Posted by: altmike | October 22, 2013

Advice for limb difference families

Mike Alt baby photo

First and foremost, if you or one of your family members has been born with a limb difference…Congratulations! That person has been born with a gift and from this moment on don’t ever stop reminding that person of that simple fact. They have been given a perspective that is unlike any other person on this planet. No one will ever experience exactly what they have gone through, but I guarantee you that there are others who have experienced things similar like myself.

The first piece of advice that I want to share is to always be supportive and as cliché as that sounds it is honestly the most important thing in a limb difference person’s life. That support has to come early and often in their life because it builds the platform for their level of confidence. From the time I can remember talking, I remember my parents always reminding me that if anyone asked me about my hands to tell them that “I was born that way,” and that’s that. Also, that no matter what, I could do anything I set my mind to, I might have to do it a little differently but I could do it!

If you are the parent of a teen or a sibling of a teen, remember that being supportive does not mean prying into their every conversation to find out if they have been bullied. It also doesn’t mean that you as a parent take every word that is uttered to your son or daughter as an insult to yourself. If every time you child comes to you about an incident that happened and all you do is get emotional and tell them about how much that “breaks your heart to hear” then I hate to say it but that child will stop coming to tell you about things because they are already hurt and the last thing they want to do is to make you upset as well. So how do you overcome this as a parent? Simple, just listen and offer simple and rational solutions to the problem. Encourage your kids not to hide their head every time something negative is said about them, instead reassure them that unless they have proven somebody wrong then that bully has every reason in their negative mind to say something like that.

For example, kids would come up and bully me saying things like “You probably have your mommy tie your shoes for you every day, don’t you two fingers!”….

At that moment I had two options. One, run from the situation crying, go tell my parents and hide from any type of adversity that ever stood in front of my face be depressed for the rest of my life.

Or…I could have taken the second option which I always did. I would reply “Oh you think that pretty funny, well check this out.” then I would tie my shoes right in front of them and leave them speechless. This was my way of proving people wrong in a non-confrontational way that got my point across clearly. This is what I feel we need to encourage our children, siblings and friends to do in situations like this.

Last piece of advice; never put any limits on anyone with a limb difference. If they hear that they can do something from others, than more times than not they will attempt it and succeed. The alternative is true as well, if all they hear from their friends and family is that they shouldn’t try something because they might not be good at it or that it might be dangerous for someone with a limb difference to attempt, then all you’re doing is killing their self-esteem even more. If we put them in a box with suggested limitations and tell them what they can/can’t or should/shouldn’t do then they are going to be in that box for the rest of their lives.

I can’t say it enough, encourage, encourage, encourage! Most limb difference families will tell you that their child did something that they never thought in a million years they could ever do and that’s because we are very unique and special people when we have a positive atmosphere around us!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | September 23, 2013

Make your A Game the only option

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A few days ago one of my managers at worked called me and asked me about my schedule and told me that my next shift was an important one and that I need to bring my “A Game.” The first thing I thought of was that, “I only have an A game.” I watched a video from Eric Thomas a couple months ago and he talked about this idea of the “A Game.” He said it perfectly, in essence, those who say this must come from a different mindset, where it is ok to have a B game and a C game but for people who have had to push through adversity they only have an A Game.

It got me to thinking though, how many of us think that we are putting in all 110% of our effort and how many just say that we are to reassure ourselves. I know personally that there are times when I’ll tell myself that I’m giving it all I have but the proof isn’t in the pudding. That’s when I think back to this idea; If you are going to put effort into something then you better give it everything you have. What’s the point of putting in some work and then the end result is anything less than amazing. We don’t do extraordinary things when we are giving our C game, no, its when we are ion our A game that we have to take a step back and realize what amazing things we are constructing and before we let that set in, we get right back to what it is that we were doing and don’t stop until its everything we expected plus some.

I can think of a perfect example of myself. I love to work out and to lift weights and I always set a goal that I am going to gain about 15 pounds of muscle and that I am going to get stronger. So I work out hard and build a regiment and stick to it for about a week or two. Then after that I let distractions set in, I lose focus, I get discouraged and I let that C game set in. I lose my regiment and two weeks later I realize that I haven’t moved towards my goal and have to restart. Instead of repeating the process over and over again with my C game, why don’t I just give it everything I have with my A Game and don’t stop until my goal is reached? That’s when I refocus, dig in and don’t look back. That’s when I’m officially in my A game.

