Discipline has a very specific connotation. In some respects, it is hard. It is almost punishing and grueling. But Joel Green frames it in a totally different way. Joel the National Director for Nike Sports Camps, an accomplished speaker and founder of Pro Level Training. In this conversation with Adam Markel, Joel shares what discipline meant to him as a young person growing up in a difficult neighborhood in Philadelphia. He explains how discipline played a role in his journey as a student-athlete to becoming the 7-figure entrepreneur he is today. He also shares snippets of what we can learn from his book, Filtering: The Way to Extract Strength From The Struggle. Join in and learn how you can achieve what you want in life through diligence, discipline, and vigilance!
- 00:01:16 Joel’s superpower of discipline and how it rewards him
- 00:09:30 Joel’s journey as a student-athlete
- 00:15:23 “Just do it”
- 00:18:49 Getting your head straight
- 00:22:22 Self-pity is a disease
- 00:27:48 Nike Sports Camp and making an impact on the globe
- 00:30:32 Joel’s goal to create impact across the globe
- 00:32:00 The quest for equality
- 00:39:40 Joel’s moment-to-moment ritual
- 00:43:49 Adam’s final thoughts
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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Filtering: Diligence, Discipline, And Vigilance Lead To A Successful Life With Joel Green
Stay tuned for another episode of the show where I have Joel Green as my guest. Many would look at Joel and define him by his successes but he has been on both sides of life. His perspective and successes are a direct result of where he came from and where he is going. After retiring from a career as a professional basketball player, Joel Green Founded Pro Level Training, a seven-figure company, which is partnered with Nike.
In addition to running Pro Level Training, he is the National Director for Nike Sports Camps and an accomplished speaker. He was honored to speak to thousands by delivering his TED Talk. These opportunities have continued to propel Joel forward and he released a book called Filtering: The Way to Extract Strength From The Struggle. Stay tuned for this episode. Sit back and enjoy.
Joel, you got an impressive history and bio. My question to you right out of the gate is, what is something that is not in that standard introduction and bio that you would love for people to know about you?
What I call my superpower is my discipline. I will do what it takes to get things done, whether I feel like it or not. That could have come from going to military school. I only went for one year right before I went to college. It instilled something in me. In a good way, I had to look over my shoulder to make sure I was on my toes. I look over my shoulder in the mirror to make sure I’m getting things done, no matter what, by any means necessary. I’m exceptionally disciplined. I notice that about myself. It was told to me by others first and I had to take note of it on my own.
That drops in for me because I have both been lazy at times in my life and dealt with the results but not knowing. When I was being lazy, I didn’t realize there would be consequences. I was doing my thing, which was to do nothing. That changed for me midway through high school. I was always into sports. I still am. I was always a bit of an athlete, never super great but I was good. I was good at a bunch of different things. That was interesting in that respect.
Midway through high school, I found swimming. My dad had said to me, “You should go out for the swimming team.” I don’t even know why I listened to him but I did and I sucked. I could swim. I wasn’t going to drown but I wasn’t competitive. These guys have been swimming since they were six years old. I’m 14 or 15 in high school. I sucked but loved it. I did get better.
The thing about swimming for people that don’t know this about that sport, it is brutal because you swim before school. That means getting in the pool at 7:00 AM. We used to swim after school when everybody else was going to go home, hang out, party and do their homework. We swim after two hours beforehand and maybe 1.5 hours or 2 hours after. It s fairly standard.
Our high school was a New York City school. I grew up in this little town of Queens. It was a school that was like the Great Depression era. They had heat but the pool wasn’t heated. They didn’t heat the pool on the weekends. I remember getting outside to get on a bus to go to school. By the time I got there, I was already freezing. I jumped in a pool that wasn’t heated at 7:00 AM on a Monday. You need to have that word discipline. You mentioned military school training. That was my military school.
That would have made me jump out of the pool. I haven’t jumped in that type of condition of the water. That is something special.
I want to start with the importance of that. Had I not had that experience? Some of my friends at the time were athletes. Some guys I grew up with didn’t get on a team but there was a difference. Some of those cats I knew from middle school, from junior high school, as we called it in New York, by high school time, were hanging out in the park smoking. They were stoners in the park. They were my friends. I love them. They are good guys. That wasn’t a thing I could do anymore. I had other things that were taking me somewhere else. Discipline started for you at what age? I like to get more on the context of that discipline. Since it drives you, I want to unpack that a bit more with you.
I mentioned military school but that was a refining moment. Discipline started when I was younger. I would get beatings when I was 5 and 6 years old for doing silly stuff in the neighborhood. Having fights with my siblings, 4 kids and 2 parents, 6 of us in an abandoned house. We are going crazy amongst each other. When they say, “Get out here. Go outside,” all of a sudden, we go outside and keep making trouble.
