Monthly Archives: April 2014

Hustle.Believe.Receive. Your Life Coach

Easy Guide to Being Grateful.

*The following is an excerpt from my new book Hustle.Believe.Receive. 10 Steps to Changing Your Life and Living Your Dream.”  Coming Soon!

be grateful


Why Being Grateful Matters.

Hate your life? Welcome to humanity.  Most of us at one point or another have hated our lives.  Have tried to drown ourselves in a pool of self-pity.Have found ourselves bitchin’ endlessly to anyone who will listen about how much our life sucks.  I know you get what I’m sayin’ and can relate. Your job sucks, you have no money, you’re sick of being broke, your relationships are hanging on by a thread; life in general seems like an ocean of quicksand.  I get it. I was there.
            In 2006 while pregnant with my twins, I found myself in this destructive hell-hole.  Those were black days.  I remember stressing endlessly about finances, as I packed up our home that had just been foreclosed on. I felt defeated and broken, having spent years trying to establish a respectable life for my then husband and son.  It seemed like the world was dead-ending as it all got stripped away. Day and night I obsessed about our problems.  The lack of money, and the stress of providing for a family with more on the way, left me utterly hopeless.
It seemed like the more I obsessed about how bad shit was the worse it got.  Almost daily.  It felt like standing under an avalanche and not even having the energy to get out of the way.  Hopelessness is a dangerous thing. Bitchin’ about our issues and problems is equally as dangerous.  That’s what had led to my feeling of hopelessness, the more I verbalized my problems, the worse they became. 
          It’s crazy how much power our words, and the thoughts that lead up to those words, hold.  They literally predict and control our future. If you don’t believe me, take a few minutes to think about all the things you don’t like about your life in this moment.  What are they? List them out.  When you’re finished, ask yourself this question: Have they gotten worse over time? When they started going sideways can you recall stressing about them?  Obsessing until you felt physically ill at times? Did you talk about those problems with your friends and family? At this moment, are those problems or issues at the top of your list, ones that occupy the majority of your mind space?  If you answered yes to any of those questions then you are in that downward, self-fulfilling prophesy, spiral.  What you’ve thought about, and talked about has become your daily reality.
Think on that a minute.
By complaining about your problems, verbalizing them, and allowing your feelings associated with those thoughts and words two change your mood, or even make you physically ill, you have actually made those problems bigger.  Instead of solving them, you’ve made them much worse.When I first learned of this concept back in 2006, it took a long time for it to really sink in.  The fact that I was the one making my problems worse was not something I was ready to accept any type of
responsibility for.  I’d lived my life up to that point with the philosophy that I was just terribly unlucky and that no matter how hard I tried, nothing good would ever come my way.  I believe that, completely.  And (total shocker), that’s exactly how my life was playing out.  Totally unlucky.  Super crappy.  
Before we lost our home, I lost a baby.  After we lost our home, we were forced to file bankruptcy. It was like the hits were always lined up and coming; ninety mile an hour fast balls, one after the other.  It’s all I’d ever known.  I was so used to struggling, to being poor, that it was my normal.   I’d lived like that my entire life.  It’s the design I’d unwittingly laid out for
my life somewhere along the way, and I was fulfilling my destiny to a tee.
I felt there was nothing in my life to be thankful for.  It all just seemed like crap.  I would love to sit here and say, that when that light went on, I immediately began doing the work to turn my life around.  But sadly no.  I didn’t have the strength yet. Instead I made a Vision Board and tucked it under my bed so my husband wouldn’t see it and make fun of it.  I tried to
ignore the little voice in the back of my head, the one holding the flashlight showing me an end to the darkness.  I wanted to forget that there might be a pretty, shiny world out there.
And then in 2009 my world fell the fuck apart.  My twins were a year old, my son was five, and my husband of eight years was stumbling out of the shower trying to explain how the text I’d just read was “a joke”.And not sent from his lover
wondering when he’d be home.  That was the day that changed my life forever. 
For some reason, not fully understood even by me, instead of sinking further into the “my life sucks, nothing good ever happens to me” black ocean I’d been swimming in the past few years, something in me chose to fight.  I can only credit my children for giving me reason to rise up and want to get my life together, for giving me the motivation, and the lack of any other option. It’s funny how when you make up your mind to succeed and realize there are no alternatives, how you can actually do just that.
What was the thing that slowly began to change my life? Gratitude.
I had nothing when he left. No job, no income, I couldn’t stay in the home we were renting even one moth without his income.  I had no formula or diapers, no bank account or car in my name… nothing.  But oddly enough, that was the day I learned the meaning of the word gratitude.  I learned that when my whole life was collapsing around me, I still had something
to be thankful for, my babies and I were still together.  I knew that as long as the four of us were together we would make it.  Somehow we’d survive.  I’d make it happen.  And so every day, in those early black weeks, I sent up a little gratitude prayer, for every tiny little thing I could think of. 
It suddenly became clear how I’d manifested all the bad in my life up to that point, and realizing how powerful that truth is, I wasn’t about to keep that pattern going in my new life.  At all costs I was going to change my future results, and since I’d always been used to bitching about my life, the opposite of that was to be thankful for it… so that’s what I was determined to be.
There’s a great motto I use
“If you’re not grateful for what you have, you’ll never get more to be grateful for”.  I took that quote to heart and
repeated it daily.  I refused to talk about the things that scared me.  I refused to bitch about how bad things in reality were; instead I chose to focus on what, in that moment, I could be thankful for.  I refused to obsess over the lack of money, or
the things I couldn’t control. I could control my attitude, and my thoughts, and in the beginning, that’s all that mattered.
That has been a major key to my success.  It’s turned my mindset around completely, which has changed my outcomes.  It’s what gets me through the tough times, even still. It’s how I teach my children to react to their world, and how I
chose copiously to live, day in and day out. I chose to relish even the smallest “wins” or blessings.  I celebrate every single one; those keep my mind focused and positive and keep the blessings and wins coming. 
My Easy Guide to Being Grateful:
  • Make a list of every single thing you can possibly think of, that you are thankful for in this moment, on this day.  List even the things you take for granted, like having a place to call home, heat and electricity, food to eat etc.  List it all. 
  •  Chose five items on your list you are the most grateful for, and repeat them over and over to yourself. Really think
    about each one.
  • Visualize your life without each one of those things on your list.  One at a time. Picture your life without your family and friends.  Without a bed to sleep in at night and food to eat.  Then go back to your “grateful thoughts” about each one.   How did that make you feel? Do you legitimately feel grateful for them now?  Have you ever really taken the time to imagine your life without a place to live? Or the basic necessities of life? Most of us have never done that, we take it for granted and think the world is ending because we can’t afford to pay our cable bill.  Let me reassure you, the sun will still rise even if your cable is shut off for non-payment (I speak from experience here).
  • Post your list where you can see it every day.  Maybe on your bathroom mirror so you can read over it while getting ready in the morning.
  • Come up with some mantras around your gratitude list that you can draw on anytime your mind wants to go into “bitch mode”.  For example one of mine is: “I am beautiful, I am healthy, I have more than enough to provide for my family”.
    That mantra for me combats the topics I’d normally want to “bitch about” aka “I feel ugly” etc… gratitude mantras help keep you focused. Say them ten times over and over in your head whenever your thoughts start making a run for
    the quicksand. A good mantra will stop them in their tracks every time!
           The purpose of gratitude is to make us aware and present in our lives.  To teach us not to take anything for granted.  It’s so easy to get caught up in our daily life, and forget all the good things that are part of our environment.  Gratitude lets you reconnect with all of that, keeps you present in the moment and focused on your goal.
            As corny as it sounds, start every day with the question: What am I grateful for today?  See, step one to changing your life wasn’t that painful right? Common sense, you can totally do this!

Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports Your Life Coach

Patrick Johnson: Inside the Mind of an Athlete

Meet Patrick Johnson. He is my fifth example and story in my series Inside the Mind of an Athlete. 5 Oregon Football Players: Their Lessons Could Change Your Life and his story is all about what happens when your Ultimate Dream has been achieved? How do you cope with no longer living a certain type of life, or that specific dream? How do you redefine the next phase of your life and make it just as rewarding?

Patrick grew up in a small town in Georgia, playing baseball at the Boys and Girls Club. “There were not a lot of opportunities for kids where I came from.”  Patrick tells me.  “I never really played organized sports until my Junior year of high school.  So I didn’t grow up with that dream of becoming a college football star or playing in the NFL.”  Patrick joined the football team with prompting from his friends, his Junior of high school. That first year he wasn’t allowed to play (transfer policy), but he practiced with the team relentlessly.  Finally his Senior year he started at quarterback, taking the field with guys who had been playing the game their entire life. “I knew that the learning curve was going to be  tough. But I’ve always tried to be the best at anything I do.”

But when his coaches told him after just a few games that they wanted to move him to running back from QB, Patrick did what many competitive, upset seventeen year old’s would do; he quit the team.  For a day. “But that was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. It changed my life, really. Had I stayed in the QB position I never would have gotten a scholarship to play for Oregon. It was a huge blessing in disguise.”

Sarah: When did you realize that playing football was your Ultimate Dream?
Patrick: I was so inexperienced in the sport when I came to Oregon. I was just focused on getting better as fast as I could, giving it my all. My skill level wasn’t at the same level as the other guys, I doubted if I could even do it. But you just have to go out and be willing to really, really work at your craft and do what it takes to get better. You can’t just say ‘I have a goal or a dream’, you have to go make it happen.  I would watch films of NFL players and think, ‘there is no way I can physically do that’.  And then I would go out and try to do it. 

The lasts three or four games of my senior year at Oregon, that’s when I finally had the confidence to think I could do what they did. I had what they had.  And that’s when I realized I could take it further.

Patrick was taken in the 2nd round of the NFL draft in 1998.  He played eight seasons as an NFL wide receiver, including winning a Super Bowl with my favorite team; the Baltimore Ravens.

Sarah:  At what point in your career did you start to think about life after football?
Patrick: I started thinking about that on day one. Before I was even drafted. In this sport it can all be over in one play, you always have to be thinking about that. I’ve always been an entrepreneur, even in college I started a few business. Some failed, some had moderate success, but they all taught me valuable lessons, and all kept me in the mindset that at some point football would be over. 

Sarah: What has been your key to success throughout your life?
Patrick: At each stage in my life I’ve always surrounded myself with very competitive, successful people. When you do that it forces you to up your game. And a lot of the methodology I learned in sports… like you have to manage your expectations. Both of yourself and others. You can’t win every time. There are going to be times when you are disappointed and you need to learn how to deal with that and how to not let it distract you.  And self-motivation is the key to success. You gotta always be the first one in and the last one out. Work harder than anyone else, push past the boundaries.

Sarah: Did you have specific goals for after you retired from football?
Patrick:  I don’t like to call them goals because I think it puts a ceiling on my potential. I don’t want it to ever be a destination I’m reaching. I work extremely hard at what I do, I try to keep it real simple. For me they are more of a benchmark, a way to hold myself accountable. 

Patrick is always hustling (working)

Sarah: You’ve managed to be as successful after football as when you played, what do you do now? 
Patrick: I build and run companies, it’s my passion.  Right now I run two publicly traded and regulated companies. One in the oil and gas sector in Texas and one in construction in Canada. I also work in hedge funds and sports radio.

Sarah: What is your dream for your life now? 
Patrick: I want the generation after me, my son and nieces and nephews to have a better future full of opportunities. And not just family, but I’d love to impact that generation, and other kids that don’t have great opportunities, so I try hard to give back and to support causes that help provide those opportunities. 

Sarah: What keeps you going? 
Patrick: I don’t have “quit” in me. 

