Wisdom Hours is a mentorship and personal development program directed by Alexander Knox. This video showcases what we did in Wisdom Hours — Days 4 & 5.
All the guys worked independently on their projects during this day. I gave them an objective. Simple. Create something to inspire others, while integrating new found elements of personal breakthrough and growth gained from this week . I wanted them to come up with anything of their choosing (an idea, a thought, an action, a device). I met with each of them individually for 10 minutes to do a quick peer review, to reinforce direction. Day 5, the conclusion of the mentorship week, they will get the opportunity to present their passion projects, rooted and inspired by their personal growth from this week.
Manny was unable to present due to the fact he failed to put in the extra work. Nonetheless I allowed him to share his best idea. To my surprise, he got very passionate, very quickly. He told us how he wants to provide kids all around the world with soccer balls. With all of his emotion, energy and spirit he explained to us with conviction the power of a soccer ball. He said it embodies so much opportunity and good. He said the world needs more soccer balls. I showed him a great friend of mine’s non for profit, titled “Ball For Life”. Check out this video.
Jason had an incredible idea the day of peer review. Unfortunately he switched things up too much, and on the day of presentation he failed to create anything with any sense of specificity. He failed to include the inclusion of personal development lessons learned from the week, despite his heavy participation and engagement throughout the week. I urged him to go back to the drawing board once again and dig deep to create something that would encompass the things we learned throughout the week. Jason eventually submitted his project:
It was a distinct honor and pleasure to be a part of these young men’s personal development. I only hope they take what we’ve learned together this week, and continue to build not only positive opportunities for themselves, but for their families, friends and communities.
A mentorship and personal development program directed by: Alexander Knox
I have a story. Not only do I want to share it, but I want to use its lessons to ignite inspiration, action, and hope within individuals all over the world. Today I took the first step in achieving this by launching “Wisdom Hours” , a project done in Santa Monica, California. I was able to recruit five talented local high school student-athletes to join me. Through an intense week of exercises, I challenged the boys to grow an every facet of their life. See for yourself how I was able to empower the boys to broaden each of their perspectives and take action on the most important things in their life.
Jason, Vincent, Sebastian, Manny and Aidan. It was an honor and a pleasure. I hope you enjoyed the experience.
This is Wisdom Hours:
I introduced myself to them as we met inside a local coffee shop. I told them my intention. I explained to them that this week could encapsulate profound value, if they brought their total undivided attention and focus.
Without too much introduction, I threw them into their first task. I presented three fundamental questions :
What do you look up to?
What do you look forward to?
What are you chasing?
I challenged them to think through their answers and provide depth to their responses. This is what a couple of junior and senior high school students said:
Jason: “I look up to accomplishing my goals. I look forward to making a difference in the world. I chase a better lifestyle, to be more grounded, peaceful with myself and others”
Vincent: “I look up to controlling my destiny. I look forward to making more of my owndecisions. I chase my dream”
Sebastian: “I look up to becoming a better player and person”. He’s unsure of what he looks forward to. And the one thing in life he is chasing, is the playoffs for his high school soccer team this fall.
Manny: “I look up to people who have strong work ethic. I look forward to college, and to become more independent. I chase my future career”. He mentioned something about potentially following in his mom’s footsteps in the biomedical field.
Aidan: “I look up to Darren Till and Steven Gerrard because they come from the same city as where my family comes from, and they have both made it out and have become very successful”. Aidan knows this because, as of recent he’s noticed that being more of an observant individual, allows him to more clearly see the little things that make a difference. Thus, he’s got the ability to be inspired and to be equipped with others’ experience that can in turn help him with his experiences. “I look forward to helping the community. I am chasing myself to become a better leader”.
Their Responses Analyzed Categorically — Qualitative Data
What is the purpose of doing this exercise?
