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The Ongoing Pursuit of Purpose and Why It Matters

With Tim Hightower

Season 1, Episode 1  | August 25, 2020

Purpose is critical to our sense of meaning and happiness: It can give direction to our lives, as well as bring fortitude and true fulfillment. Our guest, NFL veteran Tim Hightower, discusses how his focus on purpose from an early age has guided him, from his college playing days to his career in the NFL when he suffered a perceived career-ending injury to present. He offers advice we can all follow for pursuing our own purpose-driven lives.

Headshot Of NFL Veteran Tim Hightower.

Tim Hightower is an NFL veteran running back. He’s the only NFL athlete to return to the field after missing four seasons due to injury. Today, he’s a motivational speaker who is passionate about living a healthy, holistic lifestyle.

  • Hightower was drafted into the NFL in 2008 as a fifth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals. When playing for the Washington Football Team, he suffered a serious knee injury and post-surgery infection that many believed would be career ending. He credits his purpose-driven mindset to helping him return to the field with the New Orleans Saints four seasons later.
  • From a young age, Hightower’s parents taught him the power of living from the inside out. They encouraged him to recognize and commit to what was important to him — versus doing things based off the approval or acceptance of others. He offers the same advice to anyone at any age: Start within, trust yourself, and keep going. “There’s no feeling greater than knowing who you are, what you want, and being willing to go after it regardless of what anybody says, thinks, or feels about you — or how many times you fail,” says Hightower.
  • In fifth grade, Hightower wrote down on a piece of paper that he was going to play professional football. He kept it in his pocket so he could feel it wherever he went and pull it out to look at when times were tough, or he needed to make a decision. He’d ask himself, “Will this bring me closer to my purpose, or take me away from it?” If the answer was closer, he’d do it. If it was further, he didn’t.
  • Following his injury, Hightower encountered his fair share of doubters around his comeback. There were three things he did that gave him something to turn to for motivation in times of challenge:
    • He drew on past success. He reminded himself that he got himself to the NFL — before agents, advisors, or anyone else. It started with him and a dream.
    • He looked at who he surrounded himself with. He found trust and empowerment within his family and church community.
    • He wrote down what he wanted. He created a clear vision of what he was going to accomplish.
  • One of Hightower’s favorite quotes is, “He or she who has a why can endure any how.” Purpose isn’t necessarily one specific thing, but rather an understanding of who you are, why you do what you do, and the impact it has on others. We all face obstacles, challenges, and setbacks — purpose grants us a foundation to return to and the resolve to keep pushing forward.
  • If you’re looking to discover your personal purpose, Hightower suggests studying others you admire. What about them resonates with you? Is there something you want to emulate? That’s not to say you’ll be exactly like them, but it can give you a place to look for inspiration as you chart your own course. “Success leaves clues,” he says.
  • It’s important to remember that finding your purpose and living your life purposefully is a process, and it can be uncomfortable at times.
  • When facing adversity, Hightower offers this advice: “Ask yourself, Is the idea of accomplishing what you want greater than the pain you’re currently experiencing? If you accomplish this, how will it change your life? How will it impact the lives of others?” If the outcome is greater than your current discomfort or fear, then you probably want to push through.
  • Many of us strive for two things: impact and importance. We often create an expectation of the form our impact will take, such as sports or music, or a certain job title. Hightower suggests removing the form and looking at your impact — period — and being willing to let that guide your journey.
  • These days, Hightower often looks to the acronym WIN: What’s Important Now. Defining what a win is changes from day to day and with different stages of life, but this mindset provides a question he can always return to for clarity: What’s important now?

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Transcript: The Ongoing Pursuit of Purpose and Why It Matters

Season 1, Episode 1  | August 25, 2020

Jamie Martin 
Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor in chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman 
And I’m David Freeman, the national program leader for Life Time’s Alpha program. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we’re working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving forward in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin 
In each episode of this season, we’ll break down various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real, inspiring stories of transformation.

David Freeman 
And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

[Music]

David Freeman 

Alright, we’re back with season two of Life Time Talks and so looking forward to sharing healthy living inspiration and information with our listeners. My name’s David Freeman.

Jamie Martin 
And I’m Jamie Martin, and we are just so thrilled to be back, you guys. You guys made season one so great. We got such great feedback, and we’re kicking off this next season talking about purpose, and I’m going to kick it off right away. David, what does purpose mean to you, and why are we talking about it?

David Freeman 
Yeah, purpose is near and dear to me. When you think of purpose, you think of what your why is, and I know a lot of us have probably heard the Simon Sinek reference, but what you’re doing in life, why are you here? We all are unique in our own . . . in the reason why we’re here on earth. Once we have a true understanding of what that is and what we should be doing, that’s your purpose. It should be something that fulfills you and just brightens your day, and at the end of the day, you always feel fulfilled. So, you got to be doing something that makes you happy, and in return, that gets other people to be happy, too. So, I call it the reciprocity of life. Give out happiness and you receive happiness.

