#093: The Man Behind The Mask – Ninja Warrior Flip Rodriguez (TYR Wodapalooza 2023 Series)

Wednesday March 01, 2023

Ninja Warrior Flip Rodriguez was The Man Behind the Mask, until he chose to face his past and flip the script on his life. Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff sit down with Flip to talk all things American Ninja Warrior, how to compete on the sport’s biggest obstacles and what it takes to win when you know little about the course of your competition. 

They also share Flip’s story of childhood sexual abuse, the difficulty of accepting what’s happening, the dangers of normalization, and how he eventually took a stand and walked out. Flip shows us how to take charge of our own lives even when it seems we are all alone in our fight.

Listen to our conversation with Flip Rodriguez from Jumptwist Ninja in Boca Raton on your favorite podcast platform. Watch the full video version as Jessie trains Fran how to become a ninja on YouTube. 

Learn more about Flip on Instagram @youngflip7. Read his book The Man Behind The Mask and flip the script on your life. Get involved in the fight against child abuse at and support Flip’s partnership with the Barbara Sinatra Children Center Foundation. 

Follow Jessie on Instagram and FB @jessiegraffpwr

Click here or use code JED for $10 off your first order of Modballs.

Read the full episode transcription here and learn more on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. 

Listen to the podcast here


About Flip Rodriguez

12x American Ninja Warrior / Twitch Streamer: FlipRodriguez / Book Author


The Man Behind The Mask – Ninja Warrior Flip Rodriguez (TYR Wodapalooza 2023 Series)

We all wear a mask at some point in our lives. Some of us wear a mask to hide something and others wear a mask to show something off but what happens when that mask defines you and allows you to become someone else? Free from judgment, critique and your past. What happens when the mask also prevents you from moving forward? Ninja Warrior Flip Rodriguez was the man behind the mask until he chose to face his past and flip the script on his life. Jessie, you told me we weren’t going to Miami without sitting down with Flip to tell his story and I’m going to tell you, you weren’t wrong.E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

I’ve known Flip for many years, both from Ninja Warrior and the film industry doing stunts. Like most of our Ninja friends, I’d always been impressed with his incredible athletic ability, work ethic and positive attitude but we had no idea what emotional struggles he was facing and the trauma he’d overcome or how he would change the world. In Season 7, he took off the mask and shared his story.

Flip was sexually abused by his biological father from age 9 to 15. He sits down with us in Boca Raton’s Jumptwist Ninja Gym to share his story of betrayal by the very person we’re told to respect, trust and admire growing up. Flip talks about the difficulty of accepting what’s happening to you, the dangers of normalization of abuse and how he eventually took a stand and walked out.

Flip also shares how he was able to overcome his trauma with the limited resources that a child has. From powerless victim to action and empowerment through stages of fear and then anger and defensiveness to building the strength and confidence to change not only his life but the life of every child who struggles with abuse.

I have done a lot of episodes on the show in the past years. Flip’s story is one of the most impactful we’ve ever told but Flip’s ability to take a difficult negative situation and put a positive spin on it and find the light and whatever difficulty you’re going through is contagious across everything he did. Not only did we get to sit down and tell this story about his life and what he went through but he and Jessie also taught me how to be a Ninja and I may have made it up the wall.

You did. I was super proud of you. It’s a full-size Warped Wall but so you know, you can’t stand on the boxes when you do the Cliffhanger.

I had to. It doesn’t matter. You’re the Ninja Warrior. I’m the show host. I got to do whatever it takes to get through some of these things. Learn from our conversation with Flip Rodriguez from Jumptwist Ninja in Boca Raton. Learn more about Flip on Instagram @YoungFlip7. Read his book, The Man Behind The Mask and flip the script on your life. Get involved in the fight against child abuse at and support Flip’s partnership with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation. Follow Jessie on Instagram and Facebook @JessieGraffPWR. Subscribe and follow @JedburghPodcast on all social media and check out the website, Once you’re there, click the Modballs logo for $10 off your first order.

Flip, welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast.

I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

We have to thank Christina for hosting us in Jumptwist Ninja. This place is awesome.

Thanks for the training session.

I spend a lot of hours here.

We came in and it was like the celebrities showed up over here. We had little girls crying. We are crying in excitement but it was awesome to see. This is a cool place and what you guys doing here is amazing. We’re going to sit down with Christina. We’re going to talk about the gym and what’s going on but the impact that both of you are having on youth. We’re going to talk about coaching in a little bit and the next generation of Ninja Warrior. It is incredible the impact that you see here on the sidelines when you’re both interacting with all of these athletes. It’s truly amazing. 12 times going on 13.

The American Ninja Warrior.

Yes. I need a hobby.

You got a couple more years with you.

I got at least ten. I’m hoping not though. I’m hoping that in my thirteenth year, I win it and I don’t have to go back to competing anyways.

I can’t imagine you ever wanting to leave the sport entirely. You are such a part of training.

No, not at all. Kids, you get to impact the world this way in different spaces. We compete in Germany and Sasuke in Japan and so many different places that I get to meet new people, impact new people and shred hope for the people that need it.

Especially the way you share such valuable life lessons with the kids in every session. I can see them absorbing and processing these things that are making them better humans overall. It’s amazing to see. I want to be like that.

You got to think about life. Life doesn’t care what age you are. If life is going to teach you a valuable lesson, it’s going to knock you down on the ground. You have to learn how to get back up no matter if you’re 6 years old or 36. It’s hard to teach those values to younger kids because they don’t realize what’s happening and they don’t understand how life works yet but if you start them off young, they’ll come to understand, “I got to keep going no matter what happens in life.”

[bctt tweet=”If life will teach you a valuable lesson, it’s going to knock you down to the ground. It doesn’t matter what age you are.” username=”talentwargroup”]

Should we tell them how amazing Flip is?

It depends on who is telling the story.

Jessie’s going to tell that story.

Flip was amazing at Ninja from the first time. I saw that you threw a front flip into the Jumping Spider on your first Sasuke adventure. That is wild. You’ve no idea how many people fall on the Jumping Spider trying to hit the trampoline and get into it.

I would call those my young and reckless years. Those are rookie mistakes to those things.

However, those are special opportunities that you have when you don’t realize how amazing the opportunity is. You have the freedom to give it everything and try crazy stuff. It’s cool that you got to do that for a while.

I am 21 on a national television show where you don’t know what’s going on. You’re so naive to that realm that you’re like, “I’m going to go play, have fun and do this.” Also, understand that G4 is going to turn into NBC in 10 years or 6 years or whatever it is. You don’t understand the opportunity that’s in front of you. I could have ruined my Japan moment. It’s one of those things where I’m glad it worked out better for me than it could have.

