Episode #106: Alex Weber – Author and American Ninja Warrior Commentator
My guest is author and American Ninja Warrior commentator Alex Weber. Alex was a LaCrosse player who decided he wanted to do stand up comedy, and then landed working on Ninja Warrior. It wasn’t enough to be on set, his second season he actually began running the course.
With his new book out FAIL PROOF: become the UNSTOPPABLE you, Alex shares his personal lessons (combined with some great science and data) about pursuing goals and overcoming whatever may be personally holding us up. He makes it look easy, but once we spoke I realized he has done a lot of work on tackling his insecurities and fears. He doesn’t just want to be personally UNSTOPPABLE, he wants that for you too. It’s all a work in progress and it’s always nice to get helpful tips, tricks, insights and a bit of inspiration.
Listen to the episode here:
- Figuring It Out [00:03:14]
- On American Ninja Warrior [00:08:44]
- Venturing to New Horizons [00:11:48]
- Claim Your Goals [00:15:47]
- Being Bravely Honest [00:21:58]
- No Such Thing as an Expert [00:33:46]
- Control Your Emotions [00:50:00]
- Biggest Hope [00:56:21]
Alex Weber – Author and American Ninja Warrior Commentator
My guest is Alex Weber. Alex has a book called Fail Proof: Become the Unstoppable You. Alex is a lacrosse player who decided he wanted to explore being a stand-up comedian, which landed him a job at American Ninja Warrior. In the second season, the producers thought it would be a great idea if Alex himself on national television started running the course. Through this process, quest, and pursuit, Alex learned a lot not only here but in his life.
The notion of becoming unstoppable is the idea of dealing with our fears and anxieties, setting goals, and not letting fear hold us back from trying. You want to talk about a positive person who’s fighting the good fight every day. It’s not like Alex flies out of bed and he’s like, “It’s always sunny.” This is a person who’s making conscious efforts to take advantage and make the best out of each moment.
I read your book, Fail Proof. I’m always fascinated because doing this show, I read a ton of books when I have anyone. People have the misconception of thinking, “He wrote this book. He’s at this level of success. He’s done all these things whether it was coaching lacrosse, working on TV for Ninja Warrior, for NBC, or doing something difficult like Ninja Warrior. He’s got it figured out and that’s why he’s writing the book.”
What I have been seeing over and over is it’s the people that are in touch with the fact that some parts or of some of this have been hard and they found ways to work it out and then they want to write the book. It’s not like, “I’ve got it dialed. Let me tell you how I do it.” Conversely, it’s the other. That shows up a lot in your book.
Another thing I appreciate about this book besides being honest is that you do have science and experience. Sometimes we take it all on and we go, “What’s wrong with me?” Sometimes it’s realizing that we’re born with certain mechanisms in place and this is how they can show up. I did appreciate that part of it. I want to get right into it. First of all, writing a book is a lot of work. Was it your own cathartic experience? What were you hoping for people to get from your book?
When you said cathartic experience, that is very much the truth. First off, thank you for reading it. I’ve done a lot of interviews and I don’t have that expectation because I know how busy everyone is. That means a lot to me. Thank you for saying the kind words. I relate to what you said, by no means have I figured anything out but I do think I’m figuring it. What has helped me is that what I’ve talked about in the book, I’m using it whether it’s dealing with professional hopes and fears. I screwed up in my personal life and I’m using it there too.
You don’t get to say that. Is this romantic or a friendship? What does that mean? You don’t have to give names.
It was a habit that I thought I’d outgrown and moved on from. I use this expression in the book, the river current of life. I got caught up in the river current. I wasn’t thinking. I let an old habit of me come back to life and I’m disappointed in that. That’s where I go, “I’m figuring it out.” I don’t have it figured out. On paper, people call me a motivational speaker. I don’t know what that term means. It’s easy to eye-roll at that and it seems corny. I’m goofy and jumping on the cover. It could be viewed as corny. That’s the biggest soft spot because I want this to be honest and the truth.
What kept me honest is that while I was writing it, it was also while I was training to compete on American Ninja Warrior. All-day I would write this book for eight hours and then I’d be like, “Face your fears. Step up.” All this stuff. I’d get in the car, go to Ninja training, and these incredible athletes would be like, “Climb up two stories and do this.” I’d rewrite things because I’m like, “It feels like this.” I’m grateful for that because it made me put my money where my mouth is a little bit.
You talk a lot in the book about your inside voice. Some people would call it the reptilian brain. All of us have it. If anyone says they don’t, it’s either they’re in the flow state. Either they’re in a moment that they don’t have that opportunity. People thrive or appreciate the flow state because your whole being is synchronized.
When you’re doing the double-dipper, you’re like, “Can you do it? If you fail, people are watching.” You talk a lot about that. You said something that stuck out to me, which was that you also saw the other you. Let’s say when you were younger and you’re going through challenges, you said simultaneously you could see the other you, the confident you, the capable you. Maybe you could share that because that’s a beautiful point and remind people too.