Jamie Martin 
Well, I love that. Yeah, I think purpose is one of those topics that, you know, it can be kind of overwhelming for people. Like, I don’t know how to find out why . . . how do I dig down and figure out what my purpose is? And I think when we take the time to do that work, to really look at like how are we spending our time, our energy, where are we devoting our resources, it can kind of be clues to what we’re doing, and sometimes that can feel good, and it can feel right, and it can feel fulfilling, and other times it can make us pause and really question where we’re at and make us take a deeper look and want to reevaluate where we’re at.

And I don’t know about you, David, but I’ve been hearing from a lot of people in this, you know, since the start of the pandemic that this downtime that many of us had, or you know even just during the time of stay-at-home orders, when we weren’t out and about as much, it gave people time and space to really stop and think about, you know, how they’re living their lives, and it made people like just want to sit and reflect a little bit, and that happened for me, personally, you know, like stopping to think of like what have I been doing with this time, and how do I want to change things going forward? It really did feel like kind of a great pause to me and a time to look at how we’d been living and rushing and thinking can we do this differently? Did you have that experience, at all, or have you heard about that?

David Freeman 
One hundred percent. I could speak firsthand that it gave me an opportunity to really get back to what made me what I am today, like why I got into the health and fitness industry, and being able to take that time, the key word there, time, to spend with myself, dive into self, and be able to give back to myself, to be able to give to all those who are out there, and in that time, and I used this acronym the other week, actually — teach, inspire, motivate, and empower. How was I using my time wisely to not only give back to myself, for me to be able to give the best of me to the others, and that could be my wife, my kids, and all the people that I come in contact with daily. Through the health and fitness industry, you definitely have to be able to give yourself time to be able to get the best version of yourself daily.

Jamie Martin 
It’s interesting because one of the books that I read in some of my quieter time, earlier on in this, was the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and I know many of our listeners have probably heard about Glennon. She’s got three memoirs, but Untamed is her latest book, and there’s this chapter in her book where she talks about this concept of knowing, and it really is basically about sitting and being uncomfortable with the feelings that you have and being willing to get real and honest with yourself about your truths and what you’re really feeling. Often, we kind of shove those truths down.

We cover them up because there’s all this other stuff that we have to do or we’re told we need to do and all these things, but that idea of knowing really, to me, kind of equates to purpose, and when we can be really true with ourselves in this idea of knowing but also then act on it, we can start to make this really meaningful change in our lives. That can help us move toward that purpose that truly brings true fulfillment and happiness, which kind of go hand in hand. So, I mean, that, for me, has been part of my own like work during this time, and I think our guest today is going to really help us dive into this a little bit, too. So, do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about our conversation with Tim that they’re going to be hearing after this?

David Freeman 
So, Tim, close, close friend of mine, brother. I consider him a brother, and he is Mr. Purpose Driven. I like to say that a lot. A lot of times, people have heard me reference “purpose driven,” and I know it’s a Rick Warren book, but Tim Hightower was a great inspiration to me. He played in the NFL from 2008 to 2016. He’s the only NFL athlete to return after missing four seasons due to injury. So, he credits a lot of what his mindset is centered around, being purpose-driven, his upbringing, his commitment, self-confidence, and just overall pursuit of what it is that he stands on, and that is being purpose-driven.

Jamie Martin 
Yeah. One of the takeaways that I have from our conversation with Tim was the acronym that he used was WIN, which is What’s Important Now. You know, and that, for me, was kind of looking at the meaning of purpose like, yes, we set big goals, we set purpose we want to do in our life, but also, what we’re doing right now, why is that important, and how does that help us move us toward what we want to be? So, that’s one of my takeaways from this, you know, why are we doing what we’re doing? We hope that this episode helps you guys find purpose, as well, and we hope you enjoy our conversation.

David Freeman 
Let’s get after it.

[Music]

David Freeman 

Alright, guys, we are back. Life Time Talks, season two, and we’re kicking off with a special guest, somebody that’s very close to me, somebody that I’ve been around since 2002, and we’ve been close friends ever since, Mr. Purpose Driven himself, Mr. Tim Hightower. Take it away, Jamie.

Jamie Martin 
Yeah. Hi, Tim. We’re so excited to kick this off, and I will say, I know you and David have a little background together, and I’ve done my research, don’t get me wrong, but I want to hear from you about your background and how you got here and what makes you tick. So, let’s go. Let’s get started.

Tim Hightower 
Thank you for having me. You got to be careful about that research. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet, right?

Jamie Martin 
Right. Well, yeah. You know you got to dig in, find the facts.