I love the lessons Patrick shared, that sometimes something you think is “the wost thing ever” turns out to be your greatest blessing. Our ability to believe and trust in that can carry us through so many difficult times, his story is the perfect example of that.
The dream for your life doesn’t end when you reach a desired goal or destination. It’s always a process of redefining it, it’s always in motion. That dream is what gives you focus but it’s never static, it’s always evolving and growing and the tools you learn to achieve and live one dream are the same ones that will carry you to your next success. It’s a personal
commitment you make to give it your everything.  To demand success, and greatness of yourself.  And with each stage of the journey you rise higher. Giving back and being of
service, teaching others and being a mentor, reinforces what you know.  And finally I loved his key to success, surrounding yourself with successful people teaches you how to be successful.  And when you’ve reached a level of success yourself, giving back and mentoring others is just as important for your growth.
I hope this series has inspired you to believe that anything is possible. These five guys are human, they are not Superman. They are guys who grew up and worked hard and refused to quit once their dream began to build inside of them.  They are the living examples of the #HBRMethod  They have shown us that with Relentless Pursuit anything really is possible. They’ve also demonstrated how visualization is a critical part of manifesting your dreams, and how non of it is possible if you don’t believe in it. Take these lessons and make them part of your life, they are powerful and have the potential to inspire greatness in you. And like every single one of them said, there is no “living your dream” without The Hustle. So get to work! All of their inspiring stories will be featured in my book #HustleBelieveReceive 
Be sure to read the other stories in this series:
Week #1: Derrick Malone Jr -Current Oregon Linebacker
Week #2: Lavasier Tuinei -NFL Undrafted Free Agent
Week #3: Kenjon Barner -NFL running back Panthers
Week #4: Jonathan Stewart -NFL running back Panthers
Week #5: Patrick
Patrick shaking hands with then President George W. Bush after winning the Super Bowl
 Be sure to follow Patrick’s journey on Twitter and Facebook
Health & Fitness Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration

Chick on a Mission…Marathon Life: Week 5.

The 3 mile wall…endless hill

So I’ve had this goal to run a marathon by the time I’m 40, and like I said a few weeks ago in The Hustle, are You all In? This is my second attempt at achieving that goal.  And since this June I’ll be 39 I figured it’s now or never! Mind you I am NOT a runner. The only running I’ve ever done was when I was in my early twenties, a few miles here and there, and my marathon training four years ago.  So this is an exercise in proving my point that Anything is Possible for Anyone.  Hence my mission; to prove I can do this. Something I’m not good at, don’t really enjoy, is extremely difficult, and something that most people quit before reaching their goal. So I figured what better way to proving my Hustle.Believe.Receive. coaching method than to apply it to something this tangible?

We started March 22nd, and that morning I showed up with a few hundred other runners for Portland Fit, to train for the Portland Marathon.  Some wannabe’s like myself, and some lifelong veterans, all there with the best intentions to make it to the October race.  It was freezing cold, fog in the air and three miles ahead of us as we started out together for our run along Portland’s water front. It was the first time I’d tried to run in well over a year…but I did it.

There is a formula for success; show up for the group runs on Saturday mornings, do the three short weekly training runs on your own, and be prepared (hydration, eat right, sleep, good shoes etc). If you follow this formula Portland Fit says you will be ready to run the marathon by October no matter if you are a first time runner or not. You have got to commit and hustle. Kinda like Hustle.Believe.Receive. show up, follow the formula, commit… you know the drill.

So yesterday was my 5th week of training…8 miles. The first four straight up the hillside above Portland’s waterfront, and four down. I had glanced at the training schedule last week leading up to the run and noticed it said “45 min hill” meaning I needed to do a 45 minute practice hill run to prepare. I didn’t do it. In fact I’ve not done any of my training runs during the week since I started the program, I figured as long as I showed up for the big runs and didn’t die, I’d still be good. Besides I was still doing my five days a week Barre3 workout so I’d be all good, right? I was supposed to get lots of hydration on Friday, eat a good complex carbohydrate filled dinner the night before, and do my run with a little something in my stomach. I did the opposite of pretty much all that. But I had my good shoes and I showed up every Saturday, so ya know, I was all good.  Into my third mile up the side of the mountain, I began an internal dialog that went something like this “What the hell were you thinking?!! You FREAKIN’ idiot!!” I made more promises to myself on that run than I have in a long time! I promised to follow the formula to the letter, this showing up and doing it halfass was for the birds.

There is something about running that is just a constant metaphor for life. There were so many times yesterday that I wanted to stop, but if I did then I’d lose the pacesetters who where the perfect pace for me to mindlessly follow, as long as they kept going it was easier for me to keep on track. There is NO WAY I’d ever be able to run even a mile alone, I needed their silent support. And then when that wasn’t motivation enough, and I’d tell myself; just stop, you’re probably the last one anyway, I’d look behind me and see someone relying on me as their pacemaker, and I couldn’t let them down.  Just like in our journey it’s so much easier if you do it with someone, or surround yourself with people who think like you and support your dream.  And if you look behind you, there is always someone you can mentor, someone who can learn from you, and if you take the time to help them on their journey you will realize how far you’ve actually come.

My weekly starting place.

This journey will require me to follow my own formula for success to the letter, if I plan to reach my goal of crossing the finish line in October, and believe me I do.  I’m determined to prove to myself that I can do this, and to anyone who’s watching that if you set a dream and follow the formula you can live it. This is not gonna be pretty, but every week I’ll write  about my journey and what aha moments I have on these grueling long runs, and I hope it motivates you to start working towards and living your own dream.



Author Bio: Sarah Centrella is a Success Coach for professional athletes, and anyone with a dream. She is also an author an motivational speaker.  Follow her on Twitter for motivation and inspiration, and sign up to be a Member of her blog for free coaching classes.

Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports Your Life Coach

Kenjon Barner: Inside the Mind of an Athlete

The always smiling Kenjon

This is the third story in my four part series; “Inside the Mind of an Athlete“.  And this story is all about how you adjust to life once you’ve achieved your Ultimate Dream. It seems so easy, but like everything else it’s something that you need to prepare and plan for, because adjusting to living your dream can actually destroy you if your not prepared for it.

Meet Kenjon Barner, former star running back for Oregon. I asked Kenjon to tell me his story, share with us his dream and how he’s been able to achieve so much at such a young age. This is his story…

Kenjon grew up in a home full of love and competitive brotherly rivalries, his parents had their hands full; six boys and a girl.  So from a young age he learned that confidence was king! Being great at basketball gave him that confidence from the start. “I played basketball from the time I was three years old, it’s all I ever wanted to do.” He tells me when I ask him when football became his dream.  “I wasn’t really even thinking about football, I’d never played it, except with my friends in the yard growing up. But basketball was what I loved and was good at, and it’s what my family expected me to play.” 