I appreciate that. I’m curious to hear your experience playing in such incredibly elite and intense settings. One that drove it home to me was I remember playing college lacrosse, that was my dream growing up. I played D1, Ivy League. I remember being in the locker room before a game and looking over at a teammate who was smiling, laughing, and excited to have fun playing.
[bctt tweet=”People either show up, care about what they do, do a good job or they don’t.”]
I remember feeling, “That looks amazing. Why can’t I be excited? Why can’t I have fun? Why am I in such a state of to succeed or die?” I knew that I wanted to have fun. You can’t be like, “Have fun now.” That was one that I’ll never forget because it stuck with me. I realize that to perform well, which is what we all want, you don’t necessarily need to be in this intense life or death, critical all or nothing state. In fact, that can hurt us.
There’s a book by Rich Diviney called The Attributes. What it talks about is skills and then you’re born with certain attributes. You might have some people as a part of it. This is a military point of view. That class clown attitude can be helpful in an intense situation. The same with sports. We all get worked up differently. Some people get quiet. Some people get silly. Some people get intense. We have unique ways of showing that.
We’re not in war but it’s interesting how playing on the field at that moment is like a mini-war. I call it The Rack Focus. How do we get like, “This is the most important thing,” and then, “Chill out.” I would imagine when you’re doing Ninja Warrior, when you’re on the sidelines, burning down and out in intensity probably doesn’t help you. Did you find a way to be like, “I’m chill.” As you’re walking up the stairs to get going, do you get into that intense focus? Did you learn these gears?
Yeah. I love what you said too, Rack Focus. That’s cool. For better or worse but it’s for better, one thing is that American Ninja Warrior is also an entertainment TV show. You want to see people having fun doing the course and putting on a show. Especially coming from a host to a competitor, with hosting, you’re supposed to put on the show. That was a big realization that I know those two sides of me.
I could feel myself maybe wanting to go into the trap, especially my first year of intensity. It’s like, “Nobody wants to see that.” I know what I look like. I’ve seen enough videos. Nobody needs to see me cracking my fingers and getting crazy eyes. It’s realizing that you can be having fun and you can cheer on with your teammates, which helps you. What helped me with Ninja Warrior was because it’s technical, immediately focus on the next thing you have to do. That helped me a lot because it took all the strobe light craziness and brought it back to a foot here and a hand here.
I have to wonder, how does a person go from doing athletics, lacrosse at a high level, stand-up comedy with a friend, hosting Ninja Warrior to, “Now I’m going to compete.” Where’s the starting thread? I wouldn’t even know where to begin. It sounds like we’re saying pick up ping pong or even tennis where it’s different. This is a highly physical gymnastics body strength. There’s a lot of difficult parts of athletics in these events. What’s the starting point? How do you do that?
You hit on something. First of all, you would crush it. We got to get you at a Ninja gym.
I’m 6’3″. I would get hammered. I would be crushed so hard. When I see that, it’s like when I watch gymnastics, it’s another language, the mathematics, and physics on that. My lever length, even just to pull my body up, I’d be like, “One minute. Forget it.”
I’m optimistic about that. You have to reach.
Maybe I might be good for one obstacle if I can even get there. What I like to encourage people to do is how do we learn new things that are maybe not in our wheelhouse unless you were a gymnast or parkour possibly. In Ninja Warrior, not too many people serve natural wheelhouses. How does a person who has an athletic background but it’s not in your wheelhouse? What’s your mindset and then the practical starting point? How do you do that?
You nailed it. What was crazy was before competing on American Ninja Warrior, before hosting, I played Division I lacrosse. I won US lacrosse, high school coach of the year. I played in the World Cup of lacrosse. It was going from being an expert in a world to immediately being a beginner and not just a beginner but a public, sucking, humbling beginner. There would be hundreds of people watching, my bosses, the other competitors, and then they put it online for millions of people. It was intense.
What switched over was expectations change. My goal first was a host and to entertain and fail. My bosses first had the idea, “What if you started to get good at this?” That change of expectations altered everything because now I had a new goal, which was to get good at this. What was helpful was I knew how to commit to something from lacrosse, which you would have from your athletic background. Now it was like, “Now I got to commit.”
The most difficult part of what I’ve realized where most people stop is the judgment from other people or ourselves meaning we go and we try to pick up a guitar or we want to become more creative or we do want to learn American Ninja Warrior, pickup cycling, or what it might be. I want to pick up cycling here in Boulder like mountain bike riding. Even to go through that, I’m going to have to go to the cycle store, I’m probably going to feel a little embarrassed because I got to be Joe Newbie over here asking about what bikes to use. I don’t even know how to put a bike on a rack. All these different steps, there’s an opportunity to quit at each one of these steps usually because of judgment not because of anything real.