Tim Hightower 
No, all good, but man, it’s an honor and a pleasure. Free, I call him Free, I know he’s David, but he’s been a friend, a teammate, a supporter, and someone who has encouraged and challenged me, and we met back at the University of Richmond. I arrived there in 2004, young kid, chip on my shoulder, a lot of ambition. Like many other people, I wanted to be at a big school. I felt I had hopes and aspirations of playing at the next level, and I felt like being at a powerhouse school was the way, but the University of Richmond was the only school that gave me an opportunity. They’re the only school that wanted me, and looking back, it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made because it allowed me to develop a work ethic and be in a community where I could really flourish and grow and just be the best that I could be.

So, went to University of Richmond, played there four years, made some great relationships, played professionally, things were going great, and sustained a pretty big injury there that I thought was going to be, you know, routine six to eight months, ended up being four years, and but I made it back, fortunately. I made it back, and I played a few more years, and now it’s led me to a point where health and wellness is something, and it’s very, very passionate . . . I’m very passionate about and very important to me in helping people find their purpose.

David Freeman 
Well, let’s talk a little bit about that, Tim. I mean I’m back home in Fayetteville, right now, and we think about our foundation and where we come from. So, tell us some of the key factors in your upbringing that propelled you along the way? We often talk about the goal, like you just said, of going to play in the NFL, and I always remember in your locker, I remember seeing your team. It was San Francisco 49ers, and you knew that that was something that you just definitely wanted to make happen, and you definitely made that happen. So, where did that drive come from, and how did you stay committed to that goal?

Tim Hightower 
It started out with my parents. They taught me the power of living from the inside out, and what that meant was they always wanted me to know what was important to me, right? The more in touch I was with what was important to me, the more committed I would be to that, the more it’s self-awareness, but you build strength in that, and so they encouraged that at a young age, what’s important to you?

And looking back it at it now, there are a lot of kids who did things based off of the approval, the acceptance of others, what they thought would, you know, get them a good job or whatever that was, but my parents really encouraged me to explore who I was and what was important to me, and I think that developed confidence in me as I was kind of developing as a young man and realized that I wanted to play football, that mindset of finding out what was important to me and taking time, the dreams that I would have and these visions that I would have of things that would excite me. It gives you the confidence to pursue those things, and so I would definitely say that foundation, they definitely laid that foundation in confidence to be able to pursue my goals later on in life.

Jamie Martin 
Well, it sounds like even within that kind of inside out living value that your parents instilled early on, there were a couple of kind of key and kind of progressive things that they were talking about. You mentioned visioning, and I know you write about how you carried around something that you wrote down and carried with you. So, can you talk a little bit about that and the roles that those had, I mean, just those little reminders that you used to keep you moving, because I think that’s, I mean, however many years ago that was, that was pretty progressive in some of the tools you were using, I would say.

Tim Hightower 
Yeah. You know what, Jamie, I look at all the psychology and all the stuff behind it now, you know, when people look at goals and doing great things and accomplish . . . it was not that innovative to me. It was simple. I would write things down because it helped me remember. Writing was a way for me to escape. I would just write my thoughts and my feelings, and it was a way for me to process information, and so I remember writing down on a sheet of paper in the fifth grade that I was going to play professional football, and I just wrote it down on a sheet of paper, and I just would put it in my pocket, and at the time, we moved around a lot when I was a kid, and it was frustrating for me.

I felt like a lot of things were out of my control, as most kids do, right? Well, I don’t know, kids nowadays, they have a little more say so. My kids have a little more say so. They got an opinion. We didn’t have an opinion back in the day, but I felt like a lot of things was out of my control, so when I wrote, it felt like it gave me . . . it was therapeutic. It gave me control, and so I wrote down this thing that I was going to play professional football, and it was tangible. I could feel it in my pocket everywhere I went. I could hold onto it. When things were tough, I would take it out and look at it, and it allowed me to start to visualize and really start to . . . it’s like you tell yourself something long enough and you’re going to believe it, but it also helped give me direction because when other kids were starting to skip school and do this and make other decisions, I literally would just take out the sheet of paper and just look at it and ask myself.

It was this simple, is this going to help me accomplish, bring me closer to my purpose or take me further away? And if I answered yes, I did it. If I answered no, I didn’t do it. So, it helped me kind of filter a lot of those decisions that a lot of kids struggle with that I didn’t. It became pretty clear for me.

David Freeman 
I love that, Tim.

Jamie Martin 
That’s a pretty powerful tool. Go ahead, David.

David Freeman 
I’m sorry. Yeah. I love that. I mean obviously just being around you and seeing it in real life is an inspiration in itself, and we always talk about how energy is being contagious and positive, and that can also be negative.

Tim Hightower 
Sure.

David Freeman 
So, when we look at doubters and people looking at you coming back from that injury, it’s always that thing that you just said, you know who you are, you know exactly what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, and I have this saying, and you’ve heard me probably say it before, the way we think dictates the way we act, which yields the results that we get.

Tim Hightower 
True.