One of the main purposes of this introductory exercise was to get a feel for where these young men are at in life. The goal was to gather their current perspective in terms of where they are and where they want to go, without asking the direct question, “where are you in terms of your overall goal in life?”. My initial hypothesis, given their age (16, 17 and 18) was confirmed when the results came back. The results of their answers yielded semi-specific answers at best, with uncertainty and vague undertones. The broadness and vagueness of their answers mostly dealt with the questions regarding each of their futures, which is again, expected. So I ask the question what answers were specific, if any? The qualitative data shows that the most specific answers pertained to improvement of self. Each of them, regardless of their background, shared a commonality of wanting to extend a little more specificity to “what it is they look up to?”; which they’ve collectively unanimously answered: self-improvement.
Having their attention and focus, I moved on seemlessly to self-improvement and its meaning. I initiated this by tapping into more of each individuals character. I asked them what they would be doing if they weren’t playing soccer today. Some answered they would be “avoiding the gutter”, others answered they’d be focusing on academics for the purpose of higher education, others said they’d find another sport, or even one kid said he’d be a farmer in South America. Their response indicated to me the profound presence and impact of soccer in their lives(I kept note of this— as it becomes integral when I get to Quantum Breakthrough). What I noticed is that soccer thus far has been a common language that they’ve communicated in. It has been the language that’s binded them together as friends, but has also communicated life lessons to them. Thus far, It has been their main source of acquiring wisdom, and they don’t even know. Moving on, I next introduced them to Quantum Breakthrough— a program of mine that runs a personal analysis on your most recent or most grand failure thus far in life. The purpose of this? I’ve theorized that, in the if you look close enough within the failure, you can flip the failure and its negative association on its head, to gain the lesson, therefore reap the benefit of a new found breakthrough. This is is not a necessarily straight forward process even though it sounds as such. The biggest obstacle of this challenge is willingness to dig deep and take responsibility. Taking responsibility is taking your power back, but in order to take your responsibility you must be utmost accountable. This is where will power comes in. The ego must be swallowed or set free, and one must come to terms with whatever they’ve failed at. There is strength in this process, but again, it first takes the strong willingness to dive to the depths of self to meet accountability, honesty and integrity. I gave the boys some time to think and write, this is what they came back to me with, this was each of their Quantum Breakthroughs:
Got cut form the Santa Monica High School Soccer Team
1. His breakthrough lied in discovering the art of maneuvering “they” , the haters, the naysayers. This art was brought about by him increasing his sense of humor and awareness of the bigger picture, not just the immediate one. To find more pleasure in the journey rather than the destination.
2. He found that Communication as it pertains to perception is important. Just simply their association is important. He found this to be important because he understood that if wanted a message to come across to a particular individual, he would have to architect the right delivery, as the delivery would be just as important, if not more important than the message itself. He found this breakthrough only after discovering the egotistical driven response from his coach when he voiced his concerns about the style of training.
He failed Spanish class for the majority of the semester, and because of that he couldn’t play on the high school soccer team and he felt he disappointed his mother.
1. He found the importance of Focus, and he found the association of this importance as it pertains to answering his “Why”… aka the fire within him that pushes him when he feels he can’t give anymore.
2. He found that there exist a power dynamic between him and his superiors— coach or teacher. The control to give an F or sit a player on the bench, one in and of the same. Even though his awareness of this obvious fact is not new, what is new is his recognition of this power dynamic in terms of how it shouldn’t have an effect on his ability to rise as he follows his own journey. As this power dynamic affects most, it will not affect him because he knows that he is on a path, his own path, for which he can make his own decisions and choices for, not somebody else.
He couldn’t pass the fitness test for his high school soccer team, because he was fat. In result of this, he would be benched for the majority of the season.
1. After contemplating if he should quit the team, he found that the fear of returning to Columbia would supersede any fitness test or weight problem. He wrestled with his fear until he managed to use his fear to work on his side, to propel him towards his ultimate success.
Quantum Failure: He got benched all season in high school. He let his emotions get the best of him, during this time period.
1. He found that letting emotions get the best of him, was not beneficial for the pursuit of his goals, actually it was the opposite. He no longer wanted to fight himself. If any negative emotion would come his way on his pursuit to his goals, he would find a way to use it to help propel him further faster.
