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Author And Soldier Izzy Ezagui Talks Returning To Battle After Losing An Arm – ‘Phil In The Blanks’ Podcast

2022-06-07 | 🔗

From video game nerd to squad commander in the Israeli Defense Forces, actor, stunt performer, screenwriter, and author Izzy Ezagui says he is the only soldier in the world to lose an arm in combat and return to the battlefield as a sharpshooter. “The hard part was convincing the military to give me that opportunity because they were obviously reluctant to put someone in my situation back in a combat environment,” says Ezaugui. This week he’s joining Dr. Phil to talk about his life and his new book, Disarmed: Unconventional Lessons from the World's Only One-Armed Special Forces Shooter on the Phil in the Blanks podcast. Phil in the Blanks drops Tuesdays. Listen and subscribe today. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I think one of your passions and missions is to tell people to embrace their circumstance and find a way to create value out of it. Well welcome back to fill in the blanks you now that I have a commitment to bringing you interesting people to talk to that wouldn't necessarily running into in your life and boy is that true, today, you're gonna get an opportunity to listen at and here a conversation with a really interesting person. I've never met any. Like this before and I met him not long ago. His name is easy as ugly. He was decorated squad commander in israeli defence forces that what makes
unique well, he is the only soldier. Only soldier in the world, as the an arm combat and returned to the battlefield, in twenty eleven former president, Shimon peres awarded him one of Israel's highest military honours and why Oh, he continues to serve in only unit in the reserves. Is he delivers inspirational speeches? Really, around the world and he's here to talk about his book that he took a long time in writing this something that it is set down in it. Just poured out is entitled disarmed unconventional lessons the world's only one arm special forces, sharpshooter, really
Anxious to talk about all this, so is a welcome to fill in the blanks. Thank you for having me, sir. Well, I'm really interested to talk to you about this whole situation a year in american right, then you were live where, when you were eighteen, seventeen eighteen go to high school and all I grow in miami for your bar mitzvah, you went to Israel correct, that's correct. I went to visit from my bar mitzvah was during the year, the second intifada, and so, when you made that trip you it with, was it just you and your parents and my sister yeah, I was a small family trip. Okay, when you were there, you met some israeli soldiers
correct the other always out about travelling home from from basis a very small country, so you see them everywhere. You bet talk to some of these guys. Tell me about that. What the impact it has on you, the impact that I had meeting soldiers didn't happen. When I was was thirteen, it actually happened when I was eighteen, it was the second time that I had gone had gone back. What impacted me most as a thirteen year old, and well was having narrowly avoided the infamous sorrow bombing. There was a pizza ria that was blown up when I was there and we had just passed that intersection shortly, but forehand, so I would like first fifty people killed right, yeah yeah, exactly fifteen somewhere. fifteen people killed and many more wounded and it was kind of just looping on the news, similar sitting huddled with my family in the hotel room, watching footage of that
and that was really the first time that it dawned on me that I would maybe one of in not allowing that to happen again in the future. Even at thirteen you thought about the looking back. That was like the first colonel that led to me volunteering for the idea, but yeah I was when I was eighteen and I got to like actually meet soldiers who were my age, essentially my peers, who were doing something very different than I was at that age. That really pushed me to actually follow through yeah and how long after that, second trip was it before you actually joined the military is less than a year. That's really an unusual thing: you're, an american, your lived in miami and you go to Israel and join the armed forces over there. That's a big step, unusual is the right word for ya know no need to mince words. It's unusual I'm a bit of a nerd. I grew up playing video games. I don't lie
not showering in spending. Days on end in the dirt without proper food, but the the idea of protecting the jewish people was a compelling enough reason to push against who I am and take that leap. Would your parents legally, there. I it's interesting cause because their reaction to me original joining of the military was, I think, more, the stereo type, which is that my father was worried but very proud. I think his his pride overtook any fear of thing happening and my mother just cried cheat. She cried endlessly leading up to that first time. She watched me leave on the bus and that change, quite dramatically later on, but we can get to that juxtaposition later we can hold off then so
How long have you been here and when you sustained your injury, the very day that I had finished training, which was about nine and a half months into my service, that very day we sent home on our final weekend leave before we were going to be activated as combat soldiers, and it was that weekend that war broke out on the order of Gaza and my unit was sent there. So the first thing that I saw of training was that operation this is january, eight, two thousand and nine. So this is your first day out of training yet thrown right into it. This was a really big mortar shell that landed near you and you lost not just an arm, but your
a minute arm correct one hundred and twenty millimeter mortar landed less than a foot away from me. It has, I believe, a thirty meter kills zone. and there was more than one of them that landed within that zone. We found helmets that were split in half a three three fellow soldiers were wounded alongside me and miraculously none of us were were killed in action and but yeah lost my my dominant arm on the spot. Obviously, this had to be a scrooge creatively, painful shocking horrible thing, but you said the thing that Where would you most wish, but your other's reaction was going to be, I have have you met any jewish mothers over the years? Yes, I have so yeah. They they have a tendency to put the the You have gotten you even when you're going through something like that yeah, I was, I was more afraid of her reaction and anyhow she was going to find out. Then what I was going through
