Like most professionals, my path to success was not linear, but full of highs and lows. But my persistent pursuit out of the box (and my failures) are what inspired me to become a doctor, and more importantly, to do the work that I do today. The calm, measured, and logical doctor you see smiling at you on this page was once a ferocious competitor—addicted to achievement, driven by external motivation, and riddled with tremendous stress. I know what it’s like to create results, but I also know how to overcome the internal obstacles that erode motivation and success.
HERE’S MY STORY.
I went from being a 5x national tennis champion—top ranked in the world—with a contract from Sergio Tacchini to a lost, unfocused, former pro athlete in just six years. And from that journey I received my greatest gift ever. Let me explain.
I grew up in a traditional family environment, so naturally I stayed quiet and had constant pent up frustration. Sports was my outlet; the only time I felt like me. I wasn’t overly gifted, but I was driven. I never let anybody out-work me, I took risks nobody else would, and I had an insatiable desire to discover what is possible. That’s how I became a 5x national tennis champion.
I left home at age 15 to pursue my sports career. I left everything I knew—my friends, my culture, and my language, but I didn’t realize what effects this would have on my state of mind at the time. I communicated with my family once a month by mailing letters—remember those? Our talks were infrequent so I learned how to be alone while facing the pain of finding my identity through sports.
Even though I was experiencing tremendous stress, waking up every day with the jitters, I performed in spite of my anxiety. I became an expert in dealing with the pressure to continue to perform and win—I took action despite my divided mindset.
It didn’t last, however, and shortly after becoming a pro athlete, despite my great contracts, I sabotaged my sports career at the age of 21. The people who had expectations of me reaching the top of my sport were shocked—they had no idea what I was going through internally.
Losing that part of my life left me feeling lost and dispirited. I kept digging deeper into understanding my flow and realized that the status quo leads us to believe positive thinking is required to bring our best forward.
But I knew this isn’t true at all, and that was the greatest gift from my experience.
After the abrupt end to my athletic career, I decided to explore a new outlet and found myself in the world of performing arts. It’s a completely different scene from athletics, and that dramatic experience triggered me to start asking much deeper questions about myself beyond winning and sports.
How do we sustain creativity and creating what most matters to us?
And while practicing performing arts, I had an incredible realization:
In the performing arts, with enough practice (rehearsal), you can become anybody. You can accomplish your goals without depending on your identity or self-concept.
This curiosity led me to explore science. Thinking about sustainable high performance and creativity, I wanted to better understand the relationship between the brain and thinking out of the box.
How do we grow our capacity to think out of the box to create what we want? How does the mind-body connection impact our performance and in turn our results? How do we tap into our potential to continually bring our very best into what we do? I had to find out.
I obtained my PhD in clinical Psychology and was a fellow scientist at Stanford University. Shortly after, I became a professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Later, I was Director of High-Performance in the University of Miami’s Department of Athletics.
My background of excellence in elite sports, the performing arts, public keynote speaking on high performing leadership, culture, and social impact has led me to consult with global industry leaders to strategically evolve high-performing leadership cultures in their teams and organizations contributing to the greater good of society.
At the age of 22, Brittany Viola was a top ranked competitive collegiate diver aspiring to reach the Olympics. But she became stuck and she couldn’t escape the feeling that her career was coming to an end. She desperately wanted to finish strong but didn’t know how—something was missing and she was facing extreme burnout. Brittany needed support and she found me. My job was to add that missing element to her work which would allow her to reach the next level she desired. Most importantly though, I wanted to find a way that would allow her to transform her orientation as a diver into a life of excellence beyond her athletic achievements.
We worked Brittany through our proven process and she went on to win two national championships and realized her life-long goal of becoming an Olympian. The beautiful journey led her to break through life-long patterns that kept her secretly burnt out and unable to focus on creating what mattered most to her.
Brittany learned a new model of sustainable excellence. She stepped into the next level of success she wanted so badly. That meant leaving all her excuses behind and learning that it wasn’t about her.
Brittany not only reached her highest level of athletic achievement, she also paved the way to excel in all areas of life.
There’s nothing more fulfilling and energizing for me than seeing a young athlete like Brittany dream big, achieve her goals, and grow tremendously in the process.
But how do we do it? What is the process that makes it work?
The 7 Roots of Potential™ is a process designed for leaders in business and public life (business owners, senior executives, society leaders) who are no longer looking to prove themselves through trophies, achievements, and records. While they are grateful for the gifts they’ve been given, they are no longer willing to pursue their personal excellence at the expense of our society’s well-being. These trailblazers, my clients, lead their organizations and teams for reasons that transcend short-term achievement or personal glory. Their primary driver is to bring out the very best of those they lead and team with for the greater good of the institutions and society they serve.
It sounds simple, but as you know, bringing out the best in ourselves in the major leagues doesn’t come without discomfort, discipline, and an insatiable openness to failing and learning.
Now you know my story, my professional history, my mission, and hopefully, me.
Are you ready for an objective, cutting-edge approach that helps your organization to bring out the best of people?
Your leadership position offers a unique platform through which we can dig deeper into your organization to sustain growth for systemic impact.
Let’s do it for ourselves, our children, families, and a world that is entering a new chapter of its history.