David Freeman 
So, with all these doubters, and you got media, you have all these people saying like give it up, how did you stay focused during the rehab on your return and getting back to the field?

Tim Hightower 
Yeah. There are a few variables to that. A, you draw on past success, right? So, it was the times growing up, right, what got you to the point that you are, where you were, and sometimes stopping, and like there’s a . . . the only time I try to look back is when I’m reflecting and learning, right, from where I came from, and so the first thing I did was remind . . . I had to remind myself, Tim, you got yourself here. Before you had the agents, before you had all the advisors, before you had people who knew your name, it was you and a dream. It’s all it was. It was your family. It was your faith. It was a vision that you had that one day you could accomplish something great, and that mindset took place before I ever did an interview, before I ever scored a touchdown, right, and so reminding myself that kind of gave me that confidence when I’m sitting in that hospital bed, tears in my eyes, and my knee is swollen up.

Man, OK, I’m still the same person, me, the core of who I am, which, as you talked about a thought, we forget sometimes that everything starts with a thought, every invention, anything great, and so in the same way that it all started with a thought, in order to get back to where I was going to be, I had to start with another thought, this idea of who I could be, and so the first part of that was a thought. The second part of it was the who. Who did I surround myself with? And that was the thing that was really hard when I got to the NFL. There were these pressures that you go from being a college kid, living in a dorm room, trying to maximize your swipes, you know, on your meal card. The next thing you know, you have to manage relationships.

You got to hire agents and accountants and advisors, and you got to trust all these people, where I’m just like, man, I want to focus on football, forget all this other stuff, and the more you start to rely on other people, the less you start to have confidence in yourself. For me, that’s what I found, and so, man, I had to sit there in that hospital and who do I trust? How do I get back to a trust level in a community and in people to empower and strengthen me and build that confidence? So, now, you return back to who were some of those people, and you know my church family, my immediate family. Some of the people . . . return back to some of the people who brought that confidence and who grounded you and reminded you of who you were and the work ethic and the values.

So, it was an idea, it was a thought, it was the people, and then lastly, it was, again, writing down what I wanted. I sat there in that hospital bed and I wrote down everything. I had to get a clear vision of what I was going to do, and those things, in spite of all . . . when the media or when, you know, I met with countless doctors who said, no, this wasn’t possible, I would return to those three elements, those people, I would look at what I wrote, and I would remember from where I came, and that’s what gave me that motivation just to keep going.

Jamie Martin 
That’s amazing, and I think, I mean, you think about vision equals purpose, in many cases, right? And so, there’s just a couple things. I want to just reiterate what you just said. I think what I was hearing you say is like you have to believe in yourself versus doubt yourself, right, and I think that one of the things is like that constant like we have to be our own cheerleaders, in many ways, to keep our mind right, body right, in many cases, like you would say, David. You use that a lot, so, I think to put a finer point on it, I mean, you’re talking about vision. What you’re also talking about, I mean, David mentioned this at the beginning is you’re Mr. Purpose Driven, vision is purpose, so let’s talk about that a little bit. How do you specifically define purpose, and why is that something that you, in the talking and the speaking and motivational work that you do, focus on so much?

Tim Hightower 
Yes. It’s the reason you do what you do. One of my favorite quotes is that he or she who has a why can endure any how, right? When you understand like this is why I do what I do, so it’s the reason why I do what I do and how that connects me to the world around me, where I used to think, as a kid, it was like this one specific thing, like purpose was this one thing, but no. A purpose, all it is, is an understanding of this is who I am, this is why I do it, and this is the impact in how it’s going to connect me to those around me.

If you don’t start there . . . I always ask kids, and they talk about wanting to achieve these great things. We all are going to face challenges, obstacles, setbacks, doubts, fears, at some point in our life, and if you don’t have a clear like resolve and foundation of why you’re doing something, you’re not going to have the fortitude. You’re not going to have the resolve to keep pushing and to keep asking and keep coming back and to pick yourself up. You’re not going to have it, so you have to have that strong understanding of this is why I’m doing this, this is what I’m after, and that gives you the perspective, it gives you the resilience, and it gives you what you need to keep going, and so that’s why I always start there.

Jamie Martin 

In some of the work that you do, and I know you work with kids and do camps and things like that.

Tim Hightower 
Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
Are there any exercises that you suggest for somebody who’s struggling to kind of drill down to what that purpose is? How do you help people kind of identify that, or what are some things or like some tactics that you use to help people find that?

Tim Hightower 

Yeah. I believe success leaves clues, and so, for me, now I study Magic Johnson. I study Jim Rohn. I study people, right? When I was a kid, it was the Walter Paytons, the Barry Sanders, the Tony Dorsetts . . .

When you study success, it provides inspiration, right? It gives you an insight to, like, I could see myself in those people. Sometimes, you can’t just make up something out of nowhere, but when I look at someone and I said, you know what, there’s something about what they’ve done, who they are that resonates with me. It attached to something on the inside of me. So, I would always tell kids to start with who are three people . . . maybe it’s just one person, who do you admire and why, because you may not even know why you admire that person.