and that actually compelled me when we landed at the at the hospital. The helicopter landed at the hospital, and I saw tv crews trying to capture footage for the news and I was so scared that she would see me that way. Actually like bent down and grabbed the blanket that was resting by my feet. I used it to cover my face and she did see me in t v, but she didn't know, was me and that's the only reason that we're able to do this interview today, because she would have killed me. She would have finished the job. Yet I I I'm pretty confident that that's the case, so how did she find out? I'm sure you at some point had to tell her and how did you tell her and what was her reaction? Ah, she, the way she found out, was was just as dramatic. Unfortunately, she got a knock on the door and there were three officers standing outside and I am not mistaken here in the: u s. When that happens, a usually means that you're you're,
son or daughter has already perished, and that was her initial thought and to make matters worse. She barely spoke hebrew and they didn't speak any english and they showed her a piece of paper and on the paper are the only words in english were, were wounded or critically wounded and she just fell apart and fortunately, one of the officers who is beside my stretcher when I was being rolled into the hospital was able to connect us over the phone. So I spoke to my mother even before I into surgery. While I was bleeding out, I already had a battlefield amputation. I was able to talk to her and even more than that, I was able to calm her down. I told her to listen to my voice. I asked her if she could hear that I was actually okay and I asked her if she could be strong for me. And she calm down immediately and ever since
I mean I mentioned that there was a drastic change in my parents' reaction when I decided to go back and- and that's what I mean as I've- never seen her cry about it again and she she seems to have become stronger through what happened and my father's, the one who is constantly trying to convince me like. Why do you have to go back? You did enough he's the one who seems to have taken on the role of of more afraid. You said there was a battlefield amputation, yet it wasn't done by the medics it actually was done by the munition itself, so they just controlled the bleeding everything that they could at the time. And how long was it before that? at you into surgery. Well, I don't know how how gruesome of of a deed
well you want to get into here, and so tell me if it's okay to to share- and there was so much blood that the first tourniquet that they put on slipped off and which is that was probably the most painful part of the whole experience. Tourniquets are are painful, even in training. You have to train on how to put them on, and even then the pressure is tremendous, but when you have an actual amputation and they're tightening on that wound, and then it slips off. That was probably the the most brutal element involved, and so it took two of those and and a lot of lying. I lie to every medic that I came across every time they changed over hands. I kept telling them that I didn't get more.
yet so I was like way way, overdosed, which I'm sure you wouldn't be happy about. You wouldn't recommend, but at the time it it felt like a great idea, and I definitely change the feeling at the moment. I'm sure it did seem like a good idea at the time, apparently it worked out cause you're here, oh yeah, I'm ok, I'm not sure if I'm right over here butter, otherwise I survived it. I grab the medic on the helicopter, and I asked him if if they were gonna reattached the arm- and he was even he was able to tell me then already that, because my elbow is, is what took them. Greatest damage. There was no way that they are going to be able to replace it. So I actually went under knowing that I would wake up minus my dominant arm. The fact that it was your dominant arm. I'm sure that made rehab that much harder. If, as you had, the real learn, retrain everything with your new
a dominant arm. How long were you in the hospital and how long were you in rehab the hospital? I think I I stuck around for about six months and a lot of that was was in a haze I I have even presently I have severe phantom pain, it's something that I that I imagine I will have to keep dealing with, and but I spent about six months in the hospital. I pretty much skipped rehab entirely. As far as occupational therapy learn In how to do things, I I decided that I was going to figure it out on my own gosh. If you want to eat healthier than I've got just the thing for you. I've been drinking java is my breakfast to fuel my day and it keeps me full for hours, so I feel and perform my best and ready to take on the day. So what is catawba? Well has been called the cleanest most nutrient dense meal imaginable. I describe it as all the best super food ingredients, all in one meal, shake qatar
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fine motor skills and all with your right arm versus what you originally did with your left arm I mean were very resilient ass human beings, and I think that when we aren't really given a choice when we're when we're back against the wall, we tend to find solutions very quickly and because I didn't have choice. It wasn't like a broken arm and it was cast it and I had to learn, and I knew I would get it back. I knew that this was it. I learned extremely quickly. Granted there are things I still don't do very well. I can't cut steak. I have to ask the kitchen to cut it for me if I fire on the occasion that I have one of those I can play guitar anymore, which is probably good for anyone else out there who would have had to listen. I was horrible, but it's it's a breaks down into two, its things that I learned how to do just as well as I used to do in things that I just avoid
and it's not even like a a conscious thing. It's subconscious. I just avoid the things that I don't that I don't have the capacity to do and- and I have moved on with my life, I feel very comfortable. You and your job in the military you are a sharpshooter correct. Correct is, is that the sniper? Is that what exactly did that entail? Yeah there is a distinction between the two. A sniper is usually set up under cover somewhere not usually in middle of the conflict where we're like troops are moving forward. Every unit. That's advancing, has sharpshooters at the very front of of attack force and they are the individuals that are actually they actually have to take the enemy down. Most most firing in the field is just to get people's heads down to get the enemies had down, and then there are the sharpshooters that are actually meant it
