We all have alligators of varying strengths, some bigger than others. Just like in the swamp, one really big alligator can affect the behavior of all the others.
Alligators you say? What are you referring to here? All I have is a pet cat!
I’m talking about those things in life that feed your self-esteem, the things that you can either have working for you or working against you. A bad alligator feeds fear and keeps you from taking steps to move forward, and from becoming a better person. They lead you to hide your weaknesses which in turn become bigger than your strengths. On the other hand a good alligator can stir your spirit, enabling you to find the muscle to look at the mirror and say “I’ve had enough!” Choosing to stand up for yourself and fighting back builds the momentum you need to reinforce positive thoughts.
You will never be rewarded with a better life until you are ready to fight back for a better you!
Most of us already know what to do, or at least where to get started. It’s buried within our subconscious, beneath the layers of distractions and procrastination. I’m talking about the need to eat healthier, exercise more, manage our time and money better, manage our relationships better and put an end to bad habits! We need a positive mindset, and a different way of thinking! None of this is new.
The truth is many don’t think they can follow through. As a result, fear of failure sets in and that is exactly how you feed the bad alligators. Remember, what you choose to feed will grow. I learned that with my kids, and boy did they grow! Seriously though, what you choose to feed will continue to get stronger, and how much you feed it will determine its size!
You have the choice.
You can feed the bad in life or you can choose to feed the good. The key point to remember here, or to at least keep in mind, is that it’s always easier to feed the bad. It’s simple human nature. It’s easier to be negative than positive. It’s easier to tear something down than to build something up. Once down that road of negativity, a mental pattern of self-destructive behavior develops making it harder and harder to turn things around. By the same token, if you make the mental choice to invest in yourself, and do the right things, it becomes easier and easier to think positive, and feed the good alligators. It’s important to understand that both varieties of alligators, bad and good, never really go away, they just come in different sizes and hide in different waters. Remember, if you think you can’t….. You’re right! On the other hand, you can make a choice and choose to look at things differently, because if you think you can……you’re also right! It’s your responsibility in life to understand the importance of choices, and the impact those choices have on yourself and others. It is essential that you understand how important these symbolic reptiles are, and the different roles they play for each one of us.
I am hoping by sharing some of my story, I can help you, just like others have helped me. Let me start by telling you where I am today, which is the end result of feeding those alligators the right way!
I’m a man of faith. I’m a husband to my soulmate and wife of 38 years. I’m a father of 2 boys and one girl. I’m a grandfather. A grandpa to Luke and Levi, twin boys now 4 years old. I’m a fisherman, and boy do I love to fish in the open ocean! Any day on the ocean is a good day!
What I do is educational seminars all over the world, over 100 a year! I have a consulting company called Dodge Development that is based entirely on helping family-owned businesses take it to the next level! We have an extensive and through process that covers every piece of a company’s structure, all under one roof! Our goal is to set our client’s on a path to double in size, and have a waiting list of prospective employees ready to work. I also do executive coaching, which is a more personal one on one experience, designed to help that individual be a better leader and get more done. I’m an author of two published books, The Good Life Rules and Becoming the Obvious Choice, both of which have seen more than a million copies distributed worldwide. I also produce educational programs that over 10,000 nationwide companies use as ongoing training!
How have I been able to achieve so much, and be so blessed when I started with so little?
I learned how to tame my alligators, that’s how.
My purpose in life is really simple. I want to reach into people’s hearts, and wake up the good, inspire them to be better fathers, better mothers, better husbands, and better wives! I want those that already have a lot to be even better, and those that don’t to have a path, a light at the end of the tunnel, and common sense ways to achieve their goals.
The first thing I had to learn, which did take some time by the way, was how to like myself and be happy with just being me. Life is just way to short not to be happy, and way too long to not find a better you! When you have the insecurities I lived with, you realize that you are in fact two people, the person people see on the outside, and the person you know on the inside.
That leads me to this story.
Last year there was a phone call that came into my office, one of those phone calls you never forget. The guy on the phone was asking if I was available to speak at an event in Austin Texas. The irony is the meeting was a group involved in the sheep industry, and I happen to have a real passion for agriculture and ranching. I’ve been a part of those industries since I was a small boy, and I was really honored to be chosen as their keynote speaker.
Then I found out who was going to be in the room. Professors, professors from all over the United States, the top educators in the industry!