You wonder is it self-judgment or outside judgment. I want to remind people that if you want to take on something new, especially when you’re around a group or person who’s already doing it, at times, everybody wants to feel like what they’re doing is special. They also want to convey to you how hard it is, how long it’s going to take, all these things sometimes because it also validates something that might be important to them. Always the coolest people or the most badass are like, “It’s awesome. Let me show you how to do it. I’ll share it with you.”
I want to remind people that sometimes when we take things on regardless they are challenging, if you get the wrong person who’s like, “What I do is hard. I don’t know if you can do it.” Those are not the people you want to help you. It’s the person who is fluid and good and they’re like, “Awesome. Let me help you.” They’re secure enough in what they’re doing. This goes across the board in everything whether it’s language, music, sport, what have you. Seek out the people that will be like, “You got this. Let me tell you also what you might be experiencing and how to get around that.” That’s important.
You got to love TV producers. In season two, “Let’s have you be good.” They snap their fingers, like, “You should be good at these courses.” It’s like, “I thought I was supposed to be good on live TV.” There was something that you said when you write about becoming good at something. Hopefully, you’re okay if I say the list. You talked about claiming your goals. To you, is that to yourself? To others, is that written down in addition? When you say claim your goals, that sounds big to me. What does that mean to you?
Goal setting is important but there’s something different about deserving. I’ve wrestled with this too. There are two parts to it. One is us stating, “This is possible.” Meaning if you want to run a triathlon, it’s claiming that goal, not just having an ethereal, idea land but writing it down somewhere and claiming it for yourself, “I am running a triathlon.” The other part of that and this is something for me is you have the possibility that this could be real.
There’s been this negative voice in me for my whole life and I’ve been working on it. The only way I can put it is it says, “No.” It either says, “It can’t be that good. You don’t deserve it. Why would you have this?” It has no grounding and it’s evil and it’s been with me my entire life. Even now I wrestle with it with the book and my goals for the book. The biggest obstacle is me deciding in my heart that I am worthy of this being a success. That’s where claiming it is. That’s the value of it to me.
Do you think part of claiming also is when you get the calling to something or a project or the book or the desire for an outcome of something that if your intentions are pretty aligned and come from a good place and you say, “I’m going to bust my butt and be strategic.” I want to follow up. You also say that it’s getting started. You’ve got to dive in. You have to start to get going. You talk about how to get better in hyperdrive, how to grow, and then the level of commitment. The thing is you spell all this out. When people want to use this as a tool, it is also distributed through the book in a systematic way.
What I was saying is sometimes if I have something and I do want to crush it, which is almost counter to my personality. I’ll say, “Let’s do the best work we can. I’m not worried about the outcome.” That’s also, in some ways, disingenuine. The point is I always feel like if we do all these other things as you stated there earlier in these steps, the best outcome is going to happen anyway. You won’t be putting the results ahead of all the most important things and that is important.
When you competed, did you have that same outlook of, “Let’s do the best work. The result will be the result.”
I needed to earn it. I was not a person who felt deserving of things. I always say I was not groomed to be a champion. That word champion, whatever that means, was something that came later in my high school years and it made me uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to have a new relationship with that, which is none of us are deserving of anything. Do your best and receive grace.
By the way, I’ve lost on times where I probably played better than other times that I want. You have enough of all that and it’s all okay. It was not easy for me but this is not about me. You say in the book that we have 70,000 thoughts a day and only 62,00 are conscious and that the monkey mind is going full speed all the time.
I was talking to a good friend about something that’s helped me of late is the cruddy moments aren’t any less cruddy. Simply knowing that’s what this is helps a lot. For a lot of years, I would spiral into the abyss, like, “What if? This is bad. It’s the worst.” I would get sucked down into it. An ability to be like, “I’m heartbroken. I’m scared. I feel a little defeated.” Whatever it might be, accept that and then realize, “Now we’ll move through it.” It’s powerful versus, “It’s scary to be heartbroken and then go down that spiral of what that could lead to.” It’s catching ourselves.
It’s identifying almost the exact thing that you’re truly feeling and looking at it. They often talk about that in fear. The worst thing we can do is push it down, shove it down, ignore it, turn our back on it instead of like, “I feel disappointment. I’m scared now. This isn’t going to work out.” There’s something. Do you use a friend? Sometimes doing it alone is one thing but I find that if you have a safe person, you can be like, “I’m feeling this.” They don’t even say anything. You said you were talking to a friend about it.
It came from me being in a rough spot out of 2020. I’m sure I’m not alone. I had this honest moment where I missed being a part of a team. I started a men’s group and that has been one of the most beautiful things. It started as high-achieving men. Not just men need this. That’s becoming a community that I’ve been running for men and women. I bring it up because that’s where I shared it. It’s like a gym, you clock in, you do your workout, you share things, you get into it. What’s powerful is it’s virtual. You close it and then you can go back to this life.