You grew up in Philly.
It was difficult conditions. It was an abandoned house. Our walls had graffiti on them. We were allowed to draw on the walls and add to them because they already had markings from people that used to go and squat in the house before we moved in. My parents didn’t mind us writing and drawing ninja turtles on the wall.
It was difficult during that time. We were wearing other people’s clothes and donations from the church. I didn’t know as a kid how harsh it was. My parents and older siblings knew. I was the youngest. Some things caught my eye. I knew we weren’t as well off when we had to borrow water from the neighbor and put it on top of the kerosene heater to have hot water and small things like that. Us all sleeping in the same bed from time to time because we only had enough kerosene for my parent’s room and their heater. Some days caught my attention but it was life. I didn’t complain about it.
Even those moments disciplined me for humility’s sake. As I began to get older and moved out of North Philly for better conditions, I was like, “I now know where we were. I didn’t know that before. That is all I knew.” Even that level of discipline and say, “Don’t talk down on anybody. You were there.” I was able to start checking myself and disciplining myself.
You mentioned being a swimmer versus your friends that you grew up with, for that point, hanging out on the street, on the corner and in the park. I have been into basketball since I was about three years old. I saw this movie called Team with Michael J. Fox back in the day. I never looked back but I got into an organized ball at eight years old. Once that happened, we moved to North Philly at the same time. I’m not having the troublesome side of the streets that I was experiencing in North Philly.
We only moved to West Philly, which was the same but it wasn’t as bad as getting us to basketball. That organization added to my discipline because, number one, I didn’t want to get in trouble so that I could play. I was a little bit sharper in school and at home. I talked back a little bit less so I could make sure I could play on Saturday with my friends at the game.
Those many things added to my level of discipline as a youth. As I got older, I didn’t have to think much about it because how it goes is sport pulls you in. It takes over your schedule. You can’t practice there. They call it student-athletes but you are athletic students. Your classes are based on your school schedule in college. You are an athlete first after a while, based on your schedule. It disciplined me by default after a while.
At a certain point, the discipline begins to pay a dividend. I’m trying to remember from that point in my life when did I acknowledge or connect the dots a little bit about that. I would say it was when I saw my body change. That is going to sound maybe a little odd but in my sophomore year, I start swimming. By the end of that season, my body was different. You put in that thousand hours in the pool. I was fit.
You feel better about yourself. I was going to say the same thing. It probably happened to go into my junior year. I sprouted up. I kept growing and my body began to change. It added to my self-esteem. Things changed.At a certain point, discipline begins to pay a dividend. You will feel better about yourself. Click To Tweet
There is a level of reward for the work. I know it sounds basic. I love to sit around and watch Saturday morning cartoons. I could watch whatever the shows were at the time. I could watch TV all day long. I had the capacity to sit around and do nothing. This was paying a dividend that the sitting on the couch stuff never paid a dividend. At the moment, it was entertaining. That was like all that was in it.
Once I began to see that there was another level to this thing, I’m like, “If I take care of business, it takes me somewhere later. It can give me a scholarship and get me to college.” I always wanted to be like Mike. I grew up in that generation, the late ‘80 and early ‘90s when I saw the Gatorade commercial with Michael Jordan. He was the first person I said I wanted to be like. Before I even said I wanted to be like my dad, I said, “I wanted to be like Mike.”
I grew up in that generation wanting to become a professional basketball player. I knew where the game could take me but I didn’t see the tangible stuff. I didn’t see college or high school having to be first. Once I got to high school and played, I was like, “I can be one of those NCAA guys that I watched on Saturday afternoons and the college games. Let’s do this.” I took it more seriously at that point. Once I saw the next stage of where I could be, I was like, “It is on.”
It was like a puzzle. You get to see what the finished thing looks like on the box and how it sequences and fits together. You can’t know. I want to move in maybe a little chronologically forward. At some point, you realize you got some gifts. That is easy to determine. You play well. You play at a level where you know you are competitive. Your body is starting to also change and give you some extra boost. Where did you end up going to school? Where did you end up going to college?
I ended up having it in a section of my book. I went to four different schools.
Drop the name of your book. Let’s talk about any piece of that you want.
Filtering: The Way To Strength From The Struggle was released in September 2022. I started at Siena College in Upstate New York, Albany. I had a great time there, school-wise. I came in supposed to be the freshman of this and the freshman of that. I tore my hamstring before the season started. I had to sit out. I redshirt the entire year. I had to watch my team play suck. The coach recruited me the next season. I left midway through that. That is my second year there.