Very few people make it to stage 2 and you made it to stage 2 in Japan in your 1st year. How many times in total?

I’ve been to stage two 7 times and failed 7 times out of 12 years. Out of 11 years, I failed stage two 7 times. I haven’t been able to pass it until this past season. It’s finally broken the curse and it’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I don’t think people understand that we only get one shot at the course and we don’t know what the course is until we get there.

E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

“We don’t know what the course is until we get there.”

There’s no practice on the course.

No. You can’t touch it. You can get disqualified if you touch an obstacle. They don’t show them to you the day before. You’re getting your rules to walk through an hour before the competition.

You’re standing at the start and this is the first time that you’ve seen anything on there.

An hour before you get on the course.

There’s a lot of background that a lot of people don’t know. When we go fly into our city qualifiers, we have no idea what we’re coming into. They put us in our hotel and then we show up at the stadium. We do rules and regulations when they say. We typically are waiting around for two hours before rules in some kind of room somewhere. They are like, “Everyone line up. We’re going to go over here.” We go and do rules. We’re like, “Look at that. It looks interesting.”

We get so caught up in the six obstacles in city qualifiers that we sometimes don’t even pay attention to the rules. You’re trying to receive all this information so fast so you could digest it and then you could visualize it. That way when you go on the starting platform, you feel like you’ve done it 100 times. Have a plan. It’s one of those things where I wish we had practice because a lot of us would succeed a lot more and it’d be a much tighter competition if we had a little bit of practice or at least knowledge of it prior.

That would maybe make it more fun, easy and less stressful but the thing that’s so cool about Ninja is that it tests your ability to see something come up with a strategy and execute and when it feels nothing like you expected, improvise.

I agree with that as well. What a lot of people don’t understand is that Jessie might run later than I will. If I run at 10:00 PM, she might run at 3:00 AM because she’s at the end of the list as opposed to me being early on at the night. Jessie and I get there at the same time. We get there at 5:00 PM and we wait for the sun to go down. We do rules and regulations around 8:00 or 9:00 PM. They start half hour or an hour after the rules and then everyone waits until their turn. If you’re at the end of the list, you’re waiting all night at Universal Studios outside on the concrete. You hope it’s not raining or freezing because you’re going to be there cold.

This is reminding me of many pieces of training that I’ve been to.E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

I’m sure you’ve had it a lot worse and I’m complaining about the competition. I know that there is nothing to complain about it.

No, but you don’t know when you have to perform. That’s what it comes down to. In the Army, we talked a little bit about it after we did our recording with Colonel Battle from US Army Recruiting Command. We talked about jumping at parachuting. You’ll sit in that harness for hours waiting for weather, pilots and you name it all for 60 seconds. In that situation, you only get one shot at getting that thing right too because if you mess it up, it’s over. Let’s talk a bit about the first six years when you were the man in the mask. Talk about the mask. Where did it come from? What was the rationale behind that?

The way I like to put how I and the mask got involved was like the Cinderella slipper. Everyone tries on the slipper and then the person you least expected to fit is the person it fits. I was in a gym training parkour and freerunning at the time. One of my friends was cutting up this mask that got left behind in a cubby and he was super creative and drew on it. He made some cool artwork and then he tried it on everybody in the gym and I was the last one.

When he put it on me, he was like, “Flip, that’s yours now because it fits you so perfectly. It doesn’t fit anybody else.” We designed one of my first parkour core videos introducing the mask behind it. It kept snowballing from there and I didn’t know how much effect it was going to have on my life where I would have a second persona to a degree. Having a mask is like Peter Parker in Spider-Man. I always compare them. Everyone loves Spider-Man but nobody cares about Peter Parker and they think Spider-Man has all the powers when Peter does. It makes me feel like I’m a superhero when I have the mask on at those times.E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

You talked about it being this relationship between being a superhero and a villain. When you think about performance and we talked about being at the start of the course and having to visualize it and look at it, how did it help you in your performance when nobody does know who you are and you can go into this different mindset? What is that mindset?

It’s interesting to me with the mask on the starting platform because I walk into the show and have my mask under my hat hidden like Superman has his little uniform under his shirt. They call you up and are like, “Flip, start at the bottom of the stairs.” Before I even step onto a stage, I do my thing. I turn my hats aside. I pull a mask down. I make sure my hat is nice and snug and then they go, “Flip, walk up.”

When you walk up, people are like, “What is this guy doing? He is weird.” At that time, no one had a gimmick. I say gimmick because everyone now has a gimmick. For me, even though it was a gimmick at the time, it turned into a symbol and everybody else that follows my journey. It made me feel powerful and confident. I feel like I could take on the world. I know it sounds silly but that’s what it did.

E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

“It made me feel powerful, confident and feel like I could literally take on the world.”

When did you realize how symbolic it was?

It’s crazy because I’ll look back on my journey and think about the mask and how everything turned out. I couldn’t have written it better. When I took effect on the mask was when I took it off. I didn’t know how much I needed it or wanted it until I took it off. For Season 6, I took it off and then in Season 7, I talked about why I took it off. That led me to like, “I could do everything on my own.”

When life got hard, I was like, “I want to go back to the guy with the mask who showed no emotion and was a man who is tough.” I couldn’t do that without the mask. It was the weirdest thing. It was like the kid with a security blanket. As long as they had their blanket, they were okay. For me, it was one of those things.

If I had a bad season or an embarrassing season for me, what I would clarify as embarrassing, I wouldn’t want to show my face essentially. You see the mask but even though you know it’s me, I’m still badass. I’m Spider-Man. You can’t tell Spider-Man anything. It was one of those things where I had to lose it to realize what I had.

Why lose it? Why take it off?

I always talk about this all the time. J.D., who was one of the producers on the show, which Jessie knows very well, called me on Season 6 before filming happened. He’s like, “You’re going to be cast again for the show. Congratulations but I feel like there’s something more to you and the mask. I feel like there’s a story there that we could talk about and it’ll motivate a lot of people.” I was like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He goes, “Think about it. We’ll make it very nice.” He was trying to convince me. In Season 6, I took my mask off. I’m like, “I’m the man. You can’t tell me anything happened to me as my story.” I took it off to test the waters and then come Season 7.

Was Season 6 a good year?

Season 6 was when they introduced the Invisible Ladder and I fell right at the edge.

I would still call that a good year.

It’s a phenomenal year but I didn’t get the buzzer. If I don’t get the buzzer, I didn’t do well because that’s always the goal. For me, it’s always been to win the American Ninja Warrior. With Season 6 happening and me taking off the mask was a test to the Ninja community and the people watching. Also, for my performance, because it’s like, “If I’m struggling, you’re going to see it.” That’s not being covered up anymore. You get to see my vulnerability to that degree of how much pain I’m in on the show.

