Monday Aug 07, 2023

You’re a Real Sport

Athletes and their Tales of Growth and Change

Sports is the ultimate serial story that attracts an audience from all walks of life. It’s not only the singular wins that keep fans engaged and invested. The stories of the teams and players woven through the years keep us invested and connected at a deeper level.

Our guest, Douglas Eric Smith is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player who played for the Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins over the course of his career. He was selected second overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.

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Well,
welcome everyone to folk tellers stories,
be shared podcast.
I am Joseph Bastian and here with my,
oh,
no,
it's a Spanish day.
It's si Kurt David Stephen Sadler and we're happy to have you here uh,
on this episode entitled,
you're a real sport.
We're gonna talk to athletes and talk about tales of growth and change.
So to tee this up,
uh we're gonna have uh Doug Smith on later.
Doug is a former NHL hockey player and he's a good friend of Kurt.
And um we're gonna,
he's got an incredible story to share with us.
So,
uh I would don't wanna steal Kurt's Thunder,
but um so to,
to kind of open us up,
I,
I always like to start with a quote from some people to kind of get our thoughts around this.
And so,
so our theme now is like sports is story.
And I know in another episode we were talking about,
we touched on this a little bit with uh sports and myth as a mythological heroes and heroes and things like that,
but just listen to this and like take some so time with this.
So this is from X it was uh an article written in Forbes magazine and they said uh sports is the ultimate serial story that attracts an audience from all walks of life.
It's not only the singular wins that keep the fans engaged and invested the stories of the teams and the players woven through the years,
keep us invested and connected at a deeper level.
So like let that soak in because one of one of the things that I wanted to pull you guys into is,
you know,
I read this book um called the Warrior ethos.
And it was all about how warriors and how soldiers think and what I don't think a lot of people know about,
you know,
the history of a lot of sports is sports started as um practice for war.
Like a lot of these earlier,
earlier cultures when they weren't fighting,
they had to keep in practice.
So they would play games and they would,
you know,
they would play war games and they would have competitions and things like that.
And so a lot of the sports that we have today,
I mean,
that's kind of the genesis and there's some,
I just wanted to read a quick thing and then tee this up to you guys because I know you're gonna have a lot to say about this.
So in the warriors ethos,
they say um warrior's ethos,
the warriors ethos dictates not just how a warrior should behave towards his enemies,
but also how he should relate to his people and overcome his own weaknesses.
It is a philosophy that must balance the encouragement of active aggression with voluntary self-restraint.
This tension lies at the core of the warrior ethos.
And these are the 33 sort of tenants of the warriors ethos honor the way of death.
The highest duty is to the people and who sweats more in practice,
bleeds less in war.
Now,
think about what that,
you know,
and an athlete's mindset.
Kurt,
you,
you know,
you actually are athlete at the highest level,
the highest professional level,
you know,
how does that resonate with you?
Yeah,
I think one of the things I always have to qualify is that,
you know,
my,
my career was pale in comparison to a lot of the hall of fame,
all star world champion athletes that I sit on with today.
However,
one of the things that,
that struck me as you was reading these things was,
I think about,
I don't know if it was the Aztecs or,
or which tribe it was,
but they used to actually have sporting games in which the losing team was put to death.
I mean,
literally,
and,
and so when I read that first,
uh at,
at attribute about honor of the way of death,
I mean,
it truly was for,
for that game.
I mean,
you know,
we talk about winning and losing today and it's like,
oh,
you didn't get the trophy.
But,
uh,
you know,
for those tribes or during that time it was literally,
or you would be put to death if you didn't win.
Yeah.
So,
and that's really,
yeah,
the stakes were high,
right?
Like we think the stakes are high now.
But,
you know,
it,
I,
I always think,
and we've all played sports at,
at,
at different levels and you know why you,
why you get into sports,
why some people get into team sports,
individual sports?
Uh,
you know,
what's,
what's the driver there,
Steve,
what do you think the driver of,
why people get into sports?
Yeah.
Why do people get into sports competition?
I mean,
it's,
it's built into our nature to want to compete,
right?
But there's also people get into different kinds of sports.
You can't lump all sports together like a tennis player versus like a soccer player or a hockey player.
You're talking in team sports versus individual sports.
So those are different reasons why people get into sports.
Actually,
I played badminton when I was in high school and I always gravitated towards playing singles and it became very much of an individual sport.
But I also played other team sports as well.
Like today,
for example,
I played hockey,
uh,
before I got here,
that's why every time I come and do this podcast,
I'm tired.
But today I've ate enough bananas to try and have enough energy to be able to,
uh,
before you came I did.
Yeah,
I got all the showers hot for everybody.
Ok,
great.
Thanks for that image.
Yeah,
no problem.
But,
um,
but you,
you mentioned something about the,
the war warrior ethos.
I mean,
what is ethos?
I mean,
what is it?
Yeah.
Well,
ethos or ethics or a,
a set of beliefs,
that's really what it is.
So,
like the,
like what you live by?
So honor the way of death.
I mean,
what does that mean?
The the highest duty is to the people and who sweats more in practice,
bleeds less and more?
I mean,
that's some pretty,
pretty heavy duty stuff.
So I have to say something at this point because it's changed throughout the years,
throughout the,
the hundreds of years,
right?
Of,
of when sports been around,
I mean,
you think about the Greeks,
you think about the Olympics,
you know,
the things that have happened throughout the hundreds of years and,
and that ethos I think has changed from your description because,
you know,
more and more and this is one of the things that get me is this participation award,
right?
