Last week I was speaking to a group of 6th grade classes at a middle school about dreams. Giving up on my dreams was a large part of how I ended up almost 500 pounds, feeling helpless and hopeless almost giving up on everything. My introduction video says at 17 seconds in, “When I was 17 years old, I was a rock star. I was lookin’ good and feelin’ good; I feel like somebody’s stolen my dream. This thing has stolen my life – and I want my life back!”

There’s so much truth in that statement. My passion has always been music. I went to my first concert at 16, saw the band on stage and the crowd, and made my decision: I was going to be a rock star.

Now, we all know that the odds of being a rock star were not in my favor. But I had an ingredient that could sure help: passion.

Opportunity Knocks

I went right home, dug a dusty guitar out of the closet, and went to work! I began learning melody lines from my favorite songs. After a few weeks, I heard some of my school mates had a band, so I went to watch them and was really impressed.

The week before I had just bought a bass guitar at a pawn shop at the advice of someone who told me, “You’re playing bass, not guitar. Guitar plays all of the strings at once, and you’re only playing 1 note at a time.” So I ran to the pawn shop and bought beat up, hollow-body bass and amplifier. The band I was watching finished rehearsal, and the bass player had to go. I asked, “How many gigs have you played?”

“None. We’ve only learned 6 songs. We want to learn Detroit Rock City by Kiss, and The Trooper by Iron Maiden, but Greg can’t play the bass lines.”

“I could play those bass lines,” I calmly declared, knowing I had barely been playing bass for a week. After convincing them of my bass playing prowess – which was completely falsified – they said, “Okay, Come back next Saturday and we’ll play those songs.” Boy did I have my work cut out for me! But I practiced until my fingers hurt until late every night, and the next Saturday I replaced Greg as the bass player in that unnamed band! I was really going to be a rock star! 3 months later we played a dance at school and became rocks stars on the high school level!

Dreams are the driver, opportunity is the road

Over the next 10 years, I played with several bands. I soon found myself on stage with Donny Osmond in front of thousands. Later, the band I was playing for actually knocked New Kids on the Block out of the number one singing group in the nation. We were on the Billboard Top 40, and had a record contract with RCA. After that opportunity didn’t pan out, a 3-man band I was in recorded an album and was ready to release it worldwide. It was bootlegged overseas, and the rug was pulled out from underneath me again. Later I found out Unleash the Dog was the #1 band in Greece in 1996, beating out Metallica and Rob Zombie – but we never even saw a cent of the profit.

At that point, another opportunity was sure to present itself, but I gave up. This is what I talked to those 6th graders about last week – not giving up on their dreams. My mantra since The Biggest Loser has been Lose Your Quit. There will always be another opportunity, so never give up.

Dreams can look different, so take the opportunities that come your way

At 39, I felt like my music career was over. My friends in that band in the 90’s (PC Quest) had gone on to do great things. Chad was the lead singer of Shiny Toy Guns, Steve was a studio musician and performer in LA, Drew was on tour with several artists, and I was left wondering what happened. Bob from Unleash the Dog was now in Arizona and was the national head of music instruction for Fender, and I could go on and on. They didn’t give up.

I only saw my dream of a rock star one way. Others kept their passion and brought it to the opportunities that came to them while I simply gave up. After going to my experiential training in 2008 and re-igniting my passion, I made it onto the cast of The Biggest Loser. The funny thing is, on that show I wrote new music. It provided me an opportunity to awaken those dreams once again – just not exactly how I thought.

I wouldn’t be a rock star, but I would be living my dream with passion! Since the show, I have spoken in 5 countries and 45 states in the US – to over a million people – and each time I close with two songs: the first I ever wrote called I can’t forget about you and Second Chance that I wrote on the show. I’m not a rock star, but I am living my dream, speaking and passing that passion of not giving up to others. And as I played Second Chance last week to those 6th graders, it was a dream fulfilled.

Where is your opportunity?

Your dreams are real, and they are possible. Those 6th graders raised their hands and told me what they wanted to be. One in the front row said, “I want to play in the NBA!” He was one of the shortest kids in the crowd, and that was a very lofty goal. I told him, “Never give up on that dream! And take the opportunities that come your way and you’ll live that dream! It might look different than you think, but it can happen. You might be a coach, or an announcer on TV for the NBA, or you very well might be the next Kevin Durant. Who knows?”

I thought about the movie The Sand Lot. Bennie made it to the big show, and Scotty Smalls made it as the LA Dodger announcer. They both realized their dreams – just in a different way.

So that vision that has been placed in your heart is true. Don’t waste an opportunity to bring the passion you have to the opportunities that present themselves. Even if it looks different that you thought, you can be a rock star!

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