Archives For Playing big

“Excuse me, Steve, we are not burn victims, we are survivors!

I don’t know where it comes from because for the most part I have a wonderful life. Not a Jimmy Stewart, Wonderful Life, but a darn good one. Which makes it even more perplexing and even downright frustrating that I find myself having pity parties. Poor me. Too much work. Too little recreation. I invite me, myself, and I into a little room of pity.

About a year ago, I was in one of these pity-parties and it lasted nearly a month! At the end of that month I had been invited to go on a river rafting trip with a non-profit group. Their inspiring mission was to take at-risk or disadvantaged teens on a “four day experience” to discover adventure and be inspired. They asked if I would lead the group through a series of topics on personal vision, life dreams and how to set stretch goals. I agreed. But when I arrived in the parking lot to board the bus, I was startled to find out that instead of at-risk or disadvantaged teens, I was traveling on a trip with burn victims. Burn victims… I had never been around burn victims. I watched one-by-one as these people arrived. Some of these beautiful people had been physically transformed by their burn wounds. Some had 30% burns over their body. Some had scars covering 90-95%.

That Sunday morning in August finally ended my little “play small” pity party.

The next four days were breath-taking. Defining. Inspiring. The first day together, I spoke to them about discovering “their inspiring vision.” I mentioned how inspired and moved I was as I witnessed their courage and strength on the river and in the trip. I referred to them as “burn victims.” Right as I said this, a young man in his twenties raised his hand and said:

“Excuse me, Steve, we are not victims. We are survivors!”

I was taken back, “survivors,” “survivors.” Suddenly, I realized, he was right! No matter what the trauma, tragedy, or turbulence in our lives we have a choice. We can be either victims, which forever binds us to the event, removes our energy, and prevents us from forward movement. Or we can be survivors: people who have conquered the event, who have chosen to be bigger than event, and move forward with their life after the event. Playing Big is about being a survivor! It is about taking control of your life in times of hardship and choosing to move forward. Playing Big is refusing to allow the event to be your life, but rather recognizing it as a part of your life.

Here are a few lessons I learned from those extraordinary Burn Survivors who are choosing to PLAY BIG:

  1. Playing Small is choosing to be the “victim”
  2. Playing Big is choosing to be the “survivor”
  3. Playing Small is saying “I can’t”
  4. Playing Big is saying “I will”
  5. Playing Small is having negative self-talk
  6. Playing Big is having optimism and a strong voice

Playing Big begins with a mindset. A mindset that even when we’ve been burned or hurt or failed, we can continue on. We can turn scars into stars. It builds an emotional and spiritual capacity to play at our best and enables us to shake ourselves from a victim mentality. One of the natural leaders in the group, Rob, flies down each month to a military burn unit in San Antonio and meets with young soldiers who have been burned in combat. He encourages them. He listens to them. He weeps with them. He prays with them. He inspires them to be survivors.

We should all be Play Big Survivors!

Playing Big Tips:

  • Practice Appreciation
  • Look at your “defining moments” as not a time where you were lessened but as a time where you were recast for greatness
  • Thank God for health
  • Look to light the spirit within someone today
  • Remember giving is special and it also begins the receiving process


“Success is not a destination, it is a direction forward”

If you were looking to start your day off with a healthy breakfast, you wouldn’t wake up and take a shot of whiskey or down a bowl of potato chips. One of the first commitments I try to gain from my clients I coach is to “become a corporate athlete!” Take your health and fitness seriously, train like an athlete. Try like heck to “eat clean,” wholesome and fresh foods that will fuel your body. Take world class supplements, drink water (lots of water), and don’t be afraid to set fitness and health goals (have three for every 90 days). And, if nothing else, start the day with a nutritious breakfast- fresh fruit, yogurt, you get the idea. Breakfast is the pace-setter to your diet. It is the platform for your fuel and energy and ability to manage your emotions.

Your mental vitality can be trained just like your physical body. Use this athletic training mindset to transfer your habits from working out to training mentally. Just like breakfast is the key to your health and diet, the first 20 minutes of you day sets your emotional clock for Playing Big. If we want to be truly extraordinary, we cannot stuff “junk food” into our mind first thing in the morning. I suggest to my clients that checking email first thing in the morning is the worst way to start off the day. It is the equivalent of opening up the flood gates of information and emotional turmoil before you have set your emotional clock to Play Big. We all need a few minutes in the morning to orient ourselves to handle the trials and stresses of the day before we find ourselves flooded by them.

Instead, TRY THIS:

Wait to turn on your phone or check your email

Wait to turn on your phone or check your email

The Healthy Mind Diet

Rather than checking your email, smart phone, TV, radio or any other device (or should I say vice), take 10-15 minutes to be quiet and thoughtful. Have your cup of coffee and practice appreciation. Take a few moments to give thanks for the people in your life who influence you, who care for you, who help you. Appreciate members of your family, your friends, your coworkers. Whisper a prayer.