In other words,
everybody's a winner.
Well,
you know,
in a certain capacity,
yeah,
for competing,
you are a winner.
Absolutely.
But there is only one winner,
right?
II I always said this as a player and then as a coach that literally one team finishes a season on a win,
think about that for any sport,
one team finishes on a win.
So what,
what are the implications of that in,
in life?
That,
in other words,
not everybody wins,
right?
You,
you have to learn how to win,
you have to learn how to lose.
But the goal is to try to win,
right?
To try to be the best you can be the,
you know,
I love John Wooden's philosophy because he was at UCLA.
I think it was 18 years before he won his first championship and then he had a slew after that,
right.
He still holds the record as a coach.
But uh the point is that his focus as a coach for the players was we're not focused on what the score is.
We're gonna focus on what the best is as a team.
In other words,
how do we play as a team?
What is the best we can do as a team?
Because that's our focus.
We're gonna play teams that are better for us or better than us and we're gonna play teams that we're better than,
but when maybe we don't play as good,
so they're gonna beat us by the score.
So our focus is playing the best we can.
Yeah,
and that,
that's really interesting.
And Steve I,
this goes back to your point about,
you know,
that there's the individual performance and then there's the team performance and some people select a sport because they like the individual performance and some like being in a team environment.
But um,
you know,
what's the,
how does that play?
Well,
it goes back to that,
the word that you're using before the ethos,
right?
Being a distinguishing character with moral nature and guiding beliefs is that even does that even exist anymore?
A lot of,
a lot of,
a lot of characters,
but look at everything that's going on over the last three years even.
Right?
I mean,
politicians,
medical,
general sports.
Where is the ethos?
Where is it gone?
Well,
and that's the individual component to it.
So if you break down the individual component,
then how can you ever have a solid team without,
without having the individual component?
And obviously you need many warrior ethos to create a team,
a team sport.
Yeah,
I think,
I think there's a lot to unpack in there because when you think the original,
like original sports were,
it was practiced for war.
So the warrior ethos that we were just talking about Kurt,
I think you're right.
It has changed because it's not about war now and now sports are,
I mean,
there's the whole competitive factor and there's all the life lessons but it's a business and don't take me wrong.
I mean,
when you look at the highest level of sports,
I mean,
it certainly is like a battle out there because people are trying to win,
right?
I mean,
bottom line is you,
you play for a Super Bowl,
you're trying to win that Super bowl,
right?
And you can get hurt.
Well,
that's every day,
right?
And practice or,
you know,
walking to the practice field.
I mean,
you can get hurt.
And so,
but literally,
I think,
you know,
the competitive spirit is still there,
but it's nowhere near what it used to be,
in my opinion.
So guys,
this is a really good time to bring our guest in uh Doug Smith,
he's a former uh NHL player.
Uh and who's been his story is just incredible.
And Kurt,
I know he's a friend of yours.
So,
why don't you uh you bring Doug in and,
and uh let's get him in the conversation.
Yeah.
Doug,
great to have you on the show.
Uh uh We're excited about talking about your change and,
and uh your growth.
Let's talk about that early day.
You went from Ottawa Canada to the second draft pick in the NHL to the L A Kings,
right?
Let's,
let's start from there and take it forward from there if you don't mind.
Well,
I grew up on the Ottawa River.
If you,
if you saw where I was right now,
I'm sitting on the edge of the Ottawa River.
Um Still,
I've lived,
lived there for a long time and I grew up learning how to skate there.
And across the street from our house,
there was the outdoor rink.
So I spent most of my childhood uh going back and forth from my house to the outdoor rink or to the river on skate guards.
So that,
that,
that was my uh ear early childhood and,
and,
and I,
it,
it got me to the NHL.
So I arrived in the NHL when I was uh 18 years,
two weeks old as the youngest player ever drafted by the Los Angeles Kings at that time,
uh it was the first year of the 18 year old draft.
So Dale Howard Chuck went first,
I went second.
Bobby Carpenter went third and of course,
Ron Francis went forth and what a career he had.
Yeah.
Yeah.
So 18 years old from Ottawa,
Canada L A.
What was that like for you?
Well,
I did what,
every eighteen-year-old boy would do when he arrives in L A with a lot of money.
You go to a car dealership.
It was probably a Porsche dealership back then.
It,
it was a Porsche dealership that I went to.
Yeah.
And I went for my first test drive in a Porsche and driven by a guy who used to race for the Finnish Porsche team.
And uh I got out of the car and I gave him all my money.
I didn't care how much it cost.
It was,
it,
it was something like I had never experienced before and,
and,
and that,
that was sort of the way it was for that first year in Los Angeles.
Well,
imagine an 18 year old if you have kids right now.
Imagine what that would be like,
like the ups and downs.
Uh,
you know,
a lot of good times,
a lot of amazing times,
a lot of memories,
a lot of things I can't remember about it.
I'm picturing Tom Cruise in risky business.
That's what I'm picturing.
Well,
Harrison,
Fortnite,
Harrison Ford and I played pool together at a party one time.
Uh,
uh,
Michael J Fox was a big fan.
He was always there.
Um,
you,
you can name a,
a star Jack Nicholson was a regular at the games.
So,
so it was,
it was really a surreal environment.
I was injected into,
at a very young age,
into a world that,
that wasn't really real if you know what I mean?
What do you mean by that wasn't real for you?
I mean,
well,
it's just a big city and,
and the dangers and,
and my lack of awareness I had,
I had no awareness whatsoever.
So I would pick up Hitchhikers in L A at that time that you are brave.
