Jordan Levin’s guest this episode is Paul Forchione, a mindset coach at A Call To Action who was born with cerebral palsy. It was so severe that the doctors told his mom that he would never be able to walk. Thank goodness for a wonderful mom and a great mindset, that wasn’t his story. He was able to overcome it and is now able to live a very active life, however it wasn’t easy to get to at that point. Today, Paul shares his story with his clients to help them rewrite their own stories to go after their true dreams and desires.
Listen to the podcast here:
Paul Forchione – Mindset Coach At A Call To Action
Paul Forchione was born with cerebral palsy. It was so severe that the doctors told his mom he would never be able to walk. Thank goodness for such a wonderful mother with a great mindset that wasn’t his story. He was able to overcome it and is now able to live a very active life. However, it wasn’t easy to get to that point. As a mindset coach, Paul shares his story with his clients to help them move out their own stories to go after their dreams and desires. It’s an honor to have you here, Paul. Welcome to the show.
The moment you embrace your story, things will start opening up for you.
Thanks, Jordan. I’m happy to be here with you.
This is going to be a very interesting conversation. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the similarities that you and I have, even though we are discussing different types of abilities versus disabilities. First of all, I want to know what does it mean when you have this disability? What was going on at that time? What did your mother decide to do and why did she decide to go one route versus the other route?
First off, let’s go over what cerebral palsy is so your readers know what that is. It happens at labor. It’s lack of oxygen to the brain at labor and as a result of this lack of oxygen to the brain at labor, it can lead one side of the body paralyzed. It can affect your speech. There are a lot of things that can happen with it and it’s permanent. It does not go away. When I was born, I wasn’t moving on the right side of my body much and my mom was concerned about this. She took me to the doctors to get testing done to see what was wrong with me, why I wasn’t moving the right side of my body. After the testing was done, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
At the time, the doctors thought it was so severe that I would never be able to walk. It would be a good idea when I got to a certain age to get me ready to be in a wheelchair because that was going to be my life going forward. Thank goodness for a great mom, that’s not what happened. She got a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and finally found a position that was willing to help me. With that physician’s help, I was able to walk at age three, which was huge. The other doctors thought I was never going to be able to walk and with this physician’s help, I was able to walk at age three, which was a tremendous feat for me.
Did you remember yourself at that age?
I don’t remember myself at that age, but I do remember at 5 or 6 being put into soccer. At the time, I could probably run about 25 to 50 yards. That’s about it. The other kids are running laps around the soccer field. They are playing soccer and I’m standing there. I remember saying to my mom, “This is ridiculous. I don’t want to play soccer anymore. I’m just standing here.” I remember my mom telling me, “If you don’t want to play soccer anymore, that’s okay but we got to honor our commitments. You have to finish out that soccer season. If you don’t play soccer after that, that’s your prerogative.” That’s exactly what happened. I finished out the soccer season and I haven’t played soccer since.
I love that because that dedication and having that support system is so crucial. The fact that your mom went to many different specialists and finally found the one that gave her the answer she was looking for. I can relate to that in my situation. It wasn’t until I was 25 years old when they found out about my hearing loss. We have a similar situation of doctors telling my parents, “He’s not going to be able to speak or hear.” Even when I was born, they said I will have a lot of physical disabilities. I didn’t have any physical disabilities. It’s more of the hearing side of it. During those first couple of years, both of us missed all the opportunities to grow as a baby in those first few years. The fact that both of us were able to overcome that shows the perseverance on both on our ends what we actually remember or not.
It was a tough rodeo for me because of the fact that I was only able to run 25 to 50 yards. Thank goodness though, I had surgery on my right foot probably about 6 or 7 years old and it was a game-changer for me. It tightened up the tendon on my right foot and it took away the pain that I felt when I was running. I didn’t test it out yet, but I remember going to a different school. I changed schools and I remember my first day of PE, Physical Education. I remember doing our stretches and the teacher was saying, “Run a lap,” and I’m like, “Here we go again.”