Sarah: What changed?

Kenjon: In seventh grade (he laughs a little). My dad came to wake me up to go to practice, but I didn’t wanna get outa bed, so I told him I wasn’t going. I said I wanted to quit. My dad looked at me and said ‘then what are you going to do?’ It was such a huge part of my life, it’s like how do you quit the one thing you spend most of your time doing?  I looked at him and said ‘I want to play in the NFL’.”

Kenjon had never played football before, hadn’t studied the plays or warn a uniform, but when he said it out loud to his dad, and later to his friends they knew he was serious. When he set’s his mind to something, nothing stands in his way. “I’d always been a confident kid, growing up with five brothers you kinda have to be. I’ve always believed in myself.”

But all through my freshman and sophomore year of high school I was just thinking, man I gotta find a way to get a  job when I graduate high school. No one in my family had ever gone to college, it’s just not what I was exposed to, not an expectation I had. But my junior year I got a scholarship offer to play football, and I thought ‘wow that’s crazy’ but in the back of my head I was still thinking I need to get a job.  But my mom was like, there is no way you are not going to college now! And by the end of my junior year I really got to that place where I believed it was possible for me.”

Sarah: When did you start to think that the NFL could be a reality for you? When did that become your dream?
Kenjon: As soon as I got to college, I was determined to make it to the NFL.  Football had gotten me this far, I knew it could take me all the way. 

Sarah: What was it like for you on draft day?
Kenjon: The most stressful, annoying, frustrating, happiest three days of my life! My agent had warned me not to watch it live and to just wait for a call, but of course my family and I watched it nonstop. But then when I got the call from Carolina on the third day, wow that was amazing. It was such a celebration for my whole family. It was the happiest day of all our lives. 

Sarah: So you’ve achieved your Ultimate Dream, you’ve been drafted into the NFL. What was the experience like the first time you put on the uniform, walked into the stadium and took the field as a Panther?

Kenjon: My first pre-season game I wasn’t nervous. I thought something was wrong with me because I just felt so calm. This is what I’ve dreamed about, have worked all my life for a moment like this. Looking up in those stands and seeing thousands of fans I was just thinking, wow this is so crazy.  And as soon as I got out there they called my play as the first play of the game, and then suddenly I was a nervous wreck, taking the field for the first time in the first play of the game. They give me the ball and I fumbled it, and we lost position of the ball.  When I make a mistake like that, I can’t let it go. I chose not to let it go, because it motivates me and keeps me present. I take that negative energy and channel it for motivation. And the next time they called my play I was ready, I ran the ball for a touchdown. 

Sarah: Had you ever visualized that moment and did it feel the way you expected it to?
Kenjon: In order to do something you need to be able to see yourself doing it. I visualize the game before I play, I see myself running for a touchdown. Then when it happens I’m not surprised because I’ve seen myself doing it and I’m prepared. I think of it as God gave me that vision, allowed me to see it, and then he enabled me to live it out. 

Sarah: At Oregon you were a huge star, what’s it like to be living your Ultimate Dream, yet be the “unknown” rookie?
Kenjon: For me it’s easy, I’ve always had to wait my turn. Sit and be patient, watch and learn. My dad always says ‘What God has for you, you’re gonna get.’  If you do what your supposed to do, and put in the work, then what’s meant for you will come to you. You have to trust the process and be patient and know that if you do all the preparation, then when your turn comes, you will be ready.

Sarah: What’s been the most challenging part of your transition into living your dream vs. working to get it?
Kenjon: Adapting to the lifestyle is always challenging. But I have great guys on my team and they talked to me about how to be a man, and how to handle my responsibility. How to deal with the girls, money, and life. Those conversations really impacted me. Those guys really took the time to show me the ropes. I’ve always surrounded myself with good people and people I admire.

Sarah: What’s your Ultimate Dream now?And do you think you will live it?

Kenjon: To be a valued member of this team, and of course to win a Superbowl! And to give my son all the opportunities I possibly can.

I absolutely believe that if you set a goal and a dream you can achieve it. I verbalize a goal and believe it, and know I’ll achieve whatever I set out to do. My Junior year of high school when it came time for the awards, I missed the award for first team all-state. I felt robbed, after the awards I was upset and told my dad I would ‘make ’em pay’. I told him ‘I’m gonna score 40 touch downs and rush for 3,000 yards next year.’  The next year I scored 48 touch downs and rushed for 3,024 yards.

You’ve got to believe it with that kind of confidence. If you don’t believe in it then how can anyone else? People thought I was crazy, but my family knew that if I said it I would do it. You’ve gotta have that faith that confidence. And always keep your hand in God’s hand. 

Sarah: What motivates you?
Kenjon: Fear of failure. I want my son to know that his dad was not a failure. Not letting myself down and being accountable to myself. And the fear of not fulfilling what God has blessed me to be. I know he put me here for a reason, I want to maximize that potential. 

Sarah: I know you, and I know you’re always smiling and positive…. do you ever have a bad day?
Kenjon: (Laughing) Absolutely! But if I’m having a bad day I try not to show it. It’s what you do with that feeling and emotion that’s important. My mom is huge on detecting that, she calls me 15 times a day and can detect the slightest thing in my voice.  Her and my sister, they sense it, and they always know the right thing to say to get me out of it. I love my friends and family. I mean I really LOVE and appreciate them, I know they are always there for me. This job is stressful so you compartmentalize people, the ones who bring drama get a very small space if any, the ones who are there to help you be a better person are the ones you keep. 

Sarah: What’s your Hustle?
Kenjon: Hard work. Sometimes three workouts a day. It’s being away from your loved ones. And always trying to get better. If you’re not willing to work hard, don’t expect it to happen. 

