Detour: Developing The Mindset To Navigate Life’s Turns

In 1969, when Neil Armstrong’s boots touched down on the moon, William Shatner – aka, Captain Kirk – was penniless and living out of his truck. He watched the live broadcast of the Apollo landing while gazing up at the stars, thinking, “This ain’t right.”

I can relate. Seventeen years ago, I was living out of my car, too, watching the world fly by. I didn’t dream of seeking out new lives and new civilizations, though. I wanted to become a speaker. I knew I had it in me – as long as I stayed focused and believed in myself through all the twists and turns.

While time moves chronologically, life moves haphazardly. Divorce, medical issues, family responsibilities, economic upheaval, self-doubt…. Through every detour, I knew there was light at the end of my tunnel. Today, I’m the CEO of a multifaceted, multimillion-dollar, family-run business; I’m blessed to be one of the most in-demand speakers in North America; I’ve got four bestselling books; I have a beautiful family and a comfortable home; and my car no longer doubles as a Murphy bed. To get here, I locked in on six Mindset principles:

1) Recognition

After my second divorce, my mother sat me down and said, “Son, you need to change. You’re the only common denominator in both failed marriages.” That was huge wake-up call. After reciting my wedding vows, I stopped growing as a person, as if nothing further was expected of me. Try running a business that way. Look at Levi Strauss, Kodak, Timex, Nestle, U.S. Steel and Sears — companies that seemed to operate in a vacuum instead of changing with the times. The world didn’t stop for them, and their market share suffered greatly. The lesson here? Steer clear of complacency unless you’re willing to accept responsibility for the consequences.

2) Reaction

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like things a certain way and haven’t always reacted well to deviations. One heart attack later, and here I am, a man with as much determination as ever, but with a new perspective on what’s important. Hey, you can’t control everything, right? So learn to let go. Manage? Absolutely. Hyper-manage? Forget about it. Trust others to do the jobs you hired them for. Hold them accountable – just don’t bind their hands.

3) Reality

Winston Churchill said, “Men stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened.” There are three sides to every story: yours, theirs and the unvarnished truth. Anytime you’re knocked off course by a detour, remember that the perceived reality of any moment is influenced by a great many factors—like personal bias, wishful thinking and ulterior motives. You want your business to succeed? Take your ego out of the mix before you make your next move.

4) Resourcefulness

Stretch. Learn. Evolve. Back in 1999, I scared myself to death. I had a secure job, a great salary, incredible benefits and an ideal retirement package—and I wanted to chuck it all. See, I had this crazy notion that I could become a successful speaker. For awhile, fear locked my legs and poisoned my mind. I mean, who did I think I was? These doubts were entirely self-inflicted, so dwelling on them was a waste of time and energy. I focused instead on the challenge itself. The more I prepared for the transition, the more confident I became.

5) Receptiveness

I’ve already admitted to being a perfectionist. Surprise—I’m a control freak, too. For instance, at tailgate parties for Pittsburgh Steelers games, I used to organize the placement of food, arrange folding chairs, re-angle the grill and even reposition cars. I was so obsessed with nonsense like this that I couldn’t enjoy the game itself. The stress was ridiculous, so eventually I let go. When you look beyond your own agenda, your senses heighten, and you access unforeseen opportunities and new levels of excitement. Life can be a spectacular ride when you loosen the reins.

6) Resolution

Sometimes a task seems too daunting. Before you say you can’t do something, take one step toward it. Then another. Once you establish this habit and notice some concrete change, you’ll realize the door to opportunity is everywhere. Failure is a lack of persistence and patience, not a stop sign.

  • Twelve publishers rejected J.K. Rowling’s first novel in the fantastically successful Harry Potter
  • Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC, was turned down 1,009 times when he drove across the country trying to sell his fried chicken recipe to restaurant owners.


Turning around at a detour will never get you where you want to end up. Keep your eyes forward and appreciate that every challenge makes you stronger and gets you that much closer to your destination.


Enjoy The Ride and keep Making a Difference!