I’m going to run 25 to 50 yards. I’m going to have to stop and these kids are going to see this and they are going to start teasing me because of the fact that that’s all I could do. Because the surgery was different, I remember going past that point where I normally have to stop and I remember telling myself, “Come on, Paul. You got this. Keep going.” I finished the lap with the other kids. On the outside, I kept it cool but on the inside, I was like, “Yes.” The first time of my life where I fit in with the class. I felt like I ran a marathon and all I did was run a lap. I didn’t stand out but I felt like one of the other kids. It was a magical feat for me.
Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
How old are you at this point now?
I was about 6 or 7 years old.
What was your experience from 3 to 7? Were you worried about being picked on and bullied? Did you have some of those friends that helped you and stood up for you or were you on your own? How did you navigate through that?
From 1st to 6th grade, I didn’t have that issue because I grew up with these kids. They knew me a little bit so it wasn’t an issue. It became an issue when I changed schools in seventh grade, which is a tough age to change schools. Not even having a disability, but just being a new kid alone is hard during that time because they already have their cliques. We’re going through hormonal changes. We’re becoming teenagers. There is no filter. They say what you’re going to say. There is nothing holding them back. Just that alone is tough. Having cerebral palsy, because I still walk with a little bit of a limp and I still hold my right arm differently, I came into a situation that was even tougher for me. At that point, I was bullied and teased every single day. They didn’t know me. They saw this goofy kid with a limp and right arm and they let me have it.
On top of being at a new school and that was going on, how did you tell yourself to overcome that? How did you handle it?
For the first year or so, I wasn’t handling it in a good way. I was going into my room crying myself to sleep saying, “Why me? Why do I have to be different? Why can’t I just fit in with the other kids?” Around the same time that this was all going down, I was raised Catholic and my mom wanted me to go to Catholic high school. I had to take an assessment test to see where I was at academically. I must have bombed the test because when I met with the principal and my mom, the principal tells us, “We are going to put Paul at the lowest level possible. By his test results, I don’t expect much from him. He is probably not college material.” After one test, the principal says that to me and my mom. I’m bullied and teased in school. I’m overwhelmed with a lot of emotions.
To answer your question about what I did to overcome it, at a certain point in my eighth grade, I was sick of being angry and sad all the time. Those were my go-to emotions because that was the environment I was in at the time, angry and sad. I knew deep down that that wasn’t my go-to emotion. I’m a happy person and that’s my go-to emotion. I thought to myself, “What could I do to distract me from these feelings that I’m feeling all the time?” At the time, I love baseball so I said, “What if I tried to make my varsity baseball team?”
From then on, I played fall ball, winter ball and spring ball. If I wasn’t doing that, I was throwing a tennis ball against the walls. I was doing this constantly. This is what happened. I didn’t know this at the time, but looking back now, this definitely happened. I had a different energy shift. I had my shoulders up, shoulders back, head up. I was putting out different energy towards these kids and as a result of this different energy that I was putting out to these kids, they were putting different energy back towards me. Instead of bullying and teasing me, they started rooting for me. My junior high career was much different than my high school career all because of my energy shift. That’s what I did to overcome the bullying and teasing.
I can understand and relate to that aspect of it. I didn’t have quite the same experiences, but I agree with your energy level. We manifest whatever energy level we perceived out there. You were doubting yourself and you had this switch. That’s the thing. This is completely different. One of the things that I used to do, and I didn’t realize this until I was a little bit older looking back, is I’m trying to get people comfortable with me. That is all I’m trying to do.
I went to the Michigan State hockey field in the summer. I don’t know a single person who will be staying in the dorms for the whole week, the hockey team. What I ended up doing was demonstrating how far down the hallway I could read someone’s lips and the kids always thought it was fun. That was my internal subconscious way of getting people comfortable with me, even though my speech might not have been 100% perfect or I wasn’t the greatest hockey player. I tried my hardest and I had a blast doing it.
In these situations that both of us had been in, the readers need to understand that it’s how do you perceive the situation and how do you react to the situation. It, therefore, dictates what other people see around you. It often brings up our heightened awareness. It increases our vibe and frequency that will make us unique. We are both unique, but you are unique in your own way because you have developed yourself and your own special superpower. You take advantage of that and it manifested in yourself.
