In this episode, we spoke with Terry Tucker about his experiences as a hostage negotiator, a NCAA Division I basketball player, and a cancer warrior who lost his leg, as well as the lessons he’s learned about motivation and perseverance from those experiences.
Learn more about Terry at:
Motivational Check: https://www.motivationalcheck.com/
Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life - Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GLGVTVS
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David Enevoldsen: All right, hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Emotional Embuffination podcast. I am your host, David Enevoldsen, and here on Emotional Embuffination we are training to become emotionally buff enough to overcome any conflict in life, and at the same time, we are trying to discover and optimize new levels of success and happiness. This podcast is just one of a number of different resources I have available. If you would like to learn more about any of that, please check out the Emotional Embuffination website, which is embuff.com. That is E-M-B-U-F-F.com. When you are on the website, make sure that you sign up for the newsletter which is going to have quick weekly Emotional Embuffination tips. Okay. On today's show, we are going to be talking with Terry Tucker from Motivational Check. Terry Tucker is a motivational speaker, author and international podcast guest on the topics of motivation, mindset and self-development. He has a Business administration degree from The Citadel, where he played NCAA Division one college basketball and a master's degree from Boston University. In his professional career, Terry has been a marketing executive, a hospital administrator, a Swat team hostage negotiator, a high school basketball coach, a business owner, a motivational speaker. And for the past 11 years, a cancer warrior which has resulted in the amputation of his foot in 2018 and his leg in 2020. He is the author of the book Sustainable Excellence, Ten Principles to Leading Your Uncommon and Extraordinary Life. Terry has also been featured in Authority, Thrive Global, and Human Capital Leadership magazines, along with being quoted and featured in the new book Audaciousness Your Journey to Living a Bold and Authentic Life, by Maribel Ortega and Helen Strong.
David Enevoldsen: All right, Terry, thank you very much for agreeing to interview with me today. I really appreciate you coming on. You have an absolutely fascinating history. So I think one of the first things I'd like to run through with you is just kind of a little bit about your background and specifically some of the things that you've done that kind of brought you to where you are right now.
Terry Tucker: Sure. Well, first of all, David, thanks for having me on. I'm really looking forward to talking with you today. Yeah, my background born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. You can't tell this from looking at me or from my voice, but I'm six foot eight inches tall and I actually played college basketball at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, despite having three knee surgeries in high school when I graduated from college, I'm really going to date myself, I moved home to find a job because this was long before the Internet was available to help people find employment. I was actually the first person in my family to graduate from college. Fortunately, I was able to find that first job in the corporate headquarters of Wendy's International in their marketing department. That was the good news. The bad news was I lived with my parents for the next three and a half years as I helped my mother care for my father and my grandmother, who were both dying of different forms of cancer. Professionally, as I said, started out in marketing at Wendy's. Then I moved to hospital administration and then I made a major pivot in my life and became a police officer. And part of what I did in my law enforcement career was I was an undercover narcotics investigator. And people always laugh at that. When you're six foot eight, you were undercover. Yes, I was. Talk about that. And I was also a swat team hostage negotiator. After law enforcement, I started a
David Enevoldsen: Back up. Sorry. How do you go from that transition? You're doing like the corporate world and you just swing over to undercover narcotics? Like, how did that happen?
Terry Tucker: So there is a back story. My grandfather, my dad's dad was a Chicago police officer from 1924 to 1954 and was actually shot in the line of duty with his own gun. It was not a serious injury. He was shot in the ankle. But my dad, who was an infant at the time, always remembered the stories that my grandmother told of that knock on the door of Mrs. Tucker. Grab your son. Come with us. Your husband's been shot. So when I expressed an interest in following in my grandfather's footsteps and going into law enforcement, my dad was absolutely not. You're going to college, You're going to major in business. You're going to get out, get a great job, get married, have 2.4 kids, and live happily ever after.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Terry Tucker: But that's what my dad wanted me to do. That's not what I felt my purpose in life was. So I probably had the first major life choice life decision in my life. When I graduated from college, I could have said, you know, sorry, dad, I know you're dying, but I'm going to go blaze my own trail and do what I want to do, or out of love and respect for you, I will do what you want me to do. So understanding the backstory, my first two jobs were in business because that's what my dad wanted me to do.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Terry Tucker: And I always joke, I did what every good son did. I waited until my father passed away, and then I followed my own dreams. And I was a 37 year old rookie police officer, which by most accounts is pretty old to be getting into that line of work.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. So, I mean, how long did it take you to transition into undercover narcotics from from being like a rookie.
Terry Tucker: I ran a beat, you know, marked car and uniform for almost five years before. I mean, I was kind of lucky because the area that I ran a lot of drugs, a lot of guns, a lot, just a lot of violence. So I was able to get a lot of dope out of those, you know, in a marked car. So there was a natural well, if you were undercover, could you do it easier? And I didn't I didn't like buying dope. You know, it wasn't wasn't something that I enjoyed. I was more I'll sit on a place, do surveillance, stop somebody coming out.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Terry Tucker: Talk my way into their car, do a search warrant, have swat kick the door in. That I enjoyed that a lot more. And I thought I got bigger cachets than you know. Okay, somebody bought a 20 rock from, from, you know, big deal. You know, do you want to work off your case by going back in there doing a controlled buy for us and then letting us hit the door? And most people did, Especially, you know, as you and I were talking before this, you know, those first timers that, you know, if you get convicted of this now, you're you're a felon and it's going to make your life a whole lot worse.
David Enevoldsen: Or just a criminal generally. Yeah, just side. I mean, I've had so many I do criminal law now as an attorney and I have so often I'll have something that to me seems almost insignificant, like somebody's got a criminal speeding ticket, you know, they were just driving too fast. And it's classified as a low level misdemeanor in Arizona. And they just they've never had anything. And it's like they have an absolute meltdown. They can't, the idea of being a criminal, convicted criminal is just mortifying to a lot of those people. Not all. I mean, some people don't care. Yeah, I'll rack up convictions all I want.
