A Second Chance at Life with John Kriesel, Motivational Speaker & Veteran

If Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was writing his incredibly popular book, The Power of Positive Thinking, today he would need to add a separate chapter on John Kriesel. In 2006 Kriesel was nearly blown to shreds by a 200 pound roadside bomb in the parched sands of Iraq. He died three times and was shocked back to life. Somehow he survived through four hospitals, 35 surgeries and months of recovery. He lost both legs and suffered numerous other major injuries, but it was the loss of two close friends that hurt the most.The guy who wasn’t supposed to survive and was told he probably would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life walked out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center after nine months. His transition from military to civilian life offered many challenges, but his amazing support system, positive attitude and sense of humor allowed him to bounce back stronger than ever.

In 2010 he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives but decided not to seek re-election when his family said they wanted to spend more time with him. He is director of veterans services for a County in Suburban Minneapolis, MN, a part-time personality on KFAN Radio, motivational speaker, and co-author of the book, “Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel,” winner of 8 national book awards.

In this episode, John and Cindra discuss:

  • The warrior’s mindset
  • His “second chance at life” perspective
  • Lessons he learned in the hospital
  • Strategies to respond to adversity and challenges
  • Why it is essential to not compare our adversity to others

“Everyone has challenges in their lives, but it’s how we cope with it, not suppressing it.”@johnkriesel
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“We all go through adversity, that is a guarantee in life.”-@johnkriesel
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“It doesn’t matter the adversity or how big or how small, what matters is the attitude you bring to the table that will help you overcome that and help you overcome anything in life.”-@johnkriesel
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“Stop, enjoy the view and be thankful for it.”-@johnkriesel
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“A positive attitude, a sense of humor, focusing on the good things in your life, that will get you through it and also make you appreciate those blessings in your life.”-@johnkriesel
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Full Transcription:

Cindra Kamphoff: Alright hey everybody joining us on Facebook, this is John Kriesel so welcome to the high-performance mindset john crease oh it’s so great to have you I’m really looking forward to speaking with you today and sharing more about your story and what you’ve been through the last 20 years or so.

John Kriesel: Yeah it’s been it’s been an interesting run.

Cindra Kamphoff: There we go well, maybe to start us off john How would you describe what you’re passionate about now?

John Kriesel: I’m passionate about life my family just trying to make the best out of every day now. I live in cottage grove just south of St Paul here in the twin cities with my wife Kayla and we have a now 19 month old baby girl Chloe and we don’t even know at 18 months after that is it just year and a half or do we I don’t know if we say that much anymore, but she’s visually 19 months old I work full time as a veteran service officer for a county in the twin cities, I am on KFN one day a week I’m a motivational speaker former state representative. So yeah so after all of that I just focus on trying to make the best out of every day now.

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, there we go and I heard john speak to our NSA the national speakers association chapter of Minnesota and I was really excited about when you said yes to this interview, because I think your story is incredibly powerful and people who are listening can learn a lot from you. So let’s kind of just get started with your work and let’s just maybe start with tell us about what happened that day in 2006?

John Kriesel: yeah so I volunteered for deployment to Iraq, shortly after deployment to Kosovo and then nine months into it, we were on a patrol to go check out someone had been digging in the road we’re on another patrol and we got redirected because a drone spotted somebody digging in the road at checkpoint three, four, which was about two miles from where we were at when we got the call there were two vehicles, there is a tank ahead of us we’re a fully up armored Humvee there were five of us in the vehicle. So we headed that direction and I remember calling in the checkpoints from the map letting our headquarters in our location on our way to go in and check out with this individual was doing, we were we were certain that he was buried in a bomb in the road because that’s what they there’s no other reason to dig in the middle of a dirt road so. Sure, as we were almost there we got to check point three and we rounded this corner this 90 degree turn for the last stretch of road before getting there, and as we rounded that corner, I remember hearing this metallic plink this loud like metallic like sound I was briefly knocked unconscious I don’t remember flying through the air and I don’t remember, okay hitting the ground but I remember waking up on the ground, it was short enough after the blast it was a short enough time after the blast that rocks were still falling I hadn’t yet open my eyes, but I heard rocks hitting the ground rock city metal sounded very much like a hailstorm I heard my buddy yelling what’s going on what happened so there’s a lot of chaos and confusion. I joke that I didn’t want to believe what had just happened but I’ve been a Vikings fan my whole life so I’m used to the worst-case scenario in any given time period before that day and now I won’t even I won’t even get into the to the jokes about the Vikings

