26 01, 2020

My Worst Day Ever


Awakened from my sleep this morning by the sounds of beeping heart monitors, loud alarms, frequent interruptions by nurses, the bright fluorescent lights, and the chatty nurses’ station nearby. The hospital is no place to rest. This morning is our sixth day here.

This morning I’m going to recount what I think was the biggest horror my wife and I have ever experienced. 

Dinner Interrupted

On Monday at 7:30, while we were having dinner, the phone rang. Since I did not recognize the number, I almost didn’t answer. I assumed it was another unwanted telemarketing call, but for some reason I answered. The voice on the other end said, “This is Brady’s friend John. Brady has had a seizure, what should I do?” I immediately told him to call 911 and tell me where they were. 

Within moments Laurie and I were en route to the bingo hall where they had been playing. Minutes later, we reached this boy’s mom on the phone; she was close by and got there before we could. 


On her speaker phone, she’s doing play-by-play, with perfect calm. We could hear things going on in the background: “He isn’t breathing, he has no pulse. The CPR isn’t working.”

Our son was clinically dead.

As EMS arrived, they too tried to revive him, with no luck. One EMS professional is on the phone to us explaining what they are doing, asking us medical history questions and asking us to rush there. Of course, our emotions are running high, we’re trying to drive, listen, and cope with the fact that our teenage son is dying.

Suddenly the EMS officer says, “They have a pulse.” The most beautiful words I’ve ever heard in my life.

Laurie and I are driving as fast as we can to get there, to see him, let him know we love him, and prepared in an instant to say our final goodbye. We are in shock, and can hardly believe it. 

Change of Plans

“Meet us at the hospital, don’t come here. We’re on our way,” says the voice on the phone. Quickly we change direction and arrive at the emergency room, but there is no ambulance — and it should have been there before us. Ten minutes go by, still no ambulance. We’re thinking the worst.

Minds Playing Tricks

Then suddenly an ambulance appears, but it’s driving slowly, with no lights or siren. We look at each other in disbelief. Had he died along the way? Does that explain why they are no longer rushing? We’re sure this is the case, because what are the odds another ambulance would appear when one is supposed to be coming? Our minds are playing terrible tricks on us. We assume he is inside and they have done all they can. We’re watching the doors slowly open, and thankfully, as the doors open, there is a woman on a stretcher whom they were transporting. We both breathe a sigh of relief as we hold each other.

Moments later we hear sirens and see flashing red and blue lights. The ambulance rushes in and we run to the entrance to be there with our son. We see his limp body on the gurney. His face is covered with a mask and he is hooked up to all kinds of wires.

A Lucky Day

As they pull him out, they tell us he is alive. They had trouble reviving him. He was in critical condition and could not breathe on his own. The EMS officer approaches us and says, “Your son is very lucky,” of all things. “One of the doctors was riding with us tonight. If he had not been there, he may not have made it. We couldn’t revive him on our own.”

Helplessly Watching

We watch helplessly in the ER, between our tears and fears. Our son’s body is convulsing and shaking. “Just the meds we gave him, we assure you.”

But we have to get him stabilized. At that point we, and they, don’t know what is going on, what the problem is. All we know is that he collapsed and his heart stopped. 

Our 17-year-old baby has a dozen or more people tending to him, putting in tubes and wires, meds and fluids. We watch helplessly for two more hours. The only calls are to some friends for support, and to his siblings who rushed to visit, in case it’s our last chance to tell him we love him.

Hours with No Answers

For two hours, we don’t know if he is going to live. Then once he is moved out of the ER into intensive care, we watch for three or four more hours, waiting for him to stabilize. Finally, we’re told he is breathing on his own again, but the respirator is there to supplement and help in case he stops. 

Toxicology reports show no drugs were involved. A CT scan shows no brain damage from when his heart wasn’t pumping and no head damage from the fall. “We think he is going to be OK,” says the doctor. “He is showing signs of improvement.” The words we needed to hear.

