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  • Matt

Take Your Seat, Prepare for Take Off

I boarded the plane in Belize eager and anxious.

My feelings had nothing to do with the flight. I have flown over a million miles over the course of my life, starting with visitations between my parents throughout childhood, then throughout my career, which keeps me on the road about 6 months out of the year.

I was anxious because I was flying back into the United States for my first paid keynote speech at MIT in Boston.

Speaking in front of people is not new for me. I've been a ring announcer for Brawl for a Cause events since 2018, commentated international combat sports events, and hosted events like Atlanta 30 Under 30, Atlanta Business Chronicle's Best Paces to Work, Journey Awards, and the Bermuda Entrepreneurship Summit.

That said, speaking for 20 minutes to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference attendee base of sport team owners, league commissioners, and CEOs is a different challenge all together.

Moreover, my topic for this keynote is neuroscience and practical applications of Chessboxing through task-switching, cognitive flexibility, and state change management. This is a topic I know deeply, and practice regularly, but have never consolidated into a focussed keynote before.

With all this in mind, I planned to use the 4 hour flight back to Atlanta to practice my speech. Thanks to my Delta status, I got a free upgrade to first class, seat 1B.

While boarding, I saw a middle aged man get in line behind me, seat 1A. I give him a head nod, smile, and little comment, "hey neighbor."

He smiles back and we pick up conversation as we stow away our bags and settle into our seats. I tell him about SCUBA diving the Blue Hole with my girlfriend, then he shares that he wishes he could have dove this trip, but was only in Belize for 24 hours of work.

"What do you do?" I asked.

"I'm a speaker and leadership coach," he replied.

I live for moments like this. The seemingly serendipitous collisions and connections that people often chalk up to "luck" are anything but happenstance.

To me, these moments are like divine breadcrumbs along the dharmic path of our life's journey. Sometimes, when we are on the right track, or when we find ourselves on the wrong track, a stranger appears.

This stranger is an agent of catalyzing change. For me, his name was Max Brown, and he had given over 4,000 keynotes in dozens of countries over his 27 year career as a top 1% speaker.

Put yourself in my shoes.

Coaching with someone like Max for a first keynote would be invaluable, and likely priced at thousands of dollars per hour in a traditional setting. Through "luck," or God, or destiny, or whatever, I got four hours of unadulterated focussed on workshopping my keynote while forging a genuine connection with an ideal potential mentor.

First reaction? Gratitude.

Gratitude is the secret to success. It starts small. If you can find ways to be grateful for the simplest, most basic, most taken for granted things in life, you win before you even start a new quest.

The vibrational energy you create when you genuinely feel grateful for sunshine, good health, fresh air, or a roof over your head reverberates through every thought pattern and action you take for the rest of the day.

In the morning, I wake up to 10 deep breaths with awareness of something I'm grateful for on the inhale, then sending gratitude to a visualized version of it on the exhale. My eleventh breath is my intention for the day, then I put my feet on the floor and get to work.

In this moment sitting in seat 1B, I summon every bit of gratitude and presence I can muster to pour into the angel sent to me in seat 1A.

I share my speech's ice breaker. I recount my opening story. I detail the neuroscience and practical applications displayed in my story that can help anyone in the audience become a better task-switcher, and thus a more effective peak performer.

He shares feedback I hadn't considered with actionable changes. He recounts times from his career where his wisdom was earned. He details what happens when he crafts and delivers a speech, and what success looks like for a conference organizer and attendees.

I breathe deep, inhaling the lessons, and exhaling to weave them into my thought patterns and subconscious constructs.

Over the course of four hours, we share life stories, hard lessons, and what led to the sweetest tastes of triumphs we have enjoyed. We offer introductions to those in our lives that can help the other. We exchange information and vow to stay in touch.

This type of occurrence isn't rare in my life, but it is always special.

It reinforces the direction on my path through life. It lends confidence in times of anxious doubt. It embraces me with dharmic love and equips me with divine armor as I prepare for my next quest.

When we lead a purpose-driven life, the world is conspiring to help us. We all have a reason for being alive. If you don't know what yours is, then your purpose is to find your purpose.

Get to know yourself. Put yourself in difficult, uncomfortable situations to uncover truths about your ego, strengths, and areas for improvement. Test yourself with challenges that will lend you lessons to apply on future quests, ones that reinforce your Hero's Journey.

Then, your dharma finds you. You life's work gets to work for you. People sit down in open seats next to you, ready to aid your efforts.

Remember, dreams don't work unless you do. Sitting idly, waiting for magic pales in comparison so putting yourself out there. Even if you don't know what to do, do something, and life will take care of the rest.

After this fateful flight, I said a prayer of gratitude. I vowed to apply the lessons, and not let this magical moment be in vain.

Today, I speak to thousands about my dharma, my passion, my gift entrusted with me from others that I will now pass on to the world.

We all have this purpose in life.

Like the opening ceremony of the olympics, where greats pass the torch to each other to ignite a light to illuminate us all, we too share the responsibility of running the relay race of human history.

For me, it's chessboxing and inspiring people to fight for what they believe in most. I will build a sports league that grows our hybrid sport in the USA and abroad. I will write, speak, and coach people to realize their purpose, potential, and peak performance to live their best life.

For you, it may be something different. Regardless of how big or small, reach out with your questions and how I may help.

No matter what quest you embark on, what trials challenge you, and what dragons you must face, I'll be in your corner.

Now please take your seat and prepare for lift off. We're going places together.

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