mark I won’t kick them all they’re down I’m a die-hard fan, they’ve caused me a lot of heartbreak so anyway. I didn’t feel a lot of pain I didn’t feel any pain I just felt kind of warm and edgy I felt like I was kind of twisted in it contorted position, so I knew I had been injured but I didn’t know how severe it was I looked down, and I saw that my both bones in my arm my own my radius were broken so that was hanging there. I was very concerned about that, so I held that against my chest that I looked down and saw that my left leg just above the knee was connected, maybe buy a piece of skin but probably my pant leg is what was holding it together my femur was broken and it’s sticking out my right leg below the knee looks like I stuck it in a wood chipper and was bleeding a time so at that point, I was convinced that I was going to die so thankfully my friends in the vehicle ahead of me, we all go through combat lifesaver training and I’m very thankful they paid attention in that class so they came rushing back to our location couple of them perform first aid, one of them state john up in the turret to watch her back with the main gun and keep radio communication with the medevac helicopter as they were headed our direction and to my to my body’s worked on getting tourniquets on my leg stopping the bleeding get me stabilized and ultimately they saved my life. So yeah it was it was a it was quite the quite the incident it’s obviously changed my life entirely but after that I was in an eight day coma medically induced think that first field hospital that has shocked me back to life, three times which I didn’t know until the author of my book, still standing Jim Cosmo was interviewing everyone that was involved in the incident and my company commander had been at the hospital when we are brought in and said that I had been shocked back to life, three times, so I didn’t know that, until a couple years after I got home when we’re writing the book, I learned that and thought wow I knew I was close to dying, but I didn’t know really how close so. New field hospitals in Iraq one field hospital in Germany them back to the United States net and nine-month recovery to learn how to use my prosthetics multiple other lifesaving surgeries and 14 years later life is life is pretty darn good.

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, and I think what I was most struck with was your ability to be able to cope with all that and to be able to kind of see the good that’s come from it, even though you lost to your friends right so maybe just tell us a bit about the journey of you’re in Iraq than Germany and these fields, hospitals and you come to the United States, you know well, how are you feeling during that time?

John Kriesel: It was like a loneliness of like there’s you can be in a room full of people and people that you care about and my ex-wife was there when I when I got brought back, we are still married at that time my dad and my sister and my half-brother flew out, so I had people around me, but you still kind of feel alone because it’s tough, you have a warrior’s mindset you’re in war you’re fighting for you have a mission, but you’re also fighting for one another, the guys to your left and your right to have the guys I’m responsible for two of my closest friends died in the blast the rest of my guys end up having to go back into battle doing their job day to day the rest of the guys in the unit and they’ve got a mission to carry out you don’t really get to pause and grieve you got to get back to work, and so I felt like I just been yanked from the fight and I was away from my family that I had an Iraq and it’s just tough and then you learn, you know Korean Brian died, and then on top of it because of my pelvic injuries, I had a shattered pelvis, amputation just above the Left knee amputation just below the right knee so I

lost both legs in the blast. The things I like to do, I like to play sports I like to golf I like to do all kinds of stuff that was like okay that’s probably never happening again, so all of this, like at once, and then yeah all right, you got a nine month recovery, you may never walk again whatnot I mean it’s a lot it’s a lot to take it at once and at 25 years old what’s know I feel like it’s very young it’s a lot to chew on.