A Small Nod and Big Hope

At his side, holding his hand, kissing his cheek and talking to him, we want him to know we are there, but there is no response. Finally, hours later, a nod of acknowledgement is the hope the doctor was looking for. It’s another 12 hours before he opens his eyes.

Hours later, the ventilator is no longer needed and the tubes are removed. Soon the sedation begins to wear off and we have some signs — brief open eyes and a word or two. 

Hours pass, and we don’t know if it’s day or night, but we look and see it’s 3 p.m. the following day. We still don’t have our son fully back, yet each hour that passes, we see improvement. 

Doctors now think our son had a cardiac event, something that rarely happens to a teen. They study his heart and decide to transfer him to Dell Children’s ICU, where the cardiologists and electrophysiologists can study him more. 


Over several days he is being monitored, probed, and tested. He is awake, alert, and bored, but he has no short-term memory. We’re assured it will return, it’s from brain inflammation as a result of the shock to revive him and the amnesia drugs used when intubating him. He cannot remember anything told to him for more than about 10 minutes. We started the week with him wondering why we were in his room, as his brain gradually came back. Though we will still experience this short-term memory problem for a few more days, maybe weeks, we’ve seen a vast improvement. 

Learning About Ourselves

A moment like this is one no parent ever wants to experience. But also a time we learn lessons about ourselves. For instance, our ability to make hard decisions even as we were surrounded by devastating grief. Both of us were thinking surprisingly clearly in spite of being so emotional. We also learned how much we can do without sleep if we have to. I think we were both awake for over a day and a half before being comfortable enough to sleep. We had to know he was stable and out of danger. 

Of course, parenting doesn’t stop. We not only had to deal with this tragedy, but the fears of our two other kids. They were dealing with their anxiety and emotions and we had to be there for them and help them through it. In short, we had to be at our best during the worst experience of either of our lives.

The Moment We’re Never Prepared For

All of our parenting, our training in business, and our ability to manage our emotions comes together in one moment of parenting where the best and worst are displayed at once. It’s our purpose. Though it’s not what we hope for, it’s what we’re there for. It’s a time to step up, to wake up, and to take control.

Showing Appreciation

The last time I saw my son before the incident, I dropped him off at his friend’s, said goodbye. No hug, no kiss, not realizing in that moment that it may have been the last moment I saw him alive. Seeing him lying in the bed all wired up, looking at his strong teen hands, I realized that I needed to hold them every minute I could, knowing I might never get another chance. Our kids, our loved ones, are treasures we take for granted. They are precious jewels, and we need to treat them as the precious cargo they are at every encounter. We need to show appreciation and make sure every encounter is one we’ll be proud of.

In Bigger Hands

As my mind wandered into the worst case scenario, I felt peace knowing the outcome for my son was in God’s hands. Though we prayed like crazy, there was a peace, knowing we had to trust His will. Not an easy thought, but a peaceful one. There is only so much control we as humans can have.

A Second Chance

During all our waiting, I flashed through the memories of my son’s life, our good and bad encounters, some I wished I could undo. Though I can’t change our past, I can change our future in the second chance we’ve been given. And hopefully I take no one for granted and embrace every moment, knowing any of us could be gone in a split second.

Saving Future Lives

Had my son collapsed in his room playing video games, he would not have survived. Thankfully, a crowded bingo hall had one CPR-trained person. I owe my son’s life to that person. That person could be you next time. And if your family is trained, they could be saving you or me.

If we could do one good thing from all of this, it would be to ask you to learn CPR. And if you know it but have not trained in the last five years, everything is different now. I’m told that proper CPR made a huge difference in my son’s survival. 

Twenty-five years ago I required everyone in my company to take CPR classes. I had a CPR trainer come to our office and train all of my employees. That night on the way home, Jim, our art director, saw an accident and gave CPR to the driver, saving his life. The very same day. Any day before that he would not have known what to do.

Your Next Purchase

This is a story I’m uncomfortable sharing because it’s very personal, but I hope it may wake you and me up to appreciate our loved ones more, learn CPR, and to get a defibrillator for our homes or offices. Turns out a defibrillator awoke my son’s heart when CPR alone would not. Yes, they are expensive, but human life is worth more. Buy one. You’ll never regret it. I’ve learned that some heart attacks cannot be resolved by CPR alone, but only by a defibrillator.