I concur with exactly what you said and that is exactly what happened. My frequency changed and as a result, I had a different result back from that frequency that I was putting out there. Thank goodness, with hard work and dedication, I was able to make my varsity baseball team as a junior and a senior. I was elated by it. I had a good high school career and then I graduated high school. My baseball career was over, but I started to think about what that principal said to me when I took that test in junior high that I wasn’t college material. Through high school, I just did enough to get by. I did enough to stay eligible to play baseball because, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “What’s the point? I’m not college material. Why waste my time? Do enough to get by and then scoot on.”
I didn’t have that great of grades. I thought, “I accomplished this great goal. Somebody with cerebral palsy making a varsity baseball team.” At the time I made the goal, I thought it was near impossible to do and I was able to do it. I think, “Why not set another goal for myself to say that I am college material?” I enrolled in a junior college because that was the only place that would accept me at the time. I got myself a regular tutor. I got myself a math tutor. I went to the math lab. I did everything necessary to increase that GPA and I was able to increase it from 2.0 to 3.5. I was able to transfer to a four-year university where I was able to graduate. I still wanted to go back to that principal and say, “You were wrong. I was college material.” In the end, I feel like I should thank her for giving me that carrot to go after as hard as I did. I don’t know if I would have hit the books as hard as I did if I didn’t hear her voice saying I wasn’t college material. In the end, I should thank her.
I’m proud of you. That’s phenomenal. I had a similar story. When I was in elementary school, the principal of the elementary school did not want me in that school. My parents had to sign up on something before he let me into the school. We have to look at these negative situations. The fact that both of us were able to turn that situation around is astronomical. I was told I won’t be able to speak and I won’t be able to do all these things. I learned that when a baby learns to speak, they learn to babble. In order to learn how to speak, you have to learn how to babble first. I was able to pick that up after I missed that 2.5-year window of speech and language.
In elementary school, I’m pretty much not having any understandable speech. Talk about being bullied about that. The unfortunate thing is because of my hearing loss, I did not hear those things. Even if I did, I didn’t let it bother me. I would just brush it off. My buddies would stand up for me at that time in elementary school. Back in high school, I went to the counselor but my grades weren’t great in high school. They were decent enough to get into college. I said, “I’m going to go to the community college.” Somehow, I ended up not doing that. Instead, I went to Michigan State. Don’t get me wrong, the four years at Michigan State were not easy. There was challenge after challenge.
When I enrolled in a class, I had a teacher with a thick accent and a thick beard. For me to sit up in front of the room and tried to read what the professor was saying is pretty hard. I called my dad and said, “Dad, would you call the professor and get me out of that class?” What do you think my dad said? He said, “Jump in boy. Do it yourself.” I went to the head of the department and I explained the situation. I got out of that class and got a new different class. I thought about this whole never taking no is such a strong pursuit. I think that is what’s happening to you.
I can’t explain it and I know you have it too. It’s that fire in the belly to go after the things you want to go after and not be worried about the actual result but just going for it. Your situation is the same thing. It’s like, “Let’s give it a go. We don’t know what the result’s going to be, but if I don’t try, it’s definitely going to be a no, so why not give it a go?” I don’t want to regret anything. My biggest fear is regret and not doing something that I had an opportunity of doing. If I feel like I want to do something, I do it. If I fail, I can live with the failure, but I don’t know if I could live with the regret of not doing it. That’s the mindset of my life and how I treat my clients.
I agree with you that you can’t explain it. Until the other person recognizes that, then they’ll understand where we’re getting at.
It is that way. My mantra with my coaching is this, “Do not give up your pen. It is your pen to write your life story. Don’t let anybody write it for you.” All through my life, people try to take that pen from me. People try to take that pen and write my story and I did not let them. It’s the same thing with you, Jordan. You have kept your pen and you have written the story of your life. You kept that pen and you wrote it yourself. You didn’t let anybody else write it for you and that’s what I want to do for my clients. Don’t let up your pen. It’s our lives. It’s what we want it to be and that could be anything. Some people want to be a CEO of a company. Some people just want to be a stay-at-home mom or dad. It does not matter. It’s whatever you want it to be and go after what you want.
