502: How A Former NFL Player Found Fulfillment In A New Career

When it comes time to make a change from a career you're passionate about, it can be extremely hard to untangle yourself and make the necessary changes to find true career fulfillment.



Thomas Williams
Thomas R. Williams, Author, Speaker

Thomas is a former NFL linebacker, the author of Permission to DREAM and The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness, NFL Player Engagement Ambassador, and philanthropist.

on this episode

Thomas Williams lay on the ground for two and a half minutes, paralyzed. A career-ending neck injury changed his life and career as he knew it in an instant.

“The doctors said, ‘Thomas do you want to walk for the rest of your life or do you want to play football for a few more years?’”

Thomas began playing football as a young boy and equated his discovery of the sport to finding his one true love. He worked his way up to playing at the highest level, but when Thomas was forced to retire from his passion, he felt lost. Learn how Thomas used the principles and lessons he learned playing football to find his true purpose in an entirely new career.

“Look to the people who have done it before, and they will show you that it’s possible”

The process of a career change can be isolating, and if you are leaving a position you have worked many years to reach, it can be painful. Hear how Thomas found a new team off the football field, endured the pain of loss and used his experiences as a foundation to build his future upon.

Bonus: A career change exercise from Thomas – Write down 3-5 things that make you extremely happy and focus on doing them every single day.

What you’ll learn

  • Identifying your passion vs. your purpose
  • Trusting your gut when it’s time to leave a career
  • Forming a team of advisors to help navigate your career change
  • Doing it scared: overcoming fears that are holding you back

Thomas Williams 00:01

I was extremely scared. I was extremely vulnerable. I'd never been excited about doing anything else. But for some reason, there was that little feeling inside of my stomach that says, "The time is now. Time is now to transition."

Introduction 00:20

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you feel like you were meant for more and ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:45

When you work in a field you're passionate about, it's really easy to get your identity wrapped up in what you do for a living. This type of work can be very fulfilling. However, when it comes time to make a change, it can be extremely hard to untangle yourself from your career and make the necessary changes to find true career fulfillment.

Thomas Williams 01:07

Football is the only thing I'm good at. So you take football and that means that I'm not good at it. You take football, I'm not good at anything and I'm not wanted. So I put all of my value into what I did.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:20

That's Thomas Williams. Thomas is a former NFL linebacker and author of "Permission to Dream" and the "Relentless Pursuit of Greatness". Thomas grew up believing that he would be a baseball player in MLB. But when his coaches convinced him to give football a try in the eighth grade, he realized his true passion was for the game of football. Thomas went on to play five years in the NFL until a neck injury ended his career. He was then faced with figuring out what fulfilling work looked like outside of football, which was the only career he had ever really known. Here's Thomas going way back when he first discovered his love of sports.