E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

“If I don’t get the buzzer I didn’t do well.”

What was your conclusion at the end of Season 6? Did you feel like you’d pass the test like, “I took off the mask and I did well,” or was the fact that you fell a little bit short on that Invisible Ladder?

The Invisible Ladder showed that I still had the guts and the heart to push through because everything airs later. My real test for the whole mask coming off and continuing to be off would be how other people reacted to it. I hate that I went that route because I’m putting a lot of opinions on what other people that don’t even know me think of me.

I see it as a con now but back then it was a pro for me because it let me learn to be who I was and it was okay to be who I am. Everyone took very well to me taking the mask off and that’s when everything started turning for me. I’m like, “I don’t need the mask because I am still me. I’m still Flip Rodriguez, not David Anthony Rodriguez.” It was very interesting taking it all off.

Did you say there were moments after that when things got hard when you were craving the mask again?

Season 6 was a good test. It’s like putting your toe in the pool to see if it’s cold. Season 7, when I was able to talk about my story, was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been in my life. I was vulnerable to a camera, one producer who was J.D. and then one camera guy. Being so vulnerable, after the interview, I’m still crying and stuff. It was done and I felt like I regretted it the moment it was over. A lot of people don’t know that because I realized as it ended that I told my story to a million people at least and I have no control over it. I lost control.

Go back to that part and tell us because I love the way you told me before about J.D. coaxing you into it.

J.D. is an amazing person because he saw something in me that most people didn’t see. He saw that there was somebody that was hurt and can motivate the world through whatever my story was. He kept pushing it. He was like, “Let’s do this. Come on. I’m going to make it powerful. We’re going to motivate people, do this and inspire the world.” J.D. had no idea what it was.

When I talked to him during the interview and I was sitting there, I was there for 30 minutes crying and stuff because I didn’t want to talk about it. He’s like, “No, take your time.” When I told him my story because the first time you heard, it was the first time I said it to the camera. I’m talking to him in my interview and his jaw drops. I’m like, “Did I do something bad?” I said something that people are not going to take well.E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

That whole process was executed perfectly for me to move forward with my life but as I sit back and realize, as a human being I am now, I’m like, “I would’ve probably done this a little differently so I could heal faster because we’re never good enough.” At least in my mind, I’m never good enough. If I clear City Finals and hit the buzzer, why didn’t I do it a minute faster? Why didn’t I link this move? Wasn’t this move smoother?

Do you beat yourself up about it though or is it more of a constructive, “Here’s another thing that you do?”

It’s more of a learning. First off, it’s like, “Why you didn’t do it?” They’re all learning lessons. I’m realizing why I didn’t link it. Was it because I wasn’t confident? Was it because I was too tired? What was the reasoning so I could go back to the gym and then harness those skillsets?

Do you want to start telling the story?

Come Season 7 of American Ninja Warrior, I ended up taking off my mask in the previous season and I had J.D. interviewing me for the first time about why. I was talking to the camera and I’m looking at J.D. with tears in my eyes. I’m like, “From the ages of 9 to 16, I was sexually abused.” Even though it is physical, I know people confuse each one. That’s why I clarified it. The show took that and motivated people with it.

A big healing part for me was that the show took in my information and said, “Flip, you’re amazing. We’re going to let the world know that you’re amazing for making it as far as you did so far. Let’s inspire other people who may be going through the same thing.” It came out on the show. This is the time that I had a notification on my phone because I cared about numbers in social media. I cared about being in the first place and the best.

I had to show off because of my insecurities about whom I wanted to be and what I wanted to perceive. My phone’s going off and it’s all social media as my interview is still going on. I wait for it. I run and then I’m like, “This is the true test.” It’s one of those things where I have both eyes closed and I swiped it. It wasn’t fingerprint or facial recognition back then. I looked and the first comment was, “I’m so proud of you. I can’t believe you have so much courage.” The next ones were positive messages and I kept reading.

I was so naive to how many other people were affected by this story. I was so naive to men being affected by the story because I felt so alone the entire time growing up and how I had to be a man and not say anything that I thought I was on an island by myself. It turns out I wasn’t alone. There are so many other people going through it and people that can’t talk about it. They’re like, “Thank you for speaking about us.” They would always use us in their terminology because they were trying to tell me that they went through it too or going through it. It’s so interesting how we talk like that.

E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

“I felt so alone the entire time growing up…I had to be a man, not say anything.”

The numbers are staggering. We have a couple here. Every nine minutes, a child is sexually assaulted. 30% to 40% by a family member and 50% by someone they know and trust. I have two questions for you. Why wait so long to talk about this? More importantly, talk about the difficulty of understanding, acknowledging and accepting what’s happening to you. In your case, it was your biological father. You look up to your parents. You were taught and you talk a lot about this in your book that we’re taught that our parents are always right. We have to listen to them and here you are enduring this and having the difficulty of having one day to say, “This isn’t okay.”

It’s one of those things, as life goes on, you start learning more through life experience and stuff. It took me so long. I was 26 or 27 at the time of Season 7. I even then didn’t know if I wanted to do it but J.D. was pursuing me so much that I thought it was a good idea. Before I even talked about it, I had to talk to my mentor Sly Lewis about it. I was like, “I had certain things.”

I have not told him but he’s very smart. He put two and two together. I was like, “This is what the producer’s asking. What are your thoughts about me talking about my story?” We waited out. He’s like, “It’s ultimately going to be your decision. I got your back.” Having one person have your back like that shifted my mindset to, “I can take on the world.”

It’s all baby steps. I always talk about baby steps when I do motivational speeches. Everything’s in baby steps. Those interviews, talking to Sly and those Instagram comments were all baby steps leading to me talking more openly about it and then turning the darkness into light. When I realized, “I could take the pain and suffering that I went through,” I can go, “World, look at what I went through. I came out on top.”

[bctt tweet=”You can take your pain and suffering and still come out on top.” username=”talentwargroup”]

I gave light to other people to go, “I can do it too.” When that ship happened, that’s when I started to accept what happened to me. It’s so weird because I started accepting it when other people started accepting it. This is the weirdest thing to grasp because if other people weren’t acceptant of it in my early stages of opening up, I would’ve shut down.

If they had pushed back and didn’t support you in the way that you did. Can you talk about these situations like in these cases of child sexual abuse? There’s an element of normalization that occurs when the abuser is trying to create that this is normal. This is the behavior. This is expected and therefore, you have to go through it. Can you talk about the danger of that normalization? Why is it important for those who are enduring this to as quickly they can start to realize that it’s not normal?