margarets eyes, one of the the harder roles in in a conflict when you re qualified and got back into the field, was it in a different jobs? for the same job. I know I continue to serve as a sharpshooter after the injury I imagine, it'll, be interesting to hear that my my targeting my actual shooting didn't suffer from the injury and what was harder was was loaded. my rifle and unjamming at that. That is really difficult, minus an arm and I had to figure out a few unique ways to get that done, but the shooting I don't know if I guess enough. Video games I mentioned. I was a miami jewish nerd playing xbox growing up, and I think that hand I court asian really help me out later on
of shot a lotta rifles and all and it seemed like a really to hand job meal one down the barrel and one at the trigger mechanism, How did you do that? How did you work it out? It really does depend on the weapon. Some some are tougher than others and at the time Israel had introduced a rifle called the tagore and they had a smaller version of it called the migratory vore and most of the weight lies on the back of the rifle. So when you're holding it by the grip, the weights, not leaning forward- and that gave you a little extra wiggle room to hold onto it. It didn't requires much strength and not could return like it was easy, but I figured out and so how long were you back in the field afterwards ice? served another two years after was injured, I obviously had to prove myself that worthy again. That was a whole process
I was given a month to retake all the tests that a combat soldier usually has eight months to finish, so I had to learn how to shoot, load and anjem my assault rifle or how to do obstacle courses in full, combat gear that, in that include a climbing, a rope jumping over a seven foot wall crawling along distance. I eventually figured out how to pull grenade pins and by tying tape around the and so that it served as like a a cushion, and then I pulled it out with my teeth like rambo and so yeah. I was more a matter of just taking the time and giving myself the space to figure out how I was going to do all those things, and that was the easy part and then the hard part was convincing the military to give me that opportunity, because they were obviously reluctant to put someone in my situation back in a combat environment. Why did they do that? What did you do
convince them. I'm interested in that because I know that you do a lot, a motivational speaking in that sort of thing now that first motivational speech had to pay to convince them to let you do it again. I am never quite looked at it. That way, but that's very true. I had to motivate a lot of different people who are reluctant at the start and if I'm being entirely honest that that strength came from my my parents, because wasn't some after thought that I wanted to go back. The very first thing I said when I woke up is that I intended to to continue my rolling combat. and granted this is right after an injury I was on a lot of medication, a lot of pain killers, but I remember looking up at my parents the first time that I woke up in my hospital bed and telling them that I plan to go back and my father burst into tears and he said how could you even joke about something
like that, after what happened to you and my mother who standing on the other side of the bed, she turns to him and says, this is what his heart is telling him. We have to stand behind him. We have to let him give this a shot and I'm I'm lying there and I'm watching them argue back and forth about my going back to combat and I wasn't focused on my father's fears. I wasn't even focused on the insane strength that my mother was showing by considering something like this, I was reading when the lines and when I saw there is that they both believe that I can do it my father may not have wanted me to do it, but he believed that I could and that gave me so much strength that belief, fueled, every
single interaction that I had with a with the generals that would come to visit in the hospital. The politicians- and I just I I went through every rotation- asked every single one of them. If they would help me go back and eventually I got the answer I was looking for. I found one general that when I was ready, gave me the opportunity to re test, so your parents, taking it seriously like it's, not just that you want to do it, but they thought he could actually do this. So we need to take this seriously yeah, I mean that'll, give you strength for sure, but where does this come from? Because you're describing yourself? Is this nerd sitting down in miami that distinguishing yourself as an athlete or anything particular at the time? But then here we go. This takes place and you do what you do
wind up being the only soldier in the world in the world to do this Y Y you! So if you would have asked me why I was joining the first time around it was I d illogically driven it was. It was wanting to protect the jewish people If you would ask me the second time around, it was because I needed there to be a reason for what happened. I didn't want to put my injury in the hands of fate or a higher power. I decided that if there was gonna be a reason it had to be of my own making, and the only thing that I can think of that would give it purpose was to do something special with it. I understood that if I went back, I would be able to inspire the soul.
Around me and ends set more selfish than that. I I I understood that went back, it was almost as if I was undoing the damage. I told myself that if I continue serve in a combat role, which is what I was doing before the injury after the injury, then it's as if it never happened and in a large way. That is what I managed to do, because, as soon as I was
I can combat there were full days where I just totally forgot that I had an injury. I was just me again. I was whole and- and I I like to think that for the most part, I've kind of carried that into civilian life, I still walk around los angeles and I don't really feel disabled. I don't carry myself that way. I don't think of myself that way and because of that most people don't see me that way either. It's interesting that you say that, because obviously your injury is visible, but when we met that just didn't register with me at all, you don't present as disabled or injured. In that way, you don't project that in any way.