Doesn’t it blow your mind when you realize how similar we all feel?
Yes. It’s nuts.
You have five Fail Proof promises and these felt important to me. It starts with what you talked about, being bravely honest.
I appreciate it so much that you read it. I worded them as promises because we don’t have to do them. They’re not rules. They’re not laws. I would even say you don’t have to follow rules or laws. They’re promises to each of us. It all starts with brave honesty of looking at a part of ourselves or something in our lives and saying, “This isn’t what I’d like it to be.” The other one is I say choose to believe in yourself. Why I say that is because I do think it’s a choice.
There was one big one in that college experience where I didn’t choose to believe in myself. Worse than what happened in the world and my life was that regret of feeling, “Why didn’t I stand with myself? Why did I quit on me?” Why I say choose to believe in yourself because no matter what happens in the world, you will always know that you are dedicated to yourself and you won’t have to deal with that regret of bailing on yourself.
[bctt tweet=”Handle your emotions, learn from them, and recommit.”]
The great thing is if we do have that experience, it’s a bitter pill and we can also experience, “I don’t ever want to feel like that again.” If for some reason someone has gone through that or is going through that, we have to remember that those things taste bad enough that you’re like, “I don’t want to be here.” I won’t go through the whole list. One of the promises in this one was to be open to gifts.
We mentioned being deserving. Conversely, when everything’s going your way, it’s nothing you’ve done. Yes, you’ve done your part, you’ve worked hard, you’ve shown up. That door swings both ways for people. A lot of it is a gift or it’s a great fortune. There are plenty of people who are as talented as others, they just didn’t get put in that situation. I felt that was important.
I always admire people that can take it all in stride. They receive all this stuff and they’re like, “Good. Great.” I’m like, “That’s amazing.” I get embarrassed or I get uncomfortable. I always appreciate that group. Let’s switch over to the leadership element of the book. It’s not just about how to take on challenges and new things. There are a lot of things throughout the book. I know you did some coaching. Maybe you could share what is important to you about leadership.
I talk about these terms. Especially as I’m going through life more, I’m realizing that we all have our own definition of these words and we use a lot of these words as if we all understand them the same way and we don’t. Leadership is one of those words. My high school lacrosse coach is still a good friend, Paul Carcaterra. He’s amazing. He changed my life. He cared about me so much.
My college lacrosse coach was a good tactical coach but we did not have any personal bond. That’s not a knock on him. I know that he cared about me in his own way and gave me opportunities. He did. I found that I needed something that wasn’t there. That piece is ultimately what led me to win US Lacrosse Coach of the Year in my first season. I was 25 years old. Right before the season, I was coaching at this intense, prestigious high school in La called Harvard Westlake.
What I found quickly was there were all these different groups. I had the players but then I had my coaching staff. I also had the school, which is like a corporation. I had the parents, which they’re not playing around when it’s their kids and their futures and all that. There’s the opposing teams, the refs, and all that. What I found quickly was great leaders have a bond.
This goes for sports, business, even life in a family, if you’re executing, you’ll execute and you’ll do fine. If there’s a bond, if an athlete believes and knows that the coach only wants the best for him or her, you’re ready to go to war because both people are in it together and that starts, begins, and ends. You can’t phone that in. You do have to build a rapport and care about people.
That means being astute enough to understand that one athlete might need a shove, like, “You got this.” One might need, “Take it easy. You’re doing great.” One might need, “I don’t think you can do it. Why don’t you show me different?” Their psychology is all different. It’s also that awareness. That’s why great coaches are unusual because if they understand the game and know how to motivate their athletes and flip their switches because they’re also different, that’s imperative. I agree with you.
My college coach is still my dear friend. It was a long time ago. I was in college. She can call me and get me to do anything because I knew she cares when I played for her deeply. She cared for me first as a person and then as an athlete. You’re like, “I’ll go through a wall for this person.” My favorite story is Shaq’s college coach. Did you ever hear about Shaquille O’Neal’s college coach? He was such a monster at LSU. Can you imagine that you’re playing against that guy? He’s eating them, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, no problem.
It was Hack-a-Shaq where they would go and pull on him, hang on him, and do all the stuff. It got to the point where his coach cared about him so much that he tried to convince Shaq’s parents, “Enough with the college. Let him go to the pros because he’s going to get hurt here.” Imagine you’re the coach of this guy who’s going to dominate and make you look good.
Shaq’s parents are intense about him staying at university and the coach got to a point where he’s like, “You have got to get him out of here because he’s going to be hurt, which is then going to threaten his ability to make a living later.” I always thought, “That guy’s a badass.” When you talk about having a clear target, some of us get near. We look around in the direction of the bull’s eye, like, “That would be interesting than over there.” Do you have a different level or a process in which you hone in on a target?