Terry Tucker: Yeah, just being in law enforcement, I mean, you you would keep in perspective the fact that, you know, I may pull you over for running a stop sign or speeding or whatever it is. And for you, it's the scariest thing that's happened all, all year.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Terry Tucker: For me, it's the third traffic stop of the night, you know, So it's just a different way of looking at it. And we would treat people, you know, we get it. We get you're scared, you're nervous and things like that. And as long as you don't treat us like a jerk, I'm not looking to hem you up. I'm not looking to you know, a lot of it was, in all honesty, fishing expeditions. Like I said, I worked an area with a lot of drugs, a lot of guns. So if I pulled you over for not having a license plate light, you know, if you weren't a jerk to me, you weren't wanted and you had a valid license. I'm not going to write you a $130 ticket for something as ridiculous as that. A lot of people would. But for me, it was like, I'm not that's not what I'm looking for. I'm fishing here, to be honest with you. You know, legally fishing. I can pull you over for that reason. And then can I talk my way into your car? Do you have guns? Do you have dope?
David Enevoldsen: And that, it seems like there's an emotional embuffination lesson there in that little what we just discussed. I mean, insofar as, you know, if you're on the receiving end of something that is terrifying to you, I think people have a tendency to catastrophize and we start to see something go down and we just go immediately to, oh, I'm going to be convicted in prison because this cop pulled me over.
Terry Tucker: Right.
David Enevoldsen: And I think so often things are not as bad as we think they're going to be because we just immediately go to worst case scenario. So there's probably a lesson here insofar as when something unknown is happening or something you're not familiar with. Maybe take a breath, calm down, kind of deal with what the problem is. And, you know, it's probably not going to be as bad as you think it is. Anyway. Sorry, I didn't mean to derail your.
Terry Tucker: No, you're absolutely right. Like I said, you know, everybody thinks we want to arrest people and take people to jail. And it's like we really we really don't want to do that. You know? I mean, if you're.
David Enevoldsen: There's a few that think I've seen a few like that.
Terry Tucker: Yeah, if you're an evil person. If you're a predator. If you're a bully. Yeah, Yeah, maybe I do.
David Enevoldsen: But but for the most part. Yeah.
Terry Tucker: Yeah. I mean, exactly. Most of the people we dealt with were not, you know, of course, you know, as my mom used to say, nothing good happens after midnight. And I worked the night shift the whole my whole career. So it's like.
Terry Tucker: Usually the things I'm dealing with are things that, you know, drunks and drugs and violence and things like that. So.
David Enevoldsen: So you're working undercover narcotics. Where do you go from there?
Terry Tucker: So there was an opening on the swat team and Cincinnati, where I was, did not have a full time swat team. We were again, I'm going to date myself, we carried pagers, you know, so when the pager went off, you would be given information.
David Enevoldsen: I remember pagers. Geez.
Terry Tucker: Yeah, exactly.
David Enevoldsen: You're making me feel old, too.
Terry Tucker: But so yeah, so there was an opening with the negotiators on the swat team. And so I put in for that. For those who don't understand how swat's usually organized, there's usually two groups, there's a tactical team, and those are the officers with all the toys and the guns and things like that. And then there's the negotiators. And we used to joke with the tactical team that if we did our job correctly, you didn't get to use all your your toys and things like that. And so but still had, you know, had to do the physical fitness, had to meet with the psychologists, had to take tests and then had to meet with the team. And it was a it was an all or nothing. If everybody gave you a thumbs up, you got on the team. If one person said, no, I don't like Terry, he's, you know, had a bad experience with him, then you didn't get on the team because we worked we worked very closely, you know, with each other. It's not like, you know, Samuel L. Jackson made a movie called The Negotiator years ago. And, you know, everybody thinks I mean, he was practically superman. It's like he did everything. It's like people always ask me, is that the way it is? It's like, no, that's absolutely not the way it works.
David Enevoldsen: You know, that's, it's funny how often TV or movies don't quite reflect what's what's in reality. I used to work at our county attorney's office here, and we had this running joke that you see all these law shows where, you know, somebody, there's a murder and then the whole team runs down to the murder scene and the attorneys and the investigators are all standing around talking about it. And, you know, then by the end of the episode, they've had, you know, all these dialogues and back and forth, and they're doing a trial and it's over. And so we had this joke that if it was like reality, you'd basically just have an hour of an attorney sitting in front of a computer typing, and once every like four episodes, they run out and have a status conference and be like, "Yeah, Judge, we're still working on discovery. Like, let's just reset another hearing." And it seems like it's so different from reality. I'm sure cop shows are the same thing.
Terry Tucker: Oh, it is. My, I ran with a partner and she ended up excuse me, being a criminalist, where she would process homicide scenes and suicide. And she used to tell me usually the first 45 minutes on the stand were just debunking all the things that they saw and, you know, the jury saw on CSI, you know, it's like, oh, there's an AIFA system where you can get fingerprints. Yeah, but it just doesn't say, you know, hey, David did it. It it spits out like 20 or 30 different cards that say these potential people could be the person. So you've got to go through and do all that legwork. So yeah, it's it's not as easy as it fits into a 60 minute television show.
David Enevoldsen: For sure. And usually the evidence is not quite as clear as you think it is in these shows. Like it's always slam dunk in the show, like there's some DNA magic that just everything lines up. Anyway, yeah, another potential interesting lesson out of that. So again derailed you I apologize. So, so you get you apply to get into the swat team. What happened?