I was Rob.
I know I was such a nice guy,
you know,
that typical Canadian guy.
But I,
and then I,
I did it until I got robbed.
Yeah.
And then I stopped doing it.
So Doug did,
did you,
well when you were there,
did,
did anyone take you under,
under their wing?
I mean,
was there any other veteran player or anyone that,
you know,
had a similar background from you that that saw that you kind of,
you were a young guy out in the wilderness and,
and,
and took pity on you.
I,
I was an unbearable 18 year old is what I was.
Uh it would have been hard for anybody to take me into their wing,
Dave Taylor,
you know,
gave it a shot and uh if you guys,
you know,
gave it a shot,
but really the responsibility of the team is to put supporters in place today.
Today,
a guy like Conor and David would have six supporters including a professional chef and those supporters would,
would manage and take care of things.
Uh that,
that,
that the player just doesn't do and isn't good at,
right?
They're good at playing hockey.
They didn't,
they didn't have that system at the time.
Like it was dog eat dog and,
and there are many times in practice where it was set up,
fights were set up uh you know,
just to,
just to teach you a lesson if you know what I mean?
Yeah.
Well,
and,
and Doug,
I've heard you say before,
that was like a free fall for you and basically you were rewarded for being out of control.
Yeah,
there was there,
there,
there was no rewards for not losing emotional control.
Yeah,
the the when you,
when you got into a fight,
you went to the penny box,
came back to the bench,
you know how it was,
right?
Everybody was supporting your behavior and,
and I had just done that since I was 67 years old.
So I,
I didn't,
I,
I didn't know any different.
How,
how was I supposed to know any different?
We,
we grow based on our reward systems,
right?
And two minutes isn't very long.
Yeah,
I get anyway.
So,
so do I,
I have a,
I have a question.
So,
so Steve was talking,
we were talking before you came about the warrior ethos and ethos and a code of ethics among uh among warriors,
uh which a athletes really align with,
um historically,
did you find uh at that level of play that there was um a code of ethics among the players or was it,
was it really just a free for all?
No,
it was slow down in training camp or,
or,
you know,
we're gonna deal with you,
right?
Like you guys used to go to training camp out of shape to get in shape,
right?
And,
and II,
I arrived in training camp in Victoria in shape and I was,
I was told and threatened and like,
because I,
I just wanted to go,
right.
I was just a racehorse ready to go.
But,
you know,
at that time there,
there was very little,
you know,
control at the top.
It's like let the captain and the uh you know,
in the dressing room take care of the guys,
right?
That,
that's just the way it was.
Uh I'm not blaming the way it was.
Uh,
you know,
I survived in that environment and uh things have changed.
So,
you know,
but I had to change it.
That,
that,
that system left me sitting there on the,
you know,
uh with my career over with,
with the same behaviors as I had when I had in the game.
Well,
let's talk about some of those changes.
What were some of the changes that you experienced?
I mean,
from that first day in L A forum,
right?
That was your office L A forum to your journey through the NHL.
Talk about those changes.
Well,
I,
I went from Los Angeles finally,
I like,
I,
I've been trying to get traded for a couple of years and finally,
Scotty Bowman traded for me.
I arrived in a,
in,
in Buffalo,
uh beaten up,
uh psychologically and emotionally just from the journey in L A and I scored 13 seconds into my first game and the team had lost five in a row and we won five in a row when I arrived and I ended up,
you know,
I'm on the top line in the National Hockey League 27 points between me and my two wingers in five games.
We won five games in a row and I went from a healthy scratch,
really,
like not,
not being able to function emotionally in L A to,
to the top line in the National hockey league,
you know,
in,
in 2.5 weeks and it had nothing to do with my physical ability.
Nothing.
What did it have to do with it?
I had to do with my emotional and,
and my,
my mental ability at the time,
you know,
I,
I was sitting in the press box in L A like I just,
I,
I was just so frustrated and angry and confused and,
and,
and then I got traded and all of a sudden,
I'm on the top line in the national hockey league,
like within a couple of weeks and,
and,
and it was,
it wasn't a physical thing.
It was a mental thing.
It was an emotional thing for me that,
you know,
I just needed that change to,
to,
to wake myself up again and to get started again because I,
I knew I could do it.
I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Well,
and you're one of the amazing draft picks that,
you know,
a lot of,
there's a lot of draft picks that get drafted high and it just kind of disappear and never reappear again,
but you were able to reappear again,
you know,
under Scotty Bowman.
And one of the things that happened though was you had even more change after that,
right?
You,
you continue to play in HL but then you had a very sudden change in your life that occurred.
Um What can you tell us about that?
It,
it was professional games.
607 man.
I,
I was so fortunate to play 607 professional hockey games,
but I went head first full speed into the end boards and I shattered the 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae in my neck and everything stopped.
My,
my,
my whole world just came to a sudden stop.
And at that second,
I was conscious,
I went from trying to be the best in the world to trying to be the best for the world because of what I saw what I saw on the ice was what wasn't all the big goals that I scored.
And the comebacks that we made it,
it was the times I didn't show up and it was the times that I had hurt people.
That's what I saw that that was sort of the last second,
the closest I've been to death.
And that's what I saw fully conscious.
It's interesting because you hear about a lot of conversations where people have these experiences and,
and they feel or see things you felt that that's what you felt very strongly.
Give a vis a visual too for the people listening because you were laying on the ice and,
and like you said,
you'd chatter four and five and your gloves were underneath your face and that was the only thing supporting your neck at that point.
Yeah.
