Friday, September 4, 2015

Author Interview: Kyle Garlett author of "Lessons From the Edge of Life"

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1.    Kyle, thank you so much for sharing your story with the world.  It is truly inspiring.  Like most inspiring stories, however, there is an element of struggle and dark days.
What is the one thing that you can attribute your “Thrive – don’t just Survive” attitude to?
I think it goes back to those dark days, as you suggest. I felt an element of anger at cancer, that it was disrupting my life so profoundly and threatening to take it. To put it bluntly - cancer really pissed me off. So I didn’t want to just beat it, I wanted to destroy it. I didn’t want to just win. I wanted to humiliate it. So the “thriving” that I strive for in my life is soft of me continually spiking the football in the face of cancer. It’s a reminder to me that I beat it, but also in a way it’s me trying to remind cancer that I am better than it. It is tough, but I am tougher.
 2.   Can you picture your life if you would not have gone through these struggles?  Do you believe you would have just fallen into the “complacent” category you warn against?

It’s hard me to picture a life without the struggles that I’ve survived because they are such an integral ingredient in who I am today. I suppose I probably would have fallen into the complacency that I warn against because that complacency trap ensnares so many of us. There is a natural instinct in all of us to click on the cruise control and just stay the easy and known course. Hopefully I would find my out. Hopefully I would get the kick in the pants that is often needed to seek more. Because I also believe that there is a natural instinct within all of us to reach for bigger and better. All it takes is the confidence to go for it.

3.            It seems that you are a huge “pay it forward” type of person.  What is the most rewarding thing you have done to give something back or pay it forward?
It’s hard to say what is the most rewarding thing for me, in terms of paying it forward. I do appreciate that because of being on television, going to Ironman, and writing books, I am somewhat known in the heart transplant and cancer communities. So often someone newly diagnosed with cancer will seek me out. Or someone waiting for a heart transplant, and terrified by what that means, will send me an email. Being able to speak to people like that. Giving them hope, or simply an ear that understands their fears, is something that I will always do. I’m so fortunate to be in a place where can pass along the same hope that got me through the worst of days. It’s truly a blessing.

4.            What would you recommend a person focus on when they are in the dark periods or feeling like everything they are doing just isn’t going to matter?
I talk about this in my memoir, Heart of Iron, which came out a few years ago. When I was in isolation during my bone marrow transplant, life was pretty horrible. Physically I was at my weakest and sickest. But also mentally, my hope was at its lowest point. So what I would do was try to find a good thirty minute period a day. It might be reading a good book, watching a funny television show, or having a conversation with a friend. If I could find an enjoyable thirty minutes each day, then I could bear the other twenty-three and a half hours. And if I could get a whole hour of good, then it was an extra special good day.

Find something in your life that is good. Because there is always something. Someone that loves you. A pet, a parent, something. Find something you love. Writing, reading, running, laughing, something. And then focus on that good. Zero in on the good, and the elevate its importance above all of the bad. Make that good be the reason for which you live. And in time, the bad will begin to recede, and more goods will begin to enter your life. As I point out in this book, light always illuminates the dark. It’s never the other way around.

5.            I see that you are a speaker – how rewarding is that and what is your favorite topic to speak on?

I love speaking, and especially speaking about the strength that we all possess to overcome the great adversities of life. And the nature of my speeches tend to be very personal, because my story is one that is relatable. So after hearing me speak, people feel like they know me. So they often approach me afterward as though I am already a friend. I have great conversations. I make great connections with people. We talk about life. They share things with me because over the course of my speech most of the normal walls that separate people are lowered. 

I always leave a speech in a really great mood. I hope that in the time people spend listening to me, I give them hope and optimism and an extra spring in their step as they take on whatever challenge they are currently facing. Because that is exactly what happens for me after giving the speech.

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