I’m not only grateful for the prayers, but for the dozens of people who saved my son’s life and who worked with us over the past week. There is surgery and at least another few days of hospital time ahead. I’m also grateful for all the prayers from people around the globe, and for all the people showing support and offering to help. I’ve not been able to work for a week, and because of my vacation and time at a workshop, I’ve not worked for a month. I’m grateful for the amazing team that has kept the trains running on time. Thank you to everyone for the good wishes.

Hug your family, and keep us in your prayers.

Eric Rhoads

My Worst Day Ever2020-01-25T10:45:15-05:00
19 01, 2020

Free The Beast Inside You


Deep, dark fog swallows the sky around me. A soft drizzle makes the twisting tree trunks blend into the distance. The distant mountain has dissolved into the sky, and the leaves shine with the color of sage while the bright red Adirondack chairs by the firepit stand out against the blurred background. It’s another chilly morning here in Austin on the long back porch under the metal roof, here at the old homestead. Well rested, I’m ready to conquer the fog and go exploring.

I’m always exploring. I’m curious. I’m trying to get to know other people and their stories. A fellow artist introduced himself, clearly and confidently, during the seminar I attended last week. Yet according to him, clarity and confidence were not always the case for him because he grew up with a severe stutter that never left him.

Like a Leper

In school, his fellow students treated him like a leper, leaving him with no friends just because he could not get a sentence out easily. His own parents treated him differently than his siblings, as though he were flawed mentally, when his only problem was the ability to get words out of his mouth. 

Dangerous Assignments

His hopes of growing out of the stutter never came true, and my new friend became an adult and was drafted to Vietnam, where he was in the infantry, on the front lines and in combat. He was treated as though he was expendable, always pushed into the most dangerous assignments. It was difficult for him to defend himself from his fellow soldiers because talking was so hard. 

Upon exiting Vietnam, a feat unto itself, he was faced with finding employment, but every job interview resulted in a no. No one wanted a stutterer. One day he applied for a job as a stockbroker, and that interview changed his life. The man interviewing him told him that to make a living, he would have to learn to overcome his stutter in order to make sales calls. The interviewer said he didn’t think he could overcome it, but was willing to let him try. 


His first and second and third sales calls went badly. People hung up before he could complete his introduction. He could not even make a reservation for dinner — how was he going to make a living on the phone?

Hearing the Bad Was Good

With the encouragement of his wife, he came to believe he could overcome the stutter, but he didn’t know how. Then one day a co-worker slammed him verbally, told him he had no business doing this job, that he was a complete loser who needed to get a job as a janitor somewhere. That did the trick. He got so mad, he became determined to overcome his stutter. And he did. It took all of his will power, but he got on the phone and got through that first call, and made a sale. Then another call, and another. Simply talking was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life.

A Vast Change

Soon, he became so successful that he became the number one stockbroker in the firm, partly because he started a radio show about stocks and did that show for several years. Imagine a stutterer with a radio show. Yet no one knew.

His story got out, and one day he was invited to speak at a national convention for stutterers. Before he spoke, he saw people wearing T-shirts that read “A Stutterer and Proud.”

When he got up in front of all those people, he said, “I’m a stutterer and I’m not proud, and you should not be either.” He said, “I saw the shirts about being proud. Instead of being proud, you should get mad and overcome it. Don’t let yourself off the hook. If I could do it, you can do it. You need to hear the hard truth. You need to get mad enough to make a change in your life. You need to get so angry that you stand up to others and prove them wrong. Don’t accept it, change it.”


The room was dead silent. Then one single person began to applaud, and then another, until the room broke out in applause and a standing ovation. He told them what they did not want to hear, and didn’t tell them what everyone else had always said. They loved him.

This man made a life as a successful stockbroker against great odds. He did something everyone said was impossible, yet his mind overcame his affliction. His anger drove his resolve.