I’ve had the honor to know Kenjon for several years and have always been blown away by the way he thinks and his positive mindset and loyal friendship.  It’s really from our conversations over the years that I learned so much about how tangibly success can be achieved. That there was a simple formula and that it didn’t just need to apply to athletes, I could apply it to.  So I did. And he really inspired that because as you can see he believes like I do, that when you speak something it holds power. When you believe in something and work for it, you can and will manifest it. And above all be grateful and humble and try to bless others with the talents you’ve been given. Take his advise, it works!

Kenjon surprising Kanen for his 8th birthday, with Ed Dickson
After playing football with one very happy Kanen

Kenjon Barner is a running back for the Carolina Panthers who just finished his rookie season. Follow his dream and inspiration on Twitter.


Be sure to read Part 1: Derrick Malone JR story.
And Part 2: Lavaiser Tuinei’s inspiring story. 
Part 3: this one
Part 4: Jonathan Stewart
Part 5: Patrick Johnson 


Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports

Lavasier Tuinei: Inside the Mind of an Athlete. Part 2

Inside the Mind of an Athlete: Part 2, is all about #TheHustle, overcoming adversity and never giving up. I wanted to share this story because it’s an unbelievable example of what is possible when you are committed to your dream, put the work in and don’t take “no” for an answer. It proves that you can overcome “bad luck” and any other obstacle that comes your way if you are truly committed to living your dream.

This is the story of Lavasier Tuinei, former Oregon Duck, and Rose Bowl MVP.  I chose “LT,” as he’s commonly known by friends and family, because his journey has been far from a bed of roses (pun intended), yet he’s remained focused on his goal and committed to his dream. As a kid growing up in Indiana, the son of an NFL player you’d think he would have been born with a football in his hand, but in fact basketball was his passion. His parents divorced when LT was very young, and his mother wasn’t at all interested in her son playing football, encouraging his love for basketball instead. But when he was eight years old he went to live with his father, and held a football for the first time.

Sarah: When did you discover your love of football? 
LT:  (I can hear the excitement and nostalgia in his voice). The first time I touched that football.  I didn’t want to put it down, I took it everywhere with me. I wanted to be just like my dad, who was playing for the Chicago Bears at the time. I asked him to teach me how to play and he gave me a choice. He said “go to sleep tonight and set your alarm for 5:00 AM, if you still want to learn how to play in the morning, come wake me up and I’ll train you.” The next morning I woke him up at 5:00 AM and we trained for two hours before school every morning he was home through high school.

Sarah: What is your ultimate dream?
LT: To play football in the NFL.

Lavasier transferred high schools his senior year hoping to get into a better football program, but the move backfired and he found himself ineligible to play at all his senior year of high school. Without playing time there were no college scouts and no scholarships. It seemed hopeless. But his dad wouldn’t let his son give up, he knew LT had talent, ability, and most importantly heart. So they drove together to colleges and tried to join the team as a walk on.  He was denied.

But his dad had an idea; move LT to southern California to attend the same junior collage that he’d attended and see if his son could get a chance to finally play ball. Things began to fall into place and for the first time in a long time LT was back on the field doing what he loved to do most, having fun, and turning in some impressive numbers. It wasn’t long before Oregon took notice and offered him a scholarship after just one season of junior college. But, “bad luck” seemed to tail LT and again his dream was put on hold as he worked out issues with his transfer and eligibility. It looked like his chance to play for Oregon was dead in the water.

Sarah: What did that defeat feel like?
LT: I felt like I was done. I couldn’t see a way out, the doors had all closed. I was just broken. Devastated. Here I’d worked so hard, gotten this close and was stopped by something out of my control, something the administration had done incorrectly. It didn’t seam fair.

Sarah: What kept you from giving up?
LT: Staying and playing another year for the junior college was not at all what I wanted to do, but what choice did I have? I guess I could have quit, but that was never really an option. When you have a dream that is part of your DNA it just becomes who you are. It removes the option to quit. Also my dad always believed in me, I wanted to make him proud. Show him I could do it and that all our hard work was worth it.

A month later LT got the unbelievable news that Oregon had fought for him and he was cleared to join the team. That spring training was a rough one. He’d never competed on that level, played with athletes of that caliber. He felt overwhelmed and under-prepared. “I sucked.” He tells me.  “I was this skinny kid from a little school with no credibility. I was dropping every pass. It was a mess. At the end of practice I went up to the coach and asked him if I could red-shirt my first year, I just felt there was no way I’d be ready to compete at that level by fall.”

But that summer, after classes he could be found at the practice facility studying plays. Every spare minute he had, he spent going over all the plays, learning the system, trying to catch up. And when fall training camp came around he didn’t drop a single pass. By the third game of his first season with Oregon he had not only made the team, he was named the starting receiver.

Rose Bowl MVP Lavasier Tuinei

Sarah:  You are named the MVP of the Rose Bowl, you have a great senior year at Oregon, did you expect to be drafted?
LT: I didn’t know honestly if I would get drafted. It’s a statistics game at the end of the day and I wasn’t sure I had the numbers the NFL was looking for. But when I didn’t it was another major disappointment. But I still believed in my dream. I knew I’d get a chance to play in the league. I knew that a team would see my heart, my athletic ability and take a chance on me. And then I got a call from Seattle.

Sarah: What has the last two years been like as an un-drafted free-agent?
LT: It’s been a struggle. A mix of highs and lows. In the past two years I’ve been signed and released by the Seahawks, Bengles, Cowboys and Patriots. It seems like every time I get my chance I have an injury that prevents me from being 100%. My body has worked against me, and I’ve pushed it beyond what it should have to endure and, played when it wasn’t healthy and I’ve paid the price.

Sarah: What was the lowest point for you over the last two years?
LT: The car ride home with my dad after I was injured and cut form the Bangles. He was so mad at me for getting injured and released. He said my career was over and that I’d never play football again. He told me I should quit. That broke me. Coming from someone you love so much and admire and credit for your success, that was devastating.

The hustle in action

Sarah: Where does your motivation come from?
LT: I have something to prove, to myself and to my dad. I know and believe I can make this dream happen, now I just need to prove it. And to my peers, at a certain point when your chasing your dream and you see other people succeed, you can start to get down on yourself for not being where you want to be. It can be humbling, but I’ve realized that not everyone is going to get my vision for my life and I’m okay with that. I’m doing it because it’s who I am, it’s what makes me happy and it’s what I love. Sometimes you just need to tune out what other people think of your dream and just use it as fuel and motivation.