2. His breakthrough was that in tough times, faith is a necessity. He finds it to be a necessity because faith is belief, and no one can take that away from you.
Quantum Failure: He had a bad high school soccer season. In result of his poor performances, he let his emotion and frustration take his wheel.
Quantum Breakthrough: 1. He took back control of his own wheel by getting out of his own way. He found and is currently finding ways to use his emotions as a tool to help him perform better.
A mentorship and personal development program directed by: Alexander Knox
Listening to the greats.
I wanted to deliver messages and lessons on this day solely in the Abstract. Sure, the kids might recognize a couple famous faces here and there, but they are not in direct association , nor do they have a personal relationship. I wanted to keep things in the abstract, I wanted to challenge them to focus on the wisdom takeaways only. My intention for them was to extract the wisdom and lessons from each of the various successful people, and bring it back down to reality, to say, how it more immediately can be applied to us. I’d play a video, and they’d drive the post video discussion, I’d only jump in if necessary. Videos studied and their thoughts:
Vincent: “Practice is more competitive than the game”
Manny: “The intensity and professional of Kobe Bryant did not just start when he became professional”
Jason: “The importance of practice”
Aidan: “There is a limit on how much gas you can put in a gas tank. What is the difference between risk and reward, pushing to your body’s limit for maximum output vs pushing your self to detrimental depths you can’t recover from.”
Manny: “There is a fine line between giving your body time to recover from injury, and continuing to push through the pain of an injury. That is the differences between the way Allen Iverson spoke in his interview and the way Kobe Bryant spoke in his interview.”
Me: It goes without saying both of these players have left a tremendous impact on the sport of basketball, but in doing so from two different styles. Two completely different approaches to practice and preparation. But one of the same mindset in action itself of doing. Not good bad or indifferent, just unique.
Our question continued, but we came up with an analogy to align it to: What is the fine line between ripping muscle fiber and building it back up vs. ripping the whole muscle and getting injured?
Aidan: He said when he’s in the gym and he pushes hard, it doesn’t necessarily feel good in that moment, but it’s the moments that feel incredible. The fine line for him is the sign that it feels good after. But none the less I challenged him again to think about how does one know in the moment if they are pushing to hard or not… he retorted that, its “a feeling that you get within yourself”
Manny: “Being broken down and being built back up, is an enjoyable pain”
Jason: “You walk the fine line by your curiosity for growth”
Vincent: “You walk the fine line by being driven by your goal”
I was in alignment with a little something from everybody, but what Vincent said rung true to me most. A goal you set, you work towards. And if you are moving in the right direction, you are getting closer to that very goal. Thus if you are closer to that goal you are more likely to want to push yourself to deeper depths in order to achieve that of what you desire. This last push could have the potential to build you up to new levels for which new goals can be sought, or it can have the potential to break you. Either way, a given person doesn’t know what he or she will do, or what will happen, until they themselves are at that tipping point. But something I asked the boys:
What if you fail? What if you injure yourself? Then what? Its a no brainer you’ll have to rest and try to come back. But I’m more interested in the process of the mind. What is the mind’s process in the event of a failure? I then present to them an individual who’s life was riddled with failure
Aidan & Sebastian: Perseverance above everything is what stuck out most to them.
Vincent: He noticed Lincoln had little to no affirmation, he was curious on how he was able to keep pushing.
Jason: In response to Vincent, Jason thought that Lincoln might have found the will and perseverance to keep going through one of two things. A personal mantra. Or. Lincoln found the greatest amount of inspiration from the smallest wins or losses from that matter; playing the game of the “shrinking margins”.
The grand takeaway that the boys decided was that in some cases the journey to success may be long and excruciatingly hard, but the benefit has the potential to be worth the lifetime of struggle for. Lincoln as the best example of that idea.
I challenged the boys to imagine being in Ellen’s shoes. Having to lose everything because of who you are; for Ellen it was loosing her show shortly after coming out. There was an unanimous thought amongst all the boys that no matter how successful or not each of them will be, they will always walk with their head high and never be afraid to live out loud, and be themselves, and nothing but themselves.