I loved my teammates and the school itself. The basketball became a little sour with the coach overlooking me. He stopped talking to me. I was going to transfer to St. Joe’s University in Philly because they originally recruited me when I was in high school. I was the number one recruit. They said, “If you come here, the NCAA rule is you have to redshirt the year. I said, “I redshirt due to a medical redshirt.”
I had to talk to the NCAA. I learned all these rules. NCAA told me, “The only way you can continue to play is if you do a 424 transfer. You have to go from a four-year institution, like a division 1, 2 and 3, into a 2-year like a JUCO or community college. That is the only way you can continue to play without having to sit out.” I said, “Sign me up. I want to play basketball.” I transferred to a school called Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. I get down there. It is an Eiffel Tower with a cowboy hat on top of it.
Have you been to Texas before that?
No, that was my first time. That was my first impression of the State of Texas. It was like the Eiffel Tower with a huge cowboy hat on top of it. That was the first time in my life that I ever saw a true blow across the street. I called it home. I was like, “I was the second to Western.” I saw Temple and we blow across the street. I was like, “This is crazy.”
I go down there midway through this season. We won the international championship. I wanted to be a little closer to home. I transferred to another. I had to do another year of junior college to get back to the Division 1 level. Hopefully, they said on the way back. I transferred to another school called Cecil Community College of Maryland. We won another national championship there. I have another Division 1 scholarship to Rider University. That is where I ended up going from my final two years of school and graduated.
How did Rider go?
I won a conference championship there. We finished up winning the league in my senior year. I had a great time. We are all still brothers. We got together after several years. It was an amazing experience. Despite the hardships of that initial part of the journey, getting injured and having my coach overlook me, I had to be resilient and keep my eye on the prize of who I am. That was the main thing. I had moments of insecurity along the way. It was like, “Why isn’t this not working out according to my plan?” I look back at it and say, “I got three championships throughout my college career, 2 national and 1 conference. I only thank God at this point.”
How do we take care of our self-image? You would think, “That is not a thing you need to be taking care of. It will take care of itself.” That is lazy. I would lean into that laziness. I don’t have to work on my conception of myself. That is a less disciplined approach that pays that same no dividend. You get your mood.
The way you started this conversation was your discipline is you can do things even when you are not in the mood to do them. You are like, “I’m not in the mood. I won’t do that.” A lot of people think that is an approach. When you are not in the mood to do something, you don’t do it. I’m not in the mood to work on my self-esteem. What does it take to do that, to begin with? Some people go, “What are you talking about on working on my self-esteem? Is this some silly thing you stand in front of the mirror and go, ‘I love you. You are awesome. I believe in you?’”
I don’t knock if people do that because that could work and probably does but to take a disciplined approach to everything. If the thing that gets in the way of your achievement in life, the goals, the dreams, the things you want out of life, if the thing that gets in the way of that sometimes is your lack of confidence in yourself, you straight ought to have a disciplined approach to getting your head straight, getting your heart in aligned and belief and having a belief in yourself you can accomplish well beyond or the things you want to.
With me being a National Director for Nike Sports Camps, I hear these three words all the time, “Just do it.” There are many times when I have to tell myself that. It is not in a corny way because it is a tagline or slogan. It is a part of who I am and what I preach when I’m talking to kids training or adults or pros that I’m training and working with. When I’m talking to my son, I’m like, “Stop talking about it. Do it.” We talk ourselves out of so much. We start thinking too much. We need to think less many times because thinking leads to complaining and self-doubt many times.Stop talking about it. Do it. Click To Tweet
Not to where we need to strategically think about stuff. Think about those things. The things that you ought to be actively working toward improving think a little bit less about that and start getting to work once you have already thought about the groundwork and the foundation of things. Once you think about the foundation, the driving force is in you and everything you need is in you. Start taking steps. Stop doubting yourself along the way.
It is an interesting duality that takes place that I have told people. Let’s say, going through my college career, those five years that I played forward. I’m like, “You have to be in the moment.” Sometimes being in the moment can hurt because while you are in the moment, you are getting, “You are not good enough. You don’t have to belong there. We are recruiting over you.” You have to be in the moment to stay focused but you have to do other things. You have to look back every once in a while to remind yourself who you are and what got you there. You are amazing.
You also have to look forward to saying, “I got to see beyond this situation because this will not last forever.” I had to tell myself that. My parents had to tell me often. They are pastors. They were like, “This a light affliction. It is only going to last for a moment.” It is biblical. They would tell me things like that to take me out of that moment for a brief moment to say, “Look at where you are going to end up. Trust it. Keep grinding. Bring yourself back to where you are and work your behind off.” It is an interesting thing you have to do to where you have to be in the moment but sometimes you do have to take yourself out of it to remind yourself where you are and where you are going.
