How to Feed a Wolf

A few years ago, one of my clients gave me this old Cherokee story.  It still hangs on my office wall today…..


A Cherokee man was teaching his grandson about life.  He said, “A fight is going on inside me…it is a terrible fight between two wolves.

One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and superiority.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The same fight is going on inside YOU, and inside EVERY OTHER PERSON, too.”

The grandson thought for a minute and then asked his Grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old man simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Many of you have probably read this story.  And for those of you who have just read it for the first time…it seems pretty easy right?  This story does a great job of simplifying the way we should live our lives.   Separate the bad from the good…feed the good…and you never have to worry about the bad wolf right?  The problem is…Life isn’t so easy to navigate.  I’m not saying it’s hard to LIVE life…I’m just saying it can be hard to make your way through…some days…some weeks…some months…some years.  Reading this story over and over…one question keeps popping into my head – Why is it hard to figure life out?

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.” 

I think we make life hard because we expect to know EVERYTHING.  When we don’t have the things we think we need…or the solutions we desire…or the clear path to follow ahead of us…guess what?….We start feeding the hungry hungry bad wolf.  Take a look above at all the things the bad wolf represents…It is such an ugly list.  I suggest taking each one and thinking about how powerful the bad wolf becomes if you feed it even a little.  For example:  Fear…we all know how feeding fear can make us crazy…like a snowball rolling down a mountain…becoming bigger and bigger and bigger until we are paralyzed…afraid to do anything in life.  Anger…regret…arrogance..etc.. I could go through them all, but I want you to do it for yourself…because everyone is different…YOU know YOU…What is making YOUR bad wolf so powerful and strong?

I think a life changing point to remember is this : We aren’t supposed to know everything.

Can you imagine being one of the twelve disciples?  Can you imagine being approached by a guy…dropping what you are doing on the spot…and following him?  Do you think they knew exactly what was coming?  It’s easy for us to say yes because we KNOW the story…but they WERE the story.  They didn’t have it figured out…but what did they do?…They fed that good wolf…look at the list of things the good wolf represents.  Jesus and the disciples were the ultimate feeders of the good wolf.

Now can you imagine being a prisoner of war?  If you haven’t read the book “Unbroken” by : Laura Hillenbrand, I highly recommend it.  It is an amazing story of survival, resilience, redemption, forgiveness, and faith.  Louie Zamperini survived a bomber crash in World War II, the ocean and sharks, and a Japanese POW camp(s).  The story will leave you inspired…and extremely extremely extremely…grateful.  When I think about the Cherokee wolf story and Louie, I can’t believe his good wolf survived.  How in the world do you feed your good wolf through terrible times?

Ultimately…It boils down to Faith.  We may have faith in God and his guidance, but we start to feed the wrong wolf when we simply rely on our own plans, reasoning, and expectations.  The wrong wolf gets stronger when we sit worrying…or feel sorry for ourselves…or let our pasts prevent us from moving forward…or let our failures define us…he eats and eats and grows and grows.  So what is the answer?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5

Look your bad wolf in the face when times are tough…but do not feed him…starve him…leave the bad people…do not give them your time…and show others how to do the same.

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”

Hang out with good people.  Have faith.  Pray.  Feed your good wolf…make him strong and powerful…and show others how to do the same. 🙂


Can You Be Great?

Aleck and I sat high in our seats in Time Warner Cable Arena waiting for the Oklahoma City Thunder to take the floor.  He cheered as his favorite player, Kevin Durant ran out.  He elbowed me when my player, Russell Westbrook, entered the court(When Aleck and I play an NBA game on the Wii, he is always Durant and I am Westbrook).  Durant and Westbrook immediately teamed up to put a thrashing on the Charlotte Bobcats, just like they do in his video game.  As the game went on, I found myself admiring the Thunder, but I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why.  Looking back at a sound asleep Aleck on the late night drive home after the game, it came to me.  The home team’s arena was filled that night with what seemed like a zillion little boys and girls wearing the visiting team’s number 35 jersey….Durant on the back.  I realized the Thunder took it to the Bobcats without any flashiness…theatrics…drama…showboating…or baby powder being thrown in the air(Lebron).  And there it was…Kevin Durant’s name was on so many jerseys probably because we, as parents, don’t mind…and even love for our kids to have a hero who is….Humble.  I was so moved by his skill, leadership, and focus, that I came home and started researching Kevin Durant.  The word that comes up over and over again if you take a look at Kevin Durant is…Humble.  As a matter of fact, one article has him listed only second to Tim Duncan in a list of the NBA’s most humble players.  So why does any of this matter?


