Choices  By: Alison Loyd

Choices By: Alison Loyd

Have you ever spent the majority of a day in the airport? I had that experience not long ago, on my birthday no less! It was enough to come unglued, but thanks to the tools I received from The Journey Training, I made the most of that birthday!

I was excited to fly from Atlanta to Tulsa on my birthday to enjoy time with friends before a glorious weekend of serving with The Journey Training. The weather wasn’t so glorious though – tornado watches and severe weather predictions throughout the southeast and other parts of the country. I prepared for a delayed flight and allowed for a slow commute to the airport.

I wasn’t surprised when the flight was delayed, but the cancellation threw me for a loop. I mean, I understood, but I’ve never experienced it. I’ve only heard horror stories. I got in a line that was about 20 people deep. There were a lot of cancelled flights. When it was my turn, the agent looked at my options and got me on a flight, also connecting in Houston, several hours later.

Shortly before boarding time, there was another delay. In the best-case scenario, I would just barely have enough time to make my connection in Houston. But it wasn’t the best-case scenario, at least not while looking at it from the current perspective. Frustrated and tearing up, I considered my options. I then heard God say to me, “Stay the course. Call Stacey, a friend in Houston who I had not seen in 8 years. So, I call. Stacey answers! Yes, she is in Houston! Yes, she’ll pick me up! Yes, I can stay with her!

Not only did I not sleep in an airport or get a hotel room, I got to spend the final moments of my birthday with a long-lost friend. It was a great way to end the day! At 7:45 the next morning, I was on that first flight to Tulsa and we could now resume regularly scheduled programming!

Yes, it’s quite a story but what I hope you hear in this story is how the choices I made played a role in that day. I couldn’t control the weather, traffic, cancelled flights, or even if a friend could change their plans for me. Yet I still had choices every step of the way.

What did I choose?

  • I chose to be prepared for bad weather.
  • I chose serenity when I couldn’t change the weather, lines, flights, or crews.
  • I chose to make the most of my time in the airport.
  • I chose to go with my gut and stick with my flight to Houston.
  • I chose to ask for help.
  • I chose to embrace an impromptu reunion.

We all have choices to make, no matter what the circumstances. In The Journey Training, I learned that no matter what happens to me, I still have a responsibility to choose how I will respond to them. And that can lead you to serenity!

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Stress, More or Less

Stress, More or Less


Stress is a funny thing.  During The Biggest Loser, stress management was a life or death situation.  Too much stress and your weight loss would dwindle. Too little stress and you’d be too comfortable and forgo the workouts.  Jillian and Bob were all about keeping your stress level perfect – in balance.  Let’s look at the word “stress” and what it means:  Stress: A state of mental or emotional strain or tension (pressure) resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  Synonyms: strain, pressure, tension, worry, anxiety, trouble, difficulty.  Causes: Deadlines, frustrations, demands.

Stress is normal

Stress is a natural physical response from your body when you feel threatened or when you are out of balance.  It is the “fight or flight (or freeze)” response.  Stress is the natural reaction to protect you from harm.  It is a survival mechanism.  It can give you extra strength, help you rise to meet challenges, and keep you on your toes.  It sharpens your concentration or drives you to excel and work hard when time is short. That being said, stress can also kill you.

Stress, when in overdose, can cause damage to your emotional or physical health.  It can ruin your mood, productivity, strain your relationships, and affect your life.  Out of balance, stress is an enemy. In balance, stress is just a part of life.

Stress is inevitable

It’s not a question of if you will experience stress; it’s a question of when.  And sometimes it’s all around you and you don’t even realize it – you may not even know how it’s affecting you – and those around you.  Have you ever been told, “You sure are grumpy lately.” Or “Is there something wrong?  You’re just not yourself today.”  That could be a sign that stress is upon you and you just weren’t aware of it.

Stress can look different for different people and in different situations.  You can be in the “fight” mode, seeming angry, agitated, and even looking for a fight.  You might fidget or be overly emotional, ready to pounce at the slightest inconvenience. Or you could be in the “flight” mode, and appear withdrawn or shut down.  You may seem spaced out or even tired and depressed.  And you could even be in both modes at once – shut down, but ready to attack on a whim!

How do you handle stress?

How you handle stress can depend on a number of things.  It can depend on your emotional maturity, network of support, confidence in your ability to handle situations, or your attitude.  In The Journey Training, we teach about different personality traits.  One personality may hate spontaneity, while another thrives on it!  What stresses you out may be fuel for another.

