Fighting for My Life and the Love of the Game with Mark Herzlich

Mark Herzlich

In 2008, Mark Herzlich, was one of the best college linebackers in the country, an All-American, and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. After his junior year, at the very top of his game, Mark was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He was told by his doctors that he had as low as a 10% chance of survival and that his playing days were over, that he might not ever run again. He was just 21. 16 months after Mark was diagnosed, he was back on the field playing for Boston College and in another 16 months he had won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. Mark played in 11 games, starting two at linebacker for the 2011 Super Bowl Team. Mark went on to play 7 seasons for the New York Giants and retired in 2018.

In May 2015, Mark married his college sweetheart Danielle, who is a retired Captain in the United States Army, New Jersey National Guard. Danielle, who was a victim of physical, mental and emotional abuse as a child, and Mark have made it their mission to end relationship violence. The couple are national board members, fundraisers, and constant volunteers for The Joyful Heart Foundation, which works to create a world free of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. They are also national board members for A Call to Men, which works to create a world where all men and boys are loving and respectful, and where all women and girls are valued and safe. Mark and Danielle have spoken all over the country to schools, Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams and college teams, educating them on healthy relationships and healthy manhood.

In 2015, Mark also published his memoir titled, “What it Takes: Fighting for My Life and My Love of the Game”. Mark currently works for ESPN as a college football analyst and is the founder and host of “The Superhero Dad Podcast.” The podcast works to inspire men to put their capes on when they walk in their front doors, not just when they walk out of them. Mark has two children and lives in New England with his family.

Mark’s life journey was a rough one, but he consistently talks about how his father was there for him through it all. As fathers, we can learn from this and try to create a realm of psychological safety for our children. They look up to us and open up to us. If we don’t make them feel safe, they will learn to hide their problems and seek help elsewhere. Being a present father in our children’s lives is something that we should never take for granted. Take Mark for example. If his father hadn’t been there to say, “Let’s do this,” he might have taken the wrong path that would have ended his career. The fact that his father was there throughout the entire journey and finally said, “We did it” shows the commitment Mark’s father demonstrated throughout his son’s life.

Take the time today to allow your children to come to you with any and everything. It’s such a gift to have your child feel safe enough to come and talk to you. It builds a bond and trust that you don’t find anywhere else in life.

What You’ll Learn: 

[6:59]

Mark recalls his childhood and what his family was like.

[11:20]

Mark talks about how his parents influenced him and his brother when they were younger.

[18:48]

Mark talks about the moment he decided he wanted to play football professionally.

[22:07]

Mark talks about when his professional football career finally took off.

[24:45]

Mark remembers the emotions he felt when he first heard his diagnosis.

[27:07]

Mark talks about his training schedule and what his first round of treatment looked like.

[34:45]

Mark talks about his father’s role in his treatment and how he helped him through it.

[38:12]

Mark talks about what happened at the end of his treatment.

[44:01]

Mark talks about the emotions he felt when he received the phone call that he was cancer free.

[45:32]

Mark talks about how he felt when his dad said, “We did it.”

[47:13]

Mark talks about his seven-year NFL career.

[47:30]

Mark talks about how he met his wife and how he created an environment of psychological safety for her.

[58:40]

Mark talks about the power of psychological safety.

[1:01:12]

Mark talks about what his family will be celebrating 20 years from now.

[1:04:12]

Mark talks about the things he is grateful for about his dad if his he were sitting in front of him.

RELATED EPISODES:

Finding Your Inner Strength Through Adversity Comes from Within with Ben Newman

Mindset is the Key to Success with Vernon Fox III

Embracing Fear and Living Life to the Fullest with Sal Frisella


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Mark Herzlich

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Yes Men Don’t Change the World with Larry Hagner

Larry Hagner

Larry Hagner is bringing us a personal account of a conversation he had with his 13-year-old son about cutting the grass. When his son questioned him on it, Larry responded in a way that he wished he hadn’t. After apologizing to his son, he realized that it wasn’t the fact of mowing the grass; it was that he didn’t explain to his son why he wanted him to mow the grass.