“My own parents did not believe in me,” he said, “but my wife believed, and my anger made me believe. Anyone can overcome anything if they don’t give themselves excuses and pity themselves. “

What about you?

What excuses are getting in your way?

Maybe you have no affliction, but you’re telling yourself a story and you’re allowing it to limit you.

I’m not a big fan of anger and I don’t like myself when I get angry, but sometimes enough is enough. There is a point at which anger results in getting sick enough of something that you’re willing to make a change. Sometimes you’ll put up with something for years till you just get sick enough of it that it’s like flicking a switch, and you can no longer accept the way things have been.

Do you need to get angry?

Are you putting up with something that is stealing your happiness or success?

Most of us spend our lives avoiding pain. I’m the king of avoiding conflict or pain. No one likes pain, inconvenience, or difficult times. I’m sure my friend had no idea how he was going to overcome stuttering, and knew it would be easier not to overcome it. But his anger drove him.

You may have disadvantages, you may have problems, you may have things in your head that are holding you back. Just know, you can overcome them. We’ve all seen stories of soldiers who lost limbs and are living amazing, adventurous lives, while others are telling themselves they have to live bad lives. I can’t relate to their mindset, but I can tell you that some can overcome almost anything by getting sick enough or angry enough. 

In reality, most of us don’t have severe problems, most of us are not confined to a bed or a chair, yet many of us are holding back on life because of something that is stuck in our heads that is causing a success roadblock. Yet your mind can get you through it. It requires mental toughness, determination, big dreams, and action. Every big success starts with one small step. You can do this. But taking action, that first step, makes up half of the goal.

You have a fresh year, and something inside of you that is dying to come out. Get angry. Scream loudly and let it out. The beast inside needs to be released so you can live the best possible life. Get angry and let it free.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I’m noticing a change. People around me are getting fed up. People are realizing that no matter which political party we identify with, we are all being manipulated and polarized. They have turned us all against one another, which gives them control. People are noticing, finally grasping it, and starting to refuse to play the game any longer. We all deserve our voice, our opinions, and though we may never change them, we need to be willing to respect the opinions of friends and others. People are so sick of it that they are cutting people out of their lives, not because they disagree, but because they are being baited with social media posts that polarize people. I for one am done with all of it. If you’re on my social media account posting ANY political content, pro or con, you’re unfriended. Not because I don’t love you, but because I’m sick of seeing friends being manipulated and friends polarizing others. Let’s make 2020 a return to civilized behavior. Social media has brought out the worst in many of us. Let’s all make a commitment to only bring out the best by lifting others up, not tearing them down.

Free The Beast Inside You2020-01-15T15:39:54-05:00
12 01, 2020

You May Be Uncomfortable Reading This


Scratchy wool socks and a worn old sweatshirt don’t seem to be enough to warm my chilled body this morning. We had a temperature drop from our unseasonably warm winter last night as clouds billowed through the sky at the speed of a freight train bringing carloads of cold as its cargo. Yet tradition is a must, and unless it’s unbearably cold or hot, writing you from this long old covered porch overlooking the 40 acres behind me is my one superstition. Coffee and thoughts are always better here, in the secure comfort of my special spot on the squeaky wicker couch.

Walking Under Ladders

Superstitions are kind of weird to me. Yet, though I put my trust in God, I still think twice before walking under a ladder or opening an umbrella indoors. It seems powerfully odd to me that a well educated, perfectly intelligent being like you or me would think these old wives’ tales have some power to change our lives. 

Telling Your Fortune

I feel the same way about horoscopes. Things come true — not because some writer at a newspaper somewhere sees it in the stars, but because the power of suggestion makes things happen. A horoscope predicts nothing, yet they make us look for those things to happen. I refuse to read horoscopes, even for entertainment, because suggestion is so powerful. (Plus, I don’t need to meet a dark handsome stranger.)