And you can see the video on uh on my website and you know,
it,
it,
I went pile driver head first,
my neck was broken in 200 places.
My,
the ligaments in my neck were torn,
but I landed on the ice with my hand on my gloves,
my chin on my gloves and I stayed in that position for 6.5 hours as they uh x-rayed,
you know,
l spine and T spine.
And then they,
they found the,
the shattered vertebrae at,
at c spine.
And,
and so,
you know,
my whole thing was,
what am I gonna do with my little kids?
My,
my,
I had two little girls at the time and,
and so,
you know,
my life got flipped on its head and,
and,
and we started again and much of my work today that I do today that I,
that I share with the world that I help people with,
with,
you know,
uh to be happier and to be more effective,
that's where it all came from.
It came from that sudden impact that happened to me.
I was just one of the fortunate ones that,
that survived it.
So doug,
were you conscious the whole time after the impact?
Yes.
And what was,
what was going through your mind like you can?
So you,
you knew something was wrong,
what was going through your mind at that time?
Oh,
just to eat every ounce of effort was um in keeping still.
Um and dealing with the extraordinary uh amount of,
of pain like the,
the the pain through,
through my system wasn't like normal orthopedic pain when you,
you know,
like bang your arm or cut yourself or it,
it,
it,
it was coming from the inside and,
and,
and so they had me on so much morphine for a day and a half that they had to,
my heart would stop and they'd have to,
they,
they,
it would,
my heart rate would drop to 25 30 beats a minute and they'd have to wake me up.
So my heart didn't stop every,
you know,
every little while.
So they,
so they had to give me enough morphine that it wouldn't kill me,
but just keep me right on the edge.
So,
so that I could,
and,
and,
and I still was Laing in the bed,
you know,
shaking,
shaking,
you know,
it's incredible.
Um,
so in the,
in the aftermath,
were you paralyzed?
Yeah,
I was,
uh,
I,
in the third surgery.
So there was three surgeries that took place.
Um,
and in the third surgery,
things fell apart and I woke up and I see you,
uh,
a quadriplegic.
So I had no arms,
no legs,
no bladder,
no bowels.
And we were red.
What most people in that situation are,
are read.
Um,
but,
you know,
we,
we don't see you being able to get better after this.
So,
so that was one of the most difficult times in,
in,
in my wife's life because she had to make a decision and you know,
what,
what is she gonna do is she gonna buy in to,
to what the,
the,
the medical system is telling her right now or is,
or are we just gonna get on our horse?
Get me out of here and get on our horse and,
you know,
she,
she took the reins for,
uh,
three years,
22 to 3 years with two with two little.
Sounds like a good woman.
You married 36 36 years this coming August.
Well,
and,
and to go from a pro ale physical pro athlete to a quadriplegic with nothing from the neck on down.
I mean,
and,
and she was a seminal moment.
There was a seminal moment that she had confronted you about this,
right?
Because you were despondent upset.
Um You know,
like you said,
you had nothing from the neck on down,
but she was,
she got in your face really is kind of what happened,
right?
You want to explain that a little bit more.
Well,
the way she got in my face was not letting me,
yeah,
get into the tough subjects are for me to talk about not,
not letting me like end it.
So,
so,
you know,
the only one that was,
that I could ask for help was her.
But um so I did and,
and,
and,
and she said no,
and she had that talk with me and the,
you know,
down the hall in the in the hospital and,
and that was really the day things sort of,
you know,
that,
that was the day things turned around when,
when she gave me that hard.
No.
And you were looking to have her assist you right at that time too.
Yeah.
Yeah.
Yeah,
I just,
I was,
I wasn't,
I was,
I,
I wasn't into,
uh,
living in a nightmare when you suffer a spinal cord injury when you're awake.
It's,
you're,
you're,
you're in in hell,
right?
The only,
the only time you're happy or peaceful is when you're asleep or you know,
when you're in between asleep and,
and,
and uh and awake,
but when you're awake,
you're,
you're,
you're living in hell.
So,
and,
and it was basically that she loved you.
They have two beautiful daughters that love you and that was the moment that changed your thinking,
your attitude.
Yeah.
Yeah.
The way that she put it,
uh you know,
her commitment to,
to,
to be there.
Um She,
she at,
at that time,
I mean,
she could have just said forget it,
pack your bags and you know,
she goes,
yeah,
so,
so doug you,
you came out on the other side and now this has become a calling for you.
What?
So what's this?
You talk to us a little bit about what it was like coming out.
You,
you,
you decided,
you know,
you made a,
you made a life decision and you know what's happened since then and what's this new calling of yours?
Well,
you know,
I,
I went to work to learn how to do everything again.
And,
and then uh I ran a couple of businesses in the technology sector.
I ended up building a manufacturing company.
Uh I,
that was taken over by uh by my brother-in-law out in Alberta.
And then I sat down for the first time in my life and said,
I,
I gotta,
I gotta write this down.
I gotta take all the journals because I've been journaling when I was uh when I was paralyzed.
So I took all my journals and I took everything that out of them that was worthwhile and,
and created a book called Thriving In Transition.
And,
and it's a,
it,
it's how to turn adversity into the opportunity of a lifetime and,
and,
and it's full of the pictures.
So I put all my pictures and the story of my,
of my hockey career together.
And then I was approached by the medical community and they asked whether I wanted to marry up my story with the,
you know,
what's happening with respect to trauma and our new awareness,
with respect to trauma and healing.
And I said,
for sure.