It’s called grooming. Most predators are someone that a lot of people trust. Whomever they’re trying to attack or whatever the victim they’re trying to get, they’re trying to build trust first. Once you build trust, no matter what they say, 9 times out of 10, they’re going to trust that. It being my biological father, that trust was instilled in me since ever. I was always told my parents are right and you never argue with your parents because what they say goes.

If you don’t agree with them, then you get punished. You go to timeout, sit in a corner or whatever it is. It’s one of those things where you have to realize that if you feel something’s wrong deep down inside, chances are there’s something wrong. As a grown man, it would never make sense for a grown man to talk to a child a certain way, a teenager or early teen because those are the steps into grooming.

Once you build trust, you start having these little awkward conversations to see what happens. You make maybe a little bit of advancement. There are steps or a protocol for all of this. When you learn how to identify that, you can see it easier. I hate to say it but I spot things a little easier because of my abuse. I’m always very authentic with who I am and what I’ve gone through for the reason for people to learn these steps.

[bctt tweet=”Be authentic with who you are and what you’ve gone through. That way, people can learn from you.” username=”talentwargroup”]

My book is not going to become a number one seller because this pill is a very hard pill to swallow but it is there for people to learn and for somebody that’s going through it to understand how I did it so maybe they can do it. For me, I didn’t want therapy. I still don’t want therapy because I did it. I made it out. I’m good. Could therapy have helped? Probably, I have no idea but to me to confess to some stranger, I wouldn’t do that. It’s all baby steps and to coming to the understanding of the greater good when you talk about things and understand that my lessons could be learned for somebody else so they can see what somebody else is doing and maybe prevent what’s happening to them.

For you, what changed? What was that period like? What was going on in your life as you began to get older and go into high school? What changed in your life to bring this realization to you?

A role model. A lot of people might know. If you know anything about my story, everyone knows that Will Smith was a huge influence in my life. While I was growing up, I reached the age of about sixteen and Will Smith came out with an interview at 60 Minutes. He was talking about building the big bad wall and how you build one brick at a time. I was like, “That makes sense.” I take all these little lessons that he’s talking about in his life and I’m implementing them into mine little by little.

There was an interview with Tavis Smiley he had and I was so depressed at this time. I hated everything in my life. The place that I liked to vent was always in the shower because I always knew no one would come through the door without knocking. It was my private place and I could be myself in the shower. Will Smith was talking about to decide whom you want to be. Once you make a decision on whom you want to be, what you want to do and how you want to do it, life gets out of your way.

[bctt tweet=”Once you make a decision on who you want to be, what you want to do, and how you want to do it, life just gets out of your way.” username=”talentwargroup”]

It’s like water. It wants to go around it. It doesn’t want to push anything. When I heard that, it was an instant click. Maybe all the little lessons that I was picking up along the way of listening to him for 1 year or 2 and mixed in with that piece of information was the final piece for me to be like, “I don’t have to be depressed. I don’t want to like go off myself at this point.” It got so bad that I thought about it. I was like, “No. This is what I was talking about. I have to make a decision.”

If my decision is I’m going to keep going with my life, then from this point forward, I’m going to do everything in my power to make that happen. It was an instant switch. Maybe not in the right way because I went from, “I’m a depressed kid,” to, “No. If I don’t want it, I don’t want it. You can’t tell me anything that way with everything.” It wasn’t like I could pick and choose when to do it. I had to turn everything off in my entire life to understand how that power worked.

E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

“Once you make a decision on who you want to be, what you want to do and how you want to do, life just gets out of your way.”

When I realized that power, I could start learning how to switch on these different lights where I can control that “monster.” I went from, “I don’t want anything. I don’t need you. I don’t need anybody. I could do it all on my own,” to, “I can’t do everything on my own.” To move a mountain, you need a lot of people. To build something, you need other people to help you build and you’ll get there faster rather than taking forever.

Once I understood all those little lessons, that’s when life started moving for me. I started understanding, “This is how life works.” I can trust Jessie with my story and my book. She was so kind enough to give a quote on the back of the book and the process of me making it. Little by little, you start understanding how life works and how not all people are good people whether they’re family, friends or somebody you only met.

You have to take the time to understand human beings to realize, “Jessie is a good person.” I spent enough time with her. There were a lot of conversations I’ve had with Jessie and outside of my book, just regular conversation. You could see Jesse’s a great person and that only happened by spending time with her.

Can you talk about the actions you did take to end it?

Once I made the decision in my mind that I’m going to move forward with my life and this is not how life should be, at this time of my life, my biological father paid for my car, my phone and anything expensive value. I was like, “I’m going to cut all ties with everything.” I was in his house. I was building myself up because I’m about to walk out forever. I have my phone and car key. I was like, “How am I going to get home?” I was going to walk out of my father’s house. I called my mom. I said, “Ma, I’m walking home. You could pick me up on the side of the street or I’ll meet you at the house.”

She said, “What’s going on?” I said, “Ma, this is where I started. I like to take control of my life. If you don’t do it, I’m going to hang up the phone on you now, either come pick me up or not.” I was aggressive with her and I didn’t mean to but that’s the only defense I had. I hung up the phone and I was building myself up. It’s one of those things that I’m like, “I hope he doesn’t see me,” because then I can avoid the argument and him stopping me. I’m looking. He’s in the kitchen and his back’s turned. I go to his office and I put my car keys and my phone on his desk. I come back, make sure he’s not looking and then go out the front door. As I’m going to the front door, I bolted out of the house. I ran.

Once I got out of the neighborhood, I was relaxed walking and breathing. My mom sure enough pulls up maybe twenty minutes later. I’m in the car. My mom’s a lioness when it comes to her kids. My mom will go to jail for her kids but parents are parents. “What’s wrong with your dad? That’s your father. You don’t walk out on your father.” I looked at my mom and I’m bulletproofed. I said, “Ma, listen. Go home. Trust me. I’ll tell you. I don’t want to go back there. “No. That’s your father. We’re going.” She was about to turn the car. I said, “If you don’t want me to do what I did to him to you, you take me home.” Right there with the tone in my voice, she was like, “Something happened.”

I made the decision that no one was going to stop me. That’s not my life anymore. Anybody in my way I was going to demolish to make sure I got out of it. That’s probably a defense mechanism. It’s probably not the right way to go about it but that’s all I knew and I needed. I knew I needed to make a decision and that was the best decision I could make for myself at that time. Those are all small baby steps and I kept that attitude for a big long time.