That’s an excellent point because I always believe that the older we get, the smarter we get. I’m not saying we need to have regrets. There are no regrets, but most people regret whatever they did. If you did, that’s fine. If there is something you really want to do, do it now, try it out and see what happens. That is what we are talking about. What I’m curious about is, how did you get into this coaching? I believe you worked for Corporate America and then you went on your own. What made you decide to make that transition?
You have to be patient. You got to do the things that you got to do.
I was in the mortgage industry for a long time and I was good at it. When 2008, 2009 hit, the economy changed. I would get hired at a company and the company would go belly up, and then I would have to get another job, and then I would have to get another one. I started to lose the luster of the industry. In one of the last mortgage companies I was working at, they brought in this motivational speaker to talk to our sales team to pump us up to get us excited to bring in more loans. The guy blew me away. The guy was tremendous.
I went to talk to him after the presentation and tell him how great of a job he did. He allowed me to pick his brain a little bit. He said he started as a life coach. I’m like, “Life coach? What the heck is that?” He explained that to me and I’m like, “Maybe that’s what I want to do?” That is when I got my coaching certificate. I started putting out in the world that that is what I wanted to do. The people in the mortgage industry would humor me. I go, “I want to be a life coach.” They’re like, “Life coach, go out and get loans.” After that, things started to get serious.
Who cares what they think? It doesn’t matter.
Things started to get serious because I got my website up. I got everything going and I was going to do it as a side gig just to get going. The company I was at the time, the legal team got wind of what I was doing on the side. They said, “This could be a conflict of interest. Let me examine this a little bit and then I will get back to you.” They examined it and they come back with a five-page report of what I can and cannot do as a coach. I’m like, “There is no way I’m going to make any traction as a coach if I follow this to the T. If I want to do this, if this is a passion for me, I’m going to have to make some changes here.”
The first thing I did was I paid down all my debts and that took me about a year to do. I changed all my spending habits and then I quit. They were so surprised and dumbfounded like, “Paul, you just made President’s Club. What in the heck are you doing?” I’m like, “I want to try being a life coach.” They are like, “You are not a life coach. I don’t even know what that is. You’re a mortgage loan officer. You are good at it. Stop this nonsense and get back to work.” I’m like, “No, I’m out.” They are like, “You’re going to be back.” For the longest time, I thought I was going to be back because I was failing quite a bit at being a coach. The reason why I wasn’t doing so good at it was because the story I told you about having cerebral palsy, I didn’t want to tell anybody that story.
I’m with you on that one.
All through life, all I wanted to do was fit in with the other kids. I didn’t want any special treatment. Treat me like everybody else. When I brought up that cerebral palsy or whatever, I would almost be in tears talking about it because I did not want to go there. I thought to myself, after a while of coaching and not working, I go, “How do I expect these people to be vulnerable with me if I’m not vulnerable with them on where I’m coming from?” The moment I embraced it, the moment I embraced my story and start talking about my story, things started opening up for me. People come to me and go, “I don’t have cerebral palsy, Paul, but I have this and I think you can relate to me. I would like to work with you.” Slowly but surely, I built it up. It was all because of me embracing my own story of having cerebral palsy that has catapulted me into another realm of coaching.
That’s me for a long time. I have talked about it. I consider myself hard of hearing and I never talked about it. When I started the gym years ago, my marketing director at the time helped me develop the gym story and it has been pretty great. I took it a step further of digging deeper. I agree with you. People appreciate us being vulnerable because people can relate to that story or something different. The challenge that we overcome, other people can relate to that. That is why becoming a coach is the perfect thing for you.
I also think about this way in life, whether you grew up “normal” with no type of limitations or whatnot, we are all human beings and we all have flaws. We all have something that we want to improve upon. When you look at people who talk and say that they are superheroes and there is nothing wrong with them, that they are perfect people, nobody can relate to that because that’s not reality. People relate to other people that gone through some struggle and go, “I’m with you there. I went through the same thing. I want to talk to you. You can help me.” If you come up there and you talk like, “I’m Superman, this and that.” People are going to tune out because it’s not reality. The moment that you start being vulnerable with your own story, that’s the moment you grow. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
That is incredible. That is one of the biggest things we can all learn. I’ve been saying this for years. For me, it’s always been, “Never take no for an answer.” There are a lot of noes that you are going to get. People tend to pull back when they hear the word no. They say, “That’s it.” Both you and I know that that’s not it. Keep going. You are teaching people how to get to that yes. When you get to that yes, everything opens up.