Optimistic people can generally handle stress in more healthy ways than pessimistic people.  An optimist takes challenges head on, often seeing the problem as a challenge.  A pessimist usually sees a problem as a problem, and a situation that could cause pain and hurt in their life.  Pessimists worry about things before they even happen, causing stress in their life.  Once, Arthur and I were at the airport in San Francisco.  We had planned to sit by each other to discuss a training we just went through during our time of designing The Journey Training.  When we got our tickets, I saw that we weren’t sitting with each other.  I freaked out!  My status on the airline is supposed to avoid this!  I kept saying, “We have to sit together!  I want to talk about what we’ve just gone through!”  Arthur said, “It’ll all work out.”  I replied, “It had better!”  He then replied, “Worst case scenario is that we don’t sit together.”  I then said, “That had better not happen!”

When we got to the counter, I began my rant and was explaining to the attendant all the reasons this shouldn’t – and couldn’t – happen!  This airline employee, who was from a foreign country, raised his hands and said loudly with his accent, “STOP!  YOU ARE SCARING YOURSELF!”  Arthur began laughing profusely.  I was confused – until I realized that I had created a bigger problem than it actually was.  To Arthur, it wasn’t that big of a deal not to sit next to each other for 3 hours.  For me it was a catastrophe!

When we boarded the plane, the two men who were sitting in the aisle between us wouldn’t budge!  They were “aisle hounds” as I like to call them.  It turned out I sat beside a man that lived with the creator of American Aikido – something Arthur and I were going to talk about!  It turned out to be a divine appointment!  I was creating a problem where there was just a hiccup – or a detour.

Am I stressed?

Probably the most important thing in how you are able to handle stress is your knowledge and awareness of it.  If you ignore it, or stuff your feelings when they come to the surface, you’re more prone to the explosions that can cause damage to your physical health as well as your emotional health and relationships.  Like I said before, stress is a part of life.  How you respond to stress is the key to making it work for you and not against you.

Stress can come in many forms.  It can be financial problems, big life changes such as moving or buying a house, or deadlines that you feel you may not be able to handle. It can come from your children or family, work or school, or just feeling as though you’ve got to do it all.  It can look like worry, an all-or-nothing attitude, unrealistic expectations, or even perfectionism.  The crazy thing is that although stress can come from many different sources and look very different at times, your body doesn’t know the difference.  It handles all stress the same way.  Because this is the case, you’ve got to direct the responses of stress in a more healthy way.

Stress induced response

When stress hits, you can do a number of things to turn the tides on how you handle it.  There are several ways to avoid those damaging levels of stress.  In The Journey Training, we teach that when feelings arise, you must give them a healthy voice.  This doesn’t mean yelling at people and raging, but it does mean getting those feelings out in some healthy, non-abusive way.  This may look several different ways.  We teach that though journaling you can process your feelings and seek why you feel the way you feel.  You can do this with a journal, or even through processing with a buddy.  You can also deal with stress by turning that energy in to a physical exertion such as exercise or cleaning out that garage you’ve been needing to tackle!  In one way or the other, the physical energies that stress causes don’t go away, and they should be let out in a healthy manor.

Sometimes you need to avoid stress.  There was a relationship in my life that always caused stress. I was trying to get on The Biggest Loser television show and this certain person was completely negative about it. Every time we talked, the conversation either turned into a political argument or a Biggest Loser dream bashing. I decided to quietly move away from the relationship. I’d answer texts and emails, but I always was “too busy” to take their call – on purpose.  I knew when I picked up the phone, an argument would ensue.  In this way, I successfully avoided the stress and was able to stay focused on my goal.

When you can’t avoid the stress, you can change the situation by changing what you can: your response.  You can respectfully let your feelings and concerns be known, or explain why the situation is painful or stressful to you.  You can choose to find a compromise instead of being that “all-or-nothing” person.  You can’t change other people or even the situation at times, but you can always change the way you respond to the situation!  You can change YOU.

In AA, the serenity prayer asks for God to give you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  I was having sort of a stressful time in the relationship with another friend, so I decided to talk to my pastor and get some counseling on the situation.  His response was, “Are you expecting this person to be different than what they are?  Are you surprised they do that? It just seems to be the way they operate.”  This opened my eyes that the power was in my hands.  I had a choice: I could avoid the person or accept that this is how they are. Why would I expect any different? That simply piece of knowledge helped me heal my relationship with my friend.  My expectations were simply too high, and I shouldn’t have the expectation of him acting different than he naturally does.  My choice was to accept him or avoid him.  I chose to accept him the best I could.