Terry Tucker: I was fortunate enough to get in and then I immediately realized how little I knew about being a negotiator because we we trained every month and we trained in a scenario based type of format where we would act different things out that we may have seen in the newspaper or somebody experienced. And then we would debrief. We had a psychologist that worked with us and he would be like, you know, did you ever think this person might have been schizophrenic and off their meds and, oh, gee, I never thought about it. So it was it was sort of on the job training. And I remember my first scenario was very simple. Behind the locked door was a hostage and a hostage taker. I spent the entire time talking to the hostage, and after it was done, they were like, you do realize we negotiate with the people who take the hostages? Like, yeah, I kind of figured that out. I guess I have a lot to learn here, so.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah, well, yeah. I'm sure everything's always easier when you're standing on the outside criticizing.
Terry Tucker: It is. It absolutely is. And so, you know, like I said, the more I did that, the more comfortable I got, the more you realized. And that and so after law enforcement, like I said, my my wife. Well,
David Enevoldsen: How long did you do hostage negotiation?
Terry Tucker: About four years.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. So after that, sorry. Your wife...
Terry Tucker: No, that's so my wife has always been the primary breadwinner.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Terry Tucker: So she lost her job in Cincinnati. We had to leave. She got a job in Houston, and so moved there. Started a school security consulting, business. Coached girls high school basketball, which was absolutely interesting. And that's when 11.5 years ago, I was found out that I had this very rare form of cancer.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. So and what what happened with that?
Terry Tucker: So, like I said, was girls high school basketball coach have a callous break open on the bottom of my foot right below my third toe. Initially don't think much of it because as a coach, you're on your feet a lot. But after a couple of weeks of it not healing, I went to see a podiatrist, a foot doctor, friend of mine. And he took an x ray and he said, Terry, I think you have a little cyst in there and I can cut it out. And he did. And he showed it to me. It was just a little gelatin sac with some white fat in it. No dark spots, no blood, nothing that gave either one of us concern. But fortunately or unfortunately, he sent it off to pathology to have it looked at. And then two weeks later, I get the call that we all dread. And as I said, he was a friend of mine. And the more difficulty he was having explaining to me what was going on, the more frightened I was becoming until finally he just laid it out for me. He said, Terry, I've been a doctor for 25 years. I have never seen the form of cancer that you have.
Terry Tucker: You have this incredibly rare form of melanoma, which most of us think, as you know, we have a it's a affects the pigment, the melanin, our skin from too much exposure to the sun. This has nothing to do with that. And he said, I recommend you go to MD Anderson Cancer Center, probably one of the best cancer hospitals in the world to be treated. And so I did. So I had surgery to remove the tumor on the bottom of my foot surgery to remove all the lymph nodes in my my groin and then a skin graft to close the wound on the bottom of my foot. And I was told that this was pretty much a death sentence. They had nothing to offer me other than surgery and that I would probably be dead in a couple of years. And it's 11.5 years later and I'm still not dead. Every year I get a letter from the tumor board at MD Anderson asking me to circle one of three choices. Are you alive with cancer? Are you alive without cancer or are you dead? I keep hanging around because I can't figure out how to circle number three. So it's.
David Enevoldsen: Wow. What exactly happened to your leg then? Is it do you still have the leg or is it.
Terry Tucker: No. So initially I was put on a drug called interferon, as my oncologist used to say, to try to kick the can down the road. We're just going to try to buy you more time. Interferon is one of those drugs that basically kills anything in your body that isn't supposed to be there. So cold viruses, flus, anything, you know, cancer. And I was on I took a weekly interferon injection for five years and the side effects were that I had flu like symptoms, actually severe flu like symptoms every week after each injection. So imagine having the flu every week for five years. And as I said, that wasn't a cure. That was we're trying to kick the can down the road. Eventually the interferon became so toxic to my body that I ended up in the intensive care unit with a fever of 108 degrees, which is usually not compatible with being alive. Had to stop the interferon and almost immediately the cancer came back in the exact same spot on my foot where it had presented. 2018 I had my left foot amputated. Cancer worked its way up my leg into my shin in 2019. Two more surgeries. And then in 2020, right in the middle of the Covid pandemic, I had my left leg amputated above the knee and found out I had tumors in my lungs, which I'm still being treated for. And David, I know this sounds like, you know, a horrible situation and it certainly has been. But I'll tell you, there are two things I've learned. Number one, I don't think you really know yourself until you've been tested by some form of adversity in life. And number two, and this is going to sound crazy, I think cancer has made me a better human being.
David Enevoldsen: I get that. It does sound horrible. You're right. Like I'm listening to it. I'm sure you can see me wincing as you're describing it. It's I mean, I think most of us I mean, nobody should want to or have to go through that experience. But at the same time, I think that also sort of lines up with some of the stuff that I talk about in the Emotional Embuffination framework, because a lot of what I describe is just your I mean, the idea of Emotional Embuffination is you're becoming emotionally stronger, right? And the way that you do that is by facing challenges. If you go to the gym and you want to physically work out, I do something with resistance to kind of tear myself down and then rebuild stronger. I think the same thing is true with emotions, you know, and your your ability to deal with conflict and deal with negative events and that kind of thing. Sometimes people are just pushing themselves to sort of become stronger because they just really want to be. But other times I think it's when you get pushed into a situation and you have to deal with it like you did, that that can create massive leaps in your ability to be resilient and deal with conflict and all that stuff. So it sounds like that was your experience from what I'm hearing. Um.
Terry Tucker: Yeah, it really was. And I mean, I think, you know, I'm a human being. I mean, you're looking at me now. There's no S on my chest. I do not wear a cape and fly around with magical powers.
David Enevoldsen: Sure.
Terry Tucker: You know, I have those bad days. I know when I was diagnosed, I think I went through all the stages that we would associate with grief. You know, first there was denial. I can't possibly have cancer. I've done everything right in my life. And then there's you get mad. I can't possibly have cancer. I've done everything right in my life. And then our daughter was in high school at the time and it was sort of a bargaining with God. Look, just let me live long enough to to see her graduate from high school. And then I got down. I felt sorry for myself. And then I got to a point where this sucks, but I'm going to have to embrace the suck. I do not like these cards that I've been dealt, but I'm going to have to play these cards to the best of my ability and we'll let the chips fall where they may. Like I said, you know, I was given a death sentence 11.5 years ago. I think I've turned that around into a life sentence where I've tried to live a better life and make a difference in people's lives.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. That's awesome. I think that's the best way to approach it. So leg was amputated. You're still dealing with with the cancer, it sounds like, but you're thriving beyond nonetheless. Way beyond when they said you were going to make it through. So that's awesome. Were any any other events in the background that are relevant?