Thomas Williams 01:59

I grew up in a predominantly white community, I'm biracial. And so I had always... My mom and dad were divorced at an early age, and I'm an only child. And so I always longed for a sense of community. I always longed to be a part of something. And so for me, I found that through sports. And so I grew up playing baseball and thought I was going to be a major league baseball player, because I went to an Oakland A's baseball game when I was seven years old and I said, "That's what I want to do." And then fast forward to eighth grade, ninth grade, my coaches called me and said, "Hey, we want you to play football." And I was like, "No, coach. I don't think you understand. I'm supposed to be a major league baseball player." They said, "That's great. But what are you going to do in the fall?" You see, Scott, I thought I was gonna be able to talk my way out of it right then and there, and they were like, "Yes, good answer. Yeah, let's stop bugging him and asking him about it." But what happened was, they said, "Well, what are you gonna do in the fall? You can play football in the fall, and you play baseball in the spring." And so I started playing football, and I thought I was playing football to stay in shape and stay active for baseball. But it actually turned out to be the opposite way around, I fell in love with it. See, it was the first time where I'd actually been encouraged to be physical. And for me, I was growing up, and that's my nature, I mean, I love to wrestle, I love to play tag, I turned on the playground, two hand touch and tackle football. And so after my freshman year in high school, I really loved playing the game of football. And so I became good at it. And surprisingly, because I had no clue what the coaches were talking about the first day, I mean, how many people go into a job or get into a new something, and then they're talking this common language, and you're the only one that's like raising your hand every 30 seconds, like, "Wait, what do they say? What does they mean by that?" So I earned a scholarship in high school. And so that's where I really started to find validation. And that's when I really started to find kind of sense of purpose. The recruiting process in high school was... it was crazy. I mean, I had three, four, five coaches all from out of the country coming to my high school every single day. And then they were also following me home and, you know, meeting my mom and calling me at my friend's house, like it was crazy. But I love that because that was pretty much the only time I felt like I was important or celebrated, so to speak. And so I ran off to USC and played there where we won two national championships. And from there, I put baseball in the rearview mirror. And it's crazy, because you know, you think that there's so many things in your life that you're supposed to be doing, but that thing is just supposed to take you to what you're actually supposed to be doing– a job, a passion, a career, a hobby, a relationship, you can think about all of those things, and so that was the thing. Baseball was my first love, but football was my true love. And so it was my true love. And that was what I was supposed to do. So I got to USC and playing there early on, kind of, sparingly. Think about it as you get to a new job, and you really want to be doing the big task, and you really want to be doing all of the projects that really matter. But they say "Hey, we need you to set up for the presentation. We need you to take the chairs from the little coffee room into the conference room." I was kind of like the person that was doing all of those small tasks, a utility players, so to speak. But four years later, surprising, and unbeknownst to me, I ended up getting drafted. So I played five years in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars, for the Carolina Panthers, for the Buffalo Bills. And I had a career, and a neck injury on October 30th of 2011, where I laid on the ground for about two and a half minute paralyzed. And so the doctors said, "Thomas, do you want to walk for the rest of your life? Or do you want to play football for a couple more years?" Because at that time, I was in my fifth year, and that's kind of long in the tooth, so to speak. And so they said, "Do you want to walk? Or do you want to play football for a couple more years?" And I just obviously took the latter and I said, "I want to play with my unborn children. And I want to be able to still play golf into my 70s. So I'll go ahead and transition in exit. Don't worry about showing me the door. I know exactly where it is." And so I trained.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:59

Let's back up for a moment here. I'm so curious about what it was like at that time. I mean, you talk about, first of all, this was the true love you called it– baseball first love, football was the true love. And then, you talk about laying on the field for multiple minutes. And then later on, shortly after that, given that type of choice, what was that like at the time? What do you remember feeling? Or what do you remember that was like for you at that?

Thomas Williams 06:35

Yeah, so it was the scariest, most exhilarating feeling. See, I thought football was my purpose, right? I thought that's why God created me. That's why I was on this earth. That's the only thing I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to change the game and the course of the game and make these big giant plays that the crowds going crazy. But see, again, football was just my passion to lead me to my purpose, but I didn't know that at the moment. And so during that time, I was extremely scared. I was extremely vulnerable. I have never been excited about doing anything else. But for some reason, there was that little feeling inside of my stomach that says, "The time is now". "Time is now to transition." Because you always ask your question, how do you know you're supposed to leave a relationship? How do you know if you're supposed to leave a career? How do you know if she's the one or he's the one or they're the person? If this is the right fit for me, how do you know? And people always told me, "You'll know. You'll know when you're supposed to marry her. You'll know that your job and that's your calling. And you'll know when it's time to leave." And so for me, on that day, it was like a whisper inside of my ear that says, "you're finished." And even though it was easy to understand, it was difficult to embrace.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:46

That was going to be what I was going to ask next. I found that many of us go through those time periods and I've heard that advice, too, in many scenarios, "Oh, you'll know. You'll absolutely know." However, in reality, I've found it's a lot more difficult to listen to that little tiny whisper compared to all of the other things that might be going on, or the evidence that might be mounting in the opposite direction.