The yes I want them to get is the yes inside themselves. The thing that I care the most about with my clients before they go after any type of goal or anything else, the first thing they need to do is to love themselves right this moment. Not who they were in the past, not who they think they want to be in the future, but right this moment. They have to love who they are right now. The moment they do that, then they can take on whatever they want to take on because you know as well as I do, when you’re in a good mood and things are going good, you are more productive. You want to go after it. When you are sad and angry, you are not productive. I want to make this point. I’m not telling people not to be sad or angry. That is not what I’m saying. We are all entitled to feel sad and angry. I feel it all the time. We all do.
We do that every day.
We do but what I’m saying to you is this, there is going to be a moment when you are angry or sad, you are going to say to yourself, “I don’t want to be angry anymore. I don’t want to be sad anymore.” That is the moment we need to change. The easiest way to change that right then is gratitude. Think about something that is going well in your life right this moment. It could be your family, friends, job or your life. Whatever that one thing is. You could be having a crummy time and go, “I’m alive and I’m able to change the situation.” Whatever it is, focus on that because our mind goes on what we focus on. How many times do you buy a car and you drive that car around, and all of a sudden, you see that car all over the place? This is the same thing with your mind. If you seek your mind for positivity, positivity is going to come back to you. It’s the same thing with negative. If you seek a negative, negative is going to come to you as well.
You are speaking my language. I love my wife, my family and all that stuff, but there are times when something negative happens. I’m pretty quick to bounce out of it. That comes from experience. I might dwell on it for an hour or something and then I move on. Whereas for most people, that will affect their whole day, week and month. It keeps compounding. Get that process of switching it. Having gratitude, I absolutely loved that part of it. That is perfect. I wouldn’t change anything about that. With all the coaching that you do, what advice would you give somebody who is thinking to get into life coaching and business coaching?
The advice I would give to somebody who wants to become a coach is to figure out first, do you really want to do it? When you’re on the outside of it, you go, “That sounds something fun and good.” It is and it’s very rewarding. I’m so glad I did it because I have talked to tremendous people all over the world. It has been a great journey for me, but I’m going to tell you, it is not easy. If you think you are going to jump in here and clients are going to just come on the boat and say, “We got it,” you got another thing coming. You got to be patient. You got to do the things that you got to do.
I post a lot on social media and sometimes I’m like, “I don’t want to do it,” and I go, “No, you got to do it. You have to be relevant. You got to tell people what you do over and over again.” Sometimes you are thinking, “This is not working.” It is. It just might not work now, but they might work a few years from now. If you want to become a coach, you got to look at it as a long game. Do not look at it in six months thinking that you’re going to make millions of dollars and be Tony Robbins. That is not the way it is. That is not reality. If you have a passion for it and you want to go after it, you can be successful and you can do it, but don’t expect that success to happen in a month period.
I have been doing this coaching and speaking for years and I did it with the local schools and whatnot. I took a break for a couple of years and now I’m playing the long game as you said in terms of speaking. I do a lot of networking. Don’t get me wrong, I get these negative thoughts of, “Should I be doing this?” I tell myself, “Stop, just keep doing what you are doing. You are going to get to where you want. You just need to have patience.” When I walk up to my clients on health perspective, it’s the same thing, “Show up and be consistent with your workout and you’ll get to where you want to be eventually. It’s just not going to happen right in this second.” With all this craziness we got going on with the world, what do you do to recalibrate? How did you keep yourself centered? How did you re-ground yourself?