We do this all the time in our daily lives and don’t realize why we haven’t got what we want out of life. It’s because we are stuck in our C Game. Commit to your goal starting today. If the goal is graduating, then dig in, grind it out and don’t let distractions get in the way. If it’s getting the job that you want, then you do everything humanly possible to earn it, go out of your comfort zone. If you are trying to make a team, then you practice every single day like you are competing against the world.

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Stay hungry for your goals and don’t lose sight of them. Throw your B and C game in the trash and make you’re A game your only option. Go get what you want in life because you are the only thing standing in the way of where you are and where you want to be!

Can’t is not an Excuse

What if?…

What if the word can’t, really did not exist in our everyday language? When put in a situation where we had to tell someone that we were unable to complete a task, instead of saying “I can’t” you say, “I’m not able to at this time” or “I’m not that good at it, but I’ll try”

You see, when we say “Can’t” we really mean, “I don’t want to discuss this topic and I really don’t want to put forth any effort whatsoever, so I will say that I can’t do it to deflect attention away from me.” Instead of using this excuse every time an activity or subject comes up that we are uneasy about, why don’t we say “I will try it” or “I’m not able to do it just yet, but give me some time to practice and I will be able do it.”

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The word Can’t is not just a word, it’s much more than that. It carries meaning, it provides insight on character and in every case, it is followed up by closed mindedness and a sense of self-doubt. If by just saying a simple word, you could get off the hook, how amazing would that be? But the word can’t is not that miracle word, it is merely a veil that you throw over other people’s faces in hopes that they will not see you for your weaknesses and only how you want to be seen. On the other end, the message is just the opposite…

When you hear the word cant, subconsciously you lose a little respect for the other person, or at least you should. The word Can’t carries a negative connotation that never helps the sender nor the receiver, it is just a filler. When I hear others say it, I truly question their motives, I question their heart. If there was a .0001% chance that they could do what they say they can’t and they truly had heart then the word “Can’t” would never even cross their mind.

Often times we think that with the murmur of this word and a slight shrug of the shoulders that we are set free from ever facing that question again, but we aren’t. Think to yourself, when you use the word can’t; CAN you really do what is being asked of you or are you just taking the easy road? Are you fully incapable of ever doing what is being suggested to you, not now nor in the future…or are you just making an excuse?

Can’t is not a life sentence

Can’t is a challenge

Can’t is an opportunity for success

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | June 5, 2013

Put in the Work

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My newest challenge for myself is training for a duathlon coming up on July 7th. I have just gotten into biking and making the transition from running to biking has definitely helped me get into better shape. To train, I do a road rage bike class at my gym every Monday and Wednesday at 5:30am. If you know me, then you know I’m not a big fan of waking up early and when it comes to being places on time, it usually a stretch. If I can show up 5 minutes late to a function, people are usually impressed. However for some reason when it comes to these early classes I can always get there right on time and I’m ready to work.

Today was no different, I showed up and was ready to get something out of the hard work that I was about to put in. About half way through the class I started to realize something. As I was literally creating a lake of sweat under my bike (No exaggeration, I’m surprised they didn’t call a custodian for “clean up on isle Mike”). I began to look around at the other people in the class. Mind you there was about seven other sleep deprived crazy people in the class with me. I glanced to my right and see one guy yawning going about half speed of what he should be. Then I look in the mirror to see that the person behind me is sitting straight up on their stationary bike texting. Mind you, we are about half way through the class with the overly excited instructor yelling at us to “Push it!!!”

This is what I came to realize, that if I am going to wake up that early to go to a voluntarily class, you better believe that I am going to work my ass off to get something out of it. What is the point of doing something half ass? When was the last time you heard someone say, “so I just invented the greatest thing since sliced bread and I was only putting in a fraction of the effort I could have been”…no one says that. I hear more people say this, “Ya I really wasn’t even trying, and that’s why I didn’t do so well. But had I given it my full effort, then I would have done a lot better.”

road rage can'tThe difference between these two statements is the effort that you put in to something. Showing up isn’t enough. Just going to the gym and walking in the door does not count as you actually putting in the work and having a good workout. Whatever you do, you have to take something away from it to better yourself, which is the only way that you excel.  This is the same thing in life and in the work place. If I were to go to a business meeting and completely tune out the boss and not listen to a thing he or she has to say, then at the end of the meeting say to myself “Well that was a waste of time, I’m glad that’s over.” By doing that I am not bettering myself, however the guy next to me who was engaged in the meeting and took notes and left the meeting gaining new insight is going to be one step closer to a promotion than I am because he is willing to be engaged and put in the work. It’s really as simple as that.