Thomas Williams 08:12

As you're saying that, and I think this is a great teaching point for the listeners. It's kind of like when you go to a restaurant and the waitress, or the waiter comes and says, "These are our specials." And then you ask them, and you say, "What would you recommend?" And then they give you a recommendation, but there's something inside of you says, "No, I don't want the salad. I'm actually going to go for the sandwich." And so it's kind of like that same intuition and that same feeling, obviously, on a grander scale, but that's the very same way that I felt because there were people asking me like, "Are you sure you're done? Are you sure you're going to be able to transition? What are you going to do?" And at that moment, even though I didn't know specifically, I kind of knew that I showed up to order the sandwich and I didn't want to get the salad. Even they did, like, all the people were telling me those things. And so what I constantly remember during that time is that, "you're greater than an athlete, you're greater than an athlete, you're more than a football player, you're greater than an athlete." And because I'd grown up hearing certain people tell me "Wow, you're actually smarter than an athlete. You're better than an athlete." And now there's a negative connotation in that compliment, but I understood what they were saying. And so for me, I was like, "you're more than an athlete, you're actually going to be able to move on." And so with that being said, is that what was the greatest thing that made me a football player, there's my teammates, I wasn't great on my own, I couldn't go out there and cover 11 different people or I couldn't make 11 different plays or do 11 different assignment, I could do one. So as good as my teammates were, I was able to be. And so the same thing with that being said is that I needed to find a new teammate, a new team member, a new tribe. And so there were people who were currently playing, who I was no longer the same amount of friends with, but then there were people who were former players and I just started to adapt and adopt them as new teammates. What is it that I need to learn? What is it I need to do? But inside of me is that I've always done things that I was afraid of. I was afraid of going to college, you know, six hours away, but I did it. Why? Because I knew the vision with the end in mind. The vision in the end of mind was, what is the easiest and fastest and most efficient way for me to play professional sports? Go to this college. I went to USC, by the way. And so they were playing extremely well during that time. And so how is it that you want to get to the end result? "So, Thomas, how is it that you want to get to the end result in this new phase and change and challenge in your life?" Find people who have done it before. I'm not the only person to ever transition. There was other people who transitioned. I looked at people like Magic Johnson, for example, who transitioned from basketball into a businessman into a mogul. I started to look at people who were transitioning in other spaces, people like Elon Musk, who started in PayPal, and then transitioned into this thing of creating SpaceX and Tesla. And starting to find out that we all go through these different transitions. It's inevitable. There's none of us that are going to stay the same exact way. And so for me, where I really found the power was look towards the people who have done it before. And when you can look to the people who have done it before, then they show you that it's possible. And I don't know about you, but for me, if you get a paper cut, and you bleed, just like I'm gonna get a paper cut, I'm gonna bleed, we're the same person. Doesn't make you any greater any less than me. I just need to find the right people who have taken the same transition. And once you can find those right people, then they can exemplify the steps.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:41

So many questions. And first, let me just say that I love the reference to looking at the menu and asking, "Hey, you know, what would you recommend?" And then deciding that "I'm not going to go with what you recommend" by the way, just as a sub note, that is literally an exercise that we'll use as a very, very, very low risk way to practice declaring what you actually want and listening to that small voice. So I so appreciate you sharing that on many different levels. And then two, wrapping back around to what you just mentioned a moment ago, really focusing not just on what is next, but how to transition in, I forget the words you used, but it made me think of a really in a wonderful way for you as an individual. And I'm curious, one, what were some of the hardest parts in that? We talked a little bit about finding your tribe, finding the people who have done that, but it also makes me curious, like, what were some of the places where you personally struggled with that?