That self-talk to me feels like self-care in the context of the things that I speak about, which is often about change and resiliency. When I’m a keynote speaker, often I’m brought in to talk about how it is that we create more well-being. What does well-being look like? In the world, I’m in a lot of well-being in the workplace for people.
The workplace is another place. It is a place where people are, whether that is virtually or in an office in some place. We bring ourselves there. Wherever we are, there we are. Where we go, there we are again. That self-talk you are bringing up, there is a discipline to how you deal with yourself. How you deal with yourself each and every day is a question. I didn’t ask that question when I was in my twenties. I didn’t have a mentor at the time that said that. I had mentors along the way. I have been so fortunate. I don’t know if that has been the case for you too, where people will point those things out to you.
What is the discipline for your self-talk? Otherwise, if you let your head do what it does, let your brain work the way it works and your mind chatter, it will chatter all day long all the time. It will often chatter in ways that are not helpful and get in the way a lot. Do you have a disciplined practice? Did you develop one earlier on that has changed or something new, where you challenge yourself to talk or have a disciplined practice around this idea of getting your head straight? It is vital in sports, business and life.
Believe me when I tell you this is not a plug for my book but what I wrote about Filtering, that is the method that I came up with for myself to do that and get myself straight amidst crooked moments. You can say that where I’m becoming overwhelmed and stressed because of massive things. I had to filter them to break them down into particles, bite-size and manageable pieces for myself so I could handle them.
I came up with this method for myself in 2015. I said, “This is what I got to start doing for myself.” It was for me. I didn’t do this for other people initially. I had to handle my problems. I’m going through a potential divorce and having, at the time, a two-year-old son and being a single father, moments here, moments there. It was a difficult time. I was trying to manage life.
I was reading nine books every three weeks and had this thirst for knowledge. I wanted answers. I wasn’t getting them. I was insecure about myself and life. I’m like, “What is going on?” I had to find a way. I wrote down Filtering. I said, “This is what I’m doing.” I’m sorting out my issues. I’m breaking everything down for myself and now I can handle it no matter how difficult it is. Sometimes filtering includes me calling somebody because I wasn’t open to people before. That is a part of me breaking down the situation, getting help and getting another perspective.
That has become the main tool for me to filter what and why I’m going through it. It doesn’t have to be on a major level. This can be that thing as far as like, “I want to get up and clean a house. Let me break this down quickly. Let me clean a room. Forget the house.” Doing things like that daily to where I tell myself, “Do something. Do some part of it.”
The funny part is especially as an athlete, once you start doing any part of it, you will keep going. As an athlete, it has been many times when I’m like, “I don’t feel like doing my normal 90-minute workout.” “Joel, go ahead and do ten minutes.” All of a sudden, I’m 50 minutes or 1 hour in. Sometimes the toughest part is getting started.
It is the law of momentum. It has been said often that we discount some things that are said frequently or have become such a cliché. The body’s emotion stays in motion. The one at rest sits around in each Cheetos. You brought that home for me. The people reading this are nodding and going, “Filtering, what a word to describe that thought management.” I loved how we found ourselves in that spot. You don’t filter once a year. It is not like you changed like in your house and you got those filters. If you are lucky, you remember once a year. You are supposed to do it every three months. It was like, “When was the last time you changed that filter?
It hasn’t happened on my end. You are reminding me.
There are people pulling off the side of the road and writing themselves a note. That filtering is moment to moment.
I do it every day. It was an intentional thing to do and refer to but it has become such a habit for me. I was speaking it from the stage. Anytime I’m on stage, I was speaking it before I was even writing about it. As I began writing about it, it became ingrained in me. I started practicing this daily with everything for fun. I’m like, “Let me see if I can filter this. Let me try it here. Let me try it as a parent.”
If I’m overwhelmed with parenthood for a moment, how can I break this down? He wants to play but you are tired. Play with him for two seconds. I break this thing down. All of a sudden, he is pleased and happy. He is running away with a smile on his face. All he wanted was attention for a second. He says, “Daddy, look.” All they want you to do is look for a moment and they are happy. Look away after that point.
There are so many things that we overwhelm ourselves with because we think that we have to do a whole lot more than we have to do. You don’t have to do a whole lot to achieve a whole lot. One thing that has helped me a ton is I tell myself, “Don’t feel bad for myself.” I tell myself that often. I tell my son that all the time.