Your Future Is Bright

Our minds are so powerful that carefully implanted suggestions can control us. Recently, I was reading a book about sales that revealed a technique called “future pacing,” where you make a suggestion early on about something that is going to occur in someone’s future, and then, later on in the process, it becomes their idea. I for one don’t want anything so badly that I have to manipulate someone into buying something with some subtle technique.

Credible Leaders

Suggestion happens in our lives, no matter how much we think we have control over ourselves. It starts with how strong the credibility is of the person suggesting something. If I trust someone, respect them, and think they have lots of answers, I’m more likely to listen to their suggestion and make it happen.

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid™

Suggestion can be used for evil or for good. Though hypnotists say you cannot be controlled and won’t do anything you don’t want to do, I suppose I’d say that too if I were trying to make a group of people feel comfortable with what was about to happen to them. Of course we’ve seen historical examples of mass hypnosis, such as the tragedy of Jim Jones’s followers and their mass suicide. 

Walking on Fire

On the good side, someone implanting positive ideas, perhaps helping you overcome years of bad behavior, can be a benefit. Tony Robbins comes to mind. I was reluctant to attend one of his events because I didn’t want a dose of positive thinking alone. Convinced by a friend, I went anyway, and as a result overcame some things in my head that were controlling me. Now I recommend him. I’ve watched Robbins change people’s stories in about 10 minutes, unsticking them from stories that had controlled them all their lives.

Overcoming Bad Habits

We need suggestion. We need guidance. And usually we don’t know we need it. For instance, I just returned from a weeklong painting workshop with David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw, two amazing master painters. I knew they could teach me something, but I had no idea that they would implant new concepts into my brain that overcame years of bad habits. Interestingly enough, their teaching technique, which I was initially bothered by, turned out to be the best possible thing for me. They made me struggle before showing me how to fix things, so when the fix was revealed, I understood it more deeply. The result was a shift of thinking, helping me let go of things I thought I was doing right. And I fought it, I didn’t want to let go — yet with their leadership and suggestions, I embraced what I originally resisted.

There are four stages of awareness:

Unconscious Incompetence: This means you are unaware of your lack of skill and proficiency. For instance, maybe you’re a terrible driver and totally unaware of it.

Conscious Incompetence: You are aware of your lack of skill, yet still don’t become proficient. You know you’re a bad driver, but you keep being a bad driver.

Conscious Competence: You are able to use a skill, but it takes a lot of effort. You’re now a good driver, but you have to think about it at every step to make sure you’re driving well.

Unconscious Competence: Performing the skill becomes automatic. You’re now a good driver and you don’t have to think about it.

Many of us spend the better parts of our lives in a state of unconscious incompetence. We’re unaware of our shortcomings. Yet the goal is to become aware and make the necessary changes to go through the stages. First, find out you have a problem, then work to fix it. Practice it, even if it’s uncomfortable, and then master it.

In the workshop I went from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Competence. And if I keep practicing, maybe I’ll get to the level of taking the principles I learned into every painting I do until I can do it in my sleep.

Live Aware

Rather than living my life unaware of my shortcomings, I want to know I have them. I want to become aware, and then fix them to the point that they are no longer problems. This is why I am continually suggesting people push themselves out of their comfort zone to learn new things. The result is learning about yourself. It’s also why, in spite of being a fairly busy guy, I took a week out of my year and away from my business to improve, and it’s why I created things like the Plein Air Convention and the Figurative Art Convention so people can be exposed to things they don’t know. 

Have you ever heard someone boasting about something, and you’re internally shaking your head and thinking, “They have no idea how wrong they are.” That’s because you’re consciously competent and they are unconsciously incompetent.

That’s why suggestion is so powerful. We turn to others to give us guidance and direction, hoping they can offer something that will change our lives. Sometimes we turn to evil not knowing it’s evil, and sometimes we turn to something with the hope that it’s good.

The Power of Discomfort

The best thing we can do with our lives is to get uncomfortable, and to spend our lives staying uncomfortable. I was really intimidated the first time I went to Russia. I was afraid because of things I’d heard or seen in movies and on the news, yet I did it anyway, and it opened doors to a whole new understanding of art, the world, and so much more. It resulted in new lifelong friendships, and exposure to things I’d never otherwise have seen.