that part of your presentation, it's not part of your presence or your countenance. You dont present yourself is macho rambo in any way at all. Quite the contrary, it s, because I'm not clarify again. I am not in any way macho. I am still absolutely a nerd. That's the one exception to the rule is, as is the story that we're talking about today, but to be fair, I think in our specific instance. The reason why you didn't know the injuries, because I was actually introducing you to to my pal, that's with me here now. I don't, if you guys, can catch him on on camera sea ports. Yeah punch punches hanging out with us he's my my lovely service dog. I named him punch because he took over the job of my flying left. Fist. And I didn't want to name him fist, though he hangs out
me and I think that's the reason why you didn't notice say I think, there's a distinction to make there will definitely a dog lover fell for punch right away. Is one of the best man he's a good pup. These pretty smitten with you, that's for sure how he had a feeling is mutual. We ve been hanging out for six years now. My best friend, so you get out of the military, and you ve got a lot of things since then raised millions of dollars for hospitals, rehab programmes and charity such as the birthright foundation you worked with amputee organisations, schools, colleges, universities when you ve gone out and spoken right now, there's a lot of controversy in america and there's been a lot of attention to anti semitic, sort of rhetoric and people that are very
vocal about this at this point. What what's been your experience when you ve got out to speak? I mean it obviously depends on the venue, but I think maybe the most prudent thing to focus on to answer your question is is when I speak on college campuses, because that is where it is the most divisive and controversy shaw and and yeah I mean I, I would say that it doesn't just have to do with Israel. Everything is divisive today on campus, but because that is what were my story took place, and I- and that is the topic of conversation, even without hearing what I have to say, there is usually a group of students who show up and to protest and name, call in and use and pretty horrible terminology in my direction, and that's me where they even have to hear what I have to say. I don't think it
Israel problem, I think it's a broader cultural problem. I I didn't go to college and and I'm kind of glad. I think at this point that I missed that and it's a scary place to be these days. You know that's where the divisiveness I think starts and it's it's spreading into the the marketplace of ideas thereafter. So what do you hear from these protesters? What do they say to you before they ever even know? What your message is, what you're there to talk about? I mean they know what you're there to talk about, but they don't know what your message is
as in what your talking points are and what you want them to consider right. I'm I'm coming there to inspire and and shed some positive light on on a difficult experience that I faced on the other side of the world and a lot of what I get comes with the the title of you're, a terrorist you're, an apartheid enforcer, you're a baby killer things that nobody, nobody wants to hear things that I've been here. For for many years now to the point where I've kind of been desensitized from it and. my goal when that happens is to start a conversation. I want those people therein and I want to change their mind as crazy, as that sounds because I feel like one. Somebody throws something that
Some at you, you probably aren't gonna, be able to change their mind, but I've I've been surprise. I ve been able to at least have conversations with people and and here there perspective and share mine and and leave shaking hands. Even if we don't agree on the on the particular points, I think without dialogue there there's no way to to get anything done, again: that's none! Israel issue, that's that's something that we're dealing with in politics in the united states. Today, people just are willing to talk to each other anymore. Then how do you start that conversation when you go to speak in somebody's their hurling? These labels that you in calling you baby killer at all? What is your rejoinder, howdy Initiate that conversation I want people to hear that, while for starters, actually listen most people today dont, Listen to what somebody who disagrees with them has to say, so I actually listen and I think people notice that,
and I'm honest with them. I tell them that I want to have this conversation, I'm I'm willing hear them out and when I, and to do, as I say, hey, you know what let listen to to my remarks. Listen to what I came here to talk about. Let me get through my presentation. Let me try to inspire our people, in the way that I know how to do and then afterwards I promise your questions will be the first one that I answer in the eu and sometimes they're willing to to give me the benefit of the doubt other times their minds are so made up before they get there that I can't even get that out of them, but that's also okay, because something else that I noticed is you're not always, or not. Only having this discussion with the person who disagrees with you entirely. It's also about all the other people who are less and when they see that you're willing to talk and someone else, isn't you look good and they don't
your your winning that argument, just by trying to when others aren't. How long does it take to tackle a home project with Angie you could cross it off. Your less before this add, is over just tell us what you need in or outdoor repair or redesign, and we handle the rest. Sending a top pro could get it done. You don't have to lift a finger accepted tat. This greener click, the mouth plus Andrey, is free to use bring us your next town project and we'll bring it home download the app or go to angie dot com. That angie, I doubt come to get started. Everyone I want you to check out. Robins podcast is weak. I've got a sequel with robin mcgraw. I'm then a play you clip about. God secret, robin while your listing be sure to subscribe, follow and listen on apple podcast or just. However,
listening now. This episode is all about entertaining sharing good drinks and good food with the people. You love author recipe developer an event planner elizabeth ban. Leered is known as the millennium martha stewart garnering an impressive following on her blog and instagram page, both called the college housewife. This is the secret to every day. Entertaining I feel like sometimes but doing things like that. Like I said, poetry, wine tasting is kind of like a dying art. I don't feel like people do as often and if you like to do it as people like us and you know inspired listeners I feel like we should do it because at the end of the night it makes people feel so special. I agree when they walk in and the table is a little bit more dressed up and you know not overly fancy and, like you said casual I love it. When people come casual but then have this like a beautiful thing,