He is an athlete. While we are training for sports, I will see him get down because he hasn’t done something correctly and I’m showing him what to do. “Don’t feel bad about yourself. Don’t pity yourself,” I tell him so many times. I see it on your face. Don’t pity yourself because the moment you start doing that, there is a chain reaction. In the thoughts that follow that, self-pity is dangerous. It impedes your progress. I checked myself right away. Don’t feel bad for yourself, number one. Put that over here. You can think with a clearer mind. Self-pity is what led to my past insecurities and self-doubt. It is a disease.Self-pity leads to insecurities and self-doubt. It is a disease. Click To Tweet
Joel, that is close to home for me. The worst moments in my life, looking back. The most disempowering moments and the least confident moments. The most painful moments have nothing to do with my failures. I failed a zillion times like a lot of people have. It is the self-pity, the pity party, the feeling sorry for yourself stuff.
I got good advice from my dad. He gave me some wonderful things to focus on. I don’t remember him helping me to reframe those situations. Instead, he would get a little upset with me. I remember my coaches, at times, getting upset and frustrated with me. That next thought after that self-pity is dangerous and the next one after that.
I want to talk about the Nike camp. You are giving those kids a way to reframe that situation at the moment so that they don’t have to feel guilty, confused, angry or bad about themselves because they are feeling the way they are feeling. It becomes more of a spiraling thing as opposed to, “Dust off, get up and next.”
I coach as well. Whenever I see a kid getting down on themselves after they miss a shot and get a turnover, I tell them, “You have to tell yourself next play immediately.” That is what a coach taught me. That was me as the player. When I was early in high school, I would get upset when all of a sudden, the play didn’t go right for me. I’m pouting for the next two seconds. Those two seconds affected the other end of the floor, the next possession.
All of a sudden, my guy ran back. He is on offense. I’m mad because things didn’t go my way. He is scoring because of me pouting at that moment. He told me, “You got to tell yourself next play right away.” I was given a rubber band to pop and snap myself back into reality. Anytime I’m getting upset, I pull it and stay in the next play. Spot on with that. That is something I have had to train myself to do. Now I train other people to do it.
In the company that I ran for a bunch of years, we used to do the rubber band bit, which is a way to use something physical that is a painful reframe. What is more painful, a snap of a rubber band on your wrist that gets you to change and snap out of it or the ten minutes or however long that negative spiral lasts? It can last a good long while. Be lucky if it was over in ten minutes.
It’s the lingering effect many times, depending on the situation. It could keep going from day to day. It is a scary thing. I had to learn from athletics and teaching other kids. You mentioned the reframing of things. I help kids to hone their anger. I told them, “I prefer you mad than sad.” I will take mad any day, especially in sports. Anger is a good thing. It is a driving force many times. You got to learn how to channel it. I said, “Sadness doesn’t help anywhere, even outside of sports and life. Sadness won’t benefit you much.” You can channel sadness to help other people with empathy-wise eyes and things like that with expression. In the avenue that I’m in, I tell people all the time, “I prefer mad than sad all day. I hope you channel that and stay angry. It is my job to help you channel that anger.”Anger is a good thing. It is a driving force a lot of times. Click To Tweet
Tell me about the sports camps. Nike Sports Camps, you are the National Director. Give us a little bit about what that gig has been like for you and where things are leading in that direction.
I retired professionally back in 2011. I partnered with Nike Sports Camps that same year. I started my company Pro Level Training. I’m the CEO of Pro Level Training. I was training kids during my off-season. Even while I was playing, during my off-season, I would come back home. It was a kid or two that would work out with me.
I told them they couldn’t work out with me because they couldn’t handle it. I used to invite them. I said, “I will pull up to your house around 4:30 or 4:45. You got to come out because I got to get to the gym by 5:00 AM. If you don’t come out with my first horn, you are not coming with me. You can’t work out with me.” They would ask all the time, these high school kids. I said, “Can you rebound for me?” I would bring them to the gym and they would rebound for me. Afterward, I said, “I will show you a couple of things for twenty minutes.” I started enjoying that. This was while I was a pro.
What city was this?
In Philadelphia. I started enjoying it. I would come back home and work with the kids. Once I came back, I decided to stop playing a little bit earlier. I got married at the time. It was the perfect time to see if I could be domesticated. I started the company. It was going well. I call it Pro Level Training for a reason. They may not even have a shot at making it. I want them to still be able to know how it feels to go through what we go through at that level and feel good about themselves. They get to do things. They know what the top guys around the world are doing.
Approach the endeavor like you are a pro. This is how you do it.
It is a mentality. That is what we have been teaching them. Nike called it a win. We caught each other’s eye. It was a perfect situation. I begin working with them. I had one pro-level training Nike camp back in 2012 after being partners for a little bit. We have over 80 camps around the country. We are in 14 different states and 45 different cities across the country.