Sarah: What is your Hustle?
LT: It’s every day. Putting in the work needed to get my body back to 100%. I’m in Hawaii now working with a trainer, training 3-4 hours a day, six days a week getting ready for that call from a team. It’s also keeping my mind right, I rely on prayer a lot for that. And… I play domino’s! (he laughs).  No matter how much you chase your dream it can never be all you do. Life is short you need to enjoy it, have fun, let your mind relax, save the next hustle for tomorrow.

Sarah: Do you believe you will achieve your ultimate dream?
LT: Of course! No doubt in my mind. I will make it happen.

I love LT’s story so much because he is a living example that no mater what comes your way, if you are committed to your dream and The Hustle it takes to get you there, and believe in it with your whole being… nothing can stop you. You will live it. He has already achieved so much. More than most men could even imagine, he’s lived those moments, been a member of several NFL teams. He is making it happen regardless of all the obstacles that stand in his way. And I love that not only does he believe in his dream, he realizes that it’s up to HIM to make it happen. He’s not waiting for some magic fairy to show up with a contract, he’s doing everything within his power, every day to get closer to his goal.

I also loved that LT doesn’t let other peoples negative energy sidetrack or destroy him. He turned that potentially toxic energy into positive motivation, making it just one more reason to be committed to achieving success. We all have “haters” in our life. People who don’t get us, and don’t understand why we would want to redesign our future and change our life. Let them hate, take that and turn it into fuel and additional motivation. People knock things they don’t understand or have the courage to do themselves, so just keep your eye on the prize, and know at some point when you’re super successful, they will come a knocking…. asking “how’d you do that, I want to try it now.” I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me in the past few years.

Remember there is no such thing as “bad luck,” we make our own luck. We prepare and do our part and if it’s right for us it will come to us. If it’s not, the door will close for the time being, and when we are actually ready the right door will open out of thin air. So, be patient, and like LT; never give up. We are all going to face adversity on our journey to the life we are creating. It’s not going to always be easy, there will be many days when we want to give up, but just like LT said; when you’re committed to your dream, failure is not even an option.

So… are you committed to your dream? To changing your life? If you’re not, none of this will work. But if you are, guys like Derrick and LT and myself are examples that it can be done. It’s not rocket science, it’s not complicated. But it is life changing, and it will work for you too.

Lavasier Tuinei is an un-drafted, free agent in the NFL. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram to watch his dreams unfold.


After this story was published, LT did get a call, from the New York Jets. He flew to New York and worked out for a few days with the coaches, hoping to make the team.  But no follow-up call came.  So he went back to his #Hustle, coming home to Euguene to continue training, in hopes the next call would come.  And in July it finally did.  This time from the Canadain Football League (CFL), and the BC Lions.  LT packed his bags and moved to Vancouver BC, thrilled to finally be a part of a team, and for weeks he practiced, worked and waited for his turn to play.  But yet again, it never came.  Instead he found himself in the all to familiar spot, of being cut from the roster.

But instead of heading back to Eugene to train like he had done in the past, Lavisier made a decision that would change everything.  He stayed.  He took a lease on a nearby apartment and decided to wait out the rest of the BC Lions season; even though he was no longer part of the team.  He told the coaches he was staying in town, and would be there if they needed him, and then he went out and looked for a “real job” to pay his rent.  When he got hired on at a temp agency he was grateful to be getting a paycheck, and went to work. For several weeks he worked his temp job, and trained himself, never giving up on his dream, or questing his faith that one day his opportunity would come.

Last week it did. The Lions had lost several players to injury and found themselves desperately needing a wide receiver, and who just so happened to be in town waiting for his shot? Yup. It’s not luck people. It’s what I like to call #ManifestThat, the moment when #TheHustle meets opportunity.  LT was ready to go when he got that call, realizing this might be his last shot at his dream.  So every day he practiced hard, determined to prove himself to the coaching staff, in hopes of getting a shot to actually play.

Yesterday, just days after being called back up to the team, and an hour before kickoff he was told to suit up, that he was starting.   With just a few plays into the game, as a BC Lion, LT caught his first pass.  And the ball kept coming his way, and each time he was ready.  And then the moment he had worked and bleed for, believed in and pursued against all odds, came…. he scored his first ever pro-regular season touchdown. WATCH NOW

Congratulations LT for never giving up on your dream.   For pushing past the point when most people would throw in the towel, and for doing it with quiet grace. You are the definition of #RelentlessPursuit and #HustleBelieveReceive in action.  This is your moment to shine.  You deserve it.

Lavasier Tuinei BC Lions
Lavasier making his first pro start with the BC Lions


LT making his first CFL touchdown
Lavasier Tuinei  making his first CFL touchdown


Lavasier’s inspiring true story will be featured in my book #HustleBelieveReceive available in 2015


Be sure to read the rest of this series:

Part 1: Derrick Malone JR story.
And Part 2: Lavaiser Tuinei’s inspiring story.
Part 3: this one
Part 4: Jonathan Stewart
Part 5: Patrick Johnson



Hustle.Believe.Receive. Motivation & Inspiration Sports

Inside the Mind of an Athlete Five Part Series

*Note this series launched the idea for my book #HustleBelieveReceive and all five of these stories are featured in my book. 


What can a football player teach you about achieving your dream and finding success? A lot. Over the next five weeks I will interview and share, five inspiring stories of Oregon football players who prove that anything is possible, for anyone. Five unique stories, five stages of the same journey, one common dream, united by a common brotherhood. Each is on a mission to fulfill their Ultimate Dream. What is their common key to success?  The answer to that question, and what they have taught me could change your life, the way it did mine.