Terry Tucker: I mean not you know, again, I don't I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about dying. I remember when my after I had my leg amputated and I had these tumors in my lungs, My doctor showed me my CT scan. And I have no medical background. I don't know how to read a CT scan, but you can kind of look at it and say, gee, that doesn't look like it's supposed to be there, you know? And and I had these these big tumors in my lungs. I had fluid all around the pleural spaces of my lungs. And I remember looking at my oncologist and saying, how was I alive? And I still to this day, I see him. I see his face. He just put his head down and he started shaking his head, no. And then he looked up at me and he said, I have no idea because you shouldn't have been. Which said to me, and I have a fairly strong faith like, that God's not done with me yet. So when I die, where I die, how I die way above my pay grade. Don't spend a lot of time worrying about the dying part. Spend more time focusing on the living part and what I can contribute with whatever time I have left.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. That's God. There's a lot of really powerful messages right there. I think, too. I just feel like I'm getting all these little lessons just from your life story here. I mean that obviously there's a faith implication there, which I think I've touched on quite a bit in the show so far in different episodes. There's I'm I'm kind of an advocate for the Law of Attraction implications, which I did an episode previously about how that intertwines with Christianity. So if anybody's interested and you think there's a conflict there, go back and listen to that episode. But to me that that also sort of has those law of attraction implications insofar as, you know, the basic idea of the law of attraction is you kind of manifest what you're dwelling on, which I think has Christian implications too. But if you sit there and you say, my life is over, my life is over, I've got cancer, I'm going to die, like that's what essentially comes to fruition. If you start focusing on, well, I've got to go do these things over here and I'm going to keep living, you know, that's what comes to fruition. So there again, I think there's a pretty powerful message in that. So,
Terry Tucker: It does. And that and I think you make a huge point, especially, you know, from a health care point of view, because I've seen people, you know, turn their entire life over to somebody in a white coat with initials after their name.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Terry Tucker: It's like, you know, whatever you say it. That's what I'm going to do.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Terry Tucker: And and doctors are like Vegas, you know, they play the odds. It's like, well, you have this disease. It's at this stage, you're probably going to live two years. But what doctors don't know is the fact that your kid's going to graduate from college next year, and by God, you're going to be there or your daughter's getting married in two years and by God, you're going to be there. And those are the things that keep people going, having a purpose. And I saw that with my father. You know, my father had end stage breast cancer back in the 1980s. They had no idea how to treat a man with breast cancer in the 80s. And they pretty much told him to go home and die.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Terry Tucker: And he lived another three and a half years. And I believe he did because he had a purpose. He was in real estate and he loved doing that. He actually worked up until two weeks before he died. And I sort of tucked that in the back of my mind and said, you know, when it's my time in the barrel, I need to have a purpose. Because you're absolutely right. If you don't have a purpose, you sit around and you think of, oh, my life is over, I've got cancer. You know, woe is me, this is terrible. As opposed to, yeah, I got cancer and I'm living with it. And when I die, I'll die. You know? I mean, none of us, no matter how much we worry about it, can add one minute to our lives. So why spend all that time worrying? Why not spend time using what you have, using your story, using your life to make other people's lives better? You know I told you before, do I get down? Absolutely. I'm treated every three weeks at the hospital for an entire week. I hate doing this. I hate going to it. But do I cry? Do I get down? Do I feel sorry? Absolutely. But what I find is when I'm doing that, it's just like you said, I'm looking inward.
Terry Tucker: Oh, woe is me. This is terrible. You know, poor Terry. And I find a real easy way to get out of that is to go make a difference. Go help somebody else. Go pick up the phone and call somebody I know who's just had surgery or whatever. Now, all of a sudden, I'm not focused on me anymore. I'm focused on somebody else. And I think that gets me out of that funk. And the last thing I'll say about this is, I think, something I learned from playing team sports. You know, I started playing basketball when I was nine years old, played all the way up until I graduated from college when I was 21. And I think what at least for me seems, sports, I think it can be whatever team you're on. I think what I learned there is the importance of being part of something that's bigger than yourself. You realize on a team that if you don't do your job, not only do you let yourself down, but you let your teammates down and your coaches down and your fans down, etcetera. And if you think about it, the biggest team game that we all play is this game of life.
David Enevoldsen: Yup. Well, I got to share a couple of thoughts on that one, too. So I feel like I've cited to this or made reference to this a number of times recently, but you made me think of Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, where he's describing essentially in significant part at least, his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz. And one of the major themes out of that book is you're nodding, so I assume you read it. One of the major themes there is that you're he talks about logotherapy and finding your purpose and, you know, essentially deriving meaning out of that. I remember there was, I can't remember the exact language he uses, but there's someplace in the book where he makes reference to people in the camps where he would see them and they just sort of lose their sense of purpose and he could see the light just go out in their eyes. And he said usually within a few days they'd be dead. And it really described, it reminded me of what you were just describing there or what you were describing reminded me of that insofar as, you know, if you get that death sentence, you know, somebody else is saying you're done.
