With his TEDx smash hit “What is your Polygamy?” gaining a million views in less than 2 months, Lance Allred, with his 5 Principles of Perseverance, is the first legally deaf player in NBA history. Known as “The Lion,” he is a Best-Selling Author of Basketball Gods and Longshot; and is an expert on Leadership, Perseverance and Grit.
Standing at 6’11, and born with 80% hearing loss within a polygamist commune before he escaped when he was 13, Lance has had people all of his life placing limitations on him, but he never listened: he couldn’t hear very well anyway. With a world of stories and setbacks, Lance will take you and your audience on the inspiring story of his indomitable spirit and how eventually, through his own Will and Choice, went on to become the first deaf player in NBA history.
Quick Notes on Lance Allred
Who comes to mind when you think ‘successful’?
Anyone who can pick and choose what opportunities and hours they want to work. Anyone who is not beholden to their social media and doesn’t think their worth is attached to how many followers or likes they have.
Anyone who is able to “be in it, but not of it” in this game of life.
How I will define success for me, is when I can decide between speaking at a Fortune 100 Company or a school for at-risk youth… and I can choose to go speak to the school.
Who comes to mind when you think ‘punch-able’?
Anyone who laughed and applauded when Donald Trump openly mocked someone with a disability.
What advice would you give your 20 year-old self?
I would tell myself, “Your self-worth is not attached to the outcome. Remember this, always.”
What’s the crappiest job you’ve had?
I played for a team in Venezuela, during a toilet paper shortage and riots. Never going back to Venezuela.
What would your theme song/entrance music be?
This brought back a fun memory. There was a team I played for in Mexico that would have us individually pick a new entrance song for every home game. One game I, of course, had Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” And then the one that brings the biggest smile to my face is when I chose, Spandel Ballet’s “True.”
What person, living or dead, would you choose to help you make decisions?
Wayne Dyer. I don’t have any regrets in life, except for the fact that I never got to shake his hand and tell him, “thank you.” He helped me work through suicidal depression a few years back, post-NBA depression.
What books have you most commonly gift as presents?
Wayne Dyer books. Shel Silverstein/Dr. Suess. But as of late, I have been gifting, The 1-Page Marketing Plan, by Alan Dibb, which is an excellent book for any entrepreneur.
Favorite metaphor and why?
Einstein gave me my favorite metaphor, which is, as your circle of knowledge expands, so to does the circumference of darkness surrounding it… meaning, simply, the more you learn in life, the more you learn how little your know.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
If you could relive ONE moment in your life, which would you choose and why?
Oh boy… There are so many powerful memories I would love to experience for just a minute longer. I would say the rush of my recent TEDx Talk, that now has over 1 million vies. When I was on the stage, speaking in that moment, I had so much clarity, I was entirely present and alert. It was the clearest my mind has ever been.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up and I stretch. I use that stretching routine to also meditate. I am an athlete and I am kinesthetic. Sitting cross-legged like a Buddhist Monk, doesn’t really work for me with meditation. But if I am stretching, holding long pauses, I am not only getting blood flowing and releasing stress, but focusing on the breathing and the clarity of my thoughts will appear.
If you could only leave behind 3 truths of life as your legacy, what would they be?
This truth I know:
It always your choice. Everything is your choice. You choose.
- You choose the stories and perspectives of your experiences that you wish to tell.
- You choose either more pain, or you choose clarity.
- And lastly, again, the more you learn in life, the more you learn how little you know. Don’t short change your life and your experiences by believing you have all the answers.
Best tip/strategy for overcoming self-doubt?
Great example, before I stepped on the stage at TEDx, I had a lot of anxiety, even fear. But then I had a moment of clarity where I said, “Mother Earth, this is my gift to you. I am not taking or selling anything. I am simply giving you and them a gift.” If you are functioning from a place of giving, from a place of integrity, always true to who you are, being the same person in every room you walk into, you cannot fail.
Best places you have traveled to and the cultures you most liked?
New Zealand is hands down my favorite place I have ever played basketball. It is a stunning and gut-wrenchingly beautiful place. And the people there will give you the shirt off of their back. Incredible people.
