Rusty Lindquist to speak at TEDxSUU on Escape Velocity and his upcoming book "Discover the light within"

I received my official notification this week that I’ve been selected to speak at the upcoming TEDx conference at SUU.

I’m delighted. TED and TEDx talks are a constant source of inspiration and education to me, as they are to millions of others. To have the opportunity to speak at a TEDx event is an honor and a privlidge.

The talk will be a 12 minute segment from my upcoming book, Discover the Light Within. I’ll be sharing a little of my story (which you can read here), and discussing the first and foremost principle in Escape Velocity.

Here’s the speech summary I’ve sent to the organizers.

Discover the Light Within

I grew up in the midst of poverty, abuse, and even homelessness. Born to a biological father who wanted to sacrifice me, I endured two step-fathers who were angry alcoholics, until finally, at age 11, even my mom left me. Watching her drive away nearly broke me.

But over time, stripped of everything I cared about, including hope, I discovered a light within. A reservoir of strength. And I realized that I had a choice. I realized I could succumb to fear, anger, and depression, or I could rise above it. The decision was mine.

I learned that it’s not our past that matters, but our future. And we should make it great.

I’ve since developed a methodology for life and a framework for personal progress called Escape Velocity. It’s a term used to describe what’s required for an object to leave the gravitational pull of the earth. I believe that we are held captive by the gravitational pull of our past, or our surroundings, our self-beliefs, our labels, peers, families, and more. But that we have the power to overcome those gravitational pulls to take control of our lives and create incredible futures.

But it all starts with a critical first-step, a fundamental change to how we see ourselves… not as the product of our past, but for the potential of our futures. This recognition of our true potential is the pivotal moment we all must experience in our reach for greatness. We must discover the light within.

If you’re not familiar, TED is a platform for “ideas worth spreading”. It began in 1884, and has become one of the premier speaking conferences in the world, covering technology, science, entertainment, and design, all meant to open minds and spread ideas. TEDx are independently, locally operated events to help share these ideas in communities around the world.

All speeches are live-streamed, and professionally recorded, and can be viewed after the fact on the website. I recommend visiting and indulging as often as possible. It’s a tremendous source for inspiration and to open your eyes and expand your mind.

For those interested in attending, TEDxSUU will take place on March 26th in the Sterling R. Church auditorium on SUU’s campus. You can find out more information about it here. Otherwise, once the video is posted, I’ll post a link to it here.

Make life great,

Early last month Life Engineering turned 6 years old. I can hardly believe its been that long.

During that 6 years I’ve been working hard to perfect the science, build the methodologies, create the framework, curate the principles, and establish substance behind this movement I called Life Engineering.

It was founded upon the basic premise that true principles have universal applicability, and that if you extracted those principles from their native habitats and applied them to life, the resulting impact would be insightful, inspiring and empowering. I wanted to discover the driving principles of human performance and personal progress.

It started with my first, unassuming post “It is not the critic who counts“, followed 8 days later by the much more deserving “Entropy, the most persistent of adversaries“. For 6 years now I’ve been creating this type of scientific self-help content, and I’ve been delighted and inspired at how the movement has taken off.

I have people approach me who I’ve never met to ask if I’m the Life Engineering guy. I’m thrilled when that happens, because I know the movement is having an impact.

Now it’s time to up the ante.

Yesterday I rolled out an all-new Life Engineering website, as a companion to the blog. For the first time I’m unveiling a product and service scaffolding designed to power the Life Engineering movement, and give people more control in life. It’s a system of tools, content, frameworks, and books I call the Change Enablement System.

Over the next several months each of the systems will come online, giving today’s Life Engineer’s far more ammunition in their battle to find meaning, overcome obstacles, and move forward.

I hope you’ll join us for the journey.

here are some screenshots:

Life Engineering scientific self-help and motivational system

Life Engineering Change Enablement System - Take Control of your Life

The Life Engineering Movement - how it all started

In celebration of the upcoming re-launch of Life-Engineering, a motivational image..

Strength and perspective come when you climb life's mountains, instead of avoiding them.


Over half of the US population uses supplements. Every year that number increases. Interestingly, there’s no correlation of improvement to public health.

Why is that? Is it that supplements don’t work?

No. Looking deeper, what researchers found is that when someone takes a supplement, say a multi-vitimin, they make a mental “check” that they’ve done their bit of good for their body for the day. Then when mealtime comes, they justify bad decisions. Or that when it comes time to exercise, they don’t feel so bad waving it off.

This is a sweeping psychological problem inhibiting real life progress.

We often do small, simple tasks, which have relatively little real impact, to justify putting off substantial tasks of critical value. We get a false sense of progress. We appease our emotions by doing what’s easy, and not what’s important.