“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” – Proverbs 11:2

     The very same day and time Aleck and I were watching the basketball game in Charlotte, there was a high school baseball game going on in Fairview, NC.  The game was between TC Roberson and Reynolds high schools.  The two schools are rivals anyway, but with two players having transferred from Reynolds to Roberson….and Twitter, the rivalry seemed more intense.  The trash talking on Twitter and other social media spots was…in my opinion…disappointing.  Let me tell you why : I have trained many of these boys…some as young players and some as recently as this past offseason… and these athletes know better.  If you play baseball for TC or Reynolds…if you’re a student at either school…if you’re a parent that took to Twitter(yes parents got in on the trash talk)…ACTUALLY NO let me change that…if you are a coach, parent, or athlete ANYWHERE…Let me ask you this : Are you great?  Is your team great?  Is your school great?  Really?  Then let me ask you this….If you’re so great, why do you respond to the trash talk?  In all my years of competitive bodybuilding I have trained with these words in my mind and in my training journals: THE LION DOES NOT CONCERN HIMSELF WITH THE OPINIONS OF THE SHEEP.  I adopted this philosophy early on when a particular bodybuilder in Asheville started trash talking me when he didn’t even know me.  I won’t say his name because I believe he still competes, but the guy hates me…I don’t know why…but he does.  This guy would send messages through my training partner or through my clients about how he was training harder than ever…how he had gained muscle…how he was coming after me…blah..blah..blah.  He even had a friend of mine call me from another gym with himself in the background to tell me he was going to get me the next competition…that he was unbeatable.  I simply said to my friend, “Please tell —– good luck in his training and dieting and I wish him good luck this year.” …and I hung up.  I have beaten this guy in every competition I have been in with him.  This is important though:  I trained the way I train and did the things I knew I needed to do…and he had no bearing or influence in any of it.  THE LION DOES NOT CONCERN HIMSELF WITH THE OPINIONS OF THE SHEEP.  I tell you this story because I want to paint the picture of you putting your head down as an individual or as a team…blocking out the chatter…and doing work.  Be quiet and do the things YOU need to do.

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“Talent is God-given.  Be humble.  Fame is man-given.  Be grateful.  Conceit is self-given.  Be careful.”  

                    John Wooden 


Remember when I asked you if you, your team, or your school was great?  Do you know why I asked that question?  If you are a parent, coach, athlete ,business owner, teacher, preacher…or breathing person… you should know this : There is a direct link between being humble and being great.  I know what you are thinking…There are many great arrogant people.  Look at Usain Bolt who said after winning his gold medals “I am now a legend.  I’m also the greatest athlete to live.”  Or what about Kobe Bryant who said he was the best post player on Team USA and there was nothing he could learn from his teammates.   Terrell Owens said it best right?  He said “I love me…some me.”   All of these guys “made it” right?  No.  Just because one has an overhyped sense of self,  money, cars, fame, fancy house(s), does not mean they are great.  Doing well…acquiring money and fame DOES NOT EQUAL GREATNESS.  Always remember this : You cannot become great if you cannot be humble.  Knowing that it isn’t all about you is the beginning of humility.  Be confident…but accept criticism.  Believe in yourself…but be open to improving yourself.  Keep your chin up….but be modest in your victory.  Expect much of yourself…but be gracious in defeat.  Be quiet….but be deliberate, purposeful, and urgent in your work.  Be fierce…but have class.  Listen….but be a Lion.

“Wisest is he who knows he does not know.” – Socrates

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” – Proverbs 25:9