Living his dream.. Derrick Malone Jr. 
This series will feature players with one common background, they are all alumni of the University of Oregon football program, but their stories couldn’t be more different.  I will feature each stage of the journey:
1. A current college player, with hopes of playing in the NFL.(Derick Malone Jr)
2. A un-drafted free-agent who’s been signed and released from several teams, still hoping for a contract. (Lavasier Tuinei)
3. A rookie finishing his first season in the NFL (Kenjon Barner)
4. A seven year veteran in the NFL (Jonathan Stewart)
5. And finally a retired Super Bowl champion. (Patrick Johnson)
My goal is to tell their stories from a new lenses. This is not just another football story, it’s the truth behind how they create their future, and manifested their dream.  But most importantly it is proof that “regular people” can use the same tools (visualization, prayer/meditation, mantras, belief, and hustle) to create the life of their dreams, the same way these athletes have. I have taken these lessons, and as a single mom in my 30’s applied them to change my life and live my dream.  You can too.  These guys are not “super-human,” they simply apply a common formula to achieve success.  And one I’ve been sharing on this blog for the past few years, and coach in my Success Coaching practice.  I want to motivate and inspire you to apply these same methods to live your dream. The stories are fresh, personal, with a new perspective, and FINALLY something positive about football players!

I have chronicled five different athletes in five different stages of the same dream, to show you that this is a life long journey and that success is not achieved overnight. Also to show you that even successful people, who’ve lived their “dream,” also face defeat and seemingly insurmountable adversity. It’s what they do to overcome this adversity, that makes them great, and their stories so inspiring.

The always smiling Kenjon Barner

The amazing thing you’ll learn is that all these athletes have a similar philosophy about life and success, even though their lives and backgrounds are very  different.  This is further proof to me that this mindset is self-created. Not something “special people” are born with.  Which is great news for the rest of us! We can create it too. These are some of the athletes who’ve helped shape my beliefs and given me motivation to never settle for anything less than my dream. Through the years we’ve learned a great deal from each other as we’ve watched the other apply the tools for success to achieve our own set of dreams. I am blessed to call these guys friends and even more grateful to them for sharing their inspiring stories with you.

I know we can learn so much from their successes and struggles, that we can directly apply into our own lives. And hopefully it will help you to see athletes in a positive light. I have immense respect for each of these guys and I have a feeling whether you’re a football fan or not you will see the game and players in a whole new light, and hopefully have some amazing aha moments along the way.


The relentless Lavasier Tuinei


Series Schedule: 


Week #1: Derrick Malone Jr. Current linebacker from Oregon.
The life of a college player with his eye on the NFL draft day.

Week #2: Lavasier Tuinei, former Oregon Wide Receiver and current NFL free agent. 
What do you do when your dream is taking longer than you thought it would? What keeps you from giving up? 

Week #3: Kenjon Barner, former Oregon star Running Back and current Carolina Panther (NFL contract, just completed his rookie season.) 
What is it like to achieve your ultimate dream and go from a star to a rookie. How did it change him? What is his next big dream?

Week #4: Jonathan Stewart, former Oregon star Running Back and current starting Carolina Panther running back. League veteran. . How do you keep your focus, drive and stay grounded when you’ve achieved your Ultimate Dream? This stage destroys so many, is it “be careful what you wish for?”

Week #4: Patrick Johnson, Retired NFL star for the Baltimore Ravens.
How do you transition from “living your dream” to a whole new life? What is your dream now? How have you been able to achieve it. Do the same rules still apply? 

Get ready! It’s gonna be fun. Please share their stories in your networks and comment on their posts, help spread positive energy and encourage their dreams.

Patrick Johnson, making plays for the Ravens.

Motivation & Inspiration Sports

Derrick Malone Jr: Inside the Mind of an Athlete

*This is the first story in a 5 part series titled “Inside the Mind of an Athlete“. Check the link to learn more about the series and see who else will be featured in upcoming articles. 

I chose to feature Derrick as Part 1 of this series because I’ve always chosen to associate myself with players who have a similar positive mindset. Ones that are focused on their goals, determined to stay grounded through the process of fame and success, and who are constantly looking for ways to grow and become better.

Derrick is known for his contagious smile and upbeat personality

Derrick Malone Jr. embodies these qualities. As the star starting linebacker for the Oregon Ducks Derrick has always impressed me with his positive attitude, uplifting social media posts, and general demeanor, so I was thrilled when he agreed to let me interview him for this piece. I wanted to know if what I’ve learned so far about the law of attraction and the connection I’ve made with it and athletes was true for him as well. I wanted to see if he lives his life by these principles without even realizing it. I have to say I got goosebumps with many of his answers, seeing once again how the simple formula Hustle.Believe.Receive. really does apply.

Malone grew up in the Southern California town of Culton, a community known for turning out pristine football athletes from it’s high school. As a kid, Derrick remembers how football was always part of his life from a very young age, even though he didn’t formally start playing until the 8th grade. But it was always there, his father Malone Sr. was an excellent running back in high school and had dreams of his son playing quarterback. But, Derrick was more interested in baseball and basketball, even though he spent every evening playing football at the park with his friends, or at recess or before and after class, he still wasn’t sure it was what he wanted to do. It wasn’t until his breakout game playing safety his junior year of high school, that he realized, maybe he was actually pretty good at football, as the college recruiters began circling like flies. It was then that he finally began to see what his family and friends had known for some time, that he had a gift and that gift could change his life.

When I asked Derrick where his confidence comes from today as a red-shirt Senior and a key part of Oregon’s defense, he says without hesitation; my family. Growing up our home was full of love. My mom, dad and grandmother believed in me to the fullest. They instilled that confidence in me, told me to never settle, and to always expect more, that I “deserved it.” That core foundation helped Derrick get to the place he is at today, one where he truly believes in his ability, the future and his ultimate dream.

Derrick’s first “impossible dream” was to play football for the University of Oregon. It had always been his top choice for colleges, and when they were the first to show interest in him, and ultimately the one he accepted a scholarship from it was the realization of his first ultimate dream. It was life on a grand scale, ESPN highlights, featured games on Saturday afternoons. It was more than most young players could ever dream of; the fulfillment of his big dream, being part of one of the top football programs in the country.
So I had to ask the Oregon Senior…

Sarah:  What is your ultimate dream now?
Derrick: “To get drafted into the NFL.”