There are real barriers surrounding the big tasks. Whether it’s ambiguity, time, difficulty, or fear. Little tasks mean little risks, but the bigger tasks are the ones that really need to be done.

So if you want to succeed in life, you need to buck up and do the work.


(P.S. I recommend Steven Pressfield’s new book “Do The Work“, which is a practical walkthrough of getting the right stuff done. Even better, right now it’s free!).

Vince Lambardi teaches that loyalty is highest form of love, embues change efforts with uncompromising purpose

There are lots of reasons why you might seek change.  Often those reasons are centered around yourself.  Your personal betterment.

These are noble causes.  You are infinitely capable, after all, and you deserve the very best, those rewards earned through the persistent pursuit of positive change.

But there is yet a higher cause.  Something even nobler.


Vince Lombardi was the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers, who led them to capture their first-ever Super Bowl.  In the wake of his incredible success and obvious leadership, Lombardi was highly sought after for corporate events.

He translated the principles of leadership and motivation he used on the football field into 7 principles for work and life.  Chief among these 7 principles was one that was surprising for the rough and tough football coach… love.  Love, he says, is more powerful than hate.

“The love I’m speaking of is loyalty, which is the greatest of loves.  Teamwork, the love that one man has for another and that he respects the dignity of another…I am not speaking of detraction. You show me a man who belittles another and I will show you a man who is not a leader…Heart power is the strength of your company.  Heart power is the strength of the Green Bay Packers. Heart power is the strength of America and hate power is the weakness of the world.”

Lombardi taught that when your efforts are fueled by love, you work harder, persevere longer, invest more, take greater care, and are less apt to give up.

Some years ago the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, renowned for providing some of the greatest care in the world for children battling cancer, was building a new facility on campus.

Something remarkable happened, a love-born relationship between the ironworkers and the children.  As the Boston globe reported:

“It has become a beloved ritual at Dana-Farber.  Every day, children who come to the clinic write their names on sheets of paper and tape them to the windows of the walkway for ironworkers to see. And, every day, the ironworkers paint the names onto I-beams and hoist them into place as they add floors to the new 14-story Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.

“The building’s steel skeleton is now a brightly colored, seven-story monument to scores of children receiving treatment at the clinic-Lia, Alex, and Sam; Taylor, Izzy, and Danny. For the young cancer patients, who press their noses to the glass to watch new names added every day, the steel and spray-paint tribute has given them a few moments of joy and a towering symbol of hope. ‘It’s fabulous,’ said [18-month-old] Kristen [Hoenshell]’s mother, Elizabeth, as she held her daughter and marveled at the rainbow of names. It’s just a simple little act that means so much.’”

The children and their parents were certainly touched, but think of the ironworkers, each morning in the bitter cold and biting wind.  Their project had become more than just another building.  Their work now had meaning.  They had purpose.

This kind of purpose, when your efforts are somehow tied to something more than yourself, creates powerful, self-sustaining drive that you simply don’t otherwise get.

This year I helped coach my 14 year old son’s football team.  The prior season was a tough one, with zero wins.  Coming into the new season with that record created a powerful barrier to success – self doubt.  What the boys needed was something to believe in.  Something to rally around.

That something showed up on the first day of practice.  His name was Austin.  Austin was autistic.  But he had a huge heart and an infectious sense of humor (which was often manifested by his sneaking up on a coach and inflicting physical pain, which delighted the other boys.)

His parents didn’t have much by way of expectations, but were excited he wanted to play.  Austin didn’t have many friends.  Until now.

The team embraced him.  At first he would only practice a few plays at a time before losing interest, when he would go sit on the side and watch (or sneak up on coaches).  Over time he would stay in nearly the whole practice, with help and guidance and patience of his teammates, showing him where to stand and what to do.

We decided we wanted Austin to have a lot of play time.  He started, every game, as defensive nose guard, and cycled in and out every couple of plays.  His parents were ecstatic at the experience.


Austin was the rallying point, giving the team purpose born of love and loyalty

Austin lines up on defense… ready to take on the world.


We ended the season with 7 wins and 1 loss, and went to the championship game, where again, Austin started.

This was the same team that a year prior had not won a game.

While there were several things we worked on to overcome mental barriers, and be better prepared, in my mind nothing played a larger role, at least in gaining our initial inertia, than the fact that we had something to rally around.  We had a cause greater than ourselves.  We were motivated by love, by loyalty.

Love imbues your change efforts with unparalleled, uncompromising purpose.

Whatever your change efforts are, find a way to let them be led, or inspired by a cause greater than yourself, and you’ll find your rate of success increasing dramatically.

Let yourself be led by love.



Austin, the team's rallying point, imbued our efforts with purpose born of love and loyalty.

Austin comes out after a play, ecstatic at playing the game.




Vince Lombardi Biography - when pride still mattered(You can read all of Lambardi’s principles in his biography by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Maraniss: “When Pride Still Mattered“.)