You don’t know what you don’t know. But you have to know there are so many things you don’t know that could be life-altering for you. The key is to try things that make you nervous, and things that take you out of your comfort zone. It’s amazingly freeing, and it will truly enrich your life.

Stop Being Stuck

We all get stuck, but we are unconsciously stuck. I’m stuck in areas where I don’t know I’m stuck. I go online and buy random courses I have no interest in and knew nothing about, and I watch them on the treadmill in the morning. I also listen to random podcasts, and I find myself learning things I didn’t know I needed to know.

Be random. Try new things.

Be adventurous. Try things that make you uncomfortable.

A life of adventure awaits those who embrace discomfort.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I’m putting myself way out of my comfort zone this year, working on projects I never believed could happen. I’m making my first trip to China, on a seven-city speaking tour, meeting with top artists, visiting top art schools, and doing a little painting along the way. I’m excited but also intimidated. Yet I’m sure I’ll be more worldly as a result, and I’ll meet some amazing new friends. 

In the interest of awareness, I should let you know that our May Plein Air Convention & Expo is the biggest and most popular ever. We’re almost out of seats already — I think when I last looked we had 125 seats left, which is not very many. (Last year at this time we had 300 seats left.) I met some people this week who said, “I want to go, but I don’t think I’m good enough.” Please know that we all embrace new painters because we were all new at one time. We have people who will work with you, and you can sign up for our pre-convention Basics Course, headed by Carrie Curran and several instructors who will walk you through everything you need to know to join the plein air movement. Get out of your comfort zone, put the ego aside, and do something for yourself.

You May Be Uncomfortable Reading This2020-01-10T14:46:14-05:00
5 01, 2020

How to Grow Wings


It’s ironic. We spent two weeks to get sun and warmth, but instead got clouds and rain. Today, waking up in Austin, the sun is shining, the temperature is warm, and the glow of golden light greets my morning, putting a big smile on my face.

Last week during the storms, the rain, the dark clouds, and the high winds, everyone was hunkered down, staying inside as much as possible, trying to stay warm and dry. Yet as I looked at the sky from inside, I noticed some giant birds were taking advantage of the high thermal winds, frolicking about like surfers who had found high waves. 

Instead of hiding out in a tree, they were soaring more than ever, taking advantage of what the rest of us thought were bad conditions. I could have watched them for hours.

A Call for Help

Last week I received a message on social media from a man who said he’s been watching me for years. He runs a business and asked me for some time so I could offer him some advice. According to him, “I’m amazed at how much you get done and want to know how you do it.” I’ll tell him it’s about growing your wings.

A Mega Yacht

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to take a ride on a mega yacht owned by one of the wealthiest men in America. We got to know him because his yacht was docked across from the houseboat we were staying on, which he also owned. 

Know Thyself

It’s easy to be impressed in a situation like that. Riding on a multimillion-dollar yacht, hearing about his racehorses, his classic sports car collection, his dozens of businesses, some of which are household names, and his jets. It’s also easy to allow yourself to feel small and insignificant for not having accomplished that level of wealth. This man had unbelievable financial success, but did he have wings?

Chasing Wealth

When I was a young business guy, it was great wealth that I wanted. Our society has drilled that into our heads: Success is stuff. Lots of expensive stuff. And I spent years chasing stuff and finding there was never enough; someone else always had more. In comparison to this guy, I could maybe have afforded one chair on his boat. Nothing more. 

But that is a dead end game for me. Maybe some people are cut out for it, but it was not until I let go of it that I started to feel my body lift off the ground. It’s when I started to grow my wings. The more I let go, the more I lifted off. 

The Magic of Purpose

Wings grow from purpose. And when you grow wings, you begin to lift off. The more purpose you get, the more good you do, the more you reveal your true heart, the higher you will soar.

It’s like the more you give, the more you get. For instance, there is a principle called tithing, meaning giving a percentage of what you earn to do good things. It can also be a percentage of your time. And the more you give, the more you end up getting.