I’m still pretty obsessive with my goals. People call it positive affirmations or whatever it may be. Yes, it’s that. I’ll often look at myself in the mirror, morning and night, and say my top five priorities to myself. What it does is it recalibrates our system back to, “That day was crazy but this is what’s most important. Wow, that dream was crazy but this is what’s most important because it’s noisy. It’s never been noisier to be a human right now.” We’re re-punching into our GPS what’s most important.
I’ll also say a danger that I learned in American Ninja Warrior is I set two goals for one season. I hit a buzzer on American Ninja Warrior and I’m in the American Ninja Warrior finals. I almost wish I didn’t set that second goal because to be a finalist, you need to make it far enough in the course that you advance to the next round. I remember distinctly I was on the fourth obstacle and I felt a little wave. In the first three was Eye Of The Tiger, like, “You’re doing this.”
This is a pretty nuanced answer. I know who I’m talking to and your audience so I want to share it. On obstacle four, I felt a slight drop in intensity and a slight wave of, “Now you’re a finalist. You made it to obstacle four.” I made a mistake on that obstacle. I don’t think it’s why I made a mistake but I wonder if I had that little ratchet of extra intensity and only had one goal of buzzer or nothing, it would’ve helped me moving forward. This is part of it. Literally and figuratively, I did fail. Handle your emotions, learn from them, and recommit. My biggest takeaway was only having one goal.
We have many sides. All of us have many sides to ourselves, our personal self-care. Maybe you want to improve in some area of your physical self and then mental. We’re hopefully trying to learn. Even that can be vague. For me, I know that I sometimes say in a vague way that I want to keep learning. Your point is interesting because it makes me think that I could even be more specific in that area and say, “How does that show up?” It’s an interesting thing. You could do that in your relationships. You could have those clear, singular ideas in the facets of your life. It would maybe make moving in that direction even easier.
I appreciate you saying that. How many books would you say you’re reading? By doing the podcast, it sounds like you are committed to the learning avenue.
I don’t mean this in any weird way but they talk about a growth mindset. It helps that my husband is also very much like that. On my own, I might have gotten lazier but I have a built-in mechanism of someone I can bounce stuff off of. Also, when you have someone close to you always moving, you’re like, “I should move. I should know new stuff.” There’s something about that. I heard a quote that I thought was excellent, which was, “You don’t live in the world that you’re born in.” Mark Cuban said his dad used to say that. We were born into one world but we don’t live in that world.
I’m trying to understand the world I’m living in. Quite frankly, 0 to 8 is a world for me a long time ago. It’s that too where you’re trying to stay aware. The way your brain is hard-wired and things are completely different. When somebody tries to explain NFTs to me, I swear to you, I’m like, “Can you explain that to me one more time? Why does that have value?” I’m saying, “I’m here. I might as well understand a little bit about what’s going on.” It makes it more fun. These kids today, it’s something else. You say in your book that there is no such thing as an expert. What do you mean by that?
I believe that fully. We can use certain things like a degree, a job title, an accomplishment, and stand on that. Lacrosse was one where I saw it because that was my dream. My dream was to play college lacrosse and I did it. After that, I was an “expert” in this world meaning I played Division I, and I won US Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
I’m now coaching all these athletes whose dream is to go off and play college lacrosse. I’m a gatekeeper. I’m an expert. I would finish practice, I would change clothes in my car, and I would go off and do comedy. I’d go off and do acting classes where I was starting out as a newbie and I’d see other gatekeepers and other experts deciding my success and my future. It made things clear. I’ve seen this whether it’s in my journey.
I share in the book about my mom’s cancer diagnosis and how the first doctor missed that. It’s not only that world though. I joke about how we’ve all gotten a haircut that was good and bad. You’ve all gone to a great dentist or a horrible dentist. I also saw going into an Ivy League school for whatever that’s worth that there was a certain amount of pretentiousness and it’s undeserved. People either show up, care about what they do, do a good job or they don’t. It doesn’t matter if you are cutting hair, doing surgery, being a friend, or a romantic partner, you either care and do your best or you don’t.
That’s important because we get intimidated by all of that construct around those things and then we can’t see ourselves even dipping our toe in something if we want to try because we’re like, “That’s not for us.” That’s an important point. I’m curious. I want to talk about your mom. You can tell if you look in your book a bit. Clearly, on your social media, you’re your mom’s son. A mother and a son.
You do talk about your dad being a bit tough and not purposely. I wonder that even as a parent, we always joke like, “I can’t wait to hear how I screwed my kids up.” You laughed. It’s true. You go, “I’m going to do this over here good.” They go, “Yeah.” “Over here, it’s all screwed up.” It’s like, “Oh gosh.” That is the job title, honestly. You’ll do a lot of apologizing at Thanksgiving dinner.
You talked about your dad that there was a sense of expectation of, “Do it right.” All these things. Do you think that had a long-term impact? If it did, it seems like you’ve redefined it. How did you do that? Did you ever talk to him about it? You did. Maybe you didn’t talk about it but you connected. Maybe you could share that story.