So often, the difficulties we face in trying to embrace and pursue meaningful change in our lives, or simply to accomplish something meaningful, can be tracked back to one of the most simplest problems there is to solve.

The lack of sleep.

It’s a fact, sleep deprivation kills performance.  Not only that, but lack of sleep kills creativity too, and memory (especially since it’s during REM sleep, the second sleep cycle, that our brains convert memories from short to long term storage).

In fact, sleep deprivation ends up destroying all higher-processing functions within the brain.

Here’s how that happens (in a nutshell).

When you deprive yourself of sleep a number of important things happen on a neurobiological level.


Your brain is like a sugar addict, it needs lots of sugar to function.  In truth, your brain, while processing, burns up energy (stored in sugars) as much as a fully-flexed quadricep (the largest muscle in your body – in the upper thigh).

As the brain burns through your current supply of blood sugar, it lacks the energy stores it needs to function, and so it just doesn’t, or does so at a much-diminished capacity.

It’s why when you’re tired, you crave sugary foods (like donuts and candy).  Your brain needs sugar.

It’s been shown that after 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there’s a 6% overall reduction in glucose reaching the brain.

But it gets worse.  The loss of sugar-assets isn’t equally distributed.  Most of the loss is in the parietal lobe and the prefrontal cortex, which suffer a loss of 12 to 14%.  Those are the areas most crucial to thinking.

Those areas are responsible for idea discernment, differentiating between good and bad, and similarly, for social control.  In fact, it’s much like being drunk.

In fact, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Business School, Charles Czeisler,  states “We now know that 24 hours without sleep or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%.”

That’s above all legal limits for alcohol while driving.  Predictably, 20% of automobile accidents are cause by nothing more than lack of sleep.

That’s right, going a day without sleep, or a number of days on reduced sleep, and your cognitive impairment is equal to being legally drunk.

Interesting then, why doctors in residency, a field in which you’d most value peak cognition, is designed to deliver just the opposite due to intentionally inflicted sleep deprivation.

Charles Czeisler calls lack of sleep “The Performance Killer“.


The areas of the brain responsible for the highest order of brain activity is the parietal and occipital lobes, along with the prefrontal cortex.  Unfortunately, with sleep deprivation, these areas are the first to suffer.

The reason for this, is that the thalamus — the region of the brain responsible for keeping you awake — ends up steeling all of the energy as it works in overdrive to compensate for your lack of sleep.

So all your energy simply goes into staying awake.

An adult needs between 6-8 hours of sleep each night.  Less than that and sleep deprivation begins to starve the brain.

So if you care about your brain, and your ability to think, and your capacity to employ all your neuronal powers in your efforts to change your life, impact others, or accomplish something meaningful… get some sleep.


(Image courtesy Sang Yu)

Imagine you’ve been given a garden.

It’s you’re garden, and your responsible for its care.  You decide what grows in it.  You decide what it looks like.  And you get to partake of the fruit that comes from it.

Like any garden, it’s gonna be prone to sprout weeds.  Undesirable seeds will occasionally be blown in, and you won’t know it until they sprout.  But you get to decide how long those weeds stay.  How tall they get.

But be careful, because left untended, weeds have a way of taking over.

In fact, it’s often the case that after prolonged neglect, we look at our garden and see nothing but weeds.

In these times, it’s easy to curse the garden we’ve been given.

It’s also easy to look at the weeds in our garden, and think that it’s too late, or that this is how it was meant to be, and that there’s nothing we can do about it, at least not now.

When you look at your garden and see only weeds, it’s hard to forget that it’s still a garden.  The weeds do not define it.  They are merely the visible evidence of what you’ve allowed to grow there.

If you don’t like it, change it.  It’s your garden.

Now reread this, and substitute “garden” for “LIFE”. What resonates with you?


Life is like a garden, it's yours to change

(image from **Mary**)

Okay, so if you haven’t yet heard of Ted Williams, you need to. It’s a great story.

At the beginning of this week Ted Williams was homeless. He was begging on the streets, panhandling at intersections.

Ted Williams from Ohio, the inspirational story of the man with the golden voice

Ted Williams, inspirational story

Early this week he stood by the side of Interstate 71 in Columbus Ohio holding a sign that said “I have a God given gift of voice”, asking for help.

Ted Williams - the inspirational story of the panhandling man turned viral video star

Ted Williams panhandling in Ohio

A reporter for the Columbus Dispatch saw the sign, and chose to video the interaction. He posted the amazing video on YouTube and it instantly went viral, getting over 13 million views in just around 48 hours (an unprecedented explosion of popularity).

Here’s the video:

What happens next is nothing short of motivating, inspirational, and just plain amazing.