Cindra Kamphoff: So a couple of questions I have is you know just kind of talk us through how did you come to terms with that and will kind of help, did they give you and I, you said you were Walter reed so kind of and I’m also thinking about what you just said, like this warrior mindset, you know of like don’t show any weakness right like be strong and tough, so you know you can just tell us about what that recovery was like?

John Kriesel: Okay yeah it was um. So I mean, as you learn all that you have to really it takes a bit to absorb it and, obviously, learning that Korean Brian died that’s ultimately kind of what snapped me out of my Funk, I was devastated about it it’s war, so this kind of stuff happens, but ultimately I’m responsible for them, and so there is a responsibility that you feel, and I will feel for the rest of my life, and I know that it wasn’t our fault it wasn’t my fault it wasn’t staff sorting nelson’s fault it’s just the way it works, but ultimately it’s my job to bring them home safe and that didn’t happen so you have that to deal with, but I realized that they’re gone and regardless of my injuries I got a second chance at life that they didn’t get and I’m pretty sure if they were given the chance they would have they would have absolutely said it yeah I’d be more than happy still continuing my life just without a couple legs and having recovery ahead of me, and so it really gave me perspective and from that moment forward I said I’m not going to sit and feel sorry for myself, I don’t have time for it, I want to get back to Minnesota and start my life and really kind of move on from this well to do that it’s going to take a lot of work and if I sit and look and dwell on the past and stuff that’s already happened that I have no control over we’re not really going to get anywhere and so that was kind of the first thing that I was, like all right because in full, honesty and it’s another reason I’m very glad that I was awake after the blast when I was laying there and saw my injuries heard my blood squirting into the ground, and I was like I’m not going to survive the fact that I did survive and I woke up in the hospital, I was like thank God, thank God I’m alive and so that really was like it could be a lot worse, I still have my arms and my hands and I just got to work my tail off to get out of the hospital and get back to Minnesota.

Cindra Kamphoff: And so you know I remember you saying with the NSA Minnesota folks and I think I also read on your website that you say you don’t want to suppress that that that memory of your day right or that day and it might be easy to do that so tell us a little bit, you know how that day fuels you now, and why you don’t want to suppress it?

John Kriesel: Sure, I mean if you think about me when I tell the story to people that a lot of times they’re like that’s insane and I feel the same way there’s it’s reality for me, so I don’t think that it’s ever going to change but i’d still kind of hard to believe, even as long as i’ve had to deal with it now, and where prosthetic legs and stuff so I say in the morning, when I take my shower and then I put my pants on my legs and then I put my legs on that’s a reminder of that

day, and it really is because my legs are never going to grow back and thinking about that in the morning, starting my day with that is just like you know what hey I’ve got challenges ahead of me, but it really is a reminder of how lucky, I am just to be alive not just I mean just being alive, but now on top of it i’ve got a career, I love i’ve got a side gig that I love speaking to people and sharing my story i’ve got an amazing Why is a beautiful little daughter that that i’m just so thankful to have and so all of this is just If nothing else, what happened to me as his helped me kind of focus on life and my family and really soak in how lucky and fortunate I am.

Cindra Kamphoff: And I will also hearing like a some gratitude there, you know that you could be wishing things would have gone different but that you’ve accepted what’s happened and then just being incredibly grateful for where you are now do you feel like tell us a bit about that journey to get to that perspective was it immediate was it a year later, you know when were you able to kind of besides that moment, where you just realize that you are lucky to be alive when you’re you know your two buddies were give us a sense of what that journey was like just coming to terms with like putting this all into perspective?