Moral of the story, if you are going to do something, then give it your all. Don’t only go half speed because it’s uncomfortable or because “You just don’t feel like it today.” Give every activity, every meeting, and every project 110% because you never know who is watching and who you may inspire to not give up.

Can’t is not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | June 4, 2013

Lucky Fin Project Rocks

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It is amazing what you can find on the internet these days and how connected people have become. I am so glad I stumbled upon this website a couple weeks back because I found one of the best organizations to date. I was doing a search for website that deals with people who have missing hands or limbs and I found the Lucky Fin Project.

tumblr_m7koy80n9n1qdx2cyo1_400About three years ago Molly Stapelman started the lucky fin project for her daughter Ryan who was born with Symbrachydactyly. This left Ryan with a perfectly normal left hand and a “Lucky fin” on her right hand. Her right hand has one full finger which is her thumb and four nubs similar to mine.  The name “Lucky Fin” came from the movie Finding Nemo, where Nemo had one fin that was just a little different from all the rest but could still accomplish anything he set out to do.  In 2010, Molly began to make bracelets to celebrate her daughter and other kids and adults who have limb differences. From there, the sky was the limit. To date they have made over four thousand bracelets and have connected with people all over the world.

They are a non-profit organization that is out there to help raise awareness for children and parents who suffer from a limb difference. I am so proud of what they are doing because I know that had an organization like this been around when I was younger, it would have made all the difference for me and my family. They are reaching out to families all across the world to offer support and hope for those dealing with a limb difference.

A quote from their website, “A child being born with a limb difference is not tragic. It’s extremely important to show our children how capable & wonderfully made they are. If we treat them as flawed or limited that is who they will believe themselves to be- and that would be the tragedy.”…..I couldn’t have said it better myself!

385927_617863954897146_1075985849_nI want all of my followers to go check out their website to learn more about this great organization and family. They also have created one of my favorite shirts that I have seen. It says, “Ten fingers are overrated,” you have to go check it out for yourself by clicking this link here! Lucky Fin Project Rocks!

Can’t Is Not An Excuse

404977_462232050496237_2013422356_nSometimes the most influential and inspirational people are the ones that we walk along side us every single day and we don’t even think twice about them. So is true with a coworker that I have at the clothing store that I work at. I always love working with this one person in particular because her smile could brighten up a room in a matter of seconds, so it was no surprise that she did one of the most courageous  and selfless acts I have ever heard of. She shaved her head completely and donated her long beautiful hair to St. Baldricks in order to raise money for cancer research and to stand proudly beside those who have been forced to lose their hair.

Ashley Saathoff is a senior at Damonte Ranch high School and as I said is a co-worker of mine as well. One night as I was scrolling along my Facebook feed, I saw picture of her in a chair getting her haircut…I thought cool, no big deal. Then as I scrolled more I noticed her head was completely shaved and she had none other but the St. Baldricks logo draped across her. I was incredibly proud to say that I knew someone who has donated their hair for such a great cause. By the way, she did this TWO WEEKS before her senior prom! In today’s society, where everyone is so caught up about their image and how they look especially during their high school years, this young lady made the ultimate sacrifice and did it with a smile on her face.

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Soon after this courageous act, I learned that donating and giving back isn’t something new to the Saathoff family. They have been helping out with the Northern Nevada children’s Cancer foundation as well as many other local organizations in town. Her motivation for doing this was in honor of one of her friends that was diagnosed with cancer at an early age. Her mother Dawn is also a cancer survivor and was sitting right by her side that night donating her own hair as well.

This just goes to prove that you don’t have to be rich or a superstar to make a difference. Everyone has the ability to impact somebodies life but the question is, do they have the courage to do what it takes to make that difference? Ashley and her family without a doubt have made a difference in the community and in cancer research. Its stories like these that truly inspire me and remind me about how much good there really is in people’s hearts. We need more people like this Ashley in this world. I am so proud of her and can’t wait to see how she is going to positively impact this world in the years to come!