You may, you know, you admire them for different reasons, but there’s something about their life that you, A, want to emulate, want to be like, want to replicate. It speaks to something on the inside of you, right, so if you can identify that individual, now you can start to study them and find some of those things that what did they do? I may not want to be exactly like them, but now, you can start to kind of chart a course for you that maybe, you know, there’s something about their life that I want to emulate. So, I always start with finding someone, an individual that inspires you to be better and start to identify why, and then, once you do that, then you can kind of navigate and build out some other things.

Jamie Martin 
That’s useful for kids and adults, alike, I think, right now.

Tim Hightower 
A hundred percent, yeah. Well, that’s an ongoing, and to me, what I’m finding is in the same way with training, right, when I got hurt, a lot of the trainers and therapists that I worked with, they returned back to some of the primitive movements, the crawling, and you know, a lot of these movements as like that you do as a kid that they’re finding in high-level training, this is what they’re doing, right? They’re retraining you how to move like you did as a kid again.

Well, the odd thing about it is as I got out of the NFL or even got back to playing, now in business, I’m returning back to some of these same principles that started me down this process, right? So, now I’m researching people in the same way I did football, just in business, right? Like, I’m writing things down. I’m surrounding myself with people, a team of people who are going to help and push in this . . . and it’s some of the same principles apply, and the better you . . . it’s like with football, with anything, the more repetitions you get at it, the better you’re going to become at it.

David Freeman 
So, Tim, let me throw a question at you, and I think a lot of our listeners would probably be challenged with this question, but we usually associate happiness to success, and when we look at being purpose-driven, how would you clearly define, understand what purpose-driven means as it relates to success versus happiness, because people can perceive you having the winning touchdown to take your team to the Super Bowl as success, but in those moments and all that, don’t get me wrong, I think it is a high point of achievement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re happy. So, I want you to probably clearly define when you speak to being purpose-driven, understanding success and happiness and how they live in two different worlds. Can you go into that?

Tim Hightower 
Yeah, that’s a great, great point. For me, it’s, there are a lot of times that in doing, you know, I thought for a long time, to your point, that me doing something that I love to do was the ultimate, right, that there are times when I looked on the football field, there are times that I was not happy, and you’re like how could you even . . . it didn’t strike my mind that that could even occur, that I could be well-compensated to do what I love to do, something that I’ve been doing as a child, and I’m not happy in what I’m doing, right? And so, for me, at this point in my life, the way I describe it is the commitment to the fulfillment of a cause that’s bigger than yourself, and at this point, knowing that I’m committed to something that I believe in, that I’m so passionate, I believe in, there are going to be times . . . the emotion of happiness can go up and down, right?

Like, that’s day to day. Like, there’s some days I’m just not going to feel like it. There are other days I am going to feel like it, but as long as I’m doing something that I believe in, I’m committed to a cause, I’m working toward a cause that I believe in, to me, that’s purpose. That’s an understanding of purpose, and more times than not, right, if I’m at two different jobs, and one job is very . . . they both pay well, but I don’t believe in one, and the other one, I believe in, there’s going to be something about me at the end of the day that I can say, you know what, I understand why. It’s returning back to that why, and so not being connected necessarily . . . I know there’s a big thing about happiness, and there’s a difference between compromising happiness and compromising integrity and values.

That’s different, you know? That’s recognizing the difference between the two. But I think people just have to be careful with connecting your happiness, because there’s a lot. There’s a process that you’re going to go through in discovering purpose and living purpose that is very uncomfortable. It’s very painful. It’s just uncomfortable, but it’s that being connected to something that you truly believe in will give you that gratification and that feeling of importance that we all crave.

Jamie Martin 
Well, I think what you’re speaking to is adversity, right? And in many cases, adversity, we learn from it, to your point about always learning, that can help us find deeper meaning in what we’re doing, and so I guess I’d love for you to speak a little bit to, like, when you suffered that injury that many thought would be career-ending for you, you know, how did you use that adversity to your advantage, you know?

Tim Hightower 
Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
Because we all face hard things.

Tim Hightower 
Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
And some people are more resilient than others, but you can build resilience. So, let’s speak to that a little bit.

Tim Hightower 
Absolutely.

Jamie Martin 
Can you speak to that a bit?

Tim Hightower 
Yeah, absolutely. When you think about like if what I’m about to accomplish, the idea of me accomplishing that, is that greater than the pain that I’m feeling? Like, if I accomplish this, like, all I can think about on some of those days was if I accomplish this, then what? How does this change my life? How does it change the life of those around me? And if that’s greater than the fear or the pain that you’re currently going through, you probably want to keep going through with it.