Thomas Williams 12:46

Yeah, so first and foremost is identity. You gained a whole bunch of confidence because the confidence that I had before, while I was an athlete, came from repetition, over and over and over. So anytime you're on the field and you've done this play over and over and over, you're going to have confidence. Now if you have to transition and do something outside of a helmet for me, outside of a jersey for me, outside of cleats and a football field for me, I'm fish out of water. So I'll give you a perfect example. I learned this in football early on at 18 years old, our coach said, "If I took this two by four..." and we had this picture of Downtown LA in our team meeting room, there's this huge meeting room, 115 seats, every single player sat down with coaches. And he said, "If I took this two by four right now, and I ran it across the tallest buildings in LA, like the US Bank, and like Bank of America building, huge, right? So they're like 120 stories. Would you guys do it?" And everyone goes, "Whoa, no, no, no, no." Now these are a whole bunch of big, strong, tough, masculine football players, "No, no wouldn't do it." He said, "Okay. What if I took it, and I said, it's the same distance. So 50 yards, and I put it two feet above the ground, would you do it?" Everyone goes, "Of course." He goes, "Okay, now we're going to do that every single day for a week. The next week, we're going to move it to four. Then we're going to move six, and so on and so forth. And then we're going to build our way up to 120 stories. Would you do it then?" And everybody says "Yeah", he said, "So what we're going to do, is every single day we're just going to take it a little bit further. You don't have to get there now. We're just going to take a little bit further." So for me, having that knowledge and having that understanding is that I just had to focus on doing something every single day. So the hardest part for me was the identity piece, because I've never had practice or experience doing anything else. I'll be honest with you, like, I've written two books, and people asked me, like, when I was gonna first start writing books, "You should write a book." I'm like, "I barely wrote papers in college, there's no way." And so Scott, for me, it was the identity piece. It was gaining confidence doing something new that I've never explored nor been complimented for. So I had to, again, you got to find the yeses. So I had to find people who saw things in me so I'd ask people, "Hey, what do I represent? What am I good at? What do you think I can do well?" And so there's vulnerability in that. But you have to talk to a trusted group of advisers, because you can't just talk to anybody, it has to be somebody who loves you, somebody who cares about you and somebody who knows you. And so when I would ask the people this, they would always tell me, "Thomas, you're good at communicating. You're good at talking to people. You're likable. You're personable. You're good at showing up on time." And I was like, "Okay, that's great." Now, I went to my football friends, and I said, "What did I represent on the football field? What do you think I did?" And they said, "Thomas, you always got us inspired. You got us inspired to go to practice, you got us inspired to go to the games. Heck, sometimes you can get us inspired at six o'clock in the morning to go to workouts." Oh, okay. So those are the things that I'm good at. Alright, so inside of doing that, inside of my transition, don't focus on "Oh, you got to develop your weaknesses." No, no, go to your strengths first. Okay. Now what jobs or which careers or opportunities and occupations allow me to do those things, which my people trusted advisors, and my trusted teammates, what they've told me that I'm good at. So that's how I was able to identify public speaking, personal development, coaching, consulting, and finding that lane. It all came from the search and the quest with inside the identity.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:19

Thomas, how long did it take you to go from, "Okay, I'm going to transition. I made that decision on some level" to beginning to recognize, not even fully recognized, but beginning to recognize that there were these themes that were not necessarily specifically tied into I play football, because all the things that you listed off, like, communication, being able to inspire others, interacting with people in that particular way, all of those things certainly work on and off the field, but how long? Just to give people idea.

Thomas Williams 16:56

Yeah, great question. See, now I take that question and I hear two different things. How long did it take for you to identify them? How long did it take for you to embrace it? And those are two separate different things, right? So I identified it early on. They showed me, they told me, I tried it, it was tested, proof of concept done. How long did it take for me to embrace it? Now see, the part of my identity that was wrapped up into football was need for approval, need for validation because of the boy in my life because of my father wasn't there. Every single thing that I needed in my life growing up as a little boy to try to get from my father, I got through football, coaches and teammates, and the game itself– discipline, sacrifice, commitment, wins, losses, etc. So I didn't embrace it until seven years, I didn't embrace it until seven years, even though I was able to identify it within a year. I started to embrace these little tricks and traits that I had, but I couldn't embrace it. Why? Because of the narrative that I've been constantly telling myself, "I need football in order to be more. I need football in order to be better. I need football in order to be accepted. Football is the only thing I'm good at. So you take football, and that means that I'm not good. You take football, I'm not good at anything and I'm not wanted." So I put all of my value into what I did. And since I didn't know who I was, and I also didn't have what I did or what I was doing, and therefore I pretty much wasn't existing.