It is a lovely situation where my business is in other states. It feels great to have an influence on kids that I have never met. That is the best part. For the people that I don’t meet, it feels good to know that my influence and mentality are being built into them. It is nothing like it. I don’t even know these kids firsthand. It has been a great time.
You are mentoring. It is like mentorship that is so valuable. It is impossible to see the full ripple effect of that because those lessons you are teaching them are going to be with them more likely than not for their entire lives.
That is the goal. When I’m keynoting somewhere, I speak on goals and three-step processing. I have been asked often, “What is your goal?” I’m like, “Impact. I have a similar goal to what McDonald’s had back in the day. You would drive past and see on there the yellow marquee served over a billion people. That is one of my goals.”
“I’m not going to see and meet all these people but I can guarantee you. If I go ahead and affect 300 people from a speaking engagement or 1,000 people from an engagement, all of a sudden, they go back home. They are able to affect ten other people individually.” There is a ripple effect. They may say one thing that I said to somebody else. They repeat that. It is like a meme that travels around. It could be a quote. I said, “That is impact. I influenced 300 other people by way of that 1 person because they quoted my quote. That person then talked to quoted my quote.” One of my goals is to have an overall impact across the globe. I don’t have to gauge and measure it. I know it is happening.
I love what you said. You don’t have to gauge and measure it. You know what is happening out there. The TED Talk was about Filtering. I haven’t seen your TED Talk. That one is on my list to catch up.
I wrote about these three steps in the book Filtering. The TED Talk itself was while we were all in shutdown. I was supposed to be on stage before the pandemic started. They asked me, “No one seen each other in person. Are you willing to do this virtually?” I said, “Absolutely.” This was not long after the George Floyd incident and Breonna Taylor. I was talking about it so much behind the scenes. I was going to choose another topic to talk about initially. That is what I discussed with them. I said, “I do not feel right being on a national platform and not bringing these issues to light.”
I spoke on equality. I said three essentials to equality. I know essential was a big word during the time, essential workers and all that stuff. I called it the 3 Essentials for Equality. I spoke on ways we can become more united as opposed to departed. I offered some tangible suggestions as opposed to saying, “Let’s be equal and come together.” That is what everybody is saying but how? I love discussing the how. The most important side of things is the how. It was like, “How can we do this?” That is what I talked about.
I want people to watch that. I’m going to watch it as well. I’m being selfish here in the interest of time. I’m not going to ask you to do a lot with this but can we talk a little bit about the how? We can also have a second conversation to come back and hit on that. I don’t want you to do it any short trip. I’m asking you, “Can you say a little bit about that?” I’m going to get out there and watch this TED Talk. I’m sure people reading are going to do the same.
What I did was gave three quick steps. Childlike imagination was the first step. You are letting people know that, at some point, you got to sit down and think about this thing. You got to see beyond what you see physically. Use your imagery and imagination a little bit. Sit down and think about how things could be as opposed to how they are. That is the initial phase. It is tough to do. It is easy to say but you can’t be so caught up and the dislike of what is going on to where you can’t think about what could happen beyond this point.Sit down and think about how things could be as opposed to how they are. Click To Tweet
That is why I tell people all the time, “I sit down in silence many times and breathe. I let myself think.” I have thinking time. It voids my emotion. That is what I need. That is what I was talking about for a little bit. You will see that. Have a childlike imagination and dream big as a kid would. Not in a cliche way but you have to grow to reach and pursue that goal. I was relating it to forms of equality.
The second step that I said was you have to need your wants. We want things too often but once optional, we are fine if we don’t get the things we want. If you don’t get the things you need in life, you feel something scars you. If you don’t get the love, food and your body needs, you feel it. We have to start converting our wants over to needs.
We want equality. That is not enough. You don’t want water and food. You need that. If we only pursued equality in that same fashion to where you needed it, it is almost impossible not to begin to happen in increments. That is what it is about for me. I don’t go after anything like I want. If I want some Fruit Loops, Fruit Roll-Ups or some Skittles, I want that stuff. I don’t need that stuff. We are talking about a life goal or something I truly desire to happen. I need that to happen. Even if everybody else doesn’t see it that deep or as important to them, that doesn’t matter to me. It is that important to me.
I tell people all the time, “Your goals and desires are yours. They were given to you. Put on your heart, mind, spirit and soul. If they are important to you, go after them like they are that important despite what other people have to say about it.” The second thing was letting people know. Let’s go after the desire for equality as we need it. It has been too long having all this inequality. We know what happened in the past. It sucked.
