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Welcome to episode #81 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Terry Tucker, a father, business owner and former police officer.

Top Talking Points

  • Being afraid is not always a bad thing, and can even be helpful.
  • The key to happiness is realizing that you are part of something bigger than yourself.
  • The four truths to living a fulfilling life.

Connect With Terry at motivationalcheck.com

Find The Books Mentioned on Kindle or Audible

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

Subscribe to The Morning Upgrade Podcast

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Morning Upgrade Podcast. If you enjoyed my conversation with Terry, be sure to subscribe to the podcast and please leave a review.

Episode Transcript

Ryan 

Hey guys, it’s Ryan real quick. So my mission with the Morning Upgrade blog and podcast is to raise the awareness of morning routines and personal development. And I now have two products that also helped me with this mission. The first product helps you start a 20-minute morning routine. And the second product is a book that outlines how to use personal development to upgrade your life and business. You can get full details on both products over at morning upgrade.com. Thanks for letting me share and now on to the show.

Announcer 

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan  

Hey, Terry, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast. How are you?

Terry  

I’m great, Ryan. Thanks for having me on. I’m looking forward to talking with you.

Ryan 

Yeah, me too. Me too. These are gonna be a great 15 minutes that we’re going to spend together. Just so my audience of morning upgraders know who’s know who they’re listening to? Why don’t we start off by you introducing yourself and who you are, what you do for a living? And there may be one thing that’s going well in your life right now.

Terry  

Sure. So I’ll try to give you the Reader’s Digest version. I am born and raised in Chicago, I’m the oldest of three boys. You can’t tell this from my voice, but I’m six foot eight inches tall. And I play college basketball at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. After I graduated, I moved home to find my first job. I was all set to make my mark on the world with my newly obtained business administration degree. And, you know, I look back now realized kind of what a knucklehead I was to think I knew anything about business. Fortunately, I was able to find that first job in the corporate headquarters of Wendy’s International, the fast-food chain, but unfortunately, living with my parents for the next three and a half years, has helped my mom care for my grandmother and my father were both dying of different forms of cancer. In terms of my professional career, as I said, I was in marketing as a hospital administrator, and I did a major pivot to become a police officer working undercover narcotics. I was a SWAT team hostage negotiator. I started my own school security consulting business. I was a girls’ high school basketball coach when we lived in Texas, but a motivational speaker, and author but for almost the last 10 years now I’ve been battling a very rare form of cancer. And finally, my wife and I have been married for 20 years, we have one daughter, who’s a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, and who’s an officer in the new branch of the military, the Space Force.

Ryan  

A lot of different things. That’s amazing. Well, what if you look back at your whole career, what lit you up the most?

Terry

Being a cop. I love being a police officer was something I always wanted to do. My paternal grandfather was a Chicago police officer from 1924 to 1954. So it was in Chicago during the height of prohibition when alcohol was outlawed during the Great Depression. And you know, when all the gangs out Capone and those guys were, were shooting up the town and was actually shot in the line of duty with his own gun. And you know, when I said to my dad, hey, I’d like to go into this line of work. My dad was like, Oh, you’re gonna go to college, you’re gonna major in business, you’re gonna get out, get a great job, get married, have 2.4 kids. But dad had my whole life planned for me. But it was the life my dad wanted me to live, not the one that I felt I was supposed to live. What’d he say when you joined? He died before I die. He did that if you look at kind of my resume, my first two jobs are business-related. When I graduated from college, he was dying of cancer. And so I had a choice. You know, I could go blaze my own trail, say sorry, Dad, I’m gonna do what I want to do, or out of love and respect for him. I could do what he wanted me to do. And I did, I did that. My mom really kind of set a very high standard in terms of the importance of family in your life. And so you know, I was there to help them. And now I sort of joke I did what every good Sunday, I waited till my father passed away. And then I followed my own dreams.

Ryan 

So when you’re on the force, and just curious, you’re a cop. I’m sure you were in a lot of hard situations like last year – in stress, to that get easier with as you get more experienced in those situations, or was that underlying level of fear and stress always there, but you were just able to handle it better?

Terry  

I think the fear was always there. You know, I’ve had people ask me, you know, were you ever afraid as a cop? And my response has always been, you know, any cop who tells you they’re not afraid from time to time is either lying to you or an idiot. You know, fear keeps us alive. I mean, there’s, there’s a great book by a guy by the name of Gavin de Becker called the gift of fear. And so yeah, I mean, I was scared a lot of times, but, you know, when the hair on the back of your neck goes up, it goes up for a reason, and you need to pay attention to that. And those cops that are kind of, you know, hey, nothing’s ever gonna happen to me. I’ll tell you. I’ve been to too many police funerals because of that attitude.

Ryan  

And I imagine that those experiences helped you in business to you know, just raised your threshold for what you can handle.