You got to push through it, but if it’s not, then it’s probably not something that you, for me, that I would, you know, continue investing my time in, because anything, like you said, that you’re going to accomplish in life, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be tough. You’re going to have setbacks and failures and all that stuff, but for me, all I could think about was, man, what happens if I actually come back from this, and that thought, alone, right there, was enough that, you know what, it’s worth it, because if I actually do . . . I know if I fail, what happens, but what happens if I succeed? Man, I was in tears when I got that phone call from the Saints, and I went home.

I picked up my 1-year-old son out the crib, he wasn’t even one at the time, and tears flooded my eyes because all I could think about was I’m going to look at him, in his face, for the rest of his life and tell him don’t give up, because I know what it feels like, but I did. Because your dad did, I can tell you, not in a theory, but I can speak with conviction and passion because I know what that process looks like, and I know what it looks like to come on the other side of it, you know what I mean, and so it’s a different . . . that thought of what happens if I do, and I just think that’s what we have to continue to remind and ask ourselves when we’re in those difficult moments.

David Freeman 
Yeah, and touching on that, to be able to speak from that place, I always say experience is always going to be the best teacher, like you said. It’s not a theory. It’s not something you read. It’s something that you lived, and a lot of times, when going through what we would call these trials and tribulations, we start to have a better understanding on who self is, and I’ll share that experience as far as, in my head, this whole, my whole life, to what Tim was just saying, I felt I was supposed to be in the NFL.

I felt like that was supposed to be my, you know, my epic platform to give back to this world, and after door after door that was being shut, eventually I came into understanding what it was that I was supposed to be doing, and the way that the Almighty ended up putting me in a position . . . and the platform is health and fitness, but my reach of connecting to individuals and changing lives go beyond that, and that’s the beautiful part of what Tim just hit on, and all three of us can speak to this now of taking that attitude of purpose and how you now share that with your family, speak on how your purpose-driven life now connects to family life and health and fitness and your overall mental health and wellbeing.

Tim Hightower 
I love that. I love that. You talk about . . . it’s impact. Impact is what we’re all after, impact and importance, right? The first thing we ask when we’re done, well, how did that go, right? That’s what we want to know. We want to know that the impact that we’re having is important. It’s valued. It’s the reach that it has, and exactly to your point, I think sometimes that we put that in a box because we have an expectation of what that impact should look like, what kind of form. It’s going to be in music. It’s going to be in sports. It’s going to be in this.

But it’s like if we were just to take away job titles that people have created, anyway, and just start talking about what kind of impact do we want to have, period, right, and just open ourselves to how that can’t happen, this is the impact that I want to have on people’s life, this is what I want to do, and allow our experience, allow opportunities to form and us to attract these types of opportunities, but it’s like sometimes we can become, myself included, can become so . . . man, I had so many relationships, when I was able to step outside of what I thought was the norm or what I thought was going to, you know, this relationship was going to happen this way, or this business was going to take place this way, and so I love what you said, man. It’s understanding the impact that you want to have and being willing to just go on that journey, to go on that journey.

Jamie Martin 
How are you teaching that to your kids? I know you have a couple young kids, so how do you teach that to them?

Tim Hightower 
I start out the same way that my parents started with me, and you know my son will come to me. My oldest son, who’s 6, he’ll come to me, daddy, what do you think? Well, what do you think? Well, I know, but what . . . it’s teaching them to or challenging them to trust here first. Self-awareness, to me, is one of the most important things that I can give them because, guess what, I’m not always going to be there, right? I’m not always going to be there, and at the end of the day, I don’t want to always be there. I want you to be more confident, because I always say that your purpose is your responsibility. Like, it’s your responsibility. No one gave that vision to anybody else but you. Like, you knew those sleepless nights.

You know what you can’t stop dreaming and can’t stop thinking about, and you can’t stop, right? That’s no one else’s responsibility. It’s your job to protect that, and so, for my kid, that’s the first thing I have to instill in them and give them that confidence. Trust what you feel. You don’t like that food? Why don’t you like that food? I’m not going to force you to eat this. I’m going to encourage you, but let’s explore why do you like this, why don’t you like this, right, and so giving them that confidence to think for themselves and to question things and to why do you like this, why do you like art as opposed to sports, right? And so, I think that’s the first kind of foundational element, that we don’t . . . well, I don’t say we don’t, but I try to give my kids the confidence to think for themselves.

Jamie Martin 
We were just having a conversation at our dinner table, last night, about that, like with our kids about being comfortable asking questions and challenging things.

Tim Hightower 
Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
And so, it’s kind of funny that you say that right now. It’s like I think we have this opportunity, always, in our parenting, to model the kind of behavior.

Tim Hightower 
Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
And model things for our kids, right, but also to give them confidence.

Tim Hightower 

Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
And give them ownership of who they are versus us telling them who to be, right?