And,
and we went,
we sat back down again in a chair for another 18 months and,
and we wrote the Trauma Code and that became a huge success and it gave people a systematic approach to dealing with their,
with their uh cognitive mental issues,
stress,
um gaining happiness,
it's all related,
right?
All this stuff is related.
So,
that's,
that's incredible.
That's incredible where it came from.
It's sort of,
I,
I,
it sort of laid out,
uh,
what I had seen when I broke my neck.
Wow.
You know,
it's interesting when we were talking about the,
uh,
the warrior ethos,
it seems like your,
the worry ethos journey for you started after your injury.
I mean,
you had one before in the NHL.
And obviously,
you know,
you were a warrior,
you're a great hockey player,
but where you really shine showing your colors is the warrior ethos that,
that came after that,
which is just is just,
it's amazing.
Absolutely amazing story.
We,
we all,
we all,
we all need to wake up and I've learned this,
we're working with a lot of people who are in big trouble,
but we all need a wake up call,
an awareness call,
right?
And the awareness,
the awareness that I've found is is that your subconscious mind controls you,
it controls 95% of your human functioning.
We know that from a medical standpoint and,
and,
and the subconscious brain only has three priorities.
It's like an £800 gorilla.
It can help you a lot,
but it can hurt you a lot.
And its three priorities are meeting basic needs,
clarity of thought and helping other people.
Exactly.
So those are the only three priorities.
This £800 gorilla has that you can leverage that you,
you probably aren't leveraging to the,
to the max that you can.
And if,
if you've got trauma in your life,
specifically emotional trauma that you can't see and it's invisible,
your subconscious brain is aware of it.
It's hurting you,
it's hurting your performance.
So,
so if you could begin to unwind that by understanding that your subconscious is the one that's in control and it has those three priorities.
What happens is you unwind from trauma,
it doesn't matter what the trauma is.
You,
you begin,
you begin to unwind and deal with it because you got a big support friend beside you,
your £800 gorilla,
your subconscious brain.
Well,
and doug you,
you talk a lot about trauma and what you speak on now.
In fact,
I think one of the steps that,
that I didn't hear mention was that you are walking again now,
right?
I mean,
that's,
you've gone through therapy,
you've gone through all sorts of um experimental as well as other therapies and,
and now you're walking again,
best selling author and,
and speaker throughout Canada.
Um I know that you speak on trauma and one of the things you talk about is the accumulative trauma,
accumulative emotional trauma that that's the,
the,
the,
the uh carbon monoxide that people don't smell and don't notice,
but it's killing them as a result.
Yeah,
it's a ticking time bomb.
I call it.
I,
I don't call it that all the time because that's big scary words.
But,
but that's the ticking time bomb.
Not,
not just for us individually but uh for us as a society and a community because,
because that cumulative emotional trauma is,
is not detected by you unless you're using a system to detect it.
It's like,
like you said,
Kurt,
very good uh carbon monoxide.
If you have a detector,
you're fine,
right?
You won't go to sleep.
Uh But with cumulative emotional trauma,
like what I created was a detector for it.
And uh so you don't go to sleep because it'll take over your life,
it'll destroy your life.
It'll take all your happiness away.
You'll actually,
you'll back into the jail cell that you made for yourself and you'll throw you,
you'll lock the door from the outside and you'll throw the key outside the jail cell.
It,
that,
that's what cumulative emotional trauma will do to you if you allow it.
That's if you don't manage it.
Yeah,
Doug Doug,
this is uh you,
you have an incredible story and we feel really lucky and blessed that you,
that you shared that with us.
I mean,
this is really what you shared today is,
it's a journey of,
of enlightenment you've been through,
you know,
you've kind of been through hell and back and,
you know,
before we close,
is there any sort of like parting thought?
You know,
you had talked about,
you know,
the three things that,
that,
that motivate you and,
and are your,
your mission now,
um you know,
if someone's going through struggling through change and transition,
um what would you,
you know,
kind of recommend?
What's your like big piece of advice?
Look,
look at every model you can on,
on building happiness,
you know,
the psychological models by,
you know,
victor like by mate and,
you know,
a lot,
a lot of other uh in,
in incredible uh people and minds and,
and technology that are gonna weave this together for us.
You know,
we're not just gonna get the biomarkers for Alzheimer's,
we're gonna get a,
we,
we're gonna get a more refined system that you could use so that you can be happier and healthier and more prosperous because that's what we're after,
right?
And,
and that,
and,
and that's what I'm trying to give to people.
Now.
We're looking at trauma,
but we have to look at trauma because it's the antithesis of performance,
but it's on the same spectrum,
right?
So,
so the recovery after physical injury and,
and,
and the achievement of extremely high performance is on the same spectrum.
So the behaviors to,
to,
to recover after serious traumatic injury and to get to the NHL the behaviors and is,
are the same and the priorities are the same.
That's what I want to get across.
It seems trauma is the key to change too.
It's,
it's powerful,
it's key.
It's a key.
It's an awareness though.
Right.
That's the,
that's the awareness is that,
is that you,
your subconscious is soaking up this trauma right now and if you don't manage it,
if you don't help your subconscious manage it,
it's gonna stomp all over you or it's not gonna help you do something that you might need a lot of help with.
Right.
Right.
That's,
that's powerful.
It's a powerful stuff.
It's a powerful message.
Doug uh where can people learn more about the good work that you're doing?
Oh Doug Smith performance dot com.
If you type in Doug Smith NHL anywhere like I,
I'm,
I'm uh optimized.
I got a course on there.
I've got uh I've got new meditations being built by another company out of Alberta.