for them because they think you know you ve got Extra mile like these are the people that you love and you're bringing them in, and it just makes them feel special annual enjoy it. So it's like the best of both worlds. With
those people that you say, look listen to what I have to say what I've come here to try and inspire people about which is not necessarily political, not at all personal, it's very personal and very much challenging people in their own journey, independent of their their politics. When they hear you talk about those things you get to the end of that speech, and you say I'll I'll, let you have the first question what happens and varies tremendously from event to event. I I have had events where they just didn't. Even let me speak and it just ended there and I've had thence where the q and a ended after forty minutes of a real dialogue with everyone involved people with opposing ideas and even though the event is over and they still need the space back. We end up talking for another two hours in a different corner
and I love when that happens, and I'm an unwilling to keep trying to make that happen. Though there there are- yet many misfires and end just being shouted down I mean I'm a sensitive guy, don't nobody likes being called a horrible names regardless of the circumstances, but you have to try to do that. Respond to your message, despite the fact that they don't like where it happened, what you were doing and the labels that they've put on you do they at least respond to the personal message. I mean it's hard to know and sorry to know DR phil, I I I'm I would. I would like to think that, occasionally and again how many people are actually listening to ideas that they that they opposed today, not not about israel but about anything,
political about anything that the algorithm keeps dividing us further on. I can tell you that I think it's been getting worse and worse over the last decade and I don't see how it gets better clearly a very good motivational speaker. I don't know if you can pick up on it from my morbid message home there, but I thought it's getting worse and I dont know how we are. We make it better, as that is what I'm trying to say, those people that don't have that attitude that don't have that pre judge. and come in there with the confirmation by us. How do they respond to your message. I mean I've people who, who it was pointed out to me- are there to protest who ended up thinking me by the time I was walking out, and I wish I can say that happens. Often it doesn't. But all I can do is try I
yeah, but I don't really know what else to say on that. Given topic it, sir, it's it's a cruel world out there today when you said that you wrote this book with your fellow millennials in mind. This cannot necessarily those with military ambitions, but just everybody facing challenges life yeah. I mean unconventional lessons: it's not a step by step, guide on how to accomplish anything, specific the memoirs about his unconventional as I am, but I wanted people the people who took the time to read it, to leave with the idea that, if Jewish nerd from miami can go back to combat after he loses an arm. They could probably accomplish whatever it is that they're striving to accomplish in life
and if I managed to do that in any way, that's that's a win, and I think you make a good point because you're very self deprecating in that, but you say it if a self described nerd a one armed basket case like you can accomplish what you set your mind to that anybody from any walk of life, whatever their circumstance can become a he wrote in his or her own life. What do you mean by that talk more about that? I mean think I think you just said are right there, don't don't. You agree that that seeing Their case of somebody who isn't really spectacular in any anyway even today I've I've I've had that adventure. I've gone on the adventure of a lifetime of travel to to a foreign plan. You know if you want to call it that done done. The whole luke skywalker thing on on that mission. and- and I still complain about paper cuts and I still have same issues, data day that that we all have
It's not like. I solve this massive problem, it's just that I cared enough about a certain cause to figure it out to pull off. One extraordinary event does that red with you do. Do you not think that we can all do that Given the right motivation that we can all pull something like that off. Well, I don't think situations like yours or any other situations make heroes. I think situations circumstances challenges reveal who someone is, I think, if a circumstance comes up like you were in or a natural disaster occurs and someone distinguishes themselves. I think all that situation did
was give them a b stage an opportunity to reveal who they were all along. It just wasn't called on until that time and I've seen people in the aftermath of hurricanes or tornadoes or in the california fires that do extraordinary things to help other people to overcome incredible obstacles to save themselves, their families, their neighbors other people's lives, who were non descript individual
that you would walk by every day and never so much ass notice and their counted as heroes. I think they were. He rose all along. They were just waiting for the time that they were called upon to be who they have always been, and I think that is the same thing with you. I tell people, look you need to star in your own life. You need to decide who you are and what you stand for and dont be reactive. You need to find a passion, pursue it with vigour,
and be the star in your own life. Don't be a bit player in your own life. To me, that makes perfect sense, and sometimes I have people say. Well, that's easy for you. You have a television platform, you have millions of people that what is easy to think about starring in your life, but I think it's true of your a plumber or a school teacher or a parking lot attendant or stay at home, mom or dad. I think it's important that people do and care find a way to star in their own lives, you gotta be who you are on purpose and that begins with finding that purpose and announcing. Why am I here old viktor Frankl said it really well, when he was in the death camps, he said they can control everything