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:33

I appreciate you sharing that for not just the vulnerability side of it, but also because I think that's very telling. And our company works with people all the time where we're helping people in transition. And we see that over and over again, where it's often... first, the actual transition might be a year, which many people could look at and go like "That's forever, like, I want to transition. Like, how do I transition now?" However, it often is longer than we want it to. And then I love that you distinguished out that accepting that transition can be and often is very separate from making any kind of real transition in itself. So here's another question that I think that raises, too. When you think about what allowed you to accept that, I can definitely appreciate that you were seeking out additional ways to get validation in that area and that's part of what functionally I heard you doing, like, "Hey, I'm going to my football friends. And I'm asking them what was helpful." And that is one step closer in that direction to be able to separate it out from football, compared to "I'm great at communicating in these particular ways." What else worked for you to be able to begin to accept your identity separate from football?

Thomas Williams 20:03

Yep. So I coined this phrase, right around the time I transitioned, and I didn't want to stop playing, right? So many times we move on, but we want to hold on to it. Take for example, and this just came into my mind, the person who's in their letterman jacket, who's like 40 years old, and he talks about high school days all the time. Shout out to you if you still do that, no disrespect, no judgment. And then there's also people who will consistently talk about... who are parents, and we'll talk about their children, kind of, like they were just born yesterday and it's like, they're 30. You can't talk about them like they were just born yesterday, because they weren't. For me, I was holding on to it. And so I was talking to a mentor of mine, and they said, "What was football for you?" And I said, "Football for me was my foundation." After we pulled all these different layers. And I said, "Football was my foundation" He said, "Great. So what about if you never stopped playing?" And I was like, "Well, what do you mean I can't play?" They said, "No, no, you can always play football, you just can't tackle people anymore." And so I coined the phrase of, "I never stopped playing football. I just don't tackle people." So you take the same mindset. You take the same determination, the same grit, all of these other characteristics and you apply it into the life that you have now. So to answer that question, there were things that you can take with you. You don't have to throw away with your last job, or you're a student transitioning into the work world, or you're an athlete transitioning to life after sports, you're a parent who's going to be an empty nester, all of these different transitions, there were certain things that helped you do those things in your previous chapter that you can take with you. And then also, there's these things that make you happy. I love waking up early in the morning and going to work out. I don't have to be a professional athlete to do that, it's just something I love to do. I love reading and getting information just like I love studying my playbook. Now I don't need to study a playbook because I'm not playing anybody this week. But I can still get up early, I can go work out and I can study, not necessarily an opponent, but it can be a client, it can be a connection, somebody like yourself of understanding Happen To Your Career, when you can understand the people in the information and the audience that you're gonna be in front of. So the part about it for me was, it took me a while to really embrace it, because there's this desire to want to completely throw away what happened because you're mad, you're angry, it's a relationship. And so when you have that anger, you have that feeling of being upset or being betrayed, you want to just completely throw it out and you can't throw it out. I mean, my therapist, cuz I had to go to therapy, again, to understand these different layers. And it was the best decision of my life as my therapist said one time, he said, "What if you said goodbye to football, and you really meant it?" I was like, "Well, that's of course, that's what you say." He's like, "No, no, because people say goodbye. But they mean badbye. It is a goodbye." And it's like you just wash your hands off like this. And you're saying, "Scott, goodbye." Whatever it is, it's a goodbye. And it was a goodbye. And so once I was able to have the goodbye moment, then I was able to move on. And again, start the healing process. Because when your identity is wrapped up into something, you can't do that something any longer then you do wander through life aimlessly and confused and unsure, uncertain, insecure. Insecurity was the biggest thing that I dealt with inside of my identity. But again, insecurity didn't come from losing football. Insecurity came because that was a hole that I didn't patch up when I was a young child.

Scott Anthony Barlow 23:35

It's so interesting. Like, just on the insecurity part right there, that insecurity comes from, in many ways, not getting what you need, and not having addressed that in one way or another. And in your case, you were getting that through football for such a period of time. And then that was sort of ripped away, and even though, I would say, compared to many other people that I've talked about that have something ripped away, I think you handled that fairly healthily in comparison.