For a lot of high achieving people, something in their upbringing gave them that drive. I am hoping and I’m seeing that there are people who had beautiful, non-traumatic upbringings who have that drive but I haven’t met as many. I hope that the new generation maybe will be that. For better or worse, there is firepower in it when we use it or when we channel it for a good direction. I know that you’ve had big things in your upbringing that I’m sure have had a tremendous impact on you and your goals. When it comes to me and my dad, I love him so much. I say in the book that I’m going to have a tough conversation with him. You know it’s a tough conversation.
You didn’t show your dad the galley?
[bctt tweet=”You can do things you didn’t think you could do.”]
It’s not that bad. Maybe he doesn’t understand that was your perception. Can you share the story? A lot of times, it’s done like, “I’m here to help you. It’s okay. It’s this time of the night, we’re doing our math homework.” This goes to show us that we don’t know how our actions impact others at times.
Something that I say in the book is my dad is intense and also intense in a loving and supportive way. I get that sometimes that intensity was too much for this human body. It’s like, “How do I handle this level of love, intensity, and support?” It would bubble out and come out in some ways that weren’t always the greatest. A few are popping in my head.
He used to be a math teacher and now he’s a dentist and surgeon. I would come home and he would tap on his desk for me to do my math homework and bring it in front of him. You had to use pencils that had to be extremely sharp. We had to have three lined up and we would do it. If I got a problem wrong, you would erase it so intensely that it would rip through the paper. All of the papers that I would turn in would be the thinnest layer of paper there.
What I’m thankful for is that what he instilled in me is I have to do my best at everything. If I don’t, it does feel gross to me. I’m thankful for that. I am. He supported me so much. I can’t think of a tennis match, a hockey game, or lacrosse. I showed some promise in chess and then I was in a chess tournament. The support was there and I’m grateful for it.
There were some times where the intensity overstepped. I remember when I was in middle school hockey, I wasn’t doing that great for whatever reason. He would yell at my coach to put me on the ice. He would yell over the ice in front of everyone. I wanted to disappear. I would go on the ice but then I would try to be invisible, which is not how you want to play a sport.
All that’s to say, in the last chapter of life, my dad and I’ve gotten a lot closer. There was one chapter where I said, “Dad, this is the only parameter that you and I can engage in.” In this last chapter, the last handful of years, I’ve expressed to him that I’ve wanted to share more with him of the ups and the downs. I’m grateful and proud of how he showed up for me in the down moments out of love and understanding and not just, “Why was it not a success?”
Are you able to see him? We’re more sensitive as a child. Maybe dad came home from work and he had stress and we take all the energy as it’s directed at us. Maybe it’s not and he’s thinking about bills or money. Who knows? Those are kids’ problems. Of course, he’s probably mellowed one would hope. Hopefully, we continue to grow up as we grow up. Do you think you’re able to see him differently from an adult to adult? You said you’ve created some boundaries or parameters. Do you feel like you got to say, “By the way…”
The reason I bring it up is I was confronted by my daughter when she was probably 16. I’m intense and when I’m in a workday, like everybody, I have 50 things on my mind. If I walked into her room because she’s sensitive, she took it on as something disapproving of her instead of I was being intense. That got brought to my attention and I was like, “This has nothing to do with you. I’m going to make that more clear so that there isn’t a misunderstanding.” Sometimes we don’t know. I don’t know if you were ever able to say to him, however lightly, “By the way, you’re a pretty intense guy.”
I want to echo back. That’s pretty cool that your daughter felt comfortable enough to say that to you.
My kids are not afraid of my husband and me in any way. I wish that they do it sooner because you get your chance sooner to be like, “I can do that differently or better.” You don’t want them to be 40 and be like, “We could have made this so much better so much sooner.” If a parent can’t hear it, that’s not the kids’ problem. Are you going to talk to your dad?
I am. You’re going to be able to call. We’re going to do a three-way podcast.
Why not? It’s a chance for him.
I do feel like he is now showing up in a way that is what I hoped for. I want to bring to it his attention, not in shaming or to give him regret because there’s no need for that but maybe voicing that this is was my experience with it. It didn’t feel good to be yelled at a lot.
It’s an opportunity too. We carry little wounds with us. Every chance we get if we can heal little wounds, we should do that even though it’s like, “I’m fine. I’m successful.” Because if it’s there and it’s a chance to do it and he’s here, it’s interesting. Conversely, it seems like you have a different dynamic with your mom. First of all, tell me how your mom is doing.
She’s doing great. Thank you. They are different. To sum up my dad, something that I am grateful for my dad is that I do have a high drive. I want big achievements. I do think that came a lot. Be open to the gifts. Though sometimes it came in a rough way, that is a gift. I do have a strong work ethic. I do have the drive and high goals. I want to thank my dad for that. My mom is pure love and good. She’s tough.
What kind of cancer does your mom have?