539195_525173737535401_1926502796_nI encourage all of my readers to learn more about St. Baldricks and what a wonderful organization it is. You don’t have to shave your head to get involved either; they have many other events and fundraisers that you can be a part of in your local community.  I hope this motivates you to do a selfless act to help someone out in your community. We are all capable of extraordinary things…It just takes courage!

Cant is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | May 12, 2013

Think Positive

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For the past couple of weeks I have really been thinking about what differentiates people. Why are some people extremely happy every day and why are others completely miserable. I have always tried to look at the glass half full when it comes to life and I was trying to pinpoint why I think that way when others don’t. Then it hit me, it’s that crazy intricate piece of machinery we have called our brains mixed with a little positivity.

I have talked before about how having a positive outlook can benefit you and if you surround yourself with the right people your outlook on life will improve as well. But I’m here to tell you today that you need to battle your own brain and win with positivity. Let me explain. When something goes wrong in our lives or something happens that puts us in a bad mood we make a conscious choice at that moment to allow whatever is going on externally to affect us internally. This is why bullying is so prominent and affects our youth as much as it does. When someone calls me a name, I can either allow that negative remark to affect me and I can allow it to bother me until I forget about it or I can hear it, register it, disregard it and move on while still having my positive mood intact.

Trust me when I say this, I don’t like being sad. I hate being upset and I despise being depressed. So how do I combat those characteristics? I put a smile on my face…not a fake smile, but a real one. I am truly happy every morning when I wake up because guess what?… There isn’t anything going on that I should let my outlook be affected in a negative way from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. I am alive, I have the ability to smile and I know that if I can spread happiness to others then that means I have impacted their day in a positive way and that one of my daily goals is accomplished.

Things obviously happen throughout a person’s day that is uncontrollable, granted. However we make a cognoscente decision with every event as to how we choose to let it affect us. Here is my litmus test for if something bad happens:

Did anyone die?

If the answer is no then it can’t be that bad. If no one died then I should be able to organize my thoughts and emotions in a way to try to make the situation better. Our mind is a tricky mechanism, but it’s one that we can control with positivity.

Go into everyday with a smile on your face. Spread happiness, not despair. Believe it or not, but you happiness subconsciously affects everyone around you, so be a positive resource for your fellow peers!

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | March 27, 2013

A Truly Defining Moment

When we are at our lowest moments the simplest things make the biggest difference. A phone call can feel as though someone is right by your side, a text can feel like a hug and when someone who is actually there by your side can mean the world to you. With everything that goes on in our daily lives it usually takes a sudden change or a defining moment to realize how much the little things really mean

securedownload (1)        Ironically last week I had to read a do a book report on a book called Defining Moments. Little did I know that I would have a defining moment in my life that same week. The passing of my baby niece Brooklyn last week changed my perspective and life in ways that are unexplainable except by over used phrases. “It put everything into perspective,” or “it changed my outlook.” We say these things but it takes a truly defining moment for you to realize the magnitude of the statement that you just uttered. I can say without equivocation that my outlook really has changed and not in the ways that may be expected. I see people differently; I see the beauty in things that I would normally overlook. I see the true inner spirit of people who truly care and want to see others in nothing but good spirits. May it be family, friends or mere acquaintances, I am grateful for their kind words and selflessness that they have bestowed upon my family. People at the drop of a hat not only offered but did whatever they could to try to mend a situation of heartache.

securedownload  Why is it that it takes a tragic event for people to come together? Can’t we extend our hand at any given moment even if it is just to listen or are we to caught up in the routine. The perspective that I have gained is this; be kind to others, not for just the sake of the word but instead because kindness changes lives. It brings those who are in sorrow to have a smile on their face in a matter of moments. Let my defining moment exemplify for those who have not yet experienced this realization that your daily actions impact others in ways you could never imagine. Let that impact be a positive one. Don’t say you are going to do something and then not follow through, conduct random acts of kindness for no reason other than trying to brighten somebodies day and above all, help and lend yourself to others without being asked.

We never know what tomorrow holds, so hold those who are close to you. I have said it before, but a baby that wasn’t even old enough utter my name taught me more about life than a man who has spoken a million words.

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I love you Brooklyn, always and forever

Can’t is Not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | March 7, 2013

HTFU…A Truly Motivational Brand

Htfu Logo

Two years ago a friend of mine told me to go look up a Facebook page about a company that is extremely inspirational. He told me their name was “HTFU”…I pondered for a moment to try to think of what the acronym stood for and after a few minutes I had to ask my friend what it meant. He told me that it stood for “Harden The Fuck Up.” A smile became immersed on my face and I instantly loved the company just by its name. I researched their company, viewed their products and bought a wrist band that night. From that day on, I was hooked.