You see, wings are about letting go. We tend to cling tightly to things, to money, to what we have … yet the minute we start letting go of those things, we start to soar. 

You won’t find this in business books or books about success, yet it is one of the greatest principles of success. 

Purity of Heart

Of course, some try to game the system … meaning they give more just to get more. But that lacks purity of intention, and when it occurs, they will get some lift, but they won’t soar. When your heart is right, when you’re doing things for a grand purpose and making it all about others, your wings will take you to play in the winds overhead.

Chasing Generosity

Once I let go of the foolish idea of chasing wealth for the sake of wealth, and instead chased generosity and the idea that my life needs to be devoted to helping others, the skies opened up, the wings came out, and I’ve been able to soar to do more.

That should be a slogan … Soar to do more.

Goodbye, Self

When we let go of self, when we stop worrying about ourselves and start doing more for others, we’ll be dripping with reward. Your heart will be the happiest it’s ever been — but it can also lead to financial reward if your intent is pure.

Soar More

Last week I talked about happiness and never letting things or others define what makes you happy. But if you can engage others in your life in your bigger mission, you’ll soar more, and you’ll help them soar. For instance, my employees have a bigger purpose knowing that we take 10 percent of our company earnings every year to build a house for the homeless shelter in my town. We’ve built several now, and it changes lives. 

Getting Lift

True encouragement will also give you lift. Surround yourself with people who believe in you even when you have doubts about yourself — people who truly can be the wind beneath your wings. We all need that. We can fly without it, but it’s better when you can share it with others who believe in you.

When you grow wings, some will want to help you grow them bigger and help you soar higher, but others will want to cut them off or weigh you down. You have to be willing to embrace those who encourage you and ignore those who want to see you fall. 

“Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury

Don’t Wait for Perfection

People want to make things perfect before they take a leap, but perfection does not exist. Tiny efforts lead to bigger wings. Find something you can do that will use your dreams to help others, or just jump in and volunteer somewhere. It’s also one of the best ways to overcome depression. You get a rush of dopamine when helping others and when you stop being selfish.

I believe we all have wings, and they will come at the right time. But you can’t wait for them. They are waiting for you.

“Wings are freedom only when they are wide open in flight. On one’s back they are a heavy weight.” —- Marina Tsvetaeva

The Death of Self

If I could do just one thing for my kids to secure their future, it would be to help them understand that selfishness is the road to ruin. Selfish may get you great wealth, but if you want a fulfilling life, it’s about being selfless. The death of self is the beginning of life. It’s taken me decades to learn that and get my own wings.

It’s not about how much I can do, it’s that when I have wind under my wings, and I see that others are benefiting, I cannot do enough. You’ll also find that to be true.


Stop being self-focused or career-focused and instead use your imagination to discover how you can leverage your skills and career to help others. Then, and only then, will you truly get your wings.

I wish I had discovered this decades ago. Looking back, others tried to tell me, but I thought I knew better. Still, that resulted in me spending my life learning powerful lessons that made me ready to receive my wings when it was time. 

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”  — Muhammad Ali

What about you?

Have you grown your wings?

Are you focused on generosity?

Can you soar more?

When you have wings, all your aches and pains and problems become secondary. 

Go soar.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Last week, I received three different e-mails from people who said, “I feel like you wrote this especially for me.” This happens to Laurie and I a lot at church — we feel like the sermon was just for us to hear. Though these Coffees are just life lessons, not sermons, if you know someone you think would enjoy it, or maybe someone struggling to get some wind under their wings, maybe you could pass this along and they will subscribe for free. And if you’re not a subscriber, I hope you’ll consider it.

Today I’m getting on an airplane, but not for business for a change. I’m treating myself to a one-week workshop in painting from masters David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw in Scottsdale. One of my personal deliverables for 2020 is to be a better painter, which excites me, so I’m launching my year with this in mind. Yes, it’s selfish, but it will help me soar in other areas of my life. I’m also signed up to study with another artist later in the year.

How to Grow Wings2020-01-02T11:26:04-05:00