David Enevoldsen: If you take the purpose and that becomes your point of alignment, then you can keep going very often. And if not, you know, you've got your time, whenever that is. But if you keep pushing for the purpose, I mean, some amazing stuff can happen. You may very well push beyond whatever other people are saying. The other thing that I think of is that I've seen so many instances now where, like the doctor says, you're having the death sentence or some professional somewhere says, here's the thing that's going to happen. And a lot of people just acquiesce to that and think that there's some power in saying that's not necessarily how it's going to be. And you make your own reasoned assessment as to how you're going to live. So not just necessarily let everybody else drive drive the story for you. So here again, I think some really powerful messages there. Okay. So all of this, I mean, obviously you've had a ton of really fascinating experience here. So you kind of at some point developed the Motivational Check. Is that correct? What,
Terry Tucker: You know, people are like, you should you should start a blog. You should write a book, you should do all this kind of stuff. And I was really kind of like, mm, no. I don't, I'm not, I'm not a writer. I'm not, you know, I don't, I don't know how to do a blog. I don't know, I mean, it was just like doing a podcast. You know, I start this motivational speaking business just as Covid hits. And like so many other companies, it was like, well, how do I deliver my message now? Because nobody's doing anything in-person or virtually. So what do I do? And somebody had reached out to me and David, says, David, this is the honest to God's truth. It's exactly the way this happened. Somebody reached out and said, would you like to be a guest on my podcast? And I said, sure. What's a podcast? I had no idea what he was doing. Well, we kind of talk and and then we we put it on social media and I was like, okay, I don't know if I have anything to offer, but sure. And I remember when I did it, the very first one I did, I had Post-it notes all around the camera and they would ask me a question. I would lean in and read the Post-it note. I was horrible. I was terrible at this. But an interesting thing happened about ten months ago I did a podcast with a former NFL player. This guy played for three different teams.
Terry Tucker: He's like six foot six, like 305 pounds. His brother's actually in the National Football League Hall of Fame. And we were talking afterwards and he said, you know, Terry, when I started my podcast, I didn't think anybody would listen to me. I didn't think anybody would care. I'm like, Marcus, you've been at the pinnacle of sports. You've been a professional athlete. How would you think that? He said, I just didn't think my story was that interesting. So, I mean, if somebody who's been at the pinnacle of their their career, their passion, their purpose in life doesn't think that they've got a message to tell. Imagine how the rest of us feel who haven't made it to that. And I it just kind of hit me when he said that. It's like we all have a story. I remember reading an article that said that 86% of people that I can't remember who did the survey felt that they had a book inside them, either a memoir or a fiction book. And yet less than 1% of those people will ever write that book. And I thought, how horrible that is, how terrible to not think that your life has mattered in some way that other people couldn't glean something from what you learned and what you experienced.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. When I wonder about the causals on that because I imagine a lot of that is just fear. You know, a lot of it is just, well, who am I to say anything? Just like your your sports friend there, you know, how do I have anything to contribute? I think that's a pretty normal, um, human emotion, that experience. I mean, I still find myself doing that all the time. Just a couple of days ago, I had somebody tell me, well, the short version, they told me how meaningful something I put out was to them. And I was I keep having this, like, really like this sort of stunned feeling occasionally. So I think that's pretty normal. Sometimes I think it's sloth. You know, sometimes people say, I'm going to write that book and then they just never push themselves to do it. Or sometimes it's the fear creating the sloth because then they're like, Well, it's not going to matter anyway, so I'll just ignore it. But yeah, again, another valuable lesson there is just go, just say your message. Just put it out there.
Terry Tucker: Exactly. I had somebody who literally sent me an email a couple of weeks ago and said, I just listened to your podcast. It was so meaningful. It was so impactful for me. And I sent it back and I said, what podcast was that? And and he gave me the name of it, and I was like, I have no idea. I did. And I went back. It was a podcast I did like two and a half years ago, and this person just happened to find that episode and listen to it and it had an impact on him. So like you said, you never know. You write a book and you know, it sits and and gets cobwebs all over it and then somebody picks it up and it has a tremendous impact on their life. So don't don't think that your life doesn't matter. You're you're here for a reason. Your life does matter. And what you've learned during this life can matter to other people as well.
David Enevoldsen: 100%. So you you did your first podcast. You at least fumbled your way through it, it sounds like what happened after that? So did you get the bug from doing podcasts and speaking or.
Terry Tucker: I did. It was okay. This is a way to get a message out and I and I felt I was I was supposed to do this and I don't know if that that sounds kind of weird. I mean, there you know, it's kind of like when I wrote my book, there's an old joke that says when we talk to God, it's called prayer. When God talks to us, it's called schizophrenia. So God has never, never spoken to me, you know. But but I think what God does is puts people in your path that start making the same suggestion over and over and over again. And I know that's happened to me several times in my life. And again, it's kind of like, well, I'd like you to write this book. It's up to you. I mean, you have free will, free choice, do what you want to do, but I'd like you to do it. And so when people excuse me, started to say, hey, you know, I want you should write this book, you should write this book, you should write this book. I finally kind of bucked up and was like, okay, I need to pay attention to this. And and I and I wrote the book and I always say I wrote the book, but I think it was inspired by something that was much bigger than me.
Terry Tucker: And, you know, I was kind of in the same way like you were talking about before, you know, I did the research. It's like 800 books are published in the United States every single day. It's like, why should I write a book? Now, granted, half of those are about the guy who writes a book about taking his garbage out or walking his dog. So, I mean, is there is there something in your life that you could write about or you could have somebody help you write about that would make a positive difference in somebody's life? I think there is. I think we all have a story, which is why I love doing these podcasts. And I've I'm probably approaching 700 podcasts where I've been a guest all over the world, and I have yet to have a bad experience. I've met so many gracious people, so many interesting people from different lands, from different cultures that I've grown as much as I think I've been able to give them something positive by by talking with me as well.
David Enevoldsen: Fascinating. So, Motivational Check, then that's the business surrounding the speaking through and your book as well. And do you do like coaching or anything or is it just the kind of speaking and.