The Truth about Stress

Stress is inevitable.  You must avoid it when you can, embrace it when you can’t, and learn the amount that is healthy for you.  Stress can motivate you or break you and decline your health.  So how much is the right amount?

I equate your life like a guitar.  With no stress, the strings have no tension.  You can’t play a single note.  Turn the tuning peg too much and the tension becomes too much, causing the string to break, and it loses the ability to be useful. But with the right amount of tension on each string (or each area of your life), beautiful music can be played. Your guitar must be in tune, each string given the proper amount of tension to vibrate at the exact speed to make the notes work perfectly together.  This is balance.

When your life is out of balance, with too little or too much stress, your song is quelled.  Too little stress and you are too comfortable, and in turn you become stuck.  Too much stress and you’re stretched too thin, and eventually, you break and are no good to anyone.  But the right amount and a beautiful song is played called life.  Avoid stress when it gets too much, and apply a little pressure when you get to lax, and your life will turn out just fine!

While I was on The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper – and all of America watching – applied just the right amount of stress to make me sing a beautiful song.  Now, it seems too much stress has left me tired and worn out, and in response I have gained too much weight.  It’s time for me to re-prioritize and cut some unhealthy stress, I need to add some useful pressure to my life.  Will you join me in singing a song to affect your own life and that of those around you? Will you tune your guitar to make beautiful music?  In the end, ask yourself one question when a stressful situation hits.  Will it matter tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year?  If not, let it go.  If so, find the strength to change what you can, accept what you cannot, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.

Danny facilitates monthly in an experiential training called The Journey Training.  In this weekend-long seminar, attendees are taught the self-awareness needed to make positive changes in their lives.  Sign up now for the next Threshold class and begin singing your new song today!

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Work On It, Not In it

Work On It, Not In it

Which “you” shows up when you experience stress, do you Work On It, Not In It?

   I was asked this exact question while serving at one of our Journey Training weekends.

People often think that I don’t get stressed out, but those people would be wrong. I just deal with stress differently and they don’t recognize when I am struggling with it. I tend to go through three stages when I Work On It , Not In It:

Stage 1

 I begin to feel pressure, so I stop, back up, and evaluate the situation. What small things can I whittle away to reduce the stress? What can I remove, complete, or change to dial it down?

 Stage 2

 I begin to get overwhelmed. At this point, I try to regroup and focus so that I can dial back down to stage 1 or before. Unfortunately, if the level is rising quickly, I tend to lash out at people I love and I get short and snippy in my communication.

Stage 3

I tear up. Yes, that’s right. Cry. They are most often tears of frustration. Here’s an example of what I had on my plate that brought on Stage 3 and how we handled it.

The Hamster Ball Relay, this event is monumental in itself.  The few extra minutes I had each week were invested in helping The Journey Training get going.  This is on top of my normal responsibilities at my two Chick-fil-A locations and the location I am the consultant for in Kansas and don’t forget the importance being a husband, dad and friend.

Frankly, it was all too much.

My wife said something simple and profound when I needed it most: “Let me know what I can help you with. There are people who can help you.”

There’s a word for what she was telling me: DELEGATION.

I teach delegation on a regular basis, but I still struggle with it from time to time myself. I had all of the typical excuses for why I could not/should not delegate.

  1.  It was all too important to delegate
  2. We can’t delegate, we are still trying to figure it out
  3. No one else knows how to do it and it will take too long to teach them

 As leaders, we MUST learn to get outside of what we are doing from time to time and work on the big picture so that the details don’t overwhelm us. This can help us stay healthy and effective for the long run instead of breaking down on the side of the road like so many do.

Most people who are around you genuinely want to help, they just don’t know what you need. When our pride gets in the way, we don’t ask for the help we need. What we miss is that more work can be done with more hands – and it’s often done better when each person has less to carry. They may also have gifts and talents we do not and our pride keeps them on the sidelines.

Remember these three items to Work On It, Not In It:

  • Step outside of the project to focus on the “BIG” picture, not the details
  • Ask for help, delegate the work load so each team member has less to carry
  • Look for ways to encourage your team to use their personal gifts or talents

Is there someone in your life you can ask if they need help?

Who can you ask in your life to help you carry the burden?

This thirty minute podcast is by Andy Stanley called, “Work On It” that I believe will really speak to you.  Andy Stanley is a church leader whose principles apply to any environment.