I speak to African-Americans often. I tell them, “We all feel the same way. It sucked. What we have to do is still be in a productive mindset as opposed to only looking back.” There is nothing wrong with looking back. You get to know where you come from and what your path looks like. Beyond that, how can we move forward? That is what I was talking about with that step.
The last one was to focus on the journey and let people know that now is extremely important. Where you are is extremely important. You have a goal beyond this moment but don’t focus on that goal. Focus on the journey to get to that goal. We want equality. That is a huge goal. What does it then take to become more equal? I began touching on different things as far as police brutality, especially dealing with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. There are a lot of White officers that are policing minority neighborhoods. What should begin to happen is relationships should be more developed in those areas between the officers and the societies.Where you are is extremely important. You have a goal beyond this moment. But don't focus on that goal. Focus on the journey to get to that goal. Click To Tweet
Number one, it only takes four months to become an officer. It takes about 4 to 7 years to become a lawyer. It takes about ten years to become a doctor. That doesn’t measure up to the obligations of those comparative professions. I’m like, “Our lives are being put in the hands of somebody who took four months to be certified to take or preserve my life. That is scary.” It should be a little bit longer for someone to become an officer.
More community service should happen in different neighborhoods for the officers to get to know the neighborhoods they will be policing. That way, at least the people in that neighborhood will know the faces of those officers. The officers will know the faces of those people. They may be more or less to do something violently toward each other in a highly intense situation because they know each other a little bit more. There were six-plus months of community service that took place before they were officially allowed to police that neighborhood.
I was throwing some examples out there as to where we can connect the officers to the neighborhoods and those in the neighborhood so that both parties are more mutually aware of each other. They don’t have to love each other. If they at least know and respect each other a little bit more, I’m not saying everything is perfect after this point but it will be a little bit less occurrence of what we hear about often. Those are the three steps I touched on.
Joel, it is both big thinking and little thinking. The micro components of any system are vitally important. We can’t ever overlook that. People who have great visionaries and think big have a genius to them but you always need to have the small pieces and parts to it. I have used the example of the two Steves, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Most people know about Steve Jobs and some people know about the other Steve but there are the how and the why is that big vision. Why do we do something to change the world? One of those early great Apple ads was, “Think different.” I was like, “That is a big vision.”
You still need the how. Without the how, the why doesn’t work. Without Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs is a barefoot, hippie, smelly dude that nobody wants to spend any time with. You needed both. I love the way you encapsulated that. That is why the Ted Talk will be so wonderful for everybody to check out. You are giving us both there. We are getting big and small.
Joel, I loved this conversation. I will set the intention that we will get to pick this up again and do another part of this. I’m certain people are going to want that as well. Advanced reading, the comments that people leave. I normally circle back to something that you do on a ritual basis each day to help you be more resilient. Is there one thing that is that ritual? Is it filtering? Is it that moment-to-moment ritual? Is it something else? I will give you that last word and we will wrap things up here.
I wake up at 4:55 every day. I want to tell myself I woke up before 5:00. I’m a self-competitor. I’m like, “Why do I wake up at 5:00? We can do 4:59.” That is how I operate. When I wake up, the first thing I do is pray. I thank God. I’m intentional about that. It keeps me grateful, humble and aware of my blessings. It gives me the opportunity to hope and pray that other people will do well and be protected. It makes me feel good inside. Saying that way sounds corny but it makes me feel amazing.
It does not sound corny. I’m going to put that out there. Sometimes people are triggered by words like God or stuff to do with religion and that is fine. That is the dark side of religion. It turned many people to spirit. My perspective is the same as yours. There is nothing that fills me up more quickly and fully than what you described right there.
I realized I get the best feelings from giving. That is what it is. It is me giving thanks, hopes, good feelings and prayers for other people. My routine is to wake up, get in that mood and train after that. I get my workout before 6:00. I eat a small breakfast and get my workout in. I wake my son up around 7:00. I love to start my day while I feel like most people are asleep. It is a quiet time for me. It gives me peace.
Joel, we never met before this but I feel close to you.
Likewise. I appreciate you giving me your story too. Things like that are always important for me to hear, especially having a conversation with somebody so I appreciate it.
Folks out there, we love to hear from you, the usual AdamMarkel.com/Podcast. Leave a comment. That will be me. I don’t have anybody on the team that answers those comments except for myself. We love to also have this particular conversation to get to more places. That ripple that we were talking about has the ripple work. I’m not the techiest guy but I know there is an algorithm that helps this to reach the places that it can reach.
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If you have not yet found your level of resilience, not discovered where you are in this moment, as Joel and I were talking about, it is a moment-to-moment effort. That is the vigilance from moment to moment. Where are you at this moment, resilience-wise? You can go to ResilienceRank.com. It is entirely complimentary. It is our gift to you. Figure out how resilient you are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. There is a whole host of things that you can do with that information. It is valuable. Joel, I want to say thank you for your time, insights, heart and the work that you are doing in the world.