Tim Hightower 
Yes, and it’s scary, sometimes, because you look at like . . . I’m looking at my 1-year-old daughter crawling up and down the steps, and she’s reaching out to me. She’s reaching out to me, right, and I’m like I don’t want her to fall, but understanding she is going to fall. It’s OK. I’m not going to allow her to get hurt, but she is going to fall, but it took 20 minutes. It longer than for me just reaching my hand out and just grabbing her. I had to sit there for 20 minutes while she figured out, OK, I can’t put my foot here, I can’t do this, but it took her 20 minutes, but she got it, and she smiled at me because she got it. She figured out she got it, and I watched, but she got it, and if I don’t allow that process and don’t empower her with that, that, no, you can figure this out, I’m here, but you got to figure this out, and the more and more, again, it’s repetition.

I can tell them anything that I want to tell them, but they have to go through the process of knowing who I am, what I want, and then acting on that, and then they may get it wrong. They may say, you know what, my gut told me wrong or my intuition led me wrong or . . . and as a parent, being OK, saying . . . you may already know the answer, but allowing them to go through that process. Anything that you do, they’re going to develop that confidence. They’re going to develop that confidence, and then they’re going to start saying . . . where, as parents, we’re like, man, I wish I would’ve called that person, or I wish I would’ve did that, or I wish I would’ve did that, they’re going to develop that strength and that confidence, and they’re going to get a lot better as they go. I feel like I’m taking over the conversation. You guys supposed to be asking the questions. Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
I was just sitting here, going I wish I . . . like our listeners could see my notebook because I’ve got like all these like random little notes, and actually, I think I have a book title for you if you ever write a book someday. I think it should be like “Impact,” period, “Period,” you know what I mean?

Tim Hightower 
Impact, period, Period.

Jamie Martin 
You know what I mean, like Impact Period. Like, there’s just something about that like . . .

Tim Hightower 
OK. We’ll have to talk about that offline. I like it.

Jamie Martin 
We’ll do that later, but no, I have all these like little notes. I’m like I wish we could just keep talking all day.

David Freeman 
Now, what you just said, I mean, the touches, and we could speak to it as the reps, the reps, the reps, and we smile at these certain things when we go back to our childhood, and that’s why we have such a strong foundation of understanding what reps and experience does to us over time. I’ll share a memory that I recently just saw with my daughter learning how to hula hoop. It’s like my son constantly was just, you know, over and over, doing it, doing it, and she kept seeing it.

She kept seeing it, and she wanted to achieve it, and eventually, she got it, and in that moment, I mean, I remember my dad was recording, and I heard his voice, like, “Oh!” and like I remembered that moment when he saw me or my sister do something, so I talk about like the circle of life, these streets that we pulled tires and ran hills on to take my kids through that same experience. It’s the reps. It’s the touches. It’s that experience. I keep saying experience is always going to be the best teacher.

When we think of that, we’re currently dealing with something that we never experienced in our lifetime with this current pandemic, and as we focus on mindset and how we need it to shift or need to shift our mindset, it might already exist in there, but now you have to make it. You have to activate it. So, tell me how you’ve been able to shift your mindset during this pandemic and how you’re channeling your energy during these times.

Tim Hightower 
I got to be honest, man. It’s been difficult, at times, you know, for a lot of reasons, and to answer that question, I keep thinking of there’s an acronym that I have written down, and it’s WIN, What’s Important Now, and defining what a win is from day to day, right, where there are times when in college I built confidence and just the work ethic in high school that at 3 o’clock in the morning, I could just get up and just go run up and down the field, up and down the field, up and down the field, up and down the field. I knew by the time I got to practice, no one knew that I was on that field, that I jumped that fence, but there was something that gave confidence. There was confidence that came in that. Now, at different stages of my life, what that win was looked different, right? I can’t go to the gym. I’m not working on getting bigger. I’m doing home workouts.

The win is exercise, OK, 30 minutes of movement in a day. That’s OK. That’s a win for the day, right, and so redefining, to answer your question, redefining what win and what success was at this point in my life. I think that just mindset, starting there, my kids are running in and out of the house, oh, daddy’s home, you must be free now? And I’m like, no, no, no, I’m working, but okay, all right. So, that first two weeks was frustrating because I’m just like I’m used to being able to focus, like, uninterrupted focus, but man, there is some time that I have an opportunity to spend some time with my kids, so what is win? Okay, hey, look, if I can get two hours of focus and spend an hour with my kids, you know? So, it’s the first thing I always go back to, we keep talking about it, but it’s mindset. What’s important now?

And then once I can wrap myself, once I started to wrap my mind around, you know what, I’m not going to get a chance to just work for eight hours straight today with . . . but here are some things. Let me prioritize, but then also looking at, again, the mission and the impact. OK, Tim, who am I, and what’s important to me? OK, great. How can that shift, like, maybe there’s more of an emphasis on social media. Maybe there’s more of an emphasis on delivering that impact in a different way, but it’s still who I am, and so, for me, those are the two things as far as mindset and then kind of reminding myself of the values and the impact and then finding, being open to other ways to explore that, to communicate that in where we currently are, in our market right now.