They're the first two you can get,
you can get the first meditation on awareness.
OK?
And if you want awareness,
grab this meditation,
it's at Dougy performance dot com slash relax slash relax and you can download it for free.
There,
there's,
there's another eight coming before Christmas.
But I tell you,
I challenge you to stay awake through the uh through the meditation because I did for the first six times.
I listened to it.
I,
I didn't hear the end.
So,
you know,
good luck.
Well,
Steve really needs that because he's,
he's,
he,
I just got off the ice before he got here.
So,
and I need it.
I just got off the Ice.
Are you,
you still play?
Oh,
well,
I was playing up until,
uh,
two years ago with Chris Neil and Chris Phillips.
And,
yeah,
all the guys on the sens alumni,
I founded the Sis alumni in the,
in 1992.
Awesome.
Awesome.
Yeah.
And,
and,
and so I got back to,
to playing,
um,
at almost the same level.
Now.
I have,
I have some deficits in my right side,
but mostly extension deficits in my hand.
But I'm a,
I'm a right handed shot.
So that hand is on the bottom of the stick.
So I had no problem that that's,
that's excellent.
Beautiful.
Well,
Doug,
very,
very fortunate.
Very fortunate.
Doug,
thanks so much for being on today.
We really appreciate it and uh we'll definitely check out uh more of the work that you're doing and continued success and same to you guys.
Thanks a lot for having me on today.
Have a wonderful day,
guys.
Take care.
Pleasure,
Doug Doug,
wow,
guys.
That was powerful.
That was a really,
I mean,
it gave me goose bumps all over.
I mean,
for what reason?
What was it that impacted me?
Ok.
So what,
what I wrote down?
Oh,
sorry,
I didn't mean to interrupt you,
Steve.
I kind of did,
but I did,
go ahead.
Well,
I,
I kind of went,
I didn't go through something that extreme,
but I did almost leave this earth back in 2015.
So I can relate to the fact where you've had enough.
And when he said that it's like you get choked.
I got choked up about it.
I'm like this,
that's an emotional thing.
And there,
there,
it becomes a point where you,
where you have to overcome that.
And it's like,
and having,
you know,
having his wife there,
just like I had my wife there.
You know,
that was the emotional moment because without Laurie,
I wouldn't have moved forward,
right?
And you have to,
and that's really when that warrior ethos kicks back in,
it says you are going to fight,
you're not just gonna lay down,
it's time,
it's time to move on,
it's time to rise.
Yeah.
What's really interesting about Doug's story is you,
you know,
we,
we focus on the athlete part so much with,
with people.
We don't focus on his journey that uh the level of overcoming to become a pro athlete is,
is substantial,
but it's got to be even more substantial from where he was with that,
the,
the vertebrae and in this quadriplegic state,
I mean,
I can't,
I,
I can't even imagine that,
that,
that getting to the level of pro athletes,
but then overcoming that and doing what he's doing today,
that's even more monumental than being a pro athlete in my opinion.
And so the culmination of that,
what I wrote down because I'm always thinking of,
you know,
this podcast is about storytelling like,
so,
and we're talking about sports and storytelling and,
and transition and change.
Um So what does this have to do with storytelling?
And what I wrote down was sports is drama.
There's drama in sports stories and,
and I'm listening to Doug and I'm like,
we're getting chills and you're getting emotional.
It's like this is why people are drawn to the stories in sports because there's an intrinsic drama and really,
I mean,
it's the humanity in it.
I mean,
like,
you know,
one of the things that we've talked about in this podcast is um great stories.
Uh you connect with,
you engage with them because you see yourself in the characters or in the scenarios.
I mean,
Steve was just talking about that and I mean,
this is manifesting in this podcast,
Doug comes on and it's like,
we're like feeling it because it's like,
oh my God,
I,
I went through something similar.
I had a family member that went through something similar and,
you know,
just the way he,
he told the story,
it's like we're like connecting to that.
And there's like,
I mean,
that's to me,
like I,
what I wrote,
I wrote sports is drama.
This is,
I mean,
it was a dramatic story that he just told thousands of people saw that event.
Obviously,
it was televised.
I mean,
you still can pull up the video as he said,
I'm sure it's on youtube,
right?
It is,
you can see the actual impact of when that happened,
I think,
I believe it's on his website as well.
You can see the impact when it happens.
And so that change.
So when you watch something like that live,
I mean,
the story is happening right in front of you,
you're writing the story as that's happening and then that becomes memories.
I have so many,
that's the thing about sports.
I have so many memories that I can think back of,
of either playing sports and,
or watching a game.
And I can literally go back just like music where I can snap right back to that moment in time.
And it reminds me,
it's like you feel those same emotions,
you know.
Well,
think about this too.
You know,
it's gonna date me.
But the ABC wide world of sports,
the opening,
right,
the thrill of victory and the agony and they show that skier jumper just demolished right at the bottom of the jump and you want to look,
but it's like,
oh,
I wanna look away but,
oh my goodness,
look at this.
And it's the drama that you just mentioned,
Joseph that it's the drama of sports,
the,
the,
the thrill of victory and agony of defeat a of your feet.
Oh boy,
don't quit your day job.
Yeah,
I don't quit your day job.
But,
but I do,
I have a day job.
That's a good question we have.
We're sitting here after this podcast.
This is the last day wait a minute.
Are we getting paid for?
This wasn't supposed to know that?
Right.
So,
so,
you know,
we're talking about,
you know,
sports stories and sports is drama.