Thomas Williams 24:12

Well, I had a grieving process. So just to be super transparent. There was... so when you're in something, it's difficult. The elite performers, and again, I'm not saying that I was an elite performers, but I was performing at the highest level. So elite performers very rarely live in the moment because they're always questing and searching for the next moment. So for me, I never watched my football tapes, I was never a fan of my work. I never enjoyed being a high school all American, being a national champion, being a football player. I never watched like my game films like a fan. And so what I did was for one week, Scott, I was... so when I first got done, I was waking up, I was only sleeping for like four to five hours, so I was waking up at three o'clock in the morning, the gym would open up at five, so I'd go work out, I eat breakfast, I read, I do my normal things and it's still only 9, 10 o'clock in the morning. Again, I'm not telling anybody, they should do this, this is what I did. I would allow myself to tailgate and watch games like I was a fan. So in one week I tailgated in my living room with beer and watched the games so I could say goodbye to those parts of my life, but also understanding my personality, and I have an addictive personality, so I didn't allow myself to do that for the next five years and binge drink. But I said for this one week, I'm gonna watch every single game I played in high school, college professional, and I'm going to tailgate and I'm going to drink some beers, my favorite beer, and I'm gonna sit on the couch, and I'm going to say goodbye. And I enjoyed it. It was so much fun to do that, because I didn't want to continue to drag the old playing days with me through the next phase of my life. It's like an animal and a reptile that sheds its skin. I just shed my skin. But in order to do that, you just want to look at it one more time from a different lens and a different perspective so that I can have fun. And that's what I needed to do. And most people need to identify what is it that you need from that past experience, that past chapter that's going to allow you to move on. And I think the biggest word is closure. And when you don't give yourself closure, then of course you're going to constantly try to be... you're going to either be reminded or you're gonna remind yourself that what was might be better than what is and what could be, which is a lie.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:27

Tell me more. When you say that's a lie, I believe, I agree. But what do you mean by that?

Thomas Williams 26:29

Yeah, so that's a lie because you're only in the moment of grieving process. It's like anybody who's, if you've ever gotten surgery, if you can hold on to the feeling and the sensation right after surgery, get your wisdom teeth pulled, you get some stitches, you break your finger, whatever it is, and if you hold on to that feeling right out of surgery, and you think that this is all it's going to be, then you're going to constantly seek what it was before surgery. So the same thing moving forward with the transition, it's going to hurt initially, because it's unfamiliar, it's uncertain, it's new. But if you think that that feeling is the best feeling, and the only feeling then of course, you're going to revert run back, right? People talk about comfort zones. So if you can sit there and you can withstand that initial uncomfortability, then you know, everybody, we've known it, again, you go from different schools, I remember going from elementary school to middle school, and it's like, I" miss recess, I want to go back to elementary school and do recess." They're like, "Well, long gone." And it's like, well, now you've passed two years, you went on for two more years, you're in 10th grade, you're driving a car, right? So the initial pain that you felt in boy from middle school isn't necessarily going to be the boy that you're always going to have, right? "This Too Shall Pass" is a quote that I live by, and I love "This Too Shall Pass". So again, with the transition of your job, this too shall pass, this moment will pass. The best is not what was, the best is only what set me up, well, what can be if I get through this process. Now, the crappy part about that is that they don't tell us, again, going back and using a hurt ankle or something, you're gonna be stiff for about two weeks, right? They don't say your transition is going to hurt for six months, because if they did, then you'd be fine, you'd set your timer, you put it in your phone, and you know, in six months, you're going to be perfectly fine, but they say this too shall pass. They just don't say, how long is it going to pass.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:24

And how uncomfortable is it going to be.

Thomas Williams 28:27

Exactly. And so you have to sit in it. And those are the things that you have to be able to identify people journaling, whatever your grieving process is buy motivational quotes, books, tapes, listening, podcast, songs, and you have to sit in it. And unfortunately, for too many times, people aren't comfortable with sitting in that. And they're not comfortable at being uncomfortable. So then they start to either revert back to old habits, old pattern ways, or they pick up new habits to fill the void that are unhealthy.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:58

What advice would you have for those people who are in transition or getting ready to transition right now, like they're thinking about that, and know that they need to make a transition, know it's going to be uncomfortable, and they're not quite fully prepared, they may be preparing themselves for sitting in that discomfort for a period of time, what advice would you have for them?