My mom is constantly poking at me, “What’s wrong? What happened?” She’s calling him, “What’s going on?” He’s not saying anything. It’s so hard to be that bulletproof all the time that at some point that caught up with me. How do I become a better human being and not bulletproof to where I could be vulnerable? There are so many baby steps but it was that first few actions right there where I was like, “I’m bulletproof. You can’t hurt me. I’m deciding it.” That’s what made the biggest impact on me.

It’s important to note too though that there’s no script. There is no right way in a lot of situations in life. You’ve talked about many of them but you can never sit there and say, “In this situation, I’m going to follow this checklist.” We’re not starting an airplane here. We’re solving complicated life challenges. The message is you got to do what’s right for you at that moment.

We talk about decision-making all the time and leadership. We never have all the information. We never have the perfect situation. We’re never going to. We’re never going to have all the money we need to run a business and all the people but you’ve got to sit there and say, “At this moment, this is the best thing that I can do for me,” and then have the courage stacked.

The thing is that sometimes may not be the right one but at least you’re making a decision rather than waiting and staying still. A lot of people stay still and that becomes a habit. They go, “This is my life.” That’s what was happening to me. Making a decision if it’s the wrong one, I don’t think I did the right thing. I had to take a step forward no matter what that step forward looked like. Making a decision is the biggest piece of that.

The thing that’s so amazing to me is that you didn’t have anyone coaching you through this. Every step that you took was a conclusion that you drew from listening to all these motivational interviews with Will Smith. I listened to his book. After all the positive things you said about him, I already thought he was awesome but his book was great too. I cried so much in your book but I always knew you were great.

You’re an amazing athlete. You’re such a nice person. You’re so positive but I had no idea what you had overcome and the stages you had gone through from being so broken, down and depressed to so angry. That kind of transformation is life-changing for anyone. Not everyone has the kind of trauma you do but everyone has a thing that they need to get over. Seeing what you’ve been able to overcome with determination and listening to positive voices, even if they weren’t directly next to you and reaching out and finding them.

I always talk about that. You got to find a role model in your life, whether you know them or not because I didn’t know Will. At the age of 20 or 21, I found Sly. Sly was also my mentor. I call him my real-life Will Smith. It’s one of those things where you got to find something to attach to for positivity. Do not absorb all of it but take what works for you. In 2023, you have YouTube. There are 100 million videos on being positive and what you can do to overcome almost any obstacle I feel like. That’s the plus side but you got to attach to something of light so that way you have some kind of hope and take your actions. You got to decide. Make a decision and that’ll be it.

How do you cope?

I got to be honest. When everyone asks me, “How are you doing,” it’s the same. It’s fabulous because I appreciate another day. I don’t talk about it often but I ended up losing my dog who was my best friend. We traveled everywhere and that fell right back into the hole. I came right out of it two years later with the understanding that time is precious. Every moment that I spend depressed is a moment I’ll never get back. Not even Donald Trump can buy time. It’s the one thing that no one can buy more of. When your time is up, it’s up. The question is, “How are you going to live the time that you have left?”

E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

“Every moment that I spend depressed is a moment that I’ll never get back.”

We don’t know what time we have left. That’s a sad way to see it. I see it with the perspective of positivity to up my life and move my life forward because I hate feeling sad. I don’t know about anybody else but I hate it. I appreciate it because to appreciate happiness, you have to appreciate sadness. I do appreciate it when that time comes. It’s not like I resent it but it’s one of those things that there are very few days that I’ll tell you like, “I’m not good.” This is because I know the value of time.

When I understood the value of time, that was another switch hit for me. When you start losing people close to you, you start understanding, “We’re not untouchable. We expire at some point.” That’s how I live my life. I’m always good. If I’m healthy, I’m good. If I get to impact kids, talk about my book and motivate people, that’s what I feel like my life is designed to be. That’s how I’m going to live it. That’s when I’m at my happiest. If I’m doing that all the time, I’m always on a good day. If I have a bad day, I still appreciate it because I can’t appreciate the good without the bad.

It’s going to make tomorrow feel so good.

It’s so much better. You always say how you cope with it. The way I cope with it is by understanding that to have a good day, you have to understand what a bad day is. Don’t try to stop having a bad day. Embrace the bad day. Go through it and appreciate the good. That’s how I cope with it.

Can you share some of your tools? When you recognize that you’re in a terrible mood and upset about something, how are you able to choose?

It’s self-love all the time. Coaching has been very useful to me because when I have a bad day, it’s not the kids’ problem or fault. They have no reasoning as to why I’m having a bad day, whether it may be a girlfriend breakup or my mom’s sick. Whatever the reasonable reason to be upset and have a bad day and push people away, that’s not their fault. I understand going into the coach and pushing it all aside to help them because their time is as valuable as mine because we’re all here for a limited time. I don’t want to ruin their time.

Doing that over and over, week in and week out, I started to understand, “I can push my feelings aside.” For my kids, I could push it aside and make sure they have a good day. Once their day is over, I can go on to handle my business but typically, what ends up happening is so joyful and motivational to them because I’m trying to inspire them that I embody that for the rest of the day.

My tool would be essentially using coaching to motivate other people and in turn, while in that process, I’m being motivated myself. I love doing these truth videos on social media where I take what I’m experiencing at a time and put a spin on it to positivity so I have an outlet to express myself in a sense. Life is all about perspective. If you’re having a bad day, you could always turn it around and see it from a different perspective like, “I had a good day yesterday so I guess a bad day now but tomorrow’s going to be an even better day.”

Everything’s all about perspective and finding something that you love to do all the time. Gaming for me is also a big thing for me. I love gaming. Even though it frustrates me, I still love to do it. When I’m having a bad day, I get to game with one of my buddies named Eric. I’ll go to my computer and I’ll game with him. We’ll talk mad smack. By the end of two hours, I’m in a great mood because I did something I love and enjoy.

Self-love and self-care are so powerful and positive that you have to understand what you love to do. No matter how you feel, what do you love to do? If that means being with a loved one, call them and say, “What are you doing? Let me buy you dinner. I’m not having a good day. I want to hang out.” This is because even a simple hug changes everything. From someone that you care about or even a random stranger, it changes everything. If you take care of yourself and find out what self-love looks like to you, you’re almost unstoppable.

One of the big things that we’re talking about this year and in a number of our conversations is this concept of standards versus goals. We have goals. We all set goals for ourselves. I talked about it a lot around New Year’s when everybody comes in here like, “I’m going to go to the gym. I’m going to get fit. I’m going to stop eating an entire pizza.” However, these goals, we put them on a pedestal.

