Doc G from the Earn & Invest podcast joins Jillian to share his story. The main idea surrounding season three is all about how we can be bravely ourselves, and Doc G’s journey is a great example of what that looks like in practice.
Five-year-old Doc G was the youngest of three kids. When he was in first and second grade, he struggled with spatial relationships. He struggled to remember how to tie his shoe, and it even carried into his reading in the form of a type of dyslexia.
Doc G had three tutors that worked with him. His parents decided that the best idea was to move and change schools in order to avoid the social impact of his learning setbacks—at least that was the plan. Unfortunately, tragedy hit.
During his shift in the hospital where he worked as a physician, Doc G’s father collapsed. A blood vessel in his brain had burst, and by the time the family arrived, he was barely alive on life support. After he died, Doc G’s mom decided not to move. Strangely, over the next few months, his reading and learning began to improve.
One day, Doc G’s teacher decided to test his reading in front of the class. She was shocked to discover that he could read on a second-grade level. The experience was life-changing for him. Something inside changed, and he was able to believe in himself.
“I really was lucky…people look at their lives, and certainly they might look at my life and say ‘Wow, your dad died, and you weren’t lucky. You had a learning disability. You weren’t lucky.’ I look at it a little bit differently…I was surrounded by people who loved me and supported me, and I had resources.”
Doc G didn’t stop tutoring until he was in seventh grade, but he was able to keep up within his grade, and, in addition, he learned great study habits from his tutors that many of the other kids didn’t.
His father’s passing had a big influence on his life path. As an 8-year-old kid, he really looked up to his father as a doctor, and he decided that he wanted to be just like him. His mom didn’t discourage him from chasing that dream because of his learning setbacks; rather, she encouraged him.
“As opposed to seeing failures as roadblocks I couldn’t get passed, I started looking for ways around, or I started facing those roadblocks, falling down and trying again, because I knew where my endpoint was supposed to be.”
The shift in mindset from a lack of confidence to a certainty of what he was supposed to do changed who he was. The experience of losing his father inspired Doc G with the desire to help people going through similar things he lost his father to.
“I’ve chosen to become the protagonist in my own life. I’ve chosen to look at my life events through the lens of being the underdog who has the right intentions and is going to live with profound morality and ethics.”
Doc G realized that while he couldn’t change what had happened, while he couldn’t change the cards he was dealt, he could change the story he tells himself about those events. He could decide what he was going to do and create out of the life he had. By looking at life through that lens, his childhood no longer looked like a sad story; it looked like a triumphant one.
It’s easy to get stuck on things that were traumatic or embarrassing, but it’s important to understand triumph’s role in your life. You don’t need to rewrite your history; the hard times are actually important, but it’s all about embracing your triumph and highlighting the things you did right.
Vulnerability was something Doc G learned at a young age, and it carried over to his work as a physician. By running toward hardship instead of away from it, he realized that it was okay to be vulnerable, and he learned to be comfortable with it. Allowing himself to be vulnerable has made him realize that all people struggle, and when people exhibit behavior that is off-putting, he understands that there is often pain behind it, and he can approach them and their struggle from a position of understanding and empathy.
What is empathy? Empathy is walking in someone else’s shoes and understanding how they got where they are. You don’t have to agree or condone their choices; you simply are able to understand their journey.