Terry  

They have and I think being a hostage negotiator on the SWAT team, you know, you, you learn the importance of listening and, and not just listening to respond, but listening to understand. And you also have to be very cognizant of silence, you know, when we’re negotiating with somebody we want them to talk, you know, we always, you know, you talk the guy out, what we really did is we listened to the guy out, you know, we let them talk burn off that emotional energy, so that they could get to a point where they’re thinking rationally, because you’re going to make a whole lot better decisions when you’re using your rational brain, as opposed to your emotional brain.

Ryan

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense is great advice. I feel like me, if I think back to like, like, my agency balance, I and my dad retired now. But he was there for a while and, and he used to silence, like, you know, he would come and ask you a question. And then he would just be silent. And then free now you’re just like blurt your life out, you know, and he used it very effectively. You know, I don’t know, if it was if he was aware of it or not, but he would definitely use silence a lot to get you talking, you know?

Terry 

And it’s a great tool for a salesperson, you know, for those salespeople that, you know, kind of lay it out there, and then just be quiet. And then the other person wants to talk and, you know, they give you a lot more information than I think they plan on giving you.

Ryan  

Yep, and then that situation bunch of times. Alright, Terry, well, let’s, let’s talk about your morning routine, what do your mornings look like?

Terry

So my mornings now are I am, in a lot of sleep, probably coming to the end of my life. 2020, I had my left leg amputated because of my cancer, and I have tumors in my lungs now. And I’m undergoing a clinical trial for those. But that’s one week. And then I have two weeks off to kind of heal and regroup and, and go at it again. One of the things I do every morning, and sometimes I do it all at once. Sometimes I have to break it up, is I pray I spend about an hour every morning in prayer, both for myself, I’m not gonna lie. You know, I asked for a miracle every day. But I’ve met so many people that have asked me to pray for them along this cancer journey. So that’s a big thing that I do. I have a blog called motivational check. And every morning, I put up a thought for the day. And on Mondays, I put up the Monday morning motivational message, which is usually a video or story that’s a little longer. But with that thought for the day comes up with questions to get people to think about how could this thought maybe impact your life during the next 24 hours. So those are, those are the two big things I also spend what I eat has become very important. Being a cancer patient, I try to stay away from sugar, I have a kind of fruit and vegetable smoothie every morning, that I could spend the next hour telling you everything that’s in it. But needless to say, it kind of gives me the energy I need without a lot of the chemicals and the sugars and things like that. So those are kind of my three go-to things every morning.

Ryan  

You mentioned that you’ve gone through cancer and you feel like you’re near the end of your life. Be like stumbling on this question. But how do you keep like we were doing a video before this, and you just seem so upbeat and so positive? And like how do you feed that? Like, where does that come from?

Terry 

I think a couple of things. One, I think I’ve found my purpose in life and lived it. And because of that death is not so scary. There’s an old Native American Blackfoot proverb that I hold that I heard years ago, that goes like this, it said, when you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. And that’s kind of where I am. I don’t you know, one of the things being involved in team sports for you know, since I was nine years old, and all the way up through college was that I realized the importance of being part of something that’s bigger than yourself. And you know, you realize that a team that if you don’t do your job, you know, not only do you let yourself down, but you let your teammates down your coaches down your fans down, your parents down, etc. And if you think about it, the biggest team game that we all play is this game of life. So I’m on a clinical trial drug now that probably won’t save my life, but very well may save somebody’s life five years or 10 years from now, based on the data that the doctors are gathering for me. So I kind of look at that as well may not save my life. But that’s part of being something that’s bigger than yourself in helping somebody that you may never meet.

Ryan  

Yeah, amazing, amazing attitude. I want to talk about habits. I know you have the four truths that you live by. So I definitely want my audience to hear that I think I think it’d be very impactful. So I would love for you to share that Terry.