about me whether I live die sit stand each star, but they can't control. My attitude, that's internal to me and that I control and that's where it give yeah that I mean viktor frankl book man's man, search for meaning spoke to me tremendously and end well, said I think, I'm still ruminating on on the idea that these incidents reveal the heroes that that walk among us and I think that To a degree, we all carry scars no one who who walks this earth without some version of a scar in and for me, it's it's
visible and it's a missing arm, and it gave me the opportunity to do something that people actually see, but we all deal with something right for for some of us. It's it's divorce, aids, cancer. It's the loss of someone close to us and we have the opportunity when that, when that scar happens, to react, the way that that viktor frankl frankel talks about which is heroically that can't be controlled were the only ones who control that
so I agree. I haven't quite looked at it that way before revealing the heroes inside us and given the opportunity, but I really liked that, as you say, everybody will face that. I think back in my life, I had a motorcycle one time. I didn't have a license for it, so we couldn't get insurance on it and my dad told me I looked you can have this, but don't leave the neighbourhood and do not let anybody else ride this, because we don't have insurance for it. So I probably left a neighborhood, let my best friend rider, as he had a buick the era doing about eighty miles an hour and he wasn't killed. Buddy was seriously injured and we were barely scrape and by the time in
My dad walked into the hospital, and I knew oh, my god he's going to kill me. I did exactly what he set out to do. I remember like it was yesterday. He walked into that hospital and he said he better have taken at motorcycle without your permission, and that was a real choicepoint. For me I was thirteen years old and he looked at me. Was this eyes? It just look right through me and I said: well, he didn't. I handed him the keys and told him. It was ok to go. I'm sorry, but that's what happened and yeah. That was fifty more almost sixty years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday and it wasn't dramatic it as a married anybody else, but I never forgot that when I had a chance to lie or tell the truth, I told the truth at my own
peril and it started a pattern. That's just what I always done. It wasn't somethin you put in a paper. Does it matter the person sitting next to me, but we have a lot of little situations that ride on the slate of who we are sometimes there big situations like yours. Sometimes it's like a hurricane or of forest fires,
something that reveal somebody, but that's how we learn about ourselves. You had to have watched what you did and based on that made attributions to yourself about who you were there's no way. You could do this if you didn't. You said my mother and father. They took me serious enough to think we better react to this cause. He could do this. They believe that about you there's a point you had to say. I can no shit do this, then, when you cleared one hurdle when you climbed that rope when you crawled that one hundred yards under netting or what have you had to do, you had to get up from that and say I just did that. I can do this and you had to make that attribution to yourself and
that stays with you today I would think yeah I mean it. It definitely fades with time. I I it's it's weird to admit, but I I forget my own experience. I forget my own life story and I just kind of have gone back to being this, a guy who sits at cafes in los angeles and writes with his dog, and so yes subconsciously. It has to stick with you and it's such a part of of who I am, but I didn't I mean I I can't pretend like I knew I was going to succeed that that eight months of of crossing the the red tape and and retraining and having to do different exercises and test for four generals that would have to give the the check mark. Approval for me to move on to the next stage I did
actually know that I was going to make it until the day I was back in in combat and even then I'm not sure if I believed it so so I certainly didn't take it for granted at the time that it was just going work out. It's only easy to look back and and realise that it was almost destined to happen with that. The attitude that I was approaching it with yeah. That's what I say the hero. That's reveal in the situation. Nobody knew that the hero, including him, Gotta be almost like an out of body experience where you're watching yourself and when it's over gotta. Have it more where you look back and say: oh, my god. Oh yeah at least once a day back then yet every area my everytime, I passed another hurdle and- and I ve got a good example for you. There is there's one test I mention that you have to do an obstacle course in full combat gear.
Has that the wall and the rope and all those different things, and the first time that I took that test with with both arms. Before the injury, when I was a trainee, I failed by two seconds. I don't remember the exact amount of time that you had it's like somewhere over ten minutes is a long run. It's all these obstacle courses, I failed by two seconds and I got open up the next morning by my by my lieutenant anyway you're gonna is every morning until you pass and because of that I passed that second morning by two seconds, because they want to up again the next morning, but what's interesting is that after I was injured the very first time that I took that test again without an arm That's climbing the rope. That's jumping over the wall crawling peril. What bars I had to find like a funky way to do the parallel bars by by sitting on them and scooting across and my time dropped by over two minutes, the very first time that I tried it minus an arm,
and my record by the time I was in in training to be a squad commander was a full minute lower than that. so I was doing better minus an arm than I was with both and that's just attitude. It's how you approach things. It's perspective, it's how how badly you want something I do yeah. There were some lessons learned, but it's so important that we make those self attributions that we take time to look back and say I did that because we take plenty of time to say I screwed that up. I fail that I mess that up. I didn't do this right. We don't take enough time to stop and say I did that it's so important and I see it with kids. Today I have parents who bring their teens on that have problem
I'll ask them sometimes tell me the five things you like best about yourself. I gotta tell you is either dumbstruck. They look at me in there like I I I could ask him what is it? You don't like about yourself, those who well of ugly I'm dumb? I'm not! I don't have good social skills where do well in school, my, but they just random off, but you say what you like about yourself they have it taken time to do that.