We never think, “How am I going to get there?” You can’t set a goal and then expect it’s going to happen. What I talk about are standards. What’s the standard that we’re going to set for ourselves that is achievable every day?” “I’m not going to eat the whole pizza but am I going to stop eating pizza?” No, but maybe I have 2 pieces of pizza and not 6. You’re talking about positivity and self-care. We’re talking about going into Season 13 of coaching and training. When you think about that standard that you set for yourself to achieve your goals going into Season 13, what is that?

I say consistency for a reason. I’m sure everyone who ever has been to the gym or still goes to the gym all the time, there’s a day that you don’t want to go but you show up anyways. No matter what you do, you show up. No matter how that workout or training session turns out, you show up. For the people that are starting to get into the gym or want to start in the gym, how do you do that? Let’s take it in baby steps. First, I’m going to put on my gym clothes and go to my car. That’s for the day.

This is someone that can’t jump from 0 to 100. The next day, I’m like, “I’m going to put on all my clothes, get to a car and drive to the gym. I go to the parking lot. I did it for the day.” When you do that over and over again and you go one foot closer every time, you’re building a habit without even realizing it. You’re being consistent. You keep going. At some point, people are going, “Why are you in the gym so much?” You’ll be like, “I haven’t missed a day in the gym in the last few weeks.”

Your body starts to change. People are like, “You look good.” You start feeling good. It’s baby steps. It’s consistency. No matter what you feel, you stay consistent. No matter what happens, even if you go to the gym and instead of your 3-mile treadmill run, you do 1 mile of walking, at least you went. If you stay consistent on what you want to do and take steps forward, it’s very hard for somebody to lose like that.

One of the things I love that you do with your kids is how you teach them to get up after falling but the grit. You’ve talked to me about your kids doing dead hangs a couple of times. That’s an image and I don’t know if it’s wrong to think it’s so cute but it is so amazing.

It’s interesting because a lot of parents that are more cautious with their kids would look at it and go, “Why would he let that happen?” I’m a big believer that Ninja’s amazing. I love Ninja but Ninja could disappear tomorrow. What does that mean for Ninja as a whole? It’s because that’s where I coach and look at. My goal is to always teach discipline, character and the understanding that just because you’re in pain does not mean to stop or quit.

E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

“My goal is to always teach discipline, character and the understanding that just because you’re in pain does not mean to stop or quit.”

When Jessie’s talking about my kids in dead hangs, I would tell my kids, “I don’t care what you feel, you don’t let go. You can cry, scream and do whatever you want in that bar. Don’t let go for the two minutes.” I instilled that enough in them so much that six months later, one of my kids goes, “I want to hang a little longer.” He went from 2 minutes to 10. He then went from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. At the end of our training session to 30-minute dead hangs.

Did that happen because he got stronger? No, it happened because he got stronger mentally. He’s like, “No, I can do it.” I know it hurts and he’ll shake out. “It hurts,” but he’s hanging on. He saw his goals. He saw 10 minutes. Ten minutes motivated him. He saw 15 and goes, “No, I could do more.” He saw 17, 20, 23, 25 and then come 30, the parent’s like, “We got to go.” It’s like, “We love your goals. You did fantastic. It’s time to go.” At 30 minutes, he felt accomplished. It has nothing to do with strength. It has everything to do with his mental strength of it and drilling into him day in and day out. It’s okay to cry, scream and be mad but don’t let go.

I’ve seen two of your kids that have been hanging on the bar and they’re crying because it’s hard and it hurts but they have enough determination to be like, “I’m strong enough to fight through this and I’ll cry through it.” That’s such a powerful tool to have as a human and it’s so amazing that you’re teaching them that so young.

It’s little by little. It didn’t happen that way. It took time but it is all baby steps. When my time expires, that’s what I want people to remember me for, pushing people to become better human beings no matter what happens. At the end of the day, once my time expires, people forget about me. In time, people forget but the ripple effect, to me, that’s legacy.

I’m going to put you both on the spot for a second. I’m sitting here with two of the best in Ninja. Before we started, we talked about what’s the difference between 1st and 3rd. What’s the difference between the 1st and 5th? Even 1st and 2nd in a lot of different types of activities in sports. I talk about this with the athletes that I coach and work on the mental side and performance development.

We talk about the work and go into a workout. The coaches will set a program for a week. They’ll kick it out on a Sunday. Athletes will come in and a lot of athletes will do the prescribed work. They’ll pack it up and put their stuff away. They’ll go home. End of the season will come and the finals will come and they’ll go, “I got fifth. I wanted first.” I asked the question, “When you were packing up your stuff at the end of each day at training, did you ever ask, ‘What else can I do?’” This is because the first people probably asked them that question.

I use that same logic, except I teach the kids the absolute best. I don’t know if you have seen the bear crawl or if you remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights. I can’t remember what movie it was in where they do the bear crawl with somebody on their back in the football field like, “I’ll get maybe to 10 yards.” “You can go from end zone to end zone.” They put the blinders on him so he didn’t see his progression. He said, “The only thing I want from you is your absolute best. Do you promise to give me your absolute best?”

With a blindfold and the kid on his back, in the end, he makes it from end zone to end zone. He shocked everybody. What I think it is, is a lot of people are so used to what the standard is. Our standard is 15 yards. When they reach the eight pullups, they’re like, “I can’t do ten. I can’t go past ten. I’m already getting tired,” but is that their absolute best? At the end of every class, I’ll always talk to them, “Did you do your absolute best? I can’t answer that for you because I don’t know. You know that answer. If you could learn how to take responsibility for yourself and accountability for how you performed and what you did in here, is that you’re absolute best?” 9 times out of 10, they’ll always say no.

The biggest key to 1st and 5th places is to understand, “Did I do my absolute best now? Tomorrow when I train, I’m going to ask that again and see if it’s different from the day before.” The only way that works though is if you’re utterly vulnerable with yourself and so open and honest that when you look in the mirror, you go, “You suck now. Tomorrow you’re going to do better.” You have no choice. You have to do better.

You said you want this goal. Nobody gave you that goal. You wanted it so you’re going to hold yourself accountable. I’ll be on the course. I’m like, “I’m such a pussy.” I’ll talk to myself. I’m on there while I’m training. While I’m training, I’m pushing them. I’m like, “No.” I have somebody like R.J. He is my training partner for Ninja. He does something and I’ll always one-up him. I’ll see if he’ll let me go. I’ll go, “Are you going to let me do that to you? Are you going to let me be the last one in the gym?”

I love that you apply that to yourself. You’re always going to one-up someone but you’re also sharing that with your training partner. You’re giving them the opportunity to rise to their best.