Having a stubborn child can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because your child has a gift; they challenge the status quo and stick up for what they believe in. On the other hand, their stubbornness is also a curse because they are willing to argue with you if they don’t understand something. In the case with Larry’s son, he mowed the grass because his dad asked him to, but with a poor attitude because he didn’t understand why he had to mow the backyard too. Once Larry explained to him why he wanted the backyard mowed, his whole demeanor changed. He then understood that there actually was a purpose to mowing the grass.

A strong-willed child means they have a gift. They are not willing to budge on their beliefs because they hold true to their values. As fathers, we are leaders in our household. If we teach our strong-willed children that if you challenge the status quo, be respectful about it. If they aren’t respectful, it’s our job to course-correct that behavior, so it’s not ill-received. Challenging the status quo is how people change the world. Yes men don’t change the world because they are too afraid to say no.

RELATED EPISODES:

Strong Fathers, Strong Kids with Meg Meeker

Parenting with Leadership with Stewart Friedman and Alyssa Westring

Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting


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The Art of Survival with EJ Snyder

EJ Snyder

EJ Snyder is a husband, father, retired US Army combat veteran, actor, and survivalist. He has appeared on the show Naked and Afraid and Naked and Afraid XL. He was also a host on the TV show Dual Survival during its 9th season. EJ is married to his wife Amy, and they have two children, Tyler and Kassidy. 

EJ’s claim to fame can be seen through his extraordinary survival, tracking, trapping, navigation, self-reliance, and self-defense skills. He is known as The Skullcrusher, an extreme survivalist, and adventurer who has been teaching survival skills to soldiers and civilians for over 20 years. After serving in the military for 25 years, EJ knew he wanted to be in entertainment and inspire people to develop a survivalist mindset. 

Mindset is crucial to the element of survival. EJ is considered a master of mindset, and he talks about how you never quit just because it’s hard or because you’re in pain. You work around it, you force yourself to overcome obstacles, and finish the race. EJ’s mantra is live every day like it’s your last, and I think we can all benefit from this as fathers, husbands, and men. We have to take every chance we have in life to be the best husband, father, and man that we can be. It may be difficult at times, but with the right mindset, we have the power to live epic, legendary lives. 

What You’ll Learn: 

[5:48]

EJ gives us a background on Naked and Afraid and his other accomplishments.

[18:48]

EJ recalls his childhood and how he grew up.

[22:37]

EJ recalls his time in the Army and how he ended up where he’s at now.

[32:34]

EJ talks about his two kids.

[36:22]

EJ talks about how he went about fatherhood when his kids were younger.

[43:22]

EJ talks about why his spirit animal is the wolf.

RELATED EPISODES:

Modern Survival for Dads with Mike Glover

Mindset is the Key to Success with Vernon Fox III

How to Optimize and Integrate Your Mindset For a Fantastic Life with David Anderson


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EJ Snyder

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Don’t Use the Word Why, Here’s Why with Larry Hagner

Don’t Use the Word Why, Here’s Why with Larry Hagner

The word “why” should be eradicated from our vocabulary for several reasons. First, every time we use the word “why,” we instantly put the person we are talking to on the defense. We don’t necessarily mean to. It sometimes occurs because we are curious why the other person thinks that way, or why someone did something.

The reason we hate hearing the word “why” stems from our childhood. When we were younger, we heard a lot of, “What are you doing? Why are you doing that?,” if you were doing something you weren’t supposed to. The problem with this is that we probably didn’t know it was wrong, and we were immediately thrust into defensive mode. This made us cringe at the word “why” because we associate it with something bad, even though it doesn’t always mean that.

For example, you might have an employee that does something really well, and you want to know why they did that. However, when you ask your employee why they did that, it immediately puts them into a defensive state. Instead of asking them “why,” ask them to tell you about it. They will be much more open to explaining why they did what they did, without being defensive about it.

Another example could be a person asking you why you gave your child their name. They might not be asking in a bad way, but it makes us feel like we named them something wrong. The person might actually be thinking that they’re name is really cool and wants to know the meaning behind it. However, we don’t see it this way when they say the word “why.”