John Kriesel: mm hmm um yeah it was a lot of work and that’s the thing is now I feel like I’ve got life by the horns and I’ve got everything figured out which of course I don’t nobody does but after it happened, I mean I didn’t want to talk about it, but they I was in a hospital bed without legs I wasn’t going anywhere and they right after I found out Korean and Brian had died there’s a doctor Dr Cooley came in and he had said tell me everything you remember about the blast I couldn’t get through a lot of it because I was very emotional it was extremely traumatic he’s like take your time, and you know I’d get through it a little bit and then all right, continue when you’re ready I would continue and we get through it and then okay talk about it again, and then they set you up with mental health care to just talk about it and give you coping mechanisms and so you do that on top of it without getting into the details I I wasn’t in a great marriage at that time I was married to someone else so it was kind of a blessing in disguise, because, while I had assistance with hey Can you help me carry this or lift this I have that but I didn’t have a partner, so I had to get through this alone and I have a wonderful support system my army buddies live near me they would do anything for me, in the end they do, but I didn’t want to burden them, I wanted to just kind of hold it it’s a military thing and it may not be healthy, but it, it was twofold I didn’t do it obviously alone because I was talking to psychiatrists and psychologists whenever I get them mixed up and they were giving me the tools to cope and move on with my life, but at the same time getting back to Minnesota once I got back here is when I truly started growing as a person, because I had to do things every day I had she would go back she had to go back to work. I had to get the step kids to and from school and all that, so I things to do, but mentally and emotionally, I was very much on my own, I was on my own, and I had to figure it out and deal with it and I’m glad I’m glad I wouldn’t change any of that all of that stuff that goes on, it makes you a stronger person and it helps me appreciate my life, a hell of a lot now and my wife I’m very thankful for her my current wife and yeah, so it is it’s a it’s a lot of work and a lot of people are like Oh, you made it seem so easy I didn’t I just don’t advertise what I was feeling down or something now I almost never feel down I’m just thankful guy but everyone has their days you know.

Cindra Kamphoff: Well John I appreciate you saying that there’s a great Byron Katie co and she says like life happens for you not to you and that’s the perspective that I heard you just take right like it was difficult to go through, but I mean to say that you wouldn’t change anything you know, is you know incredible I was, I was not injured by the Boston marathon bombing, but I was there and so I had some trauma I had to go through, just like being right there, but it was also the day that kind of woke me up to my purpose and what I was supposed to do and I feel like I was kind of playing pretty small with my life, then, and just trying to impact people, the way that I can but it’s like I see you know, and I was an injured, you know more like psychological, but like physically not injured, but I still see that day is like so important in my journey and to say that you wouldn’t change anything, maybe might seem like wow really eye opening to people so maybe dive into that a little bit more like what would you not change about it and how has it helped you become the person, you are today?

John Kriesel: Sure, and obviously the bomb blast itself in Iraq, I would absolutely change that if I if I think i’m just not wired to think that way, because I know that I can’t change it it’s over and done with I met more of like my recovery afterwards and being married to who I was married to it pardon me but it didn’t make me where I just was dead to emotions or anything like that no I just I really I had to take the lessons that I learned in the hospital yeah those mental health professionals and I had to apply it, and I mean when you’re in that situation it’s like you think when you get home from the hospital everything’s going to be great and I have that hope and then I got home and it wasn’t that reality and everyone would say How are you doing, how are you because it was a very public story my injury and the recovery of care 11 followed me and so i’d run into people and distant family and dissident friends be reaching out and be like, how are you doing now that you’re home and help, and I was really spending a lot of time convincing everybody that I was great and everything perfect and it wasn’t I was really looking back on it, trying to convince myself and I didn’t realize at that time that it’s okay for things to not be okay that it’s normal everyone has challenges in their life but it’s how we cope with it not suppressing it and I didn’t my army buddies who I said, are the closest people that I have on the planet they were a little bit irritated at me after the fact, because they didn’t realize that everything was going on in the marriage, that it was and you’re like why didn’t you talk about about that i’m like well you know it’s one of those that I have to get through it, on my own now I realized since then what a hypocrite I am because I tell them if something was bothering you got to tell me, I can help you through it we just talking about it feels good, so I learned from that and I know now that there’s nothing that I should be keeping from them, but yeah it but, again, it did help me grow as a person so it’s I don’t regret it entirely how I handled it.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah well, I think you said that they’re really powerful like it’s okay to not be okay, and I know you know there’s athletes, for example, Michael Phelps has come out recently in the last couple of years, saying that and just with his you know struggles with mental health issues, you know, and I think that’s a really important message that you just said is like sometimes we want to suppress these negative feelings or you know just kind of like move on, but it’s Okay, not to be okay, and just by embracing that, then you ask for help, or you get the social support that you need.