Terry Tucker: It's right now it's just this the speaking I you know I thought about doing a like a membership type program. People were like, oh, you should do a membership, you do a membership and mean I'm treated every three, you know, every three weeks at the hospital for an entire week. So I am totally off the air during that week and then I have two weeks to recover. And so it's, you know, if I had normal energy and things like that, I could probably do more things. My wife and I constantly have this kind of back and forth where she's like, Look, you can't do three podcasts in a day. You've got to you've got to rest. You've got to, you know, get your blood work up and stuff like that. And I was like, hey, I get plenty of rest when I'm dead. So I'm like, These things energize me. These things give me a purpose. Like we were talking before and I need that purpose. I need that purpose to keep going on because as I said, this, this sucks and I need the purpose to keep embracing the suck.
David Enevoldsen: That makes sense. So your book, it's called Sustainable Excellence, is that correct?
Terry Tucker: Correct.
David Enevoldsen: What's that about? Tell me a little bit about that.
Terry Tucker: So the book was really born out of two conversations I had. One was with a former player that I had coached when we were living in Texas who had moved to Colorado near where my wife and I live with her fiancé, and the four of us had dinner one night and I remember saying to her, you know, I'm really excited that you're living close and I can watch you find and live your purpose. She got real quiet for a while, and she looked at me and she said, well, Coach, what do you think my purpose is? I said, I have absolutely no idea what your purpose is, but that's what your life should be about. That's, I think, one thing Viktor Frankl talked about. You know, we all have a purpose in life and we and it's we have a moral, moral obligation to find that purpose and live it. And that's kind of what I told her. Figure out what you're supposed to do with your life. Use your unique gifts and talents and live that live that reason. So that was one conversation. And then I had a young man reach out to me on social media and he said, what do you think are the most important things I should learn to not just be successful in my job or in business, but to be successful in life.
Terry Tucker: And David, I didn't want to give him the, you know, get up early, work hard, help. I didn't want to give him the sort of things that we all know about. I wanted to see if I could go deeper with him. So I spent some time and I, you know, eventually kind of had these ten ideas or these ten thoughts, these ten ideas, these ten principles. And so I sent them to him. And then I stepped back and I was like, well, I've got a life story that fits underneath that principle, or I know somebody whose life emulates this principle. So literally during the 3 to 4 month period where I was healing after I had my leg amputated, I sat down at the computer every day and I built stories and there were real stories about real people underneath each of the principles. And that's how Sustainable Excellence came to be.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. So, I mean, are you willing to describe what those are?
Terry Tucker: Sure. Yeah.
David Enevoldsen: I mean, maybe we're not gonna. I'll say go get the book if you want to read them all. But maybe give us a at least a sampling of what the princples.
Terry Tucker: Well, it's always it's always fun for me because when somebody reads the book and reaches out, there's always one principle. And the principles are not in any order. Number one is isn't any more important than number seven. But there's always one principle that resonates with the reader, and it's always a great place to start. And there's even one, and I wrote all ten of them. There's one that resonates with me, and I know I've done this and it's it's this, it's the second principle. It's, it's this. Most people think with their fears and their insecurities instead of using their minds.
David Enevoldsen: Which is what we were just now talking about in terms of like writing the books, you know.
Terry Tucker: Right. I know. I've done that. I've, you know, I'd like to do this. Oh, wait a minute. You know, do I have enough information? Am I smart enough? What will people say about me if I fail? That's thinking with our fears and our insecurities. That's not thinking with our minds. And whenever I speak, especially to young people, I always tell them there's something in your heart, something in your soul that you believe you're supposed to do, but it scares you. Go ahead and do it because at the end of your life, the things you're going to regret are not going to be the things you did. They're going to be those things that you didn't do. And by then it's going to be too late to go back and do them. So that's one thing. And with your fears and insecurities, I have a and I think this comes from sort of my law enforcement career, there's a chapter in there about the importance of being curious, and I think you can extrapolate that on on being a lifelong learner. Of asking, you know, one of the ways when we would talk with people we were negotiating with, we always use what we called our curious voice, you know, and we would give you a little a little tidbit of how we how we operate. We rarely asked anybody a why question. We would ask them how and what questions because why if I said something to you like, well, David, why did you do that? That sounds accusatory. That sounds like you're you're saying I did something wrong, so we would stay away from why questions and we would go to we can get the same information, you know, why are we here, David? Or what got us to this point, David, I'll get the same information depending on how I ask the question. You know that as a lawyer. So I'm not,
David Enevoldsen: You nnow, what you make me think of there. So I'm very in a martial arts. I do a lot of martial arts studying and the school that I'm currently attending, we sometimes will practice like self-defense techniques with weapons. And like the critical thing we talk about is more important than the actual movements is getting the other person who's holding the weapon to talk by asking them, never a why question, but something like how? Like if they come up and they say, give me your money, you say, okay, how do you want me to hand it to you? Like you start and then get them talking before you try to do anything. If you have to do something. It just it sounds like the exact same principles there. It's get them engaged, but not in an accusatory way. Get them thinking about the mechanics, not the diving deep inside themselves where you're on the offense so that.
Terry Tucker: No, you're you're absolutely right. I mean by by me asking you, you know, by you saying something to me and I say to you, Well, David, how am I supposed to do that? What that does without you realizing is, is it engages you to help me get you out safely because I just threw it back in your in your court.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Terry Tucker: How am I supposed to do that? Now, now, I need you to come up with a way to think about that. How are you going to, you're going to get out. So you're absolutely right. Yeah, it's we're not accusing. We're just trying to get you out safely. So being curious and using a curious voice is one there's a there's a chapter in there about you are the person you're looking to become. You may not be that person yet. You may not be there. And I kind of go back to my days of being in the business world. Well, I really felt I was a cop, that I that I wanted to be in law enforcement. But I wasn't a cop. I wasn't there yet, but I really was because I was I was sort of this was just something I was doing to mark time. And I this is going to sound kind of conceited, but I'm actually kind of proud of myself that I never let my dream die. I never I never said, oh, I'm 37 years old. I can't possibly do that line of work. I did take a whole lot more Tylenol in the police academy than my younger counterparts. But that that's a whole 'nother story. So, I mean, if there's something, you know you're supposed to do, you may not be there yet, but you'll get there eventually if you if you keep it.