Providing an environment of psychological safety is the number one way to get someone to open up to you. Instead of feeling defensive about something, they will feel invited to communicate why it happened or what they did. For example, if your child gets a bad grade on a test, our immediate response is “why.” This propels them into becoming defensive and coming up with excuses why they got a bad grade. Instead of asking them why, try saying, “tell me about that.” This opens the door for communication and lets your child feel comfortable telling you what went wrong.

RELATED EPISODES:

No Excuses Fatherhood with Wes Watson

Why Finding Your Life’s Purpose Won’t Get You Very Far

Why Perfection is the Enemy of Becoming Better Dad


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dr. nicole lepera

How to Do the Work with Dr. Nicole LePera

In this episode of the Dad Edge Podcast, our guest is Dr. Nicole LePera. She was trained in clinical psychology at Cornell University and the New School for Social Research. She also studied at the Philadelphia School of Psychoanalysis.

As a clinical psychologist in private practice, she often found herself frustrated by traditional psychotherapy’s limitations. She began a journey to develop a united philosophy of mental, physical, and spiritual health that equips people with the tools necessary to heal themselves.

Nothing short of a paradigm shift, her teachings empower individuals to break free from trauma cycles and create who they want to become.

Today, she talks with us about how to do the work when it comes to resolving childhood traumas, dealing with anxiety, building resiliency, and becoming a greater example for our children.

How to Do the Work

From Dr. Nicole LePera, creator of “the holistic psychologist”—the online phenomenon with more than two million Instagram followers—comes a revolutionary approach to healing that harnesses the power of the self to produce lasting change.

Now, Dr. LePera is ready to share her much-requested protocol with the world. In How to Do the Work, she offers both a manifesto for SelfHealing as well as an essential guide to creating a more vibrant, authentic, and joyful life. Drawing on the latest research from a diversity of scientific fields and healing modalities, Dr. LePera helps us recognize how adverse experiences and trauma in childhood live with us, resulting in whole body dysfunction—activating harmful stress responses that keep us stuck engaging in patterns of codependency, emotional immaturity, and trauma bonds. Unless addressed, these self-sabotaging behaviors can quickly become cyclical, leaving people feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, and unwell.

In How to Do the Work, Dr. LePera offers readers the support and tools that will allow them to break free from destructive behaviors to reclaim and recreate their lives. Nothing short of a paradigm shift, this is a celebration of empowerment that will forever change the way we approach mental wellness and self-care.

What You’ll Learn

What Brings Dr. Nicole Joy and Happiness?

[11:07]

Being really present in her life is what brings Dr. LePera joy and happiness. Little did she know how she wasn’t present in her life for the better part of 30 years.  Receiving, seeing, experiencing, and feeling how it translates into her work is what lights her up.

 Dr. Nicole’s Favorite Quote

[12:07]

“Life is lived in moments.” Dr. LePera understood it as a concept, yet she didn’t understand how to practice it. She later realized that she’s now embodying the quote and learning to be present in her moments.

Advice to her Past Self

[13:18]

Gear up for the challenge of growing—challenging personal beliefs embedded in the subconscious and challenging herself to show up differently in the world.

Growing Up

[14:21]

Nicole was born into a family with a lot of anxiety. A lot of worry was present whether it was medical concerns or issues. Anxiety was an implicit part of her childhood experience. It became a large motivator in her desire to understand people.

 Wounded Healer

[15:20]

Dr. Nicole says that a lot of us consider ourselves wounded healers. The way she understands her desire to go into the healing profession is really from that understanding to relieve the symptoms of others.

Anxiety and tension

[16:12]

Anxiety and tension in her family weren’t talked about. It was this inner experience that they were all sharing without labeling it or speaking about it.

Her mother and father’s relationship

[18:42]

Dr. Nicole doesn’t know if she thought about it because it was her normal.  This happens to a lot of us. We just see, and we’re modeled relationships which becomes a format for our own personal relationships.

[19:36]

Dr. Nicole would have thought everything was fine and great and close in her parents’ relationship until she realized that she was repeating the same patterns in her relationships. She didn’t necessarily feel that depth of connection.

 Relationship with her Father

[20:04]

Her dad was very active in her life.  She has many memories of her dad playing with her, and they spent a lot of time together. They had points of connection, but not necessarily in terms of depth and emotion.