HTFU is a company that sells apparel targeted at people who never give up, who push themselves to their boundaries and then push a little further. It is a company, but more importantly it is a brand that people embody. It is not just a slogan; it is a lifestyle that anyone living it will tell you, that it is in the back of their mind every time things get a little tough in life.

“I’ve been working all day and am too tired to go to the gym, I’ll go tomorrow,”….2 minutes later that little voice in the back of your mind says “HTFU”…1 minute later that person is in their car headed to the gym!

They are still regarded as a small company but their brand and their message is enormous beyond words. They use sex appeal and a very direct marketing approach, but it is done in a tasteful manner. They show women that are in shape and obviously work on being fit; not just a bunch of skinny models. One thing they do very well is create slogans and phrases that they put on their t-shirts, shorts, photos, etc. that truly inspire the customer. The people who buy their product are proud of every purchase they make because they know that it’s not just another t-shirt that they are going to throw in the back of their closet; it’s a shirt that will become their favorite shirt and make them connect with the brand in a way that other more well-known companies can’t.

htfu 2

Not only is their message great, they are charitable as well. They sell their wristbands on their website for $6.00 and at  the end of the year when all of their production and manufacturing are costs are paid, they give the residual to charity. Here is a quote direct from their site, “HTFU has always believed giving to be just as important as growing…and therefore the reason we carve out proceeds from the sales of the wristband at the end of the year and give back to a charitable foundation we select.”

I was given the opportunity a few weeks ago to talk on the phone with the CEO of the company, Mark Gringrich. Through just a 20 minute conversation about understanding the company better from a business sense, I can now understand why this company is growing so quickly and becoming so successful. It is because the man behind the operation is one of the most humble individuals I have ever had a conversation with. I could hear the passion in his voice as he talked about the roots of the company and how much hard work he had to put in to make it what it is today.

Every time I feel discouraged or like I can’t push myself any further…I look down at my wristband and push myself until I have accomplished my goal!

htfu wristband Mike Alt

All my readers need to go check out the website and see what a great motivational brand it really is for yourselves. Here is the link to my favorite product they have on their website…What’s yours? Let me know in the comment section below!

Can’t is not an Excuse

Posted by: altmike | February 22, 2013

Everything Happens for a Reason

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A wise man once said, “everything happens for a reason.”

I personally believe whole heartily in this saying.  Now there are two ways to look at this saying. One, from the “end result” perspective. As in, “I studied day in and day out in high school so that that I could be accepted to college.” All my hard work led to me to be accepted to college therefor the reason for me going to college was the end result of my hard work. The other perspective that is taken on this saying is the more common one, which I call the “yet to be determined.” This is where something happens in your life that is usually beyond your control and the reason for that has yet to be seen or learned. I look at myself as an example for the “yet to be determined” version. I was born with a physical deformity that at birth I had no control over. I have since learned that the reason for this is to help inspire and motivate others to overcome their obstacles.

This leads me to my second point. I had a choice in determining what that reason for my deformity was. I had two choices, I could have grown up looking at what I was given with positivity or I could have looked at it with cynicism. I chose to see myself as unique and to use this gift as a tool to teach others. I could have chosen the easier choice and been angry at my situation. I could have expected the world to just hand me everything because I was “disabled” and lived in a world where I felt like an outcast and a reject. But I chose not be that person. Had I gone done that route, the so called “reason” for my hands would have been so that I was just another statistic. Another person with a deformity seeking pity from others in order to make themselves feel better.

I thankfully stand before you as a person that chose to defy the odds and not accept people’s pity as justification for my circumstance. Yes, everything happens for a reason, but we have a choice in determining what that reason is. Whether you are religious or not; whether you pray to God, Jesus, Allah or a rock in your backyard, there is a reason bigger than you for why something has happened. Some people call it fate, other call it good/bad luck. I like to think that when more good things happen to you than bad, that means that you have earned those good things in one way or another. And the so called bad things are tests; Tests to see whether or not you can turn a negative into a positive.

Believe me, every single one of you is able to turn something unfortunate into something that can be learned from or that can help others. We all possess the cognitive power to do this, however it is your choice whether or not you are going to make that “reason” something positive.

Can’t is not an Excuse

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