Victoria on the positive side of the sheet and acknowledge what I help em I gotta say: well, are you a good friend? Well yeah, I've got good friends, will wired they like you. Will I m a pre, dependable and loyal okay, so your loyal and your dependable? What are you good at will read? Well, so I'd so you're, not dumb right. So you're smart, so you help him construct a less than you can see. Em they sit up strader, all their shoulders go back and they start realizing. I do have some attributes that are worthy of acknowledgement. People don't do that enough. I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of the same thing him, I'm sitting you're, trying to do not exercise with you all, while your explaining in india
That's a little embarrassing to admit that. I have to really think about it myself. I fall into the same trap, much easier to pick out the things that I don't like than the things I'm proud of, but it's a good exercise. It's not about the arrogant, it's not about being belligerent in our strengths or whatever, but I really started embracing that when I was in sports and I've had coaches that would get to the end of the session and say: okay, let's take fifteen minutes and work on what you're really good at we've worked on the things you need to build, but now, let's really sharp in what you're really good at and will whatever the sport whatever it was at thing that I was best at they'd say, let's finish, focusing on that which eh I left feeling good because
I was doing some really good at and I was making that become a weapon. It was getting better and better and I just realized you. You got a focus on your shrink. Sometimes, and not just your weaknesses, have you have you noticed that too and worsening as the years go on, when we were together I I don't know if you were there when I had that varied divided audience that we were with how I was there, I was watching make eye contact in regard each other as human beings. I think we ve this completely gotten away from the humanity
of our society, of our communities of our sub groups in universities, and I was actually heartened by the fact that when I had these people make eye contact and regard each other. Forget your differences. Four minute forget your values that you so strongly believe. Worrisome, It's about people that are wrong. I worry more about people who are so certain they are right, but that aside and regard this person as a human being that has a mother and a father and a sister and maybe a loss recently or a great victory or whatever I saw that room shift and and who did it? You did it three times and it was. It was powerful to watch awe at how how things kind of melted and people melted down with each version of it and each new person
that they interacted with and looked into their eyes. I'm curious if you had your hand on the lever. If you had some kind of magic pill, something that you can do to change what is happening? What would you do if you had that power like? How would you actually shift away that people are dealing with each other and and and the direction that we're heading in retail? I've spent a lot of time teaching negotiation skills. I take a kind of unconventional approach to it, whether its in business or between a mother and a kid or whatever. If there are two sides to something, I always encourage people to say. Ok, I want you to go into this with
One value and one first step to the approach and the one value is not there. gonna try to get everything I can't out of this negotiation, but You know what I need to have I'm gonna go. and this with a value of trying to see how much of what they want? I can get for them in this negotiation. I know my bottom line and I got a great somethin. If I know what I need, I dont need to focus on that right now. What can I do to get them as much of what they need, as I possibly can now to do that I have to listen. Does I can't know what's important them? If I don't listen, because we may want very different thing
fear that are mutually exclusive and I might be able to give them what they need without sacrificing what I need now. I only know that, if I listen, it might be money's important to me and times important to them. You do a mother and a teen. It might be Freedoms important to the child and safety is important to the parent, so I'll. If you figure way that she feel safe and he feels free, those are necessarily at odds. So so listening. Listening is your magic pill. People people live turning to one another which doesn't happen any more. What what can be done? What
what is it like, just even a fake scenario or all powerful thing. What can be done that that points us in that direction, as opposed to like moving further towards where we're heading part of it is requiring people to reflect feeling and and content. We have too much one way, communication where people are talking and nobody reflects back what they just heard, either in content or emotion, which means they didn't hear what was being said. That's a one way: communication model instead of a two way: communication model, if you add that whoop back in all of a sudden. We have people that are actually talking with some one instead of at some one, and why
leaves stopped doing that. Were you looking at one another right now, the strident way, instead of before we can make a point. We have to reflect their point and that's just not happening we stop doing that. If you and I were in this to users Example, I would have to say what you want me to respond with is to give you some kind of example where it would illustrate what I'm talking about and how that can be applied to the divisiveness that we have right now. Give me a working example. Give me a working model, is
You asked me- and you don't know that I have heard that until I reflect that back to you. I really feel differently about your response, because you just did that absolutely and because I reflected back to you means ok, I've heard you so did your response by the okay. Now do it ok, you heard me that they had attained our aim to do it, lets listening in this out. What's the annex america and that's what happens in negotiation, when I say ok, I want to go in and say how much of what they want. Can I get for them, then going in there say: okay, this is all about me and then. Secondly, I've got to go into it and say I've gotta, listen because we may want, as I was saying, before very different thing-
Because oftentimes I'll start out by saying, ok before we begin, I wanted to talk about everything we agree on before we talk about the things we disagree on, because when you do that you find out, you know what we have more in common than we thought we did. We both want this country to do well. We both want to be safe and secure. We both want to prosper. We might have a long list of thing we agree on, and maybe we can bond over those things now. What are the few things that we disagree on and they may be monumental, but
at least have some commonality. Before we get to those things, let's build a positive base year before we get to the problem solving. What do we agree on before we talk about two things we don't agree on. If you start with the things you don't agree on Europe the immediate fight. So much of it is about perspective. And and when you start from the perspective, if we agree on all of these things, let's now deal with the rest of it, it doesn't come across as a blatant attack. It doesn't come across as they are the other, the enemy and yeah. I think that's, maybe a good exercise to start implementing, maybe the next time you do something with a with students is to find that common ground first, it would have been interesting to see that done. It's astounding, when you do that with people that have a lot in common like age,.
