good character by reading a book.

0:32:58.2 TT: You have to see people in action where, oh, I really like what that person did or how they handled that situation or just the opposite, oh, I didn’t like the way that was handled at all. That’s how character gets developed. And when you know what kind of character you are, you know what your values are, you know what you’re willing to give your life for with the understanding that you may never be successful at it, but it’s so ingrained in you. It’s so much a part of you that you’re willing to give your life for it, like I said, with the understanding that you may never be successful at it.

0:33:34.7 WB: So when you look at your values, do they shift in priority? Like, I think your first value on the list, at least that I saw was character followed by courage, if I’m correct. So do they shift for you over time depending on the circumstance you’re facing?

0:33:56.4 TT: I don’t think so. I don’t think… At least for me, they don’t, you know that if I have values. If I believe in character and courtesy and love and family and humility and stuff like that, they may get drawn on more as I’m experiencing different things in my life. But they’re still they’re still the foundation. They’re still the bedrock of who Terry Tucker is. And if I know what those are, it’s so much easier to pick goals and anchor them to those values, because I know I’m not… Yeah, yeah, I’m not gonna do that. You know, I mean somebody wants to bribe you. I had a few cases where people tried to bribe you when I was a police officer. It’s like, no, no, no, no, no. Not doing that, not going down that road. That’s not happening at all.

0:34:49.5 TT: But if you’re a person who has no morals, no values, sure. Yeah, yeah, that’d be great. I’d love… I could use a little more money to support my family or yeah, you’re a very attractive person. I’d like to get involved with you even though I’m married. So you gotta know in your soul what you believe in. And if you do that, like I said, you may draw on those from time to time, depending on the situation, but they are the bedrock of your life.

0:35:21.4 WB: And from that, you then draw it towards your purpose. You have that north star, you know what you’re comfortable doing and the direction you’re going. The things like your mission. I know you have a mission statement about inspiring and motivating others as much as you can, etcetera. We jump around in our lives so much, and we don’t really bit down and get to the underlying moral compass as values are often referred to. And it’s so crucial, particularly in self-awareness and then being able to self-regulate. Now I know you released the book a few years ago now. Would you like to introduce the book and what’s it about?

0:36:04.0 TT: Sure. The book is called Sustainable Excellence, The 10 Principles to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. It’s a book that was really born out of two conversations that I had. One was with a former player that I had coached when we lived in Texas, who had moved to Colorado with her fiance, where my wife and I live. And the four of us had dinner one night. And I remember saying to her after dinner, I’m really excited that you’re living close now, and I can watch you find and live your purpose. And she got real quiet for a while, and then she looked at me and she said, “Well, coach, what do you think my purpose is?” I said, “I’ve absolutely no idea what your purpose is, but that’s what your life should be about, finding the reason you were put on the face of this earth using your unique gifts and talents and living that reason.”

0:36:51.6 TT: So that was one conversation. And then I had a young man reach out to me on social media and he was in college and he said, “What do you think are the most important things that I should learn? Not to just be successful in my job or in business, but to be successful in life?” And Wayne, I didn’t want to give him that, get up early, work hard, have… I didn’t want to give him that. I mean, not that those aren’t important, those are incredibly important, but I wanted to see if I could go deeper with them. And so I took some time and was taking some notes, and eventually I had these 10 ideas, these 10 thoughts, these 10 principles.

0:37:25.6 TT: And so I sent them to him, and then I stepped back and I was like, well, you know I got a life story that fits underneath that principle where I know somebody whose life emulates this principle. So literally during the three to four month period where I was healing after I had my leg amputated because of my cancer experience, and before I started chemotherapy for the tumors I have in my lungs, I sat down at the computer every day and I built stories. And they’re real stories about real people underneath each of the principles. And that’s how sustainable excellence came to be.

0:37:58.6 WB: Hopefully all the listeners, look it up. It’s available Amazon, I guess.

0:38:04.0 TT: Yeah, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks. Wherever you can get a book online, you can get Sustainable Excellence.

0:38:09.7 WB: Terry, I mean, you’re battling cancer and we all hope that things go in a positive direction with it. You’ve lived such a full life, however, up until this point. Any regrets at the moment? Any things that you wish you could have done that the cancer has delayed you from being able to do?