Everyones response to this video was unanimous. No matter what circumstances life would present, you’d never be afraid to be yourself.
I didn’t even give context to the boys till after I heard their thoughts, but I knew from the beginning that they had no idea who Warren Buffet was. I found that funny.
Aidan: His biggest takeaway was hearing Mr. Buffet speak on College, and the intention of college. Warren Buffet’s perspective is a unique one in that he is one of the wealthiest people on the planet, yet he ceased to attend college. For Aidan this peaked his curiosity. Aidan launched us all into a 15 minute conversation about the necessity of higher education. As a group we came to the consensus that if you are hyper-involved with a company, organization and or specialized craft and that career does not necessitate higher education credentials but rather industry experience, than one could make a compelling argument why not to continue to higher education. Other than that we decided together that higher education is the most frequent way to go, because it has the biggest success rate, and therefore the most opportunity. Opportunity to grow your knowledge, find your passion if not found, and connect with others.
Jason & Manny : They were most intrigued by Warren Buffet’s statement, “The best investment is in yourself”. Although they loved his quote, they were more intrigued by thinking of ways on how they themselves could start to implement this philosophy into their own lives.
Vincent & Sebastian: Building off what Jason and Manny took away, these guys thought of the first tangible example of self investment. They said to best invest in yourself would be to choose wisely who you surround yourself with. **You could see the wheels turning within their heads, thinking real time about their current relationships. That was unique to see from my perspective. Also it was no coincidence we were all in that room together, as friends, talking about this next level wisdom that normal kids their age and some grown adults don’t even talk about.
You are who you surround yourself with.
This video encompassed a number of people that have become successful in their respective crafts. They talk about their failures and how it is they impacted them.
Aidan: His favorite quotation from the video, “if you look up you can get up”
Sebastian: Seeing all these highly successful people get personal about their failures, inspired Sebastian to talk on his most recent failures(Quantum Breakthrough theory). He talked in great lengths about his struggle to learn English after he came from Columbia just a few years ago.
Vincent, Jason, Manny: All three of them found the greatest takeaway of the video to be about the importance of the learning process, and the value in it.
I think they started to get the point. I was driving home the same message, just from a lot of different people, in a lot of different careers, from a lot of different backgrounds. They started to see the silver lining of Quantum Breakthrough theory, the failure and success association that exist within those that have a winning mind.
Aidan: favorite quotation, “live in the grip of life”.
Manny: favorite quotation, “you can’t find yourself by doing nothing”. I remembered that one of the things Manny told me he was looking forward to was becoming more independent. I think that he might have heard this quote, and it have been right on point and in alignment with his ambition to take the next steps.
Sebastian, Jason, Vincent: favorite quotation, “stop when the job is done”. This quote launched us into a 15 minute conversation about the importance of stopping when the job is absolutely undoubtably finished. We came to the conclusion that many younger people, and even some older folks, will only go until their desire tells them to stop, rather than the job being finished. Somebody in the group asked the group, “how do you know when the job is finished?”. I responded, no matter what you are doing and what challenge you are going up against, you will know innately when the job is finished. I gave an example, when your whole team is running line to line, and you come 2 centimeters short of the line nobody will call you out if you are lucky, but you will know inside that you took a short cut. And as we saw with Lincoln, sometimes the journey is long and hard but sometimes in the end the small margins and small wins, are what move mountains.
Aidan: Favorite quotation, “Why would you quit something you love?”.
Manny: Favorite quotation, “tough times define you the most” // He loved the idea of “response time”. Response time was something we talked on as a group for quite a while. The action of being present! But most of all, the action of bouncing back to pushing the needle closer to your goals.
Sebastian: Motivation vs inspiration. He felt the motivation from the video, which was natural because that’s what the video was made for, however I challenged him to think on the differences of motivation and inspiration. Motivation as hollow and unsustainable long term. Inspiration as coming from a deeper place within one’s self, thus a more sustainable source of fuel to add to your fire when things get tough.