Terry Tucker: And then I guess one of the most probably the most important one, which is number ten, is that love is the most important language or most important word in any language. I was a huge fan of John Wooden, who was a basketball coach at UCLA when I was growing up, and I used to hang on his every word. And I remember one day I was I was listening to an interview he was doing with a sportscaster, and I literally had a pad and paper and I was writing notes and stuff like that. And the reporter asked him, what's the most important thing you want your players to learn? You want your players to understand. And I'm sitting there on the edge of my seat, you know? All right, come on, coach, give me some good X's and O's that I can use here. And he said, I want my important my players to understand the importance of love. And I was 13 years old. I was like, no love. I mean, are you kidding me? I don't want to know. Give me something I can use. And I wasn't mature enough. I wasn't emotionally intelligent enough to realize what he was saying is I want my players to understand the importance of love, love yourself, love your teammates, love what you do, love your family. That it doesn't matter how many games we win or lose. What matters is loving each other and loving what we do.
David Enevoldsen: Yup. Um. These are all great messages. The also, this is something I'm just kind of putting together. I've had a remarkable number of people that I've talked to who kind of touch on the idea of faith, and it looks like you've got that in number six here. You know, put your God and your family before everything else. Um, I've talked to a lot of people recently who are coming from this place of either kind of speaking or kind of self-improvement, something like that. And this faith theme seems to pop up a lot and I'm just, I don't know that there's a question there, but I mean, do you have thoughts on that? I mean, it just seems like a stark correlation between the people that are doing really well and seem well-adjusted and are handling conflict well and that are kind of pointing to some aspect of faith. You have any thoughts there?
Terry Tucker: Yeah, I'm actually reading a book right now called The Soul's Upward Yearning, which is is so over my head. I mean, it's amazing. But what is interesting is they talk about in the book people, people who have faith or religion or whatever you want to call it, are, and I can't remember the numbers, so I'm not going to give it. But those people are far and above less likely to commit suicide than people who don't have a faith that don't have something that they can sort of hang their hat on.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting.
Terry Tucker: And and I always talk about what has gotten me through this, certainly my four truths. But the other thing that I've talked about is my three F's. Which are faith, family and friends. And, you know, when I got cancer, people were, well, who do you blame? Because we're great in this country about, you know, when we go down a road toward a goal and we butt up against an impediment, something gets in our way and we can't get over it, around it or through it, and we quit. We give up, but we just don't give up. Now we got to blame somebody. We got to blame our parents or our station in life or our education or whatever it ends up being. So when I got cancer, people were like, Well, who do you blame? I don't, I don't blame anybody. And then when I find out I have a faith life, they're like, well, you must blame God. I'm like, no, I don't think God got up on a Tuesday morning, checked his to-do list and said, Terry Tucker, cancer today. I don't I don't think that at all. But what I do believe, as I told you, I told you the story about my CT scan. And when I was on those five years of interferon, I really felt that I wasn't living. I was I was sort of I wasn't living. I was just not dying. And I, I got to a point where I never contemplated suicide, but it was like, okay, God, I'm not contributing anything here. There's nothing going on here. Just take me out of this. That two year fight. If you want me to come, I'm ready. Let's go. Let's get me out of here. But he didn't. He you know, he didn't take me, but what he did is he gave me the courage. He gave me the strength to to go on. And if you would have asked me during that five year period, what are your goals? My goal was literally, I'm just going to survive today.
Terry Tucker: I have no I don't know what my goal is tomorrow. I don't know what my goal is next month or next year. I don't have those goals. I just need to survive today. And then tomorrow I'll figure out how I'm going to survive tomorrow. And if you think about that in the big picture, and that was five years of living like that of I'm just trying to survive today. I don't know what tomorrow brings for me. So faith was an incredibly important part of my life. You know, the other part I talk about is family. And I'll give you kind of a funny story. After I had my leg amputated and I found out I had these tumors in my lungs, my doctor wanted to put me on chemotherapy. And I was eight and a half years into this fight. And I looked at him and I said, is it going to save my life? He said, no, probably not. But it might buy you some more time. And I said to him, well, I don't think if the outcome is going to be the same that I want to put myself through that. I'd rather be healthier with whatever time I have left. But I'll go home and ask my family.
Terry Tucker: So I go home. It's just my wife and daughter and I. And I start telling them what's going on. My daughter is like, I start talking my daughter's like, all right, we need a family meeting. I'm like, family meeting? There's three of us. It's not like we got a board here, you know, or something like that. So. So we end up sitting at the kitchen table and individually talking about how we all feel about me having chemotherapy. And then my daughter, after that's done, she's like, all right, let's take a vote. How many people want Dad to have chemotherapy? And my wife and daughter raised their hand and I'm like, man, am I getting outvoted for something that I don't want to do? But I remembered when I was back in the police academy, our defensive tactics instructor used to have us bring, a photograph of the people we love the most to class. And as we were learning different techniques to defend ourselves, he told us to look at that photograph because, he reasoned, you will fight harder for the people you love than you will fight for yourself. So I ended up taking chemotherapy not because I wanted to, but because I love my family more than I love myself.
Terry Tucker: And in hindsight, it was the right thing to do. It got, it was a bridge that got me to the clinical trial drug that I'm on now. And then finally, just to wrap this up, the friends part of it. There were people that I was 100% sure that if anything happened to me, they would be in the foxhole with me. They would not abandon me. They would, they would be there with me no matter what happened. And a lot of those people weren't. A lot of those people just couldn't deal with the fact that I got this horrible cancer disease when I was in my 50s, when I was in my early 50s, and they backed out. And then there were people that I never expected to be there with me that had been with me through the entire journey. So you just you just never know who's going to be there with you when you know, when you have the worst time in your life. And I've certainly had that during the last 11 years.