0:38:34.1 TT: I don’t have a lot of regrets, I did do alot of things. I think the regrets I have are times where I was selfish, where it was all about me, and because I was selfish somebody else got hurt. Those are really my biggest regrets. I think if I could do one thing before I die, and this is gonna sound so goofy to people, but it would mean the world to me is, there was a movie that came out, I believe in the late ’80s or ’90s called Field of Dreams. And it was a baseball movie with Kevin Costner in it. And basically, this farmer plows underneath his corn and builds a baseball field in the middle of Iowa. Well, that field really exists and I just have this dream, it’s probably never going to happen, but I just had this dream of going there with our daughter and just playing catch. I know that sounds stupid, and it’s like, don’t you have any decent grand… No, I just wanna play catch with my daughter and that’s really the only thing that I absolutely would like to do before I die.

0:39:38.9 WB: I’m doubtful that you’re gonna die in the near future and I’m sure there’s many opportunities that are gonna come around. What would be a message you would leave to our listeners that you think is important to them. So, remembering, we’re talking about leaders per se, any words of wisdom that you’d like to share with them?

0:40:00.2 TT: Yeah, let me tell you a quick story, and actually two quick stories. The first one, there’s a book that I read recently called Do Hard Things by a man by the name of Steve Magness, great book. But in the book, he talks about, I don’t know if it’s a researcher or a professor or who exactly conducted this study, but he took mostly young people into… Put them in a room with nothing in the room, but a table and a chair, no windows, couldn’t take their devices, were in the room for about 15 minutes. The only other thing in the room was a buzzer and if you press the buzzer, you received an electric shock. 78% of the men and 25% of the women shocked themselves, including one man who shocked himself every five seconds, which said to me, you need to be comfortable with yourself and we’re not.

0:40:54.7 TT: And from a leader… You can be the greatest leader in the world, but if you’re not comfortable with you, then that’s a problem. So I would say spend 10 minutes every day just being alone with yourself. I’m not talking about prayer or meditation or anything, just let your mind go wherever it goes. But no devices, no distractions, just be alone with yourself.

0:41:15.4 TT: And then this last story involves a nurse who asked me what was it like to have my foot amputated in 2018 and my leg amputated in 2020. And what I told her was it hasn’t been easy, I’m still learning how to walk again almost three years later. But what I did tell her was, cancer can take all my physical faculties but cancer can’t touch my mind, it can’t touch my heart, and it can’t touch my soul. And that’s who I am, that’s who you are, Wayne, that’s who all these leaders, all these business professionals that are listening to us, that’s who you are. So I’m not telling you not to go to the gym and eat right and get enough rest and reduce stress, I’m not telling you not to do that, you should do that. But spend a little time every day working on who you really are, which is your heart, your mind, and your soul.

0:42:03.4 WB: Great advice. We didn’t touch on your four truths. No, I didn’t do that on purpose, because I know you do a lot of podcasts and I guess you’re tired of the story.

[laughter]

0:42:13.9 TT: Exactly. [chuckle]

0:42:17.1 WB: Where can people connect with Terry if they wanna find out more about what you’re doing?

0:42:22.5 TT: Yeah, I have a blog called Motivational Check. Every day I put up a thought for the day and with that thought comes a question about maybe how you could apply it in your life. Like on Mondays, I put up the Monday morning motivational message. You can leave me a message, I have recommendations for books to read, videos to watch, all that is at motivationalcheck.com.

0:42:44.5 WB: Last question Terry, which is your favorite basketball team, now you’re living in Colorado?

0:42:50.8 TT: You know, I grew up in Chicago, I’ve always been a Bulls fan, I got to play against Michael Jordan when I was in college. So I always been a Bulls fan. I’m waiting for that next Great Bulls rally where they win the NBA, but I love the Chicago Bulls.

0:43:06.6 WB: I’m sure the people in Denver are not gonna come and hunt you down for it, but… [laughter]

0:43:11.9 TT: Now that the nuggets are still in the playoffs, so they’re doing well right now here in Denver.

0:43:17.1 WB: Terry Tucker it has been great conversation as expected and you’ve got so many fantastic stories from your own experiences. I really believe our listeners will have taken a lot away and I appreciate you and you taking the time to come and talk to us on the ET Project, thank you.

0:43:36.9 TT: Well, Wayne, thanks for having me on, I really enjoyed talking with you.

0:43:41.6 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coachingforcompanies.com.

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