Both at a university or an institution both work at the same company, maybe everybody's apparent, maybe everybody you see these school board melting down and turning into fish fights and police tuna. We will wait a minute time out less like a list on the board here of everything we agree on. We will get to the issues in a minute, but what do we agree on? We all what our kids to be educated. We all want to be safe. We all want him to come home without being bullied. We all want them to have good self esteem. We all what I am to have success experiences we're all responsible paris. We all these four kids. Now, what are the issues that we may be don't agree on, and how can we follow these into these agree issues over here? People are doing this it. When I worked with groups, I try to get him to focus on that, and you see the group's change when you do
You say individuals change when you do it. So that's my answer. Yes, I mean you ve got your your work cut out for you. I wish you with. I don't envy that job though it's not an easy job, but I do think it's a worthwhile job, because people say this is the worst it's ever been. well, the other was the civil war. There were the work as we got a little more contentious and we're back to prospective that's true. That's when frame it that way. We have had some really tough times in a in in the relatively short history of this country and and we found our way back so why not? Do it again, you've been willing to move your position? Take your experiences and let them inspire you
talking about how this could play out in other scenarios, you been doing some short films. You did one that I saw that I thought was particularly inspired. A thing was: pull yourself together, you fat. Where did you find I'll get my sources here. I'm somebody did some red. That's that's a deep cut, I'm kind of embarrass. You saw that that's the first to suffer a short film that I, then I rode and also started, and it's very odd, very strange. This was what, where this person lost there, are they not heroic circumstance, to put it mildly here he drove down
got into a car accident and I'm still, I'm still blown away that you actually hutch? That's worth that? Ok, but what got you did? Look at it from that standpoint, because you did it in a very admirable way. You with a hundred and eighty degrees out to somebody that, whilst it really monsters way the absolute bottom of the humanity heap, what made you go that direction. Why did I choose to make a short film that I start in about a one arm guy who lost his arm drunk driving and killing someone? it's a great question. I am like trying to put myself back there in, and I think
sound odd, but I think, maybe because I wanted to appreciate my situation more. I wanted to put myself in us the same physical situation. Yes, that character lost an hour But the circumstances around it are terrifying because. What I went through mostly people around me were were almost proud of my sacrifice I was I was I received accolades. I received awards pats on the back, love respect, and people who end up in the same situation that not only did they suffer the physical trauma, but also have to deal with being reviled. and maybe with some kind of like far fetched, hope that I would feel even better about what happened to be, knowing that it could have been so much worse on the psychological front, but that's looking back. Maybe I'm trying to create a reason
I thought it would be an interesting short film. It was very wacky. I I dunno what compelled me to write a story about a guy who digs up his own armin and scotch tapes. It back to his or the himself and tries to pretend, like things are normal again beyond just blown away that you actually found that its travel in a whole range of very creative. You ve got a circumstance and you're using it in every way to explore different things. I think one of your passions and missions is to tell people to embrace their circumstance and find a way to create value out of it. That's franco's message create meaning to your suffering. I mean, if not your left with insanity and dust is to grow.
example. He doesn't have to bake mainstream, says just do something with it. Don't just sit there do something with it and who knows what you'll hit upon absolutely, and I mean that's a deep cut, and thank you for watching that. Thank you for bringing it up. That's that's really funny, I'm glad you liked it well, you did to others, you did take what you want and good head, and none of these are something that you would expect to see it and after school, special, their different yeah, I'm among a list them on our website. So people can look at him and see where your mind goes, You mean I moved out here to turn to screen right. I came out here like six years ago and I have landed on on the horror. So that's why they all seem to be a little odd, those films but yeah I mean, if you feel follow the progression of that backwards. I want to be a screenwriter now, but I I new found that if I hadn't
written the member- and I wouldn't have focused on that memoir, if I hadn't experience something that was worth worth, writing so even just looking at it. That way. It all feels like a path that needed to happen in or at least taking advantage of something that happened to to create value to to follow in in victor frankel's footsteps. Well, you did it and you're continuing to do it and the book is disarmed unconventional lessons from the world's only one armed special forces sharpshooter told you. This was gonna, be an interesting conversation. I stand by. What I said is he is an author, is a screenwriter ease and act, sure he's a blogger and I'm so glad I met you recently, I'm so glad you took this time to talk about this, keep doing what you're doing man and I hope to see you again very soon. Thank you, DR phil. This was a sincere pleasure
I appreciate it they had for me as well, I'm proud to know you and I look forward to see more of you in the future you up take here. Thanks really.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-08.