John Kriesel: yeah absolutely.

Cindra Kamphoff: mm hmm give us a little sense of maybe some of the tools that when you were at Walter reed in the work that you did give us a sense of like what helped you there?

John Kriesel: I think, having physical therapy every day and having a goal setting goals is so very important because I once they said they had to put together my pelvis had to do a surgery and put bolts, through my pelvis into my spine. So then, once that happened, they said okay you I had to lay flat for like 12 weeks and let it heal once it healed they said, your it’s healed enough that you can now bear weight on prosthetics so from the start, it was this is a terrible pelvic injury, we are not very sure that you’re going to be able to walk again on prosthetics so then I learned that OK, I can wear prosthetics and we’ll see what I had a goal that i’m going to walk out of the hospital so then having that every day like just be very driven and then after a while I would do physical therapy every morning that I doubled up, and I would do two sessions today because there’s nothing else to do in the hospital doing that kept my mind right and I hate when I had I was always looking forward at that getting back to Minnesota you know and there’s always there’s always something to do there’s always things that are going to help me achieve my goal so that’s what got me through the nine months at Walter reed.

John Kriesel: So yeah that’s I think that answers your question, perhaps.

Cindra Kamphoff: yeah that’s great I think you know, like doubling down on your rehab to make sure that you could reach that goal, but I also heard like futuristic thinking like you’re thinking about what you could do what you could become right so like this kind of this thinking about your future self not just like feeling sorry for what you had right now, right?

John Kriesel: I’m looking at the bright side of things, trying to do that, I mean now, I get the best parking spots I get to drive up to the Green on the golf course, and again I like stuff like that, when I was at Walter reed and again just kind of a loan my prosthetist and I have to be careful how I say that he loved golf and he was like let’s go out and swing the sticks and he brought his tools with me to make adjustments to my prosthetics so instead of just being between the parallel bars all the time started doing that it helped me work on my balance swinging while on prosthetics and it kind of became a passion that now recently has been reignited but again stuff like that, where I would be if it was a crappy day i’m like at least i’m going to go to the golf course this afternoon after my therapies and all that and it’s going to be a great day, and so yeah all of it just kind of shapes you, but you have to let it, you have to let it, you have to not reject or not reject help and I don’t know.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah and I also hear like some acceptance in that right like acceptance of what happened but I’m also John I’m thinking about people who are listening, either on Facebook live or on the podcast and I’m thinking about gosh with COVID right now there’s so much change and adversity, maybe, people are struggling with the physical injury or cancer, you know there’s so many things that we struggle with and I just recently read a quote that said, you know, like the problem is that we think all of our problems are unique and that really

like we all have the same problems and that that was like I was like yeah you’re right, you know, so what advice would you give to somebody who is going through challenge or adversity, or just coping with something right now that feels very big in their life?