For the next ten minutes, read to lead yourself. This means reading something you find inspiring, calming, orienting. Read something that will set your emotional clock to Play Big. Read something with words that will stay with you and encourage you throughout your day and give you something to remember when those stressors do come out to try to ruin your day. Right now, I am reading a great personal development book by Mel Robbins, “Stop Saying You’re Fine.”

Those twenty minutes you just spent with yourself will build a more powerful you. They will build a Play Big you, a “You 2.0.” The Healthy Mind Diet doesn’t have to be like a thanksgiving feast or an hour long meditation session, think more along the lines of a power bar or a handful of raw almonds. These are the bite-sized power snacks to fuel your emotions, your moods, and your attitudes.

Here is your Healthy Mind Diet Checklist:

  • Have a good breakfast every single day. It is the only way to start your day off with a healthy boost to your body.
  • Feed your mind some good stuff
  • Lead yourself first by reading words that will encourage you throughout the day
  • The inspiration hormone is DHDA, it responds to rest, inspirational music, and reading
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation. It sends a message to your subconscious mind which in turn tells your conscious mind “I’m feeling good!”

Remember when you Play Big, it provides positive emotions which lead to strong actions which in turn create stunning results.

Play Big Training

My one day training on Emotional Intelligence for Extraordinary Leadership will transform your team’s effectiveness.

Harness the power of the Number 1 predictor of professional success and personal performance

  • Perfect for sales teams
  • Team organizations seeking better performance and results
  • Managers and leaders becoming effective in bringing out the best in the team
  • How to build fierce loyalty with customers using Emotional Intelligence

Contact Steve:

Understanding the power of your emotions, accepting that they drive your behaviors, and learning to use your self-awareness to build an extraordinary life.



“Plan an emotional re-charge into your day by eating healthy and listening to your inspirational music” –Steve Gutzler

Over ten years ago I became a student of Emotional Intelligence which led to my participation in a four-day training workshop on the fascinating subject. I’ll never forget the first day. It was the day that entirely changed my understanding of leadership, relationships, and life.  The instructor was discussing the topic of emotions and their relationship to our lives. Then, he calmly stated: “Emotions drive behavior.”

For the first time, the words sunk in and stuck.

He then opened the workshop up for discussion and I considered the thoughts: “What about my values?” and “What about my faith?” and, suddenly, “I’m not just a jumbled ball of emotions!” I was feeling hot and frustrated by the instructor’s statement. I was wound up! I was going to prove him wrong. I could feel my temperature beginning to rise, my heart rate begin to quicken, my palms dampen, my lip protest from being bitten, my brow furrow. The instructor spotted me. He pointed out that I seemed to have a strong opinion on the discussion topic. Suddenly, I realized I had become… dare I say it… emotional!

What I learned that day was that my emotions are driving my behaviors. While there are other parts of our lives that are important to us, we need to realize that we are emotional about those elements, which is why they are important to us. My emotional, spiritual, and physical are all intertwined. They each affect each other and, in turn, can affect us and our behaviors.

Not everything we do is driven by our emotions. Not every behavior is dictated by some emotional discharge in our brain. But the majority of our choice of words, our responses to life’s challenges, our performances (for good or bad) are driven by our emotions.


I’ve slowly moved to believe that the majority of my emotional, spiritual, and physical are linked. Every day I am working to be aware of myself and the effect of my actions and emotions on others. Since that workshop ten years ago I have developed my emotional intelligence. But it is a daily journey.

Even though I have been actively working on this for ten years, the other day I was very low on blood sugar because I had not eaten in over eight hours and sure enough it affected my behavior during a stressful meeting. After the meeting I grabbed a quick bite to eat and… Bingo! I suddenly felt enormously better and quickly realized, “Steve, when are you going to learn to stay fueled?” I could have simply snacked on something healthy before the meeting to restore my blood sugar and I would have been able to balance my emotions more effectively despite the intensity of the meeting. I would have had a different result entirely.

Play Big: Key Pointers

  • Be self-aware of emotions driving your behaviors
  • Eat more often- especially healthy snacks
  • Work on yourself first
  • Understand how emotions drive our behaviors
  • Watch you moods and attitudes, they are contagious

Play Big Training

Steve’s one day training on Emotional Intelligence for Extraordinary Leadership will transform your team’s effectiveness.

Harness the power of the Number 1 predictor of professional success and personal performance

  • Perfect for sales teams
  • Team organizations seeking better performance and results
  • Managers and leaders becoming effective in bringing out the best in the team
  • How to build fierce loyalty with customers using Emotional Intelligence

For information regarding keynotes, training, and leadership coaching call or contact Steve via his website, email (, or call him at 425 681 9871