Jason: Favorite quotation, “Define who you are”. This aligns with one of my favorite quotes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Jason at this point in the mentorship program I think really started to understand that he is behind his own steering wheel, nobody else.
Vincent: Favorite quotation, “Life is made up of people just like us”. For Vincent an ordinary dude wanting to “control his destiny”, I think this messaged felt good to hear. Vincent, you can change the world. We are all human beings.
A mentorship and personal development program directed by: Alexander Knox
Guest Speaker Day
Transitioning From The Abstract To Reality
The Warm Up—
After two days of warming the boys up to the Quantum Breakthrough theory, I felt it was an appropriate time to get their benchmarks and expirations they’d set for themselves, given their new headspace. As a warm up exercise, I asked each of the boys: “What do you want to get out of this week of mentorship in personal development?”
Aidan: “I want to get to know myself better. I want to get more familiar with my why, because I know it will uncover purpose and fulfillment for me”
Manny: “I want to find myself, find the little things that give me fulfillment. I want to know my why”
Jason: “I want to find my why. I also want to master the action of swimming to the yes, when a superior or challenge tells me no”
Vincent: “I want to gain a better understanding of myself, where am I now, where do I want to go”
These responses indicated to me that they were in the right headspace, and that the material I’ve been exposing them to thus far in the week is priming their preparation for growth and personal development.
It was a perfect day for me to bring two amazing guest.
On this day, I invited two very close friends of mine to not only take part in the conversation of personal development, but be an integral part in bringing different perspectives to these boys, to then see how they react and what if anything they can gain. This was day 3 of a 5 day mentorship and personal development program, I wanted to really push them on this day, and I absolutely did.
Who are the guests?
Erik Holt— UCLA Alumni and current professional soccer player for Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer. My roommate from high school and college.
I brought Erik on because Erik is constantly holding himself to a higher standard than everyone else. He is never content with settling for mediocrity, matter of fact he hates it. He push his limits in all facets of his life. I knew he would bring wisdom to the boys, and I knew that the boys would have an easy time receiving his knowledge and perspective, because he like them, is a soccer player, and if he has too can speak in sport terminology in order to get across a lesson that they might not understand. Again as I said in the beginning, up into this point each of these boys made source of wisdom has come through the game of soccer. That is their common denominator and language.
Shawn Johnson— Notre Dame Graduate. Business background. Entrepreneur. My greatest mentor. Above everything, my auntie.
I brought Shawn on because of the opposite reason I brought Erik on. I wanted Shawn to be the first person to deliver outside sport perspective and wisdom to the boys. I believe Shawn has an amazing ability to communicate to others based upon her innate feeling of others energy. So I knew that she’d cater to the boys understanding, if they wouldn’t understand something that she’d try to explain herself to the best of her ability.
Erik Holt — Guest Speaker #1
This was a central question the young men couldn’t stop wrestling with throughout the week. The debate on whether or not you can control your fate, and if so, how? And if not, what can you control. Here is both of our guest’s opinion as the boys listen, interact and develop.
“I believe you can control only the things that you can control” – Erik Holt
“I believe you can control your destiny” – Shawn Johnson
Another theme that we kept returning to throughout the week was “Gutter Mentality”. Here are our guests opinions on the subject. Two different perspectives on “Gutter Mentality”. Both unique in their own way.
Shawn Johnson goes a step further, to add her opinion on how Gutter Mentality can be changed.
Both guests are put to the test as they are asked about their biggest failure in life. Their responses are vulnerable and powerful. The young men grew so much to hear their answers.
The following videos detail the young men’s experience of exposure to wisdom outside of sport from someone outside sport. A big difference from the conversations with Erik Holt. These conversations tap deeper into each of the boys value system.
Viewer Discretion is Advised– Contains Explicit Language
Aidan brings an example from his life where he realized his way of communicating didn’t line up with the perspective of who he was talking to.
What happens when there is not effective communication? Listen below.
The young men become more engaged on the topic of communication. Slowly but surely the wisdom from life outside of the game begins to permeate their thoughts. This is contrary to their main source of acquiring wisdom through sport, see below.