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larry hagner

Larry Hagner: The Man Behind the Good Dad Project

“Absorb what is useful; discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.”
-Bruce Lee

The surface doesn’t always reflect what is really deep underneath. Truth: we don’t know what experiences someone brings to the table when we meet them. Nothing more real can be said about Larry Hagner’s story than that. To meet Larry, one would not know, first hand, his tumultuous childhood.

The Childhood

Raised by a single mom, Larry’s father left the picture when he was nine months old. After this, Larry recalls his adopted father entering his life at the age of 4, hence the name Hagner, as a good person who drank a lot. This same scenario would continue with the other men Larry would know as significant male figures as a child. Struggling internally with the fact that he did not really know his biological father, Larry finally had the chance at the age of 12. Unfortunately, this exchange did not have the positive result Larry had hoped for.

Hitting rock bottom at the young age of twelve

Larry’s experience meeting his biological father sent him into a tail-spin: he failed 8th grade (straight F’s-that’s hard to do!) and continued to gain weight. In another life scenario that could have gone completely wrong, Larry had the fortitude to turn it around. This time, one of his mom’s husbands, a former bodybuilder, businessman and abusive alcoholic, asked him if “he was sick and tired of being a fat ***” (sorry, it’s a family show). With that, Larry started working out early in the mornings and eating better. Losing weight and becoming more fit in high school, Larry’s self-esteem sky-rocketed. This confidence echoed and continued into college. Again, Larry took the positive he could find in a truly negative situation.

Behind every great man, there is a wonderful, amazing, strong women shaking their head and laughing

After meeting his beautiful wife, Jessica, at college (you’ve got to listen to the podcast for this story-it’s a riot), Larry ventured on to begin a family of his own. Only, it terrified him. Larry was so afraid that because of his own tumultuous experiences with father figures, that he had no clue how to be a father himself. He entered his first foray into fatherhood with trepidation: he became distant from his new son. After a heart-to-heart with Jess, Larry knew things had to change. He had to learn to get past his past. (Of course, three kids later, he’s got this dad thing down!)

The creation of the Good Dad Project came from hitting the bottom

It was this, as well as one final incident in which he lost his temper with his then 3-year-old son, that The Good Dad Project was born. Larry wanted a way to connect with other dads who felt the struggle between being a good man and being a great dad. This project spread like wildfire; delivering listeners and readers from all walks of life a place to share their struggles and their triumphs. Lesson: our experiences do not have to define us. We choose what we want to keep from our past and what we wish to discard.

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS

Links

If you enjoyed this episode Larry Hagner: The Man Behind the Good Dad Project . Leave your comments below as we would love to hear your thoughts so we can continue to provide you with content you enjoy.

Charlie Brenneman

Charlie Brenneman: How to Live a Life of Excellence


Charlie Brenneman is a professional mixed martial arts fighter, speaker, mentor and author. Following a successful high school wrestling career, Charlie took his talents to Lock Haven University where he achieved a top 12 finish at Division I Nationals and 1st Team All-Academic. After teaching Spanish for three years and winning Spike TV’s Pros vs. Joes, Charlie decided to leave his job to pursue a master’s degree and begin his professional fighting career—“The Spaniard” was born. In 2011, he was ranked as high as #7 in the world, and in 2015, he published his autobiography, Driven: My Unlikely Journey from Classroom to Cage. Charlie currently lives in PA with his wife and daughter

“I would rather be 7th best in the world and have a well-balanced life, than the best in the world and not have that balance.”

-Charlie Brenneman TWEET THAT

“When I pass away, I want my last breath to be from exhaustion from living life to the fullest.”

-Charlie Brenneman TWEET THAT

Charlie Brenneman’s Background

That’s a heavy statement coming from a pro MMA fighter. But knowing Charlie’s background sheds some light on this quote’s reasoning. Growing up, Charlie Brenneman was fortunate to have a supportive family; a mother and father who encouraged him to achieve his goals, and sacrificed their own needs for their children. This upbringing allowed him to be successful in his academic life, his own family life and his career in the MMA.

Charlie Brenneman on Youth Sports

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to be the best simply that you should strive for your own excellence and encourage that in your kids. This is especially true when it comes to kids and sports. Charlie applauds his own parents for making sports fun for him and credits this attitude with much of his athletic success. He states that there needs to be a proper amount of push and encouragement. In other words, throwing your kids to the toughest opposition doesn’t necessarily ingrain positive self-image. It may actually work against them and make kids feel defeated. Instead, help kids to have “little successes”; competing against like-ability opponents and work up the ladder as they improve in their ability. Allowing kids to have fun with sports and achieve gradual success will more than likely make them want to play and instill positive behaviors.

Teach Balance and Live Balance

Teaching children the value of balancing being the best in something with other important aspects of their life, like friends and family, gives them a strong foundation for success as adults. Let’s face it: the balancing act of life only gets more challenging. Whether you’re a pro MMA fighter or a fire-fighter, learning to develop and maintain a healthy work-life balance is critical. Charlie works to achieve this through his “Systematic Living”-a curriculum for life.