Thanks, Adam. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
I love talking to Joel Green. I could speak to him for hours. What a wonderful human, a father, a single dad, taking care of his son and doing good work. As Joel and I got to talk, it is a daily practice, daily vigilance and discipline required for successful living and success in our finances, business, relationships and health. Joel is a disciplined man.
Discipline has a connotation. In some respects, it is hard. It is almost punishing and grueling. I don’t get that sense from Joel at all. He reframed that word in wonderful ways during our conversation. We talked about some important things. This conversation covered quite a distance from talking about his history and what discipline meant to him as a young person growing up in a difficult neighborhood in Philadelphia.
He was living in what would be extreme poverty, living in an abandoned home and yet being able to not just rise out of that situation but what he was experiencing and learning in real-time about life and discipline and applying those lessons to other areas where he could thrive and rise above those early circumstances and have taken many people out.
Joel’s journey is epic and continues to be. He is a remarkable leader. One of the things we talked about was his TED Talk. I highly recommend that you go and watch that Ted Talk. It is one I have already watched and now I have the opportunity to talk to Joel about it. I had to watch that TED Talk and listen to him talk about some things that are so important, have been divisive in many ways and things that have brought us together to the same page in many respects, in terms of personal dignity and how we are protected and cared for by those that are entrusted to care for and protect us. I will leave it to you to check that out. I was moved by it.
Joel talked about converting our wants into needs. This is powerful stuff because so often we say we want something like, “We want this and that.” If we don’t need it, what are we willing to do? To what lens are we willing to go to accomplish that and see that come to fruition? It is one thing. If we need to breathe, it is another. That is the thing.
There are certain needs we have in life to breathe and eat. We need love. There are things we don’t crave but we need. One of the things that stirred up in me when I was listening to Joel was to think about things like equality. Think about how it is that we treat one another. How is it that we want the world to look and feel for ourselves, our loved ones, kids, friends and colleagues at work? What is the world that we want to live in? How do we want it to feel? To what extent is that an actual need versus simply a want?
I’m going to leave that question hanging in the air for you all. I have been chewing on it since Joel brought it to my attention. He wrote a remarkable book called Filtering. I love this title. I didn’t understand it until I got to hear him talk about what filtering is. It is his own process. He talks about diligence, discipline and vigilance to watch after your thinking, manage your thoughts and manage what is going on between your ears and brain. Managing and filtering it for an important purpose to make better decisions for better and right thinking.
Joel makes time to think. That is something that I learned long ago. It is remarkable to schedule time on your calendar to think. Schedule a thinking time. Joel is a remarkable person with a remarkable history. I love this conversation. I know that you have as well. I already anticipate that you will share this particular episode with people in a variety of different contexts.
There are a lot of ways that this episode could be valuable to others. We would appreciate, as always, that you do that. Leave us a rating if you can. Five stars are always great. That is helpful. It helps other people to find it, who you don’t know and who you are not connected with. I’m happy to ask for it. In humility, it is something we all have to do. Ask for what we want in life. Otherwise, how can we expect to receive it?
I would love to check in on how resilient you are feeling at this moment. If you want to know, it takes three minutes. You go to ResilienceRank.com. Three minutes later, you are going to get a report of how resilient you are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You can do that. It is entirely free. You can get some resources that are complimentary to go along with it. Thank you so much for supporting the show. We will see you in the next episode.
- Pro Level Training
- Nike Sports Camps
- Filtering: The Way to Extract Strength From The Struggle
- 3 Essentials for Equality – TED Talk
About Joel Green
Many would look at Joel Green and define him by his successes, but Joel has been on both sides of life, and his perspective and successes are a direct result of where he came from and where he’s going. After retiring from his career in professional basketball, Joel Green founded Pro Level Training, a 7-figure company, which is now partnered with Nike.
When Joel made the difficult decision to step away from his athletic career, sooner than he anticipated, he pivoted to launching Pro Level Training. Pro Level Training is partnered with Nike delivering camps and training for youth athletes. The connection Joel was able to make with Nike allowed his company to expand more rapidly, and has also resulted in motivational speaking engagements, where Joel presents to business owners, entrepreneurs, and young audiences.
In addition to running Pro Level Training, Joel is the National Director for Nike Sports Camps, and an accomplished speaker. He was honored to speak to thousands delivering his TED Talk.
These opportunities have continued to propel Joel forward and he recently released book, Filtering: The Way to Extract Strength from the Struggle.