Thomas Williams 29:22

Yeah, great question. So I would say, you need to identify three to five people who have been in that transition before and they have come out, right. So we need... if you don't have the evidence, find the proof. So if you don't have the evidence for yourself, or anybody around you, find the proof that's out there. A book, social media, I mean, that's what I think the great thing about social media, there's people who have gone through what you've gone through, and they've made it out, they become successful, and then become happier, more exuberant, all of these different things. And then I would say the other thing you have to do is write down three to five things that make you happy, right? These are activities, these are actions, things that you can do every single day. So you're going to do through the course of your day, you're going to do these three to five things that make you extremely happy. The last thing that I'm going to do is, I'm going to say, find a place or a person to serve. And the reason why I say that, Scott, is because this, when we get into acts of service, we understand one thing, it's not that bad. What we're going through isn't that bad. And I'm not saying and dismissing what anybody's feeling or emotions or anything but once you start to serve, and you find out that there was... I started doing, I'll tell a story, to bring home the point. So I started, I was working with the school here in Los Angeles. It's called a nonpublic school. And so at this school, it serves as a continuation school, kids get bused in and then it also serves as a foster care system, which children then stay there. There was a story of an individual who had been in the system pretty much until, well, since they were two years old. And I thought in that moment, like, I can go home, they can't. I can call my mom, they can't. I can go get myself something to eat and say I'm gonna take myself out to a nice dinner or a nice lunch or something, they can't. I can drive over to the beach and clear my head, they can't. So the reason why you find out places to serve, one, you bring value to the people who you're serving, but also you get a real perspective of your situation isn't the worst, it's not... somebody else... One of the things that I think we have a very difficult time doing is we do... comparison is the thief of all joy. But we only compare up, we don't compare down. We only compare who has it better than us but we don't compare to who has it worse. And what I've done every single day for probably like the last two weeks, I have these little cards right here next to my desk, a gratitude cards. And so I have a gratitude jar and so every single day I have to write down something I'm grateful for and it can be anything. I mean, obviously it can be I'm grateful for waking up. I'm grateful for my daughter having her health, like, it can be anything but what it does is it reminds me, because it does, for a quick second, I asked myself the question, "who doesn't have what I have?" Not, "what don't I have that somebody else has? Who is it that doesn't have what I have?" So I compare down. And when you can compare down, then you do feel grateful, you do know that it could be worse, and you are appreciative of your situation and your circumstance.

Scott Anthony Barlow 32:21

I love it. And I really appreciate the stories and examples. And for those people who want to learn more about you, might be interested in the books, you have two have them. And for people who would love to be able to, just in general, be able to find out and get more Thomas R. Williams, where can they go? What can they do? Tell us a little bit about that.

Thomas Williams 32:44

Yeah, so right now I'm on hiatus for about two years from social media. I'm on this quest and this path to show our youth because social media has such a huge impact on their mental health. That I want to show the youth with evidence and examples that you can become successful without social media. So you can't find me on social media right now, even though I have it. But I am fully operating through the website, which is www.thomasrwilliams.com. The name of the books are "Permission to Dream'' which we all have permission, sometimes we just need to be reminded. And "The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness" because greatness has no limit, it is infinite.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:25

Hey, if you've been thinking about making a change for a while now, and you don't really know how to best take the first step or get started, here's what I would suggest. Just open your email app on your phone right now. And I'm gonna give you my personal email address, scott@happentoyourcareer.com, just email me and put 'Conversation' in the subject line. Tell me a little bit about your situation and I'll connect you with the right person on our team where we can figure out the very best way that we can help you. Scott@happentoyourcareer.com drop me an email.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:56

Here's a sneak peek into what we have coming up in store for you next week.

Speaker 2 34:00

I always say it's important to think more about how you want to live versus what you want to do. And then try to fit what you're doing into how you want to live.

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:10

So what do division one sports and career change have to do with each other? Well, a lot actually. According to the NCAA, fewer than 2% of student athletes go on to be professional athletes. That means that 98% of college athletes who have so often trained their entire life to do one thing and one thing only graduate and are expected to pivot into a brand new career. Most of them find themselves in the exact same position and with the same concerns that we hear all the time. I just don't know how my current experience can translate into another industry. I feel like this is all I knew.

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:54

All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

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