John Kriesel: So it’s what I try to never do is be like is comparing someone else’s adversity to mine, or vice versa, because it’s not going to help anyone to be like what are you crying about you at least you have two feet, you know what I mean it’s yeah it’s explaining that we all go through adversity, that is a guarantee in life, and we all went through some shared adversity. Since the pandemic began, but whether it’s at work, whether it’s a divorce, whether it’s a work issue, whether it’s a family issue, whether it’s something in your life we all go through that and it really it’s about attitude it doesn’t matter the adversity, or how big or how small, what matters is the attitude you bring to the table that will help you overcome that overcome anything in life alright well and, for me, a positive attitude and a sense of humor. Yes, you know the good coping that my biggest coping mechanism is humor whether it’s a room full of people i’ve never met and it’s kind of an uncomfortable situation I like to use humor to disarm If it’s something that just because i’ve been through some stuff that sucks so bad that you all you can use just laugh about it, where you’re just like I mean words can’t even explain so having that mindset really choosing to focus on the good and I work hard at this now because we like I said we all go through it and it’s been a tough year for people is, we all have so many blessings in our life, but a lot of times we either take it for granted, or just don’t really focus on it and appreciate it and I try to do that every single day is just slow down and enjoy life appreciate my dog I can’t believe how fast she’s growing I feel like she was just born and she’s already a year and a half full. My wife my amazing wife how supportive she is how excited I am at the end of the day, to be able to see her and hang out with her.Those are the things and I don’t care how bad someone’s life is they all have positive things in their life Those are the things we need to focus on and then, when you’re doing that it becomes a mindset, it becomes a habit and then, when you have a bad day that’s all it is it’s a bad day doesn’t become a bad week badmouth bad year small bump in the road.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah I think that’s a great perspective john and I think you know from the brains perspective, our brain is here to look for things that are wrong right like when you were a soldier you still are a soldier, but like i’m thinking about when you are in war like you have to look for things that were wrong to keep you safe, you know and so, our mind is looking for the danger?

John Kriesel: yeah so notice the danger and then this happens, but yeah that that’s an excellent point is that our mind isI think we’re kind of tailored to like you said kind of focus on what’s wrong what needs to change and let’s face it, our social media addiction that our society has and our addiction to getting news, right now, it fuels that it feels that negativity is that that’s what gets clicks you know i’ve noticed, for example, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine three more weeks ago there was all the news stories on Twitter the links were that all know it’s only 85% effective and people are like oh my God, this is devastating this terrible news, but if you read the article it said that after 28 days it’s 100% effective at preventing death and preventing heart hospital oceans that’s pretty darn good news to me but guess what that wouldn’t have

got clicks, and so the fuels people’s mind like the news, and I joke about in my speech is that you watch the news first 10 minutes tragedy that sadness, you get the other part, it because that’s what gets people to tune in and so that our minds is kind of get used to that it’s not good i’m kind of opposite in my wife gets a little bit annoyed sometimes I don’t blame her Like Oh, this is bad or something’s bothering and i’m like listen focus on the good focus on the good and sometimes she’s like this, let me have a bad moment here okay everyone grieves differently, but yeah weird time to be alive, you know.

Cindra Kamphoff: Isn’t it? but even what you said is like sure you can have a bad moment but then you know not letting it continue to a bad day or a bad week or a bad month and John I was reading this Stat That said, if you watch a news first thing in the morning you’re 24% more likely to have a bad day or report having a bad day. So, because I think you’re right like we could see wow it is 20-85% effective, you know I mean there’s always like a different viewpoint that you could take on any situation it’s just like are you allowing yourself to see the good and what you said is like focusing on the good focusing on the growth and, like slowing down and just noticing the good I think we’re in this sometimes in this rat race that it’s like you know gotta be better than so, and so, and so, and so that we don’t really even take time to like appreciate the small things and in psychology would call this the track the savoring right like savor the good things in the good moments?

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes, absolutely, that’s my we just got back from a vacation we went to San Diego to visit my father-in-law and his girlfriend went out there and I enjoy is a little bit off the rails by reading this book called golf is not a game of perfect.

Cindra Kamphoff: Dr Bob. Of course, its one of my favorite books.