Sarah: What makes that moment your ultimate dream?
DerrickBecause it makes everything you’ve done along the way, all the sacrifice, all the things you miss out on, worth it.  It’s the payoff. There are a lot of limitations that come with the responsibility of being an athlete, my life is not like the life of a ‘normal’ college student, there are sacrifices, and struggles that come with the glory moments. It’s the proof that all those little things really meant something. It’s the reward for putting in the work to  graduate with two majors, and the moment your family can be so proud of you.  It’s an opportunity for me to be a role model to the younger generation and make an impact on others and help change their lives. This is what we work for. That validation, that reward.

Sarah: Do you ever visualize that day? Imagine what it would be like?
Derrick: Of Course! Every day. It’s a lifelong thing. I close my eyes and visualize, I constantly daydream about it, all day every day. It’s a way of life. It’s been like that since I was a kid, I’ve always been able to make a movie in my head and focus on it. Football is a way of life, it’s who I am, it’s in my blood, it’s my family, my belief, it’s more than a game. It’s all day every day working towards that goal.
Sarah: When did you realize this was your ultimate dream?
Derrick: Honestly not until I got to college, probably my sophomore year. Even though my family always believed in me and told me I was the greatest, I don’t think I really believed it. In a lot of ways I think that’s what’s kept me grounded, always wanting to work harder and be better. But my sophomore year my coaches were the ones who really instilled that dream in me. They told us every day that making it to the league should be our goal, that we should work every day for it and that it was possible. I knew the odds where small, but I wanted to be part of those small odds. And over time I began to really believe it.

Sarah: Do you believe you will be drafted into the NFL?
Derrick: Absolutely. Everyday I get better. I’m better this year than last year, and way better than I was in high school. If I can improve like that with work and dedication then there is no reason I can’t continue to improve and make it to the league. It’s a progression and a process, it’s not overnight, but I know it’s possible if I stay focused and keep working. Anything is possible!

Sarah: Have you ever wanted to quit or give up?

Derrick: No. Never. I never quit, it’s not in my nature.
Sarah: What do you do to motivate yourself when you have a bad day? 
Derrick: When I need motivation all I have to do is call my mom. I hear the pride she has in me, and it makes me smile, and it just makes me want to make her even more proud. That is why I do this. And I do it for my Aunt who passed when I was in high school. She was my biggest fan, she believed in me and was so proud of me. I dedicated my senior season to her in high school. I wish she could have watched me play at Oregon. Every day that I want to quit I play for her. Those moments when you wanna give up you remember why you’re doing it and it keeps you going. You think about the moment you’re working for and helping your family and you just get back to work.

Sarah: What is one moment you’ve lived out that felt like standing in the middle of your dream?
Derrick: Running out the tunnel to play in the Rose Bowl. I had watched it as a kid at my grandma’s house and remember thinking those players looked so big, and it seemed so impossible, and then I lived it. Being with my family and sharing that experience with them, and holding the trophy after we won, it was the happiest moment of my life. A dream come true.  

Derrick holding the Rose Bowl trophy

Sarah: What’s your daily hustle? 
Derrick: Win the day (Oregon’s mantra). It’s tatted on my arm, and it’s what every day is about for me. Just go out and no mater what I’m doing, practice, a game, training, eating right, or choosing not to go out, all of that is my hustle. It’s all part of just winning today.  

Sarah: So what’s your dream once you are drafted?
Derrick: To renovate my high school locker room and weight room. I want to make my school, family and community proud. I want to give back. 

Derrick’s motto WTD (Win The Day) Tattoo, a constant reminder of his hustle.

Like I said, I got chills listening to Derrick talk about how he practices the exact same things I’ve been teaching on this blog and in my coaching classes. He’s applied the formula (without even realizing it) and has achieved the same results. He’s drawn on coaches and family to help him build his belief when he needed it, and over time it became his reality. I also love how his dream grew and changed over time. How at each stage he began to dream bigger, once his confidence and belief grew. And, of course I LOVED the fact that visualization is a constant in his life, not even intentional at this point, just automatic. And, as we know there are no results without the hustle. I loved how Derrick takes that just one day at a time, and when he wants to get down on himself he looks back and sees how far he has come. But one of the most important things he said is something I hope each of you take away from this, it’s a process. It’s a life long journey. It’s not something you do to get to a goal, it’s who you are. It’s what you believe in, what you eat, live and breathe. You’ve got to be committed to making this your new life plan if you want to see results.

Thanks Derrick for inspiring us and reinforcing our belief that anything is possible!

About Derrick:
Derrick Malone Jr is a journalism and advertising major at the University of Oregon and a starting member of the Duck football team. He is also an up and coming writer and poet, sharing his positivity and passion. Be sure to check out his blog: I am Poetic Soul and follow his twitter to learn more about him, and watch his dreams unfold. 


Be sure to read the other stories in this series:
Week #1: Derrick Malone Jr -Current Oregon Linebacker
Week #2: Lavasier Tuinei -NFL Un-drafted Free Agent
Week #3: Kenjon Barner -NFL running back Panthers
Week #4: Jonathan Stewart -NFL running back Panthers
Week #5: Patrick Johnson -NFL retired WR and Super Bowl Champion


Be sure to read Derrick’s inspiring true story in my new book #HustleBelieveReceive 

Motivation & Inspiration


Time to get what I want from this life.
Time to reflect, to redirect intention, replenish ambition create drive.
Time to reinvent.
Time to push on through, past the pain to the results.
Time to hustle, time to grind.
Time to shine.

If what you see outside your window is not a view you like,
Change it.
If the reflection in the mirror is not one that draws a
smile of self-pride,
Change it.
What holds you down?
Knocks the wind out of you?
Drains your power, towers above you?
Change it.
If the thoughts in your head haunt you, discourage and cage
Change them.
If what surrounds you drowns you,
Change it.
This life is my
This life is my
The results are the aftermath of my decisions.
Traded in my broke life, for a life in progress.
Traded in my old attitude for a new mind-set.
Traded the aftermath for RESULTS.
Traded disappointment for gratitude.
I Decided to shine.



Sarah Centrella is the author of the book Hustle Believe Receive An 8-Step Plan to Changing Your Life and Living Your Dream.


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