Positive Habits and Surround Yourself with the Right People

Developed from his own reflection on his past successes, Charlie created this curriculum to help others become successful in their own lives. Essentially, he “deconstructed” how he achieved each individual success and identified certain pillars: honing your positive habits, surrounding yourself with the best people, networking and avoiding negativity (Check out his links to find out more!). These pillars set you up for the greatest individual success in your own life.

Family is the First Priority

Of course, one common thread throughout the entire interview with Charlie is the importance of family. It is clear that he believes in dedicating himself to something greater than himself. In other words, keeping the needs and desires of those he loves at the forefront of his personal aspirations. By being the best version of yourself, you are providing the best example for those around you.

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS

Links

The Spaniard’s Links:

If you enjoyed this episode Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman . Leave your comments below as we would love to hear your thoughts so we can continue to provide you with content you enjoy.

jason mackenzie

Drunk to Monk by Jason MacKenzie

Jason MackenzieJason Mackenzie drank  for a long time. He drank to cope with his wife’s battle with bipolar disorder. He drank to cope with her suicide. He drank for years afterwards so he didn’t have to grieve her death. And he drank so he didn’t have to try to be the man his heart knew he could be.  Jason Mackenzie submitted this article to the Good Dad Project from his own blog, The Book of Open.  I have to tell you, he really opens up his world with this article.  It’s incredibly impactful.  Sit back, hold on tight…this article is a game changer.

The Decision to Quit Drinking

Quitting drinking was one of the greatest choices I have made in my life so far. It’s changed everything for me in ways that still amaze me every day. The interesting thing is, I don’t regret drinking. It would be pointless to waste time mired in regret. The benefit of freeing myself and knowing what I am capable of far outweighs the costs I incurred.

The Lessons Learned

The lessons I have learned have made me a much better father than I would have been otherwise. There is so much wisdom to be gained from picking ourselves up off the floor and moving forward.   When our character is tested and we overcome, we are changed forever.
I created a persona that I projected to the world for a long time. I was living someone else’s life because I thought I was supposed to. That person is long gone and will never return. I did it out of fear that the real me wasn’t good enough. Far too many of us still live our lives this way.

Vulnerability

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the power of vulnerability. I define vulnerability as loving yourself enough to have the courage to share your story. It means loving yourself as you are and not as how you think people want you to be. When you put yourself out there you create a place of safety that will draw people to you. You’ll build connections with people that are deep and meaningful. And real.

What did this have to do with parenting?

You’re wondering at this point what this has to do with parenting. My oldest daughter is twelve years old. She is an athlete to her core. She is always moving her body and expresses herself through her athletics. She always, always brings her A game whether its to practice or competition. She inspires me to push harder and be better.

She does not like reading. In fact we’ve realized that she is a bit behind in her reading ability and it is starting to affect her at school. It’s not a crisis by any means but something we need to work together to improve. She was very upset about it so I needed to handle it with care.

We sat down and talked. The first thing I told her was that we’re both responsible for right now and for what we do about it. We’re a team. I explained that I felt like I let her down by not paying more attention to how her reading was progressing. I assumed everything was fine and that was a mistake on my part. It was a chance to talk about how we can learn from mistakes and make course corrections.

Reaching Out for Help

I asked why she didn’t ask for help when she fell behind. Her response was, “The other kids didn’t need help and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to do it on my own.” I understand that feeling completely.

“I drank too much for a long time. I needed help but I was too afraid to ask for it. I was worried about what people would think about me if I asked. I was worried about asking for help and still failing.  So, I pretended everything was OK and I kept struggling for a lot longer than I needed to. Mommy was right there wanting to help me and I wouldn’t let her.

The Lesson Learned

“You know what I learned from that? I learned that when you try your best and then ask for help, people will help you. They will want you to succeed. I ask for help all the time now. I’m not afraid to say when I don’t know something. People respect me more because of it. I learned that lesson at forty-one. I’m so happy we have a chance to talk about it when you’re twelve. You’re almost thirty years ahead of me!”

I could tell by her facial expression and body language that my words resonated with her. They made me human and helped her realize that we’re not so different. I created a safe harbor for her to take refuge in when seas are stormy. Will she use it? Time will tell, but I am optimistic. She’s a great kid.

The Power of Our Own Story and Struggle

The fact that I own my story is what allowed me to tell it to her. I’m not afraid of her thinking less of me. I know she’ll think more of me because I am willing to take what I have learned and use it to help her. Regardless of how I’ve learned it. Loving yourself enough to be vulnerable is a game changer folks.

She came to me later and said, “Daddy, I have some solutions on how I can get better at reading.” A girl after my own heart 🙂

Please visit Jason Mackenzie at The Book of Open to read amazing stores of courage and overcoming.

jason mackenzie

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS

Links