She had stage four endometrial cancer. It was diagnosed late. She did chemo, which did its job. She is a health and wellness person. We went to different cities and countries for more intense but natural approaches. I talked to her, “You got to leave the country to get high dose vitamin C, which is an odd thing.”
I’m curious because a lot of people go through this. Were there any treatments for her specifically? You’re not suggesting them for other people but for her in her journey. Did anything positively impact her health and support her? I have a lot of friends that have gone through this with their parents where they leave and they do certain treatments. I’m curious if anything supported her.
Some of them are foundational. One of them is eating ridiculously clean from the earth’s good stuff. If we do that over and over again and compound, it’s easy to brush off and be like, “Cool. Give me the drugs.” It is a ridiculously impactful way of helping ourselves.
The downside is zero, that’s what’s great about it.
Mushrooms are her favorite thing on earth. We bond about that. You can’t have too many mushrooms. She does take a lot of supplements but they are all natural. Two places I’ll share that she went to were Hope4Cancer in Cancun and Tijuana and then Cancer Center For Healing, which is in California. If someone is going on that journey, what I would say is ask around because not only type A intense Western medicine is amazing, it has a time and a place and it’s effective. There are many other ways that can be used in conjunction with it and I would say be open to that.
I would agree. We have to be our own best advocates for our health. It seems that you’ve been with her in this journey and intertwined. Has that made you even less scared? You say in your book that your big question was, what do you want for your moments on Earth? Now I would imagine this brings us into hyperfocus with this situation with your mom. What have you learned? People forget that the people who love someone who’s going through this have their own challenges as well.
I’m reminding myself right now. I caught up with her and I’m being a human and maybe a little bratty. I’m tired and I’m hungry. I haven’t got home all day. I can feel myself maybe not being the warmest and like, “I got to go.” Another voice comes in my head that’s like, “Be grateful that you’re on the phone with her right now.” That is a gift that I have always wanted to have. When I’m with her now and I see her, I feel like I’m very much with her. Greater gratitude and appreciation for the moments of life.
I apologize because I went off on another tangent. How is she doing?
I feel like you’ll understand this. I always say she’s on the journey. Some of that is my own baggage of I don’t like to talk about things before they’re done or set. I always like to stay in it. It’s like what you were talking about, “I’m not going to the result. Let’s do our best work.” It’s exactly that. I have confidence that if we keep pouring into being on top of it, being on top of treatments, be on top of supplements, it will keep going well. The moment that you say, “We’re better,” I don’t know.
Besides the book, I’ve seen pictures of your mom and she looks good, she looks healthy. When you see people in a picture together that love each other, you can see it on both of them. That comes across strongly. It’s easy to see that you’re probably a sensitive person. You talked about learning to control your emotions. Let’s say you’re in a work environment or something, sometimes certain things are not going to help or support us. We almost need to go into a different side of ourselves. You talked about in your book that you learned how to control your emotions.
It’s still a work in progress. In one of those success groups that are run, someone shared that a quality popped out of them that they thought hadn’t been in their life for five years and then it popped out. We’re all still on it. Coaching was the biggest one. I joked that after a bad call, a slash, a whistle, or a ref made a horrible call, whatever it is, you could visualize there was the whistle and then, “Oh.” Everyone would have an emotional reaction and then two seconds later, it would settle and you could do something effective about it. Anytime that would happen, I would wait and then do something.
To yell at the ref while everyone’s screaming made no sense. To yell at that player made no sense. Understand that emotions can be pretty chaotic. Also, I do think there’s a time and a place for using our emotions. In an athletic setting, sometimes you do need to do it. Not to be a cliché here but sometimes no matter how you feel at that time, you got to operate. That is also a healthy way to be too.
We need that at the right moment because there isn’t time. Also, it’s about, what do you want from the situation? What’s the action that’s going to get me closer to what I want? if I’m in a conflict with a loved one, I want to work it out. Honestly, it also could mean you’ve got to fully express yourself but you could do it maybe in a less damaging way. Is your goal to be right versus, “I want to work it out.” If you’re at work, it’s like, “You and I are on a team and we both want to kick ass. You may not even like me but we want to get this account.” Whatever that is. That distance, that space is important.
Sometimes it’s losing your mind, being an emotional outburst unless it was something out of your control like something sad. Aside from that, I feel like it’s almost a fire that you build that takes over you and burns you versus, “Let me take a moment here.” You have this outburst and then all of a sudden you’re in a big flame. With the exception of, “If something happens to your dog or a loved one, we should feel how we feel.”
There’s a quote by Callie Russel and I want to put this to people because I thought it was something about this, “Frustration is the scent of learning.” I don’t need to explain it. It’s important when people hear that. Also, we connect frustration with something negative but it’s not. Maybe we could switch and be like, “I’m on to…” “I’m in the…” “I’m learning.” That’s a beautiful way to express it. You’re a dream guy. You’re a goal person. What’s in your mind? I know you don’t like to say things before they happen and all of that but what is there? You appear to be in a forward motion. What is it inside that you’re like, “I want to do that.” It doesn’t have to be professional.