What is your greatest fear? (What are you afraid of…the real day-to-day fears…things that make you nervous… are you ever awkward?)
As a single father, there is always the base, natural fear of “What will happen if I can’t provide for my son?” As a speaker, I am an entrepreneur and self-employed. I retired from basketball 18 months ago to be a single father to my son. And so, it is has been a tough 18 months, of transitioning careers, going through a divorce, being a single father, learning and mastering this new craft of speaking. There were many days and weeks there, where it was very touch-and-go. Eking out meals for me and my son, stretching the dollar as far as I could. The fear of my son going hungry, was a very real and base fear. But we got through it and since the TED Talk, things have really shifted. But I always knew, if I just kept “showing up,” every day, being true to my vision and honest in my doings, it would all work out.
What is your biggest frustration right now?
People who don’t pay. People who don’t follow through on their word. Hands down.
What attributes, actions or behaviors contributed to your success (made you an outlier)?
I have 5 Principles of Perseverance that I discuss in my keynotes… along with being extremely, extremely stubborn, my 5 principles are:
- Accountability: Do I take ownership for my mistakes and shortcomings? Do I even take ownership of my thought patterns? Not just my actions and emotions, but my thought patterns?
- Integrity: I ask myself one question every night before bed- Was I the same person in every room that I walked into?
- Compassion: Compassion protects you. By my giving the kids that bullied me when I was young, and coaches in the future, compassion, but wondering what was going in their life that made them want to inflict pain on me, knowing that people who inflict pain are in pain, I was able to not take things personally and make it about me.
- Discomfort: I have a high threshold for discomfort and pain. Physically and emotionally. This is not to say it is easy. But how uncomfortable are you willing to be to get what you want out of life? Most people have a low threshold. They will stay inside their comfort zones. I never had the luxury of comfort zones, being legally deaf and having to learn to read lips and being in speech therapy until I was 16. I didn’t have the amenities to learn sign language in rural Montana.
- Leader of your own life: It is my life. I choose, whether I acknowledge it or not. I choose to let others influence me, discourage me… It is my choice. Everything in my life experience is my choice. If someone wants to try and take my choice and agency away, it is my choice in how I respond… or do I react. I choose. I am the leader of my life, and I am no one’s victim. It is my choice, the stories I choose to tell inside my head.
Are you involved in philanthropy?
I have recently founded a non-profit called “Courage and Grit.” The Mission of Courage and Grit is to use sports and the arts to inspire overlooked youth, be it: refugees, First-Nation, inner-city, rural, and other, by giving them opportunities to attend sporting camps facilitated and organized by world class athletes and artists.
These kids will get the opportunity of a lifetime to be coached by world class professionals, for free, when they then in turn, turn around later that afternoon and help coach special or other-needs kids, (deaf, autistic, wheelchair etc.) This is designed to teach the targeted youth how to give and donate their time, but also give them perspective and help them learn that gratitude is the highest emotion we can possess, which also leads to success.
What were your most formative experiences?
Oh too many to count. As far as deaf, polygamist kids making the NBA I have sort of cornered that market… Religious abuse, escaping polygamy, failures on the basketball court from which I chose to bounce back every time, abuse from college coaches, setbacks overseas, not being paid, making the NBA development league with a $900 dollar monthly salary, making the NBA, losing the NBA job due to the 2008 economy. Marriage. Divorce. Being a father. TED Talk. Sheesh.. and that is just the cliff notes.
What are your best time management hacks?
As a single dad, I simply manage my time by deciding with a quick test: what is worth my time to pursue right now? What is the ROI? The best time management hack by far and away, is learning how to say, “No.” “No, I am sorry, I simply don’t have the time and don’t want to waste your time by promising you something I really don’t have the time to do.”
Also, a great time management hack is hiring freelancers, be them free interns at the local university, or freelancers overseas on websites like Fiverr to do your “busy work” like design logos or book cover art or edit a blog post for me etc… cheap and efficient labor that allows me to focus more on the broad strokes of my vision and not bogged down with busy work.