David Enevoldsen: Wow. Interesting. So in essence, then the book with the different principles that you've outlined in that, that is a culmination of all these experiences between the swat team work, the cancer experiences, all of that. That's all been condensed into the the principles in the book. Is that correct?
Terry Tucker: Yes.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. So you also mentioned when you were talking just now about the the four truths. Is that are those interrelated or what's what's the distinction between the principles and the four truths?
Terry Tucker: Yeah, the the four truths are not in the book. They're probably being the second book, which I'm kind of putting together now. But literally I was on a podcast and it was called The Three Truths. And so I had to come up with three truths and and I literally I gave it, I gave it some thought. I just didn't throw these together. I was like, okay, I'm into this. What, what, what's important, what's true? What do I know? That is not going to change. And so I eventually had these three truths and then I, I added a fourth one. And I know we all as human beings, we like things in threes. We're kind of our mind works that way. But I just felt the fourth one was so important. I had to I had to add it and I'll give them to you. I'm on a Post-it note here in my office, so I see them multiple times during the day and they constantly get reinforced in my mind. The first one is control your mind or your mind is going to control you. The second one is embrace the pain and the difficulty that we all experience in life and use that pain and difficulty to make you a stronger and more determined individual. The third one, and this is the one that I added is I guess I call it a legacy truth. And it's this: What you leave behind is what you weave in the hearts of other people. And then the fourth one, I think is pretty self-explanatory. As long as you don't quit, you can never be defeated. And I call these four truths sort of the bedrock of my soul. I think they're just a good place to try to build a quality life off of.
David Enevoldsen: I like it. That these are, these are awesome. Um, okay. I'm looking at the clock here. I know we're kind of getting high in the hour, so let me ask you one more substantive question before we get to that, though, if anybody wants to reach out to you, find more about your book, learn more about motivational check, any of that stuff. Is there a place they can go or resource they can check?
Terry Tucker: Yeah, I have a I have a blog. It's called Motivational Check. Imagine that. Motivationalcheck.com. I have recommendations for books to read, videos to watch. I put up the thought for the day every every day at that location. I also have access to my social media links. That's all motivationalcheck.com.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. And the book is on that website.
Terry Tucker: Yes.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. Is that available on Amazon or any other places?
Terry Tucker: Yeah, it's available anywhere you can get a book online Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, Apple iBooks. Wherever you can get a book you can get Sustainable Excellence.
David Enevoldsen: Is that and so that's an electronic version as well.
Terry Tucker: Yeah there's a Kindle version. There's a hardcover and a paperback.
David Enevoldsen: Perfect. Okay. All right. And I'll put links, of course, and wherever I'm posting the podcast on this. So last question I have I ask this to everybody that is, instead of asking you for three things, I'm going to ask you if you could just offer one piece of advice to people about emotional health or strength and kind of keeping that optimized. What would that one piece of advice be?
Terry Tucker: I guess let me tell you a story. So I went to college at the Citadel, which is a military college in South Carolina. And one one year when I was there, we had a president. And this name may ring a bell to you by the name of James Stockdale. For those of you who are political buffs, when Ross Perot ran for president of the United States, James Stockdale was his vice presidential candidate. Stockdale had been a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. He was a naval aviator. He was shot down in his aircraft, spent eight years as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton. One of the most notorious prisoner of war camps. Was actually awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award the military offers when he got out because he organized prisoner resistance and communications and all things like that. Now, he was the president of the college. I was a cadet. I did not spend a lot of time around him. But I remember being at an event with him and somebody asked him, who were the people that survived that brutality, that torture? And he said, well, let me tell you who didn't survive. He said it wasn't the big, strong, tall, tough guys that thought they could handle any kind of abuse or torture. And this one was kind of interesting and sort of surprised me. He said it wasn't even the optimists, you know, the people who thought, well, we'll be rescued or let go by Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter, he said, because Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter would come and go and they wouldn't be rescued.
Terry Tucker: They wouldn't be let go. And he said those people died of a broken heart. He said the people who survived were the people who understood what they could control, which, according to Stockdale, with these with the men who were in captivity, were basically their breathing and the thoughts in their mind. Everything else was at the discretion of the enemy when they ate, when they slept, when they got tortured, everything else was at their discretion. So control what they could control and control that. And he said he talked about how you can never lose faith that you're going to survive. But you also have to have the understanding of realizing that this is your reality, this is the brutality that you're going to have to go through. And I think one of the problems we have is we tend to try to control things that are outside our purview that we have absolutely no control over. And so I guess my suggestion would be understand what you can control in your life and control that and let the rest of this stuff go. Don't don't take on all this baggage that there's no way you can handle and there's no way you can control it in your life. Understand what you can control and control that. I think you'll be a whole lot happier.
David Enevoldsen: I love that. That is. Yes. Well said. I like that a lot. Okay, Terry, thank you very much. You have a fascinating history. I love the messages. Everything you're saying I think is great. Anybody listening, please check out the book. Go to Motivational Check and yeah, thank you very much for being on. I appreciate your time today. And guess I will, I'll let you loose there.
Terry Tucker: Well, David, thanks for having me on. I really enjoyed talking with you.
David Enevoldsen: Thank you. All right. That's going to bring us to the end of today's show. I hope that you found this useful. I hope that you found some little nugget at a bare minimum that you can pull out and use and improve your life. Remember, keep working on this stuff. This is not something you just do once and then forget about it any more than you go to the gym one time and do a single workout and say, I am buff forever and you never need to come again. You make it part of your routine. You go on a regular basis, you make working out something you do all the time. It's the same thing with Emotional Embuffination. You want to make sure that you continually work on this stuff so that you will continually grow stronger and more resilient. At the end of the day, I want you to become emotionally strong enough to go from saying things like, "The struggle is real," to saying, "What struggle?" Thank you all for listening. I hope you've enjoyed this. Have a great week and I will see you on the next show.