When it comes to deserving, the imposter syndrome, and all of that, I’ve been stepping into who I feel like I could be and then also dealing with like, “Maybe I’m not. Maybe it won’t happen. Maybe I don’t deserve it. Life can’t be that and I can’t be that for other people.” It’s this next chapter of life to see if I can be who I hope I can be.
That’s a good goal. We put so much into the external. The real, deep success comes from simple everyday real-life relationships and self-expression. That’s an important goal. You put a lot of work into this book. How long did it take you?
The subject matter, the stories, and all that, I’d been digging at my life for the last couple of years. Where I had to write it and put it into it, which was for better or worse a good thing, I had about 30 days to write the first draft. I’m thankful for that.
You have an editor. Who is that?
It was one of those where you could call it a miscommunication but nothing happens. I had a piece in that.
You’re like, “I thought you said 300 days, now 30 days.”
Not to go off on a tangent but I was like, “That’s going to be so much work to write a book. Even though I’m excited, it’s still going to be a lot. I’ll wait for an email from them that says, ‘Time to start,’ and that’s when I’ll start.” One day, I got an email that said, “Alex, this is when your first deadline is.” I got an email from them that was like, “I want to see how your first draft is going. As you know, you have 30 days.” I was like, “Let’s talk about this for a second.” It was good because it made me not indulge all of my insecurities. I was like, “I only got 30 days. You got to do this thing right now.”
If you had hope for what people would get or take away, everyone’s going to do it differently, what was your hope besides sharing certain experiences that you could encapsulate and tell in a story? What were you hoping for?
You can do things you didn’t think you could do. When you unlock that, it can feel like these walls dropped down in your life and now relationships can look different. Who you are can look different. Your work can look different. My biggest hope is for people to know that.
Who’s your one close friend? Rob?
Yeah. I talked to him.
You’re confessing about your bad, old habits. You’re like, “Check this out. Look what I did.” Have your friends let you go beyond the old definition of you?
That’s such a good question and that’s tough. Some friends are newer. Some friends haven’t. That sucks. It’s tough when you know someone from a chapter and they’re not willing to see you in a different light. There’s a time and a place for rehashing old stories and going into that mode a little bit.
Nobody wants to talk about college lacrosse forever.
The point is that you do sometimes have to be like, “I do love you.” It is hard for people who get on the train together earlier in life at times depending on the dynamic to allow the change. It’s almost like our family. I have that sometimes with my kids. I’m like, “How do they know that? That’s amazing.” You have to be like, “I have to look at you now for who you are in this moment.” I wonder because if you’ve made all these big changes, which you have quite a bit, even your career or whatever, I wonder if your friends could go on that journey with you.
Many have. There’s one guy I’m thinking of in particular who sees me for whatever the externals may look like and that means a lot. I’m sure you’ve seen that too with your different career chapters.
I had a tendency to pick friends that were into who I was as a human being and they know your essence. Sometimes they act surprised, they’re like, “I didn’t know you’re going to do that.” I’m like, “Me neither.” Especially from when I was young. It could have gone 1 of 2 ways easily for me. The book is Fail Proof: Become the Unstoppable You. Did you do audio?
That doesn’t take too long, does it?
On that note, I was like, “I can record this in two days.” I was three hours in and I have no voice. It took a lot longer than I thought.
Any words that you remember not being able to enunciate?
There was one, perpetual something with another P. I apologized to the editor, “I’m sorry.”
It’s the way it goes. Tell everyone where they can find you. Your book is out and people can find it. The hard ones are sold. If the only way you listen or digest books at this time, do the audible. There’s a real like last points in every chapter takeaways reminder. If you don’t want to reread the book later, you could flip through and be like, “Those 4 or 5 points.” I would say that this is that book if you want to drill down.
Thank you so much. It’s on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you resonate with it, that would be amazing if you pick it up and write a review. Let me know and I’ll get you in our success groups, which are free to support you to your goals.
Direct people on how they can follow you and follow your journey as you go.
I appreciate it. I’m Alex Weber on all of the things and all the social media spots.
Thank you for your time. I appreciate your candor. You’re transparent in your book and sharing that in 30 days. It’s pretty good.
I appreciate that. Thank you so much. I’ve been looking forward to doing this. I’m a huge fan of yours.
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About Alex Weber
Alex Weber is an International Speaker, Award-Winning Entertainer, and American Ninja Warrior positively inspiring millions to achieve breakthrough success!
In addition to being an in-demand keynote speaker, an award-winning host, and competing alongside elite athletes on American Ninja Warrior, Alex has been awarded US Lacrosse Coach of the Year honors, holds a World Record, and competed in the World Championships of lacrosse finishing as a Top Scorer in the world.