Uh You know,
one of the questions we were talking about before is so,
you know,
we're making human connections with sports,
with athletes and with,
with the events and the things that happen.
It's a human drama.
So,
is sports a metaphor for life?
I,
I think there's a lot of things that are really important to me having been around sports my whole life.
I mean,
I grew up,
there was six of us on athletic scholarship,
two of us played professionally in my house,
so unbelievably competitive,
right?
Everything we did.
But my point is this,
that for me at this stage in my life,
I've realized that the lessons that I've learned in sports are the most valuable,
right?
Playing was great.
But the lessons that I've learned from playing a sport or playing sports are what are really even more valuable to,
but,
you know,
teamwork,
ability to work as a team.
Certainly that self-discipline um you know,
great working through challenges and difficulties and you know,
Doug talked about his major injury.
I mean,
obviously injuries that we all experience physically emotionally,
he talks about uh you know,
accumulated emotional trauma and how do we handle that?
How do we overcome that?
I mean,
every athlete that I know that gets injured,
their only thought is ok.
What do I need to do to rehab this to get back on the field again,
get back on the court again.
And that's exactly our,
our thought pattern after you're done playing sports because it's like,
ok,
well,
I just got knocked down,
my business is closed.
You know,
what do I need to do to get back up to do this again?
And so it's that mentality,
that is a value and that's why a lot of people look to hire athletes because they know that's kind of an intrinsic in the marrow of our bones.
The downside is that we have a hard time letting go of things,
right?
Because it's in the mirror of our bones never to give up.
But there is a time to give up,
there is a time to let go.
And that's one of the challenges is having that discernment.
I know Steven,
you talked about discernment and the value of discernment,
having that discernment of knowing when to let go of something and when not to let go of something,
Doug's story was an immediate let go.
He had,
he had no choice,
right?
And so,
but for many others in the athletic world,
you have to make that decision,
right?
I think that's a really good point because do Doug's uh it was catastrophic.
So there was no like,
I don't know,
you come back next year.
Yeah.
No,
it's like,
yeah,
I mean,
my,
my neck is shattered.
And,
uh,
yeah,
this is,
it,
it's,
it's a,
it's a game change.
How many times have we seen athletes that probably should have let go.
Right.
They should have moved on and they hung on for a little bit longer,
bankrupt their families as a result because they're like trying to stay on and practice and work out.
But,
uh,
you know,
it goes back to the drama and it's not just the,
the aspect of the fan because we like looking,
uh,
you know,
we see drama in life and we see drama in sports.
It's for the athlete themselves,
but it's a drama for them as well.
And that's tough.
It's really tough.
Yeah,
Steve.
What about you?
So,
you,
I mean,
I don't believe it's just a metaphor.
I mean,
sports,
they're a substitute for war.
I think you guys mentioned that earlier in the podcast.
I mean,
that's why,
you know,
look at,
take British soccer for an example,
right?
All of those I have to have,
well,
you know what?
I can't believe.
I just said my,
my British friends in England would be,
I've been over here too long anyway.
It's British football.
Ok.
Every single town,
I mean,
people just gather around those teams.
It's almost a religion.
It's like a religion.
So,
yeah,
sports is a metaphor for life.
It is life when you deal with,
you know,
countries like England and that and football and that,
I mean,
the Lions,
I mean,
obviously there's fans with the Lions and I'm a Lions fan,
I'm a Maple Le fan.
Unfortunately,
you know,
but when you deal with sports,
like football in England,
it takes it to a whole other level.
I used to live in Europe and central Europe and it wasn't,
it was not uncommon.
Is that a double negative?
I'm not sure how to say that.
I'm not,
not sure Joseph will correct you if you're wrong.
Anything relative to wordsmith over here.
But,
but it,
it wasn't uncommon for a fight to break out during a football game,
soccer game because the,
the supporters,
right?
They sometimes had to put fences between like the reds and the greens or whatever the team was,
right?
They were so passionate about their team.
I mean,
in,
in England,
I,
they have a word for it,
right.
Which is you guys,
have you guys ever seen Green Street Hooligans?
What is that?
It's a movie.
It's a great,
it's one of my favorite movies,
actually has Elijah Wood in it.
He's an American and actually I think he's going to,
I think it goes to Harvard.
He gets kicked out of school for drugs or something anyways,
he ends up in England,
he gets sucked into the subculture of English hooligans for,
um,
I think it's West Ham United is the team,
right?
And he,
he's never been in a fight in his life,
right?
He's this little guy and all of a sudden he's scrapping,
throwing bricks,
doing all kinds of,
he became a warrior.
Became no,
you know,
the crazy thing about those hooligans is like the people that are in it.
You,
you would never imagine that they would be in it.
We're talking like teachers and doctors and you know,
you name it and they all gather at the pub on Sundays and that energy.
That's the warrior ethos that goes right through them.
And I'm not saying it's a good thing,
by the way,
you're just,
you're hitting on something that I,
I think that's really interesting.
So,
you know,
we've been talking about the,
you know,
the athletes experience and the human drama and,
and,
and you know why it makes great sports stories.
But from the fans perspective,
it's,
it's a whole different type of storytelling because it's a group dynamic and it's the,
it's the,
the uh sports as drama for the,
for the group.
So now it's like the,
the,
the team dynamic.
And uh there's a show like an example being at a game when momentum shifts or something is,
I mean,
that's a group.
Well,
here,
this is what I was thinking.
So like,
and that's gonna be a part of it.
But um and Steve will start chiming in big time.