I hope R.J. is doing that with whomever he trains or just himself as a life tool. In any aspect, whether that’s training or creating a business, did you do your absolute best at work? “No. I may have let this issue create that I didn’t do my absolute best. I may have taken something personally and I half-assed something.” You learn from that. Tomorrow you’ll do better because yesterday you sucked. It’s going to be easy to improve the next day. At some point, the bar gets higher. You got to keep going. You got to always self-assess. Self-assess is huge. The biggest difference between my best season and all my other seasons is I reassess the people around me and the content that I was intaking.

What are some of the new content that you feel changed you the most?

Throughout the season of Ninja Warrior, I stopped listening to music. It was all podcasts, all positive.

I got a great podcast for you.

I’m doing my homework. It’s so great. I have a new one. I started listening to other people, motivational speeches and stuff because they got compilations and stuff on YouTube with motivational stuff from The Rock, Inky Johnson, Eric Thomas and so many other people. Tom Bilyeu is a big motivation for me as well. You got to look at yourself in the mirror. If you suck, you say to yourself, “You suck but tomorrow, I’m going to do better.” You got to be so authentic with yourself and who you are and what you’re doing. Sometimes you’re not going to be the best but that’s okay. As long as you know it, you do better next time.

Love yourself for who you are but hold yourself to the highest standard. I’m trying to think it through. I would tell myself I sucked all the time but I also was getting my feelings hurt because I was being mean to myself so I made a set of flashcards that were like, “I’m thinking you suck but that means to think of three ways you can be better.” I switched my self-talk into what is the constructive side of what I’m trying to say when I say you suck. It’s because instead of hearing you suck and then shriveling into a ball, I could hear you suck and be like, “That means to think of three ways to be better.” I can hear that anytime someone tells me I suck.”E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

That’s a good way to look at it. I did the opposite way where my kids tell themselves that they suck all the time is bad. That’s one negative comment. You owe me three positive ones. However, they would have to say it to themselves. That’s the only way it works. Flashcards are cool because you’re writing them down and as you’re writing them down, you’re remembering them. That’s awesome. I like that. We are on the same page.

I want to get your list of motivational videos that you’re watching too.

I got tons.

Can you share with us some of the most important signs like if you’re telling parents what should they teach their kids? If you’re talking to kids, what should they look for so that you can make them more educated in a way that they can prevent such situations?

That stuff gets tricky. You could always accuse people of any little thing because some people are genuinely nice and they’ll go above and beyond for somebody else. Somebody like me, I understand that life. If somebody came to me, “This is happening,” I would have no problem picking up a fifteen-year-old from school and taking them home so that way that person doesn’t pick them up and have the whole fiasco happen.

That may look odd to some people but that may look like an awesome thing to somebody else. Unless somebody knows the actual situation, it’s hard to place judgment on it. I’m very careful with telling parents or anybody, “This is how you should teach your kids.” I’m more like, “This is what happened to me. This is how I did it.” There are resources. I work with all the time and they have resources on how to attack this stuff because they have licensed therapists and all that who are suited to handle those questions as opposed to me where I’m like, “I did this all on my own.”

I had a brick cell phone that had no internet at that time so my resources weren’t easily accessible as opposed to the pops up and there is a bunch of resources. I always tell parents, “Go to this page. Use their resources, read what they have and reach out to them if you need help. Find somebody who’s suited for this and this is what they do day in and day out.” I do it day in, day out but I don’t do it on such a broad level where I went to school to learn how to handle those kinds of traumas for somebody else.

I can tell you how I did it. “Hang on to the bar. I don’t care if you cry. Cry for all I care. Cry, scream and kick, thrust or whatever you want,” but that’s way different from handling somebody’s trauma. I would say to always try to find someone who has at least learned from the internet, Google, and all of this stuff so that way you’re more informed to make a better decision for yourself if you don’t want to seek professional help. I’d never had the urge to seek professional help but I did take information from Will Smith and all these other little YouTube videos and clips and stuff.

When YouTube started, I was able to build a foundation for myself. It might not have been the best foundation but it was what worked for me. I learned a lot though. It took me this long to be authentic with myself, who I am and what happened to me. I don’t use that as a cloud over my head. I use what happened to me as a bright and shining shield that I get to show off to the world because this happens more often than not.

It’s so sad to say that and I can’t tell you how many times I have people come up to me and whisper it to me because they don’t feel comfortable saying it out loud. I’d say to find resources and find somebody who deals with it who’s a therapist and can help you figure out the situation. If it’s still happening, take law enforcement actions to make it stop because it is a crime. There are so many different steps. I never wanted to follow the law side of things because that means I would have to relive it at the age of nineteen and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be done with it. Whether that was a good decision or bad decision for the public, probably bad but for me, it was good.

I can’t do anything legally but I can tell my story to millions if I do it right. That would be my two cents to any parents or anyone dealing with it. Find resources. You have the most powerful resource in your pocket. It’s your phone. Do some research and read about it. Figure out what they do to get better. You could do that in any aspect, whether that’s sexual abuse, physical abuse or mental abuse. Whatever you’re going through, there’s an answer out there. I promise you.

You have to make a choice and do something.

That’s all you got to do. Take the information and figure out what’s the best decision for you because no one could tell you how to live your life but you and that is misunderstood heavily.

The Jedburghs in World War II had to do three things to be successful. They had to be able to shoot, move and communicate. They have habits and foundations. We talked a lot about habits and foundations in this episode. If they did these three things every day with the utmost precision, then they could focus their attention on more challenging and complex things that came their way. What are the three things that you do every day in your life to set the conditions to be successful?

First, I live by example. I always tell people that I’m not a liar. If I tell someone I’ve been exploded or hit by a car, they go, “No, you’re lying.” I’m not a liar. Whether it hurts your feelings or not, I’m going to let you know. That’s one example. The second example is always being real with who I am in the mirror. The kids that I mentor, I always tell them two questions. What are the answers when you look in the mirror and you ask yourself who you are? Number two, when you lay down at night, can you sleep with ease? Those two questions I always ask myself also keep me in check. If I can do those two things and I’m happy about them, then I’m doing what I believe is right.

If you ever lay down and are having trouble sleeping because something’s gnawing at you, what do you do?

It’s time to change. That’s when you know or it’s a burden on you. Let’s say I mistreated somebody. It hurts me. I’m like, “No matter what, I’m going to try to make ends meet.” I’m going to go. I’ll apologize for whatever that situation may look like. I’ll go do that. Those are the tests that will test me as an individual because most people go, “I’ll leave it alone. It’ll fade away.”

It might with time and then it will build one whole stack and then another stack. I always try to do those little things. That also falls under leading by example. If I messed up, Jessie, I apologize. I was hoping I could make it up to you with some gesture or lunch. I don’t know how severe it is but I figured I’ll apologize. It’ll never happen again.