Seeing the video, he’s invited onto several shows, including the Today Show, CBS Morning News, and numerous others. He was flown to New York, his home town, by the Today Show, where he was also able to meet his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in more than a decade.

Ted Williams on Today

Williams tells his story of starting out as a radio announcer, but falling into alcohol and drugs, to the point where they took over his life, and he lost everything. His family (9 kids – 7 daughters and 2 sons), wife, home, job, everything.

Living in a tent, he finally decided he needed a change. He’s been 2 years clean now.

In the aftermath of the viral video, thankfully captured and brought to YouTube, he’s been offered numerous jobs, including becoming the official voice for Kraft, an announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, and Quicken even called him up and gave him a fully-paid mortgage to buy a house or apartment.

Through it all, he’s keeping God in the center, repeatedly offering up his gratitude in these public interviews.

On the Today show, just a few days after being discovered, he was asked if he had a newfound appreciation for the homeless, to which he replied:

“Please don’t judge a book by its cover. Everybody has their own little story.”

Here are several videos chronicling the inspirational journey.

Interview with Today Show

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Interview with CBS

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Bob May had always been different.  Small, weak, and slight as a child, he was regularly ridiculed, bullied, and made fun of.  He spent his whole childhood like that.

Eventually, he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1926 and married the love of his life, Evelyn.  Together they had a beautiful daughter named Barbara.

Bob became a copy writer for Chicago based Montgomery Ward.  It was the great depression, and they led a modest, but meaningful life, before everything changed.

Evelyn got cancer.  She passed away just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob was 34, Barbara was only 4.

Pressed with grief, and stooped in medical bills, the father and daughter struggled to with each passing day.

At work, Montgomery Ward had been purchasing and giving away coloring books each year for Christmas, and this year they decided to make their own to save money.  They approached Bob May and asked him to write a story.

Bob thought of his own life, always feeling different, always feeling like you can’t get ahead.  He associated with the story of the ugly duckling.  Drawing on these powerful emotions, but fueled by the belief in the hidden value within each of us, he wrote the story of a cast-away, mis-fit reindeer.

Originally named Rollo, then Reginald, bob finally settled on Rudolf.  He tested it on his 4 year old daughter, who loved it.

He submitted the story to his boss, who was worried about the red nose (fearing the association with drinking and drunkenness).  But Bob believed in his vision, and took his friend Denver Gillen, who worked in Montgomery Wards art department, to the Lincoln Park Zoo to create a sketch of rudolf based on real reindeer.

The illustrations gave life to the story, and it was quickly approved for distribution.

Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of their Rudolf booklet in 1939. In spite of wartime paper shortages, which curtailed printing over the next few years, they still printed 6 million copies by the end of 1946.

Post-war demand for licensing the Rudolf character were enormous, but while May was the creator, he held no copyright, and received no royalties.

Finally, a major publisher approached Montgomery Ward wanting to purchase rights to print an updated version of the story.  Knowing that May was deeply in debt from Evelyn’s medical bills, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, Sewell Avery, in an unprecedented gesture of generosity, turned the copyright over to May in January 1947.

That year it was printed commercially, featured in theaters as a 9 minute cartoon, and gained huge popularity.  May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for a song based on the Character, titled “Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer”.

The song was originally turned down by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, but was finally recorded by Gene Autry and became a phenomenal success.  It sold more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas”.

Bob’s belief in the hidden value within us all became a reality that changed his life, and has impacted millions upon millions of people.  His vision and belief had become a reality.

May you recognize the light within yourself, no matter how deeply hidden, and find a way to make it real.

Merry Christmas,


Robert May and his creation, rudolf the red-nosed reindeer

Robert May and his creation, Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, symbolizing his belief in our hidden value.

This morning I came out to my office to work, and as I was walking over to my desk I looked up and saw my beloved plant, a venus fly trap.

I found it a while back and bought it because it was a symbol of patience, and I like to fill my office with symbols (see Gravity’s lesson on influence – control your environment).

But I hadn’t watered the plant, or fed it, for… well… quite some time.

I suddenly felt a sense of urgency, and rushed out to get it some water. As if somehow the next 10 seconds were crucial. (Classic example of the “all of a sudden syndrome“). As if suddenly, now aware of the situation, pouring my attention on it would somehow compensate for all my neglect.

As I sat there looking at the sad state of my symbol of patience, trying not to think of the irony of it all, my mind grasped hold of a positive lesson I could learn from this loss.

If you want to kill something, stop feeding it.

Yeah, I know, it sounds simple. But when was the last time you fed your spiritual being? When was the last time you fed your dream? When was the last time you quenched your thirst for discovery? When was the last time you fed your creativity?  When was the last time you fed the relationship with your significant other? Or your children? Or your parents?

All those things you care so much about… if you don’t feed them, they die. Don’t let that happen.