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The Real You

The Real You

I was working out in the gym when an old song came on. It was “Rocket Man” by Elton John. What really stood out was something I was feeling that morning; and quite frankly, something I’d felt much of my life. “What if they find out who I really am? I feel alone, and I don’t think anyone would understand me if they really knew me.”

This thought was really magnified after winning The Biggest Loser in 2009. As I stood on the scale and became the biggest loser in history, I wondered how long I could keep that moment – that act. People started looking at everything I ate, at my current weight, and people even thought I was rich beyond my wildest dreams.

I remember when I was a kid and answered the door to the FBI. “We need to talk to Charles Cahill.” I didn’t know what was going on. Turned out that my father gave them a shotgun that was bought with a hot check by someone else, and then sold to him for cash. After the FBI left, he admitted to me that he knew something was odd about the shotgun, and he knew it was possibly stolen, but he wanted that gun so bad that he bought it anyway. For the first time, I saw a flaw in my father that I didn’t know was there.

It took me to a time when I first met my wife. I wanted her to like me so much that I told her a few little lies to make her think I was better than I actually was – embellishments was what I’d call them. Eventually, a few of those lies would catch up to me, and I’d have to come clean.

Then I thought of my children when they were born…
How long would it be before I got knocked off that pedestal of being a hero to them?
What happens when they know the real me?
Will they still love me as much as they do now?
Will they still think of me as highly as they do now?

Here are a few of the lyrics to Rocket Man: “And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time ‘til touch down brings me round again to find I’m not the man they think I am at home. Oh no, no, no, I’m a rocket man. Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone.”

We’re often scared of those around us knowing the real us. We’re fearful that we might let everyone down…
What if they see our flaws?
What if they knew our thoughts?
Would they still love us?

Each month at The Journey Training, people find out they don’t have to carry the guilt, shame, or fear anymore. People consistently find out that others are a lot like them – hiding things about their past – their failures, their fears, their anxieties. Then they find out something even more incredible: When people find out the real you, they actually love you even more.

How long are you going to carry around those weights? Maybe it’s time you let yourself off the hook and tell yourself the truth; that even with the flaws, mistakes, and imperfections, you’re okay – perfectly imperfect! And most of all, just like the hundreds that have gone through The Journey Training, you just might find out that you’re not alone on your journey.

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Getting Out of a Rut

Getting Out of a Rut

I remember a story I once heard my friend Brian Klemmer tell. It went something like this:

Once there was a frog named Andy Average frog. He fell into a rut left by a wagon in a rainstorm. He tried and tried, but he just couldn’t jump out of the rut! It was just too deep. Then Freddy Fabulous frog hopped up. He asked, “Hey down there! What are you doing in that rut? Jump out!” Andy Average frog answered, “I’ve tried, but it’s just too deep. I can’t jump high enough to get out!” Freddy Fabulous frog was perplexed.

“Sure you can,” he said, “Just do a double back flip tuck jump out!” He then jumped down into the rut and did a double back flip tuck jump out of the rut. Andy Average frog tried, but he hit the side of the rut and slid back in. Freddy Fabulous frog said, “Well, just to a triple-gainer out of the rut! Here, I’ll show you!” He jumped down into the rut and did a triple gainer out of the rut. Andy Average frog tried, but again he hit the side and slid back in. Freddy Fabulous frog became frustrated and said, “Well, I hope you get out. I gotta go down to the pond and see what’s up!”

About 30 minutes later, Freddy Fabulous frog was down at the pond when along came Andy Average frog. Freddy Fabulous frog smiled, “How did you get out! Did you do the double back flip tuck jump out or the triple gainer?”

Any Average frog answered, “Neither.” Freddy Fabulous frog then asked, “Well, how in the world did you get out of that rut?” Andy Average frog answered, “Well, another wagon came along and the wheels were in the rut. It was either get out or get squashed! So I just got out!”

The moral of this story is when you really want to get something done, apply a little pressure and you’ll be surprised what you are capable of doing!

Imagine your situation right now. In some area of your life, you may be in a rut. Well, it’s time to get out of that rut. The situation you’re in isn’t all bad, because it will make you grow. If you didn’t have to work to get out, you’d probably just stay in the rut! Birds have to peck their way out of their egg. A seed has to push its way through the dirt to the surface to be what it was meant to be. A rubber band doesn’t go very far if it’s not stretched on your finger! And the farther you stretch it, the farther it goes! A ball doesn’t bounce very high if it’s not thrown hard against the ground. And the same applies to you. So apply a little pressure, a little urgency, a little accountability to get you out of your rut!
I’ll bet you’ll get out in no time!

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