Terry 

Sure. So these are four things I kind of call the bedrock of my soul. They’re things that I can build my life on and I use them to make decisions in my life. Should I get involved in this therapy? Should I, you know, do this project and things like that? And I have them sitting on my desk. And I think that’s another important thing. If you have something in life that you want to do, write it down, don’t type it out, write it down, physically write it down, and put it in places where you’re going to see it throughout the day on your bathroom mirror on your desk. And so I have this posted note that I see every day, multiple times during the day with these four truths. And here they are. So the first one is you need to control your mind, or your mind is going to control you. You know, I think back when I had three knee surgeries in high school, and I went back playing, and my brain started putting all this garbage, you know, in my thoughts like, hey, you know, because you’ve had these surgeries, you’re probably a step slower, or college coaches aren’t gonna want to recruit you because of these surgeries. And I was like, no, wait a minute, I’m still playing in an elite level, and I’m still being contacted by coaches. So when that garbage comes in, you need to change that narrative into something positive. So that’s the first one. The second one is you knew you need to embrace the pain and the difficulty that we all experienced in life, and use that pain and difficulty to make you a stronger and more determined individual. Look, we’re all going to experience pain in our lives. And it doesn’t have to be cancer pain, or you know, an amputation like mine, you could flunk a test at school or break up with your boyfriend or your girlfriend or you know, not get the promotion at work that you think you deserve. Pain is inevitable suffering, on the other hand, suffering optional suffering, what do you do with that pain, and do you take it and use it to make you a stronger and more determined individual? Or do you wallow in it and feel sorry for yourself and have others feel sorry for you? You know, we want to run from pain. But I’m suggesting just the opposite. What if you took that pain, flipped it inside, and burned it as fuel, or you use it as energy to make you a better individual. So that’s number two. Number three is more of a legacy truth. Because I think it’s important for all of us, regardless of what stage we are in our life, to think about the end game. And this is the third one, what you leave behind is what you weave in the hearts of other people. You know, what are people going to say about you at your funeral? You know, how do you want to be remembered. So I think it’s important for us, I’m not telling you to live somebody else’s life, you have to live a life that’s true to yourself. But think about what other people are going to say about you when you’re gone. So that’s number three. And then number four is pretty self-explanatory. As long as you don’t quit, you can never be defeated. And you know, someday my pain is going to end it you know, man through medication, it man through surgery, quite frankly, man when I die. But if I quit, if I give up if I give into the pain. Pain will always be a part of my life.

Ryan 

I don’t want this to be too personal a question but what’s, what’s your legacy?

Terry  

I think my legacy right now certainly is my family, my daughter, and then to put as much goodness as positivity, as much motivation, and as much love back into the world as I possibly can with whatever time I have left.

Ryan 

Hey, good. Now, I mean, people, people are listening to you now during this interview. And just those four truths, mindset, embrace pain, legacy, and don’t quit. That’s very, very powerful. I’m glad you shared it. So I’ve got one last question for you, Terry. I do want to wrap up there with you telling everyone how they can learn more about you. Maybe a website to visit and he said you have the blog, so whatever you want to share, but I want to talk about, I want to talk about mindset because just thinking about your career. And you mentioned cancer and invitation and negotiation and the different roles that you played. Obviously, you’ve got a very strong, strong mindset. And you’re a strong person. So I would like to extract some tips around that or some habits you have around that to build that because obviously, it doesn’t come naturally. You must have built that over, over just experienced in years. And I wonder if there are any tips or, or habits you can share around building a stronger mindset?

Terry

I guess maybe I’ll kind of answer that with a story. I’ve always been a big fan of Westerns growing up. I didn’t my mom and dad used to let me stay up and watch Wild Wild West and Gunsmoke and bananas and things like that when I was young 1993 The movie Tombstone comes out. The huge movie starts with Val Kilmer as a man by the name of John Doc Holliday. And corrosive played a man by the name of Wyatt are now wide open Doc Holliday were two living breathing human beings that walked on the face of the earth. They’re not just made-up characters for the movie. And Doc was called doc because he was a dentist by trade, but pretty much he was a gunslinger and a card shark and Wyatt has his whole life had been a lawman of some sort. And these two men from entirely divergent backgrounds form this very close friendship. And at the end of the movie, Doc Holliday is dying at a sanitarium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which is about three hours from my house, and the realtor I call it a dinette Sanitarium, and he’s buried in the Glenwood Springs cemetery. And why it at this point in his life is destitute, he has no money, has no job, has no prospects for a job. So every day comes to play cards with Doc and the two men pass the time that way. And in this scene, they’re talking about what they want out of life. And taxes. You know, I was in love with my cousin when I was young, but she joined a convent over the affair, but she’s all that I ever wanted. And he looks at why. And he says, what about you? What, what do you want, and why it kind of looks at him nonchalantly and says, I just want to lead a normal life. And that looks at him and says, there’s no normal. There’s just life and get on with living years. Ryan, you and I know people out there that are just kind of sitting back and waiting. It’s like when this happens, I’ll have a normal life. When that happens. I’ll have a successful life. When this happens, I’ll have a significant life. Well, I guess what I how I would answer that question is, don’t wait. Don’t wait for life to come to you. Get out there, find the reason you were put on the face of this earth and live it because if you do, I’m going to promise you two things. One, at the end of your life, you’re going to be a whole lot happier. And two, you’re going to have a whole lot more peace in your heart.

Ryan 

And I can’t think of a better way to end the conversation. That story. Very powerful. Terry, people are gonna want to learn more about you and connect with you. After listening to this, where should they go?

Terry  

So basically, the easiest way to do that is to go to my website, Motivational Check. So motivationalcheck.com That has access to my book. It’s got access to my social media sites. You can leave me a note there if you want. So the best way to get a hold of me is motivationalcheck.com.

Ryan 

Thanks, Terry. Thanks, everyone for listening. 

Terry

Thanks, Ryan.

Ryan 

Thanks for listening to the Morning Upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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