You have to understand something, I wasn’t a very good student. I was like the designated “class clown”. I had a problem reading out loud, not because I couldn’t read, but because I lacked the self-confidence to do it in front of an audience. I was the guy that would be half way through the exam while all my classmates were leaving! It forced me to speed through the exam just so I could finish when everybody else did! I didn’t want to be the subject of discussion or ridicule amongst my peers. I knew that I had a learning disability, which I didn’t fully understand, and therefore I tried to hide it anyway I could. It was a real handicap and a real challenge for me, something I struggled with mightily for many years!
As I was thinking about all the professors in the room, the excitement I felt when I got that phone call, the honor and privilege I had in front of me, I realized something. I’m not that same kid in the back of the class anymore. I’ve tamed my alligators. I’ve helped my alligators become my friends, not my enemies.
As I was introduced, I looked around, kind of like one of those outside looking in moments, and heard the muffled murmur of the crowd as they sized me up. As a last minute burst of self-motivation I said to myself, “These are all top of the line industry professionals, professors that teach others, educators that inspire today’s young people, and here I am teaching them for the next two hours!”
The program itself proceeded to turn into an extended program and actually went for two and a half hours! They were all completely engrossed, attentive to my every word, and literally sitting on the edge of their seats! Upon conclusion, they gave me a 5 minute standing ovation that actually brought a tear to my eye. It was at that moment I had a flashback and remembered where I came from, the people along the way that helped me get there, and the people in my life currently that continue to support me.
After the program, I ran into a familiar face. His name was Chief, or that’s what we called him anyway. He was a professor at the University of Nebraska, my ala mater. As he shook my hand he said, “What a pleasant surprise! If anybody had come to me and said I’d be sitting here today listening to Bryan Dodge teach a two and a half hour seminar, have my undivided attention and focus, I would have told them they were nuts!” I laughed and said, “Glad to see you too Chief!”
I share this story because it illustrates that there is hope for all of us. Allow your gift to be a major part of your life, and the possibilities and what you can accomplish are endless!
I’ve always said God has a great sense of humor. Ironically, I married a teacher at age 20, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. The lessons my wife has taught me have been tremendously eye-opening! She taught me how to study, how to be a good student, and how to listen. She taught me how to be a leader and not a follower, how to take a test, how to trust my knowledge, how to prepare in the mind, and how to teach others! Without her I would never have been able to overcome those bad alligators, and turn them into the tamer alligators they are now. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key in overcoming your challenges. There was once a pretty smart guy back in the first century that had some really good advice. He said “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” Remember, that ultimately your personality is the end result of the people you spend the most time with.
In addition to my wife, there have been other people in my life that have had tremendous influence. Let me share with you a few things they’ve taught me.
My father taught me to always be happy. Happiness is a choice and obviously it’s better to be happy than not happy. He would always remind me that if I’m not happy, don’t tell anyone. That’s a prime example of what feeds the bad alligators. He also taught me to live forward and learn to let it go. We all make mistakes and we all mess up. It’s the ability to let it go that allows you to live forward. Most people continue to live in the past with the whole would’ve, could’ve, should’ve mentality. This is another example of what feeds those bad reptiles! Another thing my father taught me was to never, never, never, (and yes he would say it three times) give up! It’s not over till it’s over! Last of all, by his actions and not his words, he taught me how to work hard! A good long day of productive work is not a bad thing, and breaking a sweat in the warm summer sun is nothing to look down on. My ability to work hard has provided the substance I needed to build a better me! I’m certainly not the smartest guy on the planet, but I can work just as hard if not harder than almost anybody!
Not to be out done, my mother certainly taught me a thing or two as well! She taught me to be good to others and take care of each other. Learning to take care of yourself is key, because how can you be of benefit to anybody else if you can’t be of any benefit to yourself?
We must also learn how to live in a different manner, one that has a positive path. My mentors have taught me many things, but there are three things that really stand out.
Be flexible. Be flexible to move in the right direction, and quit wasting time trying to conquer something that doesn’t necessarily need to be conquered!
Be adaptable and learn how to blend in with different environments and different situations, because doing so will help you become a better person!
Last but not least, be strong, and not just when the going is good, but also during times of adversity.
Find the qualities and attributes that are inside of you, the things that inspire you, and motivate you to take it to the next level. Do this, and you’ll be well on your way to taming those bad alligators.