David Freeman 
So, the acronym What’s Important Now for WIN, I love that.

Tim Hightower 
What’s Important Now, yeah, and man, that’s a daily reminder, daily reminder.

Jamie Martin 
Yeah. Well, similar to you saying like, you know, my kids are running out and this kind of thing, I mean, I had a moment a few weeks ago where, you know, what’s important now and how do we adjust our expectations, too, as I looked out my office window and I saw my 6-year-old doing a yoga pose on our front walk, and I was like . . .

Tim Hightower 
I love it.

Jamie Martin 
Like, and so I went out and I joined her, and I was like, you know what, what’s important right now is that I actually see that and join her and be part of this, and for me, that’s a value that I really want my kids to know that I’m present, and those are just the things. It’s those little things that we notice, and it shifts. Sometimes, it shifts hour to hour, you know, depending on the circumstances, so giving ourselves, I think, being flexible with that, too, right?

Tim Hightower 
I love it, and there’s something powerful to that. I was talking to a doctor about this, exactly what you just said, and I never looked at it like this before, but he said, Tim, you know, when you practice this awareness and this ability to be present, right, like we don’t understand the importance of practicing it, and so what’s the difference? Our brain doesn’t know any different than, OK, if I’m at work, then me training myself if I’m at work, I’m at work. If I’m at home, I’m at home. If I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation. But recognizing the being present with my kids, now, what happens when I’m in a critical situation, fourth and one, I’m able to be present in that moment because I practiced being present in all these other moments.

We compartmentalize and say, oh, it’s just for business, oh, it’s just for this, but it’s our brain doesn’t know the difference. All our brain knows is that we are telling it this is priority right now, that yes, there are all these other stressors going on, but right now, I’m choosing to focus on this one, and that’s what being present is. So, the fact that you’re saying that and ability to do that with all the other . . . you got to figure out how to pay the bills, you got to figure out how to do this, you got to figure out all the . . . but you’re saying my daughter needs me right now, this is what we focus on, and you continue to do that a hundred percent. You do that over and over and over again, and it’s going to impact every other area of your life, as well. So, kudos to you.

Jamie Martin 
It doesn’t happen every day, but again, it’s one day at a time.

Tim Hightower 
No doubt. No doubt. Reps, yeah, get the reps.

David Freeman 
Alright. Well, coming into our close, we always have this, I guess, a minute . . . what do we call it, Jamie? I can’t remember what it was called, the hot minute?

Jamie Martin 
We called it a power minute.

David Freeman 
Power minute, there we go.

Jamie Martin 
But it could be an intentional minute.

David Freeman 
Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
You know it’s flexible.

David Freeman 
I like it. Yeah.

Jamie Martin 
We’re just being open.

David Freeman 
Yeah. So, if there’s one key takeaway that you would leave our listeners with, what would it be?

Tim Hightower 
Man, live from the inside out and know that if that’s one word, you know, one kind of phrase, but no today doesn’t mean no tomorrow. Failure is not final. You hear all that stuff. Start within and trust it. Trust it. Trust it. Trust it. Trust it. Trust yourself and keep going, man. There’s no feeling greater than knowing who you are, knowing what you want, and being willing to go after it regardless of what anybody says, thinks, or feels about you, or how many times you fail. If you were to know . . . if I were to tell you that you were going to fail a thousand times, but on your thousandth and one, the first time that you would get it, would you be willing to fail that many times because you believed in something? Something to think about.

Jamie Martin 
Well, that’s a good way to end it. Before we sign off, Tim, can you tell us where can our listeners learn more about you or follow you?

Tim Hightower 
Just Tim Hightower on social media, Instagram, Twitter, and yeah, Tim Hightower. That’s it.

Jamie Martin 
I love it. Well, and I know you and David have done a couple Instagram TV segments together, so people can check that out as well, really good inspirational stuff there. So, thank you, Tim Hightower, for joining us on Life Time Talks.

Tim Hightower 
Thank you, so much, for having me.

[Music]

David Freeman 
Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?

Jamie Martin 
And if you have topics for future episodes, you can share those with us, too. Email us at lttalks@lt.life, or reach out to us on Instagram at @lifetime.life@jamiemartinel, or @freezy30 and use the hashtag #LifeTimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at thesource.lifetime.life/podcasts.

David Freeman 
And if you’re enjoying Life Time Talks, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Feel free to write a review and also let others know about it, too. Take a screenshot of the episode and share it on social, share it with your friends, family, work buddies, life coach. You get the gist.

Jamie Martin 
Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks.

[Music]

Jamie Martin

Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Schelper, with audio engineering by Peter Perkins and sound consulting by Coy Larson. A big thank you to the team who pulls each episode together and everyone who provided feedback.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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