John Kriesel: And it’s amazing and it has a lot of life lessons in there, too, which I love just mindset stuff I eat that stuff up and my goal last year was I’ve got no legs I’m never going to be a great golfer I wanted to break 100 well last year I did well this year on my first round of the year, I got 93 and then the next round was 89 so I broke 90 even, now and looking at it, I was so focused when I went up there, instead of like when I golf here a lot of times it get to the driving range and I’m like all right time to get perfect everything’s got to be great and perfect get dialed in out there, I was on vacation happy to see my father in law on his Gal and be around palm trees and sunshine, that I was just outside playing a game and Lo and behold, I had I tied my best round ever and then the next round I broke my best round number, so I mean that shows the like you said the pressure that we add about whatever it is, I focused on because I knew we had just left below zero weather in Minnesota. The fact that I was outside by the ocean with palm trees golfing was a gift was it was awesome, and I was savoring the moment enjoying it not even really focusing on the game too much and look what happens.

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, there we go and I think to myself when I’m trying to be perfect, and I really work to let go of those kind of perfectionist tendencies sometimes they creep in but like can I just be present over perfect and I think like that’s well you know you were just so present and in this like beautiful state of just like looking at all the is appreciating all that was around

you instead of just like pressing or pushing so hard to play a perfect ground and then, and then you did it right yeah you just said something like you saw it as a gift and I heard you say this before that you think you know, every day, is a gift. How would you suggest we use that mentality, or anything that specifically that you do decide to continue to see the gift and even the difficult moments?

John Kriesel: Right um So for me I’ve got the Internet back in 2006 to really be like i’m on bonus time right now that was I shouldn’t be here. I’m thankful that I am but not even looking at it that way, because a lot of people, while we all face adversity, a lot of times it wasn’t near death, but just kind of looking at the fact that we live in the United States of America is such a blessing, that of course it’s very flawed but it’s still the greatest place to live the things that we take for granted on a day to day basis the things that we complain about people on the other side of the world would give anything to have the problems that we have stuff like that is just really slowing down to look at the count the blessings in our life not waiting till thanksgiving and the holidays to be like you know what I’m so thankful that I’ve got an awesome Father in law I’ve got an awesome friend and in TIM and Todd the guys that helped save my life and we’re there for me and I racked instead of waiting till the end of the year, around or just the time I spend with them to focus on that really year around being like focusing on how good is my life, how instead of we all have things in our lifetime, you can say I wish this I wish I had this I wish this was going on in my life, but we all have good things, and by focusing on that, like I said it helps you really appreciate the gift, it is and to get even like super deep. I mean How did we get here how did I wake up with this life, you know how did you wake up with that and it takes a lot of work, of course, you had to do a lot of schooling, you had to work very hard it didn’t come without work, but if you just work, work, work, work, work and don’t really stop to be like wow i’ve come a long way things are good then what was it for you know I mean you’re impacting lives and stuff but also it’s good. You know the longer the climb to the top, the better the view right well what if you don’t look at the view and you just keep trying to climb for something that’s not there, stop enjoy the view and be thankful for it that’s kind of how I try to live my life.

Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome what a great message for people like just being grateful, you’re around not just when it’s Christmas or thanksgiving or when you’re with a person, but look at how great your life is and all the blessings that you do have how have you used humor in this process, you know you said that that was really hope that helped you move forward?

John Kriesel: I mean a number of ways that I think the way that I use it most often is to get other people comfortable with my situation when I’m wearing shorts it’s very visible that I’ve got a I’m a little bit different than other people and so adults try so hard not to look at my prospects that I’ll that I’m like it’s all right, because they’re clearly uncomfortable they don’t know what to say that’s why I love kids are kids and they all walk by kids are like robot legs and their parents are like oh my God and I’m always like hey come here, but what do you have questions I’ll explain, and then the parents are like oh my God Thank you well that’s a wave, you know, to make someone comfortable well with adults and no kids I use humor to disarm. I use humor just because it’s if you laugh laughing feels good laughing is the best medicine for

anything I had something earlier this week is an annoying day I won’t even call it a bad day and I watched something that just made me laugh, there are some something on instagram and then I watched a netflix comedy that I stumbled across and It made me laugh, I completely forgot about what happened that day and again, though it wasn’t a big problem, but it was annoying me, you know humor and making us laugh is medicine, but also, I try to make other people laugh and feel comfortable with my situation, because then they’re like Oh, he is he’s just like me, he just doesn’t have legs and that that’s this kind of one coping mechanism.