I can’t think of anything you’ve ever done to me. You’re clear. You do nothing but inspire.E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

Those little things that I start checking myself for because, in my mind, I’m in front of my kids all the time. I don’t drink alcohol. Not because I don’t want to but because I don’t want to give my kids the green light to drink alcohol. That leads to driving drunk and so many other experiences that could be very negative in their life. I wouldn’t say I feign for alcohol at all. I don’t care for it but it’s one of those things I keep my mind. If I post on social media I’m smoking weed, Jordan Carr who is the youngest to clear the Warped Wall on Ninja Warrior has a green light to smoke weed because her mentor Flip Rodriguez is smoking weed.

It’s little things like that that I keep in my mind all the time to where I’m like, “I can’t do that.” Do you want to go to the club?” “No, I can’t.” “Why?” It’s because if I go to the club and something happens.” It’s so crazy. My mind is so bizarre that I go, “No, I can’t.” I’d rather not. To me, it’s not fun. We come from a world where our fun is getting shot at in movies. Face shots, headshots, falling from a height, getting hit by cars and exploding, that to me is what gets my heart pumping. It’s super exciting because you don’t know if you’re coming back. It’s dangerous but to me, that’s the exciting part. It’s because I get to do something that almost no one in the world gets to do.

It keeps you on your toes. It keeps you thinking and growing.

Little things like that are what I have a mental checklist in my mind. If I reach out to go grab an alcoholic drink, something in my gut tells me, “You might want to think twice.” I’m thinking, “Why?” It’s crazy but that’s how I am and I have to lead by example. Leading by example covers almost everything but that’s how I live my life. If I decide to have a drink, I would do it most responsibly because I am of age. I would do it either at home or with people that I trust. As a perfect example, if I chose to engage in alcohol, which most of the time I don’t ever, I do it responsibly. There’s always a right and a wrong way to do things.

I’ve done many episodes of the show and I’m going to tell you that this has resonated with me more than any other conversation that I’ve had. We could do the math on how many that’s been. Some people are 3 and 4. It’s a lot.

I feel like leading by example and the way you described it is one of the best life policies.

It’s so hard to always see by example because it almost feels like a burden at times. I’m like, “I wish I could go do this sometimes.” I want to be a part of the cool crew. Everyone goes out and all these stupid stories that they get to say, “Do you remember that time we were in Columbia? Do you remember that time we were at the club and this guy punched you?”

I got a few of those.

To me, “Is any of that at the end of the day worth it? Does that further my career? Does that further my training? Does that do anything positive in my life?” No. It’s almost an easy decision. I don’t want the kids to do it and it’s not going to help me.

I’ll give you the other two too and dig into those. I spent a long time in my life where I couldn’t look at the person in the mirror. I grew up with a certain set of values and I went into the Army. I became a Green Beret. I achieved my goal and had a standard for myself. Every day, I woke up and looked in the mirror. I said, “I’m faking this standard that I believe I need to live and that I should be living. I’m not.” That weighs on you.

You talked about being authentic and it becomes exhausting. You referenced being exhausted in the book but that’s what happens when you’re living this lie when you wake up and you can’t face yourself. To your third point about being able to sleep at night, I spent the better part of five years sleeping with a TV on.

It’s because of the fear of shutting the TV off and having to sit there with my thoughts. Before I went to lay in my bed by myself because everyone had left me was more fearful than putting the TV on. Also, having that running in the background and never going to sleep but also not facing those demons and facing those challenges and having the courage to do that. When you finally wake up one day and say, “This all has to end,” and you make the choice that you talk about, it becomes so liberating.

That is one of the most real things you can ever hear when someone goes, “I wasn’t happy with myself. I couldn’t sleep and I needed the TV on.” It speaks value to how much you self-assess yourself and understand that there’s got to be a change. A lot of people understand that it’s happening but they don’t do anything about it because it’s easier to stay the same than to change but to change is hard.

It’s amazing how long we’ll draw that out because we never want to look and say, “We got to do this.”

I always say tomorrow. My mentor tells me all the time, “You better not say tomorrow. You got to do it now because I know for you tomorrow never comes. It’s always tomorrow.” It’s something as simple as dishes. My mentor never misses a dish. He’ll never go to sleep with a single dish in the sink.

Does he wash the dishes before he eats? I’m working on this skill. He’ll cook, sit down and eat and then go back and do the dishes.

He will clean before he eats. He will make everything on his plate and then clean the pan. Whatever he’s not using anymore, he’ll clean all of it. He’ll wipe it down and put it down to dry. He’ll then go eat and then wash whatever he used. He’s insane. Little things like that with everything you were talking about reminded me of the smallest things, this habit. What we do every day will determine the kind of person that we will become tomorrow.

I love how you made dishwashing sound cool. I’m super motivated to get better at dishwashing. I wanted to before but the way you talked about it, I’m like, “I’m going to wash my dishes every single time. No dishes in my sink.”

Sly Lewis, I cannot keep up with this guy. To me, he’s like a machine. He never misses. If I want to compete against him, I have to know. I can never miss it, not one day. He’ll always constantly tell me, “Do it. Don’t do it tomorrow because you won’t do it tomorrow. I know you. You won’t.” He self-checks me. I’m like, “Check.” I’m not the person that will say, “Tomorrow,” and I’ll get it done tomorrow. I’m the person that says tomorrow to let it go. I know who I am and I can work with that. When I go, “I’ll get to it tomorrow,” I go, “No, you’re not. Do it now no matter what you are doing.”

It’s so amazing to have a voice like that in your life who can see you and give you that feedback that makes you more realistic and connected. Does he live around here?

He lives in Florida, yes.

Is that part of the reason?

You got to surround yourself with better people. My circle was small already and it became even smaller. We always make excuses for people that we love, whether it’s a relationship, your family, your best friend or whatever it is. Those may be the very people that are holding you back. They don’t want you to swim because they’re drowning.

Even though you can try to help them swim, you can’t. Sometimes if they don’t want to swim, they just don’t want to. You can’t drown in them. You have to swim on your own. That’s one of the hardest pills I have to swallow to understand. I have to change the people I hung out with. That is the most real thing I’ve ever heard because you are the people you are around.

What you’ve shown all of us through this conversation, your book and sharing your story is that you can flip your perspective.E93 TJP - Flip Rodriguez, 12x American Ninja Warrior, Author of The Man Behind The Mask

I always call it flipping lives into positivity.

Thanks for sitting down with us and sharing your story. We talk about leadership. Thanks for having the courage to be a leader. You lead from the front.

I appreciate you having me and giving me such an amazing platform to talk about it. What you are doing is amazing work because you give people like me a voice to inspire and motivate people to become better. Also, try to leave more ripple effects in the world.


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