So uh there's that there's a show that came out,
uh it's called Welcome to Wrexham and uh Ryan Reynolds and who's the other guy Rob Delaney.
Rob M.
So,
um,
you know,
both uh one's from,
uh uh uh it's always sunny in Philadelphia and Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool.
And so anyway,
they bought this,
like,
Steve will know better,
uh,
like a,
a lower tier team that was an underperforming,
but it was like 100 year old team.
Yeah,
in,
in Wales.
And,
uh,
anyway,
the whole season is buying the team and,
and the town owned the team so they had to buy the team from the town,
so they had to be approved.
And so it's this whole cultural thing and basically everyone's excited because,
you know,
these Hollywood stars and what are they really gonna,
are they really gonna be part of our culture or is this just kind of a gimmick thing?
And so it,
it's just really well done and it's all human drama and it's like how the town,
even though the team has sucked for years,
it's their life,
you know,
it's like it and they hope against hope,
kind of like we've been with the Lions for years.
Um,
you know,
every,
every season.
But,
um,
so they,
and in,
uh and Steve can explain this in uh in British football,
which is,
I think is really cool.
You can be relegated down a league if you underperform and if you overperform,
you can,
you can go move other leagues.
So it would be like the Toledo Hans having a great season and moving um,
into,
into the,
in,
into the major leagues.
Right.
Or the,
or the Tigers having a,
a crummy one and,
and going down.
Right.
So,
it's funny because Wrexham actually compete,
competes against the,
my grandfather's favorite team,
which was Knox County,
which is one of the old,
actually,
it might be the oldest football club in England.
And I was watching as that show was moving along.
I,
I was watching like where the position was and the ranking of Wrexham and where Knotts Knotts County was and they kept both of them were like 121212.
And I do believe Wrexham did get relegated up.
Right.
Yeah,
they did.
But you're,
uh,
you're not supposed to know that till,
for season two.
Way to go.
Ok.
We've talked about the power of sport as a storytelling medium mechanism.
Uh,
we're gonna wrap it up in a little bit.
But so Steve,
you know,
what is it about the storytelling power in sports that draws you in?
Well,
obviously,
I mean,
everyone likes to see somebody win.
I mean,
right.
I mean,
there's enough losses in the world and,
and everyone draws around a team and they're wanting to see that win.
Um,
I have a story,
a sports story real quick.
Um,
I remember in 1993 I was watching the Les Play and they were playing Los Angeles of all teams and it was game seven and if they won,
they went to the Stanley Cup and Gretzky ended up cutting one of my favorite hockey players,
Dougie Gilmore in the face at the very last few minutes of the game and then didn't get a penalty.
I was so upset.
I mean,
I can,
I can pull back those emotions right now,
just like the day that that happened.
But back in 1993 years ago,
a long time ago,
and I,
I remember almost trying to pick the TV up and throw it out the window because that's what it meant to be a fan of,
of Toronto.
And so it's those memories,
they become those stories and they get ingrained in,
in the side of our,
our psyche.
You know what I mean?
I mean,
it's,
uh,
it,
it's,
it's very,
it's very important,
um,
very powerful but it's funny because I don't remember the wins so much and I always tell my,
my team that I,
I coach,
you know,
you're gonna,
you learn a little bit from your wins but you learn a hell of a lot from your losses.
Yeah.
And that's pretty well.
Life.
All right.
What about you?
And I've had the fortune of being on both sides of the fence as a player and then as a fan,
so to speak,
as somebody who watches sports.
I think one of the things,
if you,
if you watch television today,
any type of championship,
any type of big game,
they're always giving back stories.
Right.
You see,
before the game they're giving back stories and I think that's the important part of,
ok,
you're gonna watch the game,
you're gonna watch the PGA tour or whatever it is,
but you can hear a back story about a player and why and how,
what they had overcome and,
you know,
we're talking about growth and change and,
and,
you know,
I,
I can't think of a better industry where growth and change happens constantly in sports,
right?
For good and bad reasons,
right?
There's a lot of change.
Uh,
you know,
that's one of the things I speak on is change and you see it all the time in sports,
constant change,
you're in,
you're out,
you're good,
you're not good.
Um I think one of the best things from today is,
is,
you know,
hearing Doug's story,
it's just amazing.
And every time,
you know,
I've heard it multiple times but every time I hear it,
it's still impactful,
right of what he had overcome and,
and the growth and change and,
and how he's using that today to make better people.
And one of the things that I love about his sound bite,
he said it early was that he went from trying to be the best in the world,
right?
That's your goal as an athlete to be the best in the world to trying to be the best for the world.
His accident helped him shift that attitude.
Yeah,
it's,
I think,
um,
so for me,
sports,
the,
the power of sports is,
it's,
um,
inspirational and aspirational power and like for,
for me,
um,
hope springs eternal.
And the thing is even,
uh,
sports for me has always been a communal thing,
something to like,
you know,
Thanksgiving football with the family and,
and all that stuff.
And even if your team wasn't doing well that year,
there's always,
you know,
there's always next year.
Right.
And that's to me,
the,
the power of sport to be able to lift a community,
lift a city,
you know,
lift yourself,
like when things aren't going well in your life,
you and your team's doing well,
it just seems to make things better.
And I think,
um,
I don't think we'll ever lose that as long as sports and athletes and the teams that we,
that we cheer for,
uh,
represent the human condition and the,
yeah,
and the community and the triumphs and the failures and everything else,
I think as long as that's resonating,
um,
it will continue to be a powerful thing.
We hope we never lose that right now.
All right.
Good show guys.
We'll see you next time.

 

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