What I love to do for myself is I love to take long walks. I don’t have any music with me. I do have my phone with me for safety purposes but I try not to look at it at that point. I try to open up my senses, the sense of smell, sight, whatever it is, and be present with nature or whatever. I know it sounds simple, but it helps to let your mind wander. Often, especially us, we are entrepreneurs. We are always constantly thinking, “Why should I be going here? I did this, I did that.” It’s great to have your mind rest a second and let your mind wander and think about things it wants to think about. It is a good recharge. Meditation is awesome. I need to be a little bit more focused on it. I need to do it daily. I do it quite a few times a week, but I need to do it every single day and I have time to do it. I can make time to meditate. I can and I need to do that. I need to focus on that on a daily basis.
That is our bigger point in this. There are so many different types of meditation and recalibration. For me, it’s playing my sports, hockey, water skiing and surfing. I also took up mountain biking. I have a bunch of stuff going on. I kept saying, “I got to get out,” and I finally got out. It’s having a clear mind, clear body and ready to move on. Especially with technology, social media can be good and bad. The bad side of it is there is too much noise, negativity and too much stuff. The positive side is finding the people that you want to follow who’ll bring you joy, happiness and is willing to help you get to that next step.
It’s impossible to compete against somebody else. Just worry about what you are doing and keep going.
Often, we look at social media and you are like, “That person’s way ahead of me.” You then feel bad about yourself, “Look at how good this person’s doing over here and I’m not at that level. That person started after me and this and that.” Stop that. Do not compare yourself to anybody else. You can’t do it because you do not know where their starting line is and you do not know where their finishing line is. It’s impossible to compete against somebody else. Just worry about what you are doing and keep going. If it’s a passion of yours, whatever that passion is, keep going. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Worry about what you are trying to do.
I’m with you. I’m hoping that people read that last statement that Paul had just said. It is very important. Whatever your passion is, keep going. People need to understand that. It doesn’t matter what you do. If there is something you haven’t done in 20 or 30 years, do it now. The last question I have is, what brings you joy?
There are a lot of things that bring me joy. I will tell you something that brings me joy and since you’re a sports person, you will appreciate this. One of the things that bring me joy, I’m a baseball guy as my story that I told you. I like to go to a baseball game early. I like to get in when the gates open. I like to sit there with a friend, hear the crack of the bat, and talk to my friend about baseball, life or whatever. There’s no real agenda, just sitting there watching batting practice with a good friend. That to me is joy.
Now that you said that, it brought me back to some of my times with my grandfather and my father. We used to go to the Detroit Tigers games and we would go early. You talked about the crack of the bat. The thing with that is I had to learn what that sounded like. Others take that for granted but I had to learn and understand the timing of the ball when it hits to make sure I can hear it. That is a very distinct sound so I 100% relate to you in that aspect. There is something about being at the ballpark, getting that nice hotdog, whatever you guys get for food and stuff. It is the ambiance of being out and watching the game. Even if you’re team is not winning or anything else, you are just focusing on the game. Tell the audience how we can get ahold of you and how we can contact you for coaching.
Thanks. I appreciate that. The easiest way to get in touch with me is through my website, ACallToAction.coach. I even have a free guide on there on how I was able to rewrite my story, how you are able to rewrite your story, and how to maximize your day. It’s free. You can go on my website and get that. I started a group where, Jordan, you are a member. Thank you so much for joining. It’s called Rewrite Your Story on Facebook. It’s a group of people. We get together and we motivate each other. We inspire each other and we have no judgment. If you’re down, post something and we’ll lift you up. If you have something great you want to share, we will celebrate with you. We would love to have you on there with no judgment.
You have said it multiple times, “No judgment,” and that is a very powerful word because you have to choose what that means. Especially with all the things going on these days, there should be no judgment. You have to love yourself first before you pass on the no judgment. I’m looking forward to doing this again.
It sounds good.
Thank you for reading. Please check out my website for more great content at JordanLevin.com.
About Paul Forchione
Paul was born with cerebral palsy and it was so severe that the doctors told his mom that he would never be able to walk. Thank goodness for a wonderful mom and a great mindset that wasn’t his story.
He was able to overcome it and is now able to live a very active life, however it wasn’t easy to get to at that point. Today as a Mindset Coach, Paul shares his story with his clients to help them rewrite their own stories to go after their true dreams and desires.