Goal

[21:49]

Dr. Nicole’s goal for everyone is to hold space and to acknowledge that some of us might come to the realization that our relationship a parent is one in which we need to stop engaging. She can see both sides of understanding and a parent’s limitations because they are humans, too. They were impacted by what they were taught.

Writing her book

[23:44]

Writing a book wasn’t something Dr. Nicole necessarily thought was a need. After the evolution of working as a traditional therapist, she came by this new holistic method that she now uses through her own healing and then began sharing it with others.  She was considering the theory and beginning to put it out on Instagram.

Aha Moment

[25:30]

Dr. Nicole had an office where people and clients would come week after week. They would have incredibly insightful conversations about all the things that aren’t working in life and all the things they will do differently to manage the symptoms or make their relationships more fulfilling. She had many people who had all of this insight but could not create change in their life.

[26:27]

Many of us are operating from a deeper part of our mind called the subconscious. We are running on almost a blind autopilot. What we’re doing in that unconscious state is repeating all of these habits and patterns that aren’t serving us.

[28:18]

We must gain the tools to begin to create a more conscious, intentional experience of creating a future that’s different from the past.

Bridging the Gap between the subconscious and conscious mind

[29:38]

We need to check and identify how unconscious we are. At that moment, we want to begin to fire up a new part of our brain. We want to teach ourselves how to be present in our given moment. We can access our senses. We can tune in to what’s actually here and hook our attention on that instead of where it typically is for many of us lost in our mind somewhere else.

Pattern-interrupts

[31:35]

When something external inflicts a change upon us, we have a chance to go into a new space, a pattern-interrupt where we can become conscious and make new choices in that moment, or we can slide right back into autopilot.

 Being Present and Intentional

[35:55]

Outside of using what’s present in our environment, we always have access to our senses. If you are at dinner, instead of focusing on what happens after dinner, you’re focusing on the taste of the food. We can always access the present moment, and it’s a practice.

[37:06]

Emotions feel unsafe for a lot of males in general.

Judgments

[39:36]

We sit in judgment of our feelings. Some of us have a general belief that feelings, whatever they are, are bad. And that’s not the reality. Feelings are a natural human occurrence.

Deep Breaths

[40:58]

We can teach ourselves and show ourselves through living the experience of regulating our emotional body through our breath.

[44:00]

We have to practice breath before we really need it. We have to build it into our day. For Dr. Nicole, it begins every morning where she created the intention of just practicing how to breathe from her belly.

Gratitude

[46:03]

Gratitude for many of us is what’s present, and that is often what’s right in front of us.

[48:37]

We now know that our heart is incredibly powerful. Our heart energy not only affects our whole system but communicates with our brain. It affects everyone around us. When we begin embodying these feelings, we can become really powerful in creating our future.

 The Inner Child

[49:44]

The deepest part of our subconscious that impacts us into adulthood is the area called our inner child.

[50:00]

We all have childlike parts of ourselves, even though we’re running around in different aged adult bodies. The inner child accumulates things that have happened in such a distant past that they feel so far, yet because we house all of these patterns in our subconscious, and we operate largely through them. Many of us find ourselves into adulthood, repeating some of these older habits and patterns that don’t serve us.

Role Modeling

[1:00:44]

Children are much more receptive to how they’re watching us. Navigating our feelings is going to be so impactful for them. Our brain actually has something called mirror neurons that fire when we’re watching people around us. This includes our emotional experiences.

[1:01:22]

Modeling into your emotional experiences and expressing them, and letting them out for your children to see usually is going to be the much more impactful way to teach children emotional resilience.

[1:01:45]

Our brains and our whole bodies really are neuroplastic and are changeable. All of us, whoever we are, as we change, all of the relationships around us change. The beautiful endpoint of this conversation is so much change as possible. Even if you’re a parent with older children, as you begin to do differently, it has so much more of an impact than we realize.

Dr. Nicole LePera’s Links

Website: https://yourholisticpsychologist.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-lepera-phd-454b558

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.holistic.psychologist/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theholisticpsyc?lang=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/the.holistic.psychologist/


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