Cindra Kamphoff: And you know from your perspective, do you do you want people to ask you about you know your the robot legs?

John Kriesel: No, no, why because I think some people are, hesitant right they don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.

Cindra Kamphoff: What would you suggest that you know what would be the takeaway that you give us related to that?

John Kriesel: So yeah there will be people like if we’re in a situation are there even there are some there are some adults, that that will ask they’ll say, do you mind telling me what happened, and while some people might take that as rude. I don’t because, again I enjoy sharing my story I enjoy even if I have a tiny impact on someone’s day that maybe they’ll walk away and be like life is good life is good and so just give me a chance to kind of share quickly what happened now tell the full story, but I’ll say I got injured in Iraq and they’re like oh I’m so sorry I’m like don’t be its life is good and I ran into someone at the golf course when I was in in San Diego and they came up and asked they’re like is this military related and said yeah briefly told them and they’re like oh i’m so sorry, thank you for your service, you know, and I was like I appreciate it, but look at this beautiful whether I’m on a golf course. You know, and so yeah I feel like that, because if people feel uncomfortable asking something they act different they’re not truly themselves and then there’s stop fun for anyone.

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah excellent well John I’m so grateful that you spent some time sharing your perspective I know it’s helped me like take a step back and think about all the great things in my life, I tried to practice that as well, but you know it’s like always a great reminder to take a step back and I really appreciated just this idea of I wrote down several notes, you know, like I liked what you said about like everyone deals with adversity, but it’s about your attitude and your use of humor that really helped you when you were in the hospital Walter reed you know, like this future casting or you’re thinking about the future and setting goals like helped you double down on your you have and just this idea of being present not perfect in golf I’d like to I like to I love that you’re reading Bob Rotella his book and then just not taking everything things for granted and looking for the good. Do you have any final well, first of all, before I ask you, the final advice, people can obviously go to your website tell us a bit about how we can contact you for speaking or find your book?

John Kriesel: Yes, so John creases calm and it’s KRIESEL.com is my website on there, you can find my speaking, and for my book info a little bit more about me in ways that we can connect I’m also on Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn all of those I’m on Instagram I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram those are Those are some of my favorites so yeah that’s I’m pretty easy to track down for people but yeah it’s a it’s been a pleasure chatting with you, and what else that you wanted me to answer oh here’s a final question.

Cindra Kamphoff: As we wrap up is there, you know any final thoughts, you have for us or parting thoughts like anything that you wanted to just mention again or anything that you would tell us to move forward within our lives?

John Kriesel: Sure, just to reiterate that I’m I don’t want people to look at what happened to me and go well, at least I have legs or anything like that know whatever adversity you face is obviously the most important adversity in your life, because if you’re going through it, but a positive attitude, a sense of humor focusing on the good things in your life that will get you through it and also make you appreciate those blessings in your life, and if you do that year round, instead of just waiting for the holidays, when you have a bad day or a bad moment it doesn’t even become a full bad day it doesn’t become a bad week or a bad month or a bad year you’re focused on the good and it becomes nothing but a little bump in the road that’s a mindset that we can train ourselves to get in and then, when we do have a little bit of adversity, we can shrug it off and move on and grow from it.

Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome Thank you john for being here today on the podcast I’m grateful for you.

John Kriesel: You got it thanks for having me and enjoy the rest of your week.