I Have No Regrets

Very few times in life will I ever work hard, pour my heart into something, succeed and walk away.

Since the summer of 2007 when I launched Winglight Productions (only to be re-branded as just Richard Dedor), I have been working my ass off to make it as a speaker and consultant. in that time, I have worked for a lot of different organizations doing what I love.

I have spoken at a high school student athlete conference (as their closing keynote):


I have shared the stage with leading international educators at NAFSA.

I have spoken at a TEDx event.

This summer I made a promise to myself that I was going to go all on this dream and if I couldn’t make it, then it was time to “hang it up.”

It’s a tough feeling knowing that I love helping people achieve their dreams through speeches and writings, and those will always be a part of me. But in life, there comes a time when you just know the reality will not end up matching the dream.

The beautiful part is that it is okay. It is okay that I didn’t make it the way I thought I would. It’s okay because I was (and am) a speaker.

I got to open and close conferences. I got to speak and share my passions with hundreds upon hundreds of people of all backgrounds and professions.

I leave with no regrets and my head held high. Not everyone can say that.

Thank you for your support and your love. I will still be around. I am still planning some big things in other areas of my life so stay tuned. In the meantime, FOCUS will continue even if I don’t post it here on the site.

Again, thank you for this journey. It has been an honor and a privilege.

Anything is possible!

Focus on This Moment

Life Lesson Of The Week
Don’t be afraid of the future. This very moment was once the future, and you’re doing just fine.
-Tony M’s Life Lesson from Mason City, Iowa

Focus On It
In Proust Was a Neuroscientist, we find that “every limit is an beginning as well as a ending.” Two weeks ago, the lesson was all about living your passion.

Tony is right to say that we shouldn’t be afraid of the future. The future is littered with possibilities and we must be willing to enjoy the journey towards that unknown.

You are doing just fine.

Focus on Who You Are

Life Lesson Of The Week
Stand your ground, be true to yourself, be yourself!
-Anita D’s Life Lesson from Watkins, Iowa

Focus On It
In picking Anita’s lesson for this focus, I did not want this to come off as a violent lesson. The concept of “standing your ground” can appear as a physical stance, but it doesn’t have to. Life is about standing up for who you are, your beliefs, your dreams, and your personality. For so long, I hid my personality, and then someone very special entered my life to bring me out of my nearly 30-year-old shell.

I love to have fun. I love to laugh. I love to relax. And I love to work hard.

When I need time to focus, I make it happen. When I want to fight for my political beliefs, I do. And when I want to laugh, I laugh. The only person you can be is yourself.

Focus on the positives

Life Lesson Of The Week
Don’t hang on to the bad things that happen in life. Remember the good things that came out of bad experiences.
-Jackie K’s Life Lesson from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Focus On It
We all have bad experiences we wish we could just Men in Black erase from our memories. But unfortunately, we can’t. We must live with our choices.

Once you accept that to be true, you will find liberation. In my 20′s (which are rapidly coming to an end), I made some choices that many people questioned, but I stood by them. I still do. With the benefit of hindsight, I was wrong.

But I learned from each individual experience and that is the glory of living life. We get the chance to learn, grow, and get better. Are you listening for your lesson?


Fearful and Ready

When this year began, I had no idea that I would write another book, or that I would now be sitting on the couch injured after a stupid mistake at the gym. A gym I might add I have been to at least once a week in 2013 as it was my New Year’s Resolution for your information.

writing pad

But I have. I had not been a member of a gym for years and to be sitting here with arguably the best body I have ever had, I know I have defeated the fear.

Now that my book tour is winding down, I am torn about what to write about.

I was chatting with a fellow writer friend of mine yesterday and we both mentioned the fear we have in putting pen to paper and fingers to keys. It’s a dreaded unknown. For an artist, it is in that unknown where the bright beacon of freedom rings.

But it is in this space, this 2 a.m. what-the-hell-can-I-possibly-create-that-hasn’t-already-been-created moment where I find out who I really am.

There is no hope for my creativity without fear. I know that. And since I am scared to write — for fear of sucking or of greatness — I know something good is on the horizon. I can feel it. My fingers are ready.

Focus on opportunities

Life Lesson Of The Week
When one door closes another opens.
-Linda G’s Life Lesson from Kansas City, Mo.

Focus On It
It has been 987 days since I moved to New York City from the safe fields of Kansas City. In those 987 days, much has happened.

I have been firedI have played at the US OpenI have written another book. But through it all, it feels like I am getting closer to “graduation.” I’ve worked my ass off to get something and after speaking with my friend Kade a few week ago, I am coming to terms — and peace — with the reality that my “dream” may not become a reality. It is beginning to sink in and it sucks. I’m starting to really feel it.

But in this sadness can come joy. I am beginning to ask the question: What’s next?

Focus on what you can control

Life Lesson Of The Week
You can not control others and their perceptions of you, so stop worrying about it.
-Shelly M’s Life Lesson from Des Moines, Iowa

Focus On It
The amount of time we spend on worry is killing us. And aside from the adverse health effects of worry, it is simply a waste of time.

Think about what you could do with your time if you weren’t worried about others.

So, instead of reading more of my words, use the time remaining to focus on you and no one else!

Standing Together for Leadership

On Monday night, two Democratic members of Congress voted with the GOP on their bill to avoid a government shutdown. They are the democratic congressman Sean Patrick Maloney from New York and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

They both voted Aye on H.J. RES 59, which stated that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act would be postponed for one year, member’s of Congress would join the exchanges, and the rest of the budget would be passed through December 13, 2013.

The bill passed at 8:40 pm Eastern providing the Senate with over three  to take action. They nearly immediately said no. They wanted a clean bill and nothing less.

But here is the problem. These two democrats who had the “audacity” to join the “opposition” at a critical moment are being chastised by the press, the gay press, for abandoning all sense of judgement and loyalty.

Now, it must be said that both of those members identify with the LGBTQ community.

John Aravosis, who’s gay and editor of AMERICAblog, also had harsh words for the two lawmakers, who ran as out of the closet candidates and took donations from the LGBT community.

“I think it’s abominable. No Democrat, let alone a gay or bisexual one, should be working to undercut health care protections for Americans, let alone helping John Boehner do anything,” Aravosis said.

Renowned and respected columnist and commentator Michaelangelo Signorile tweeted:

“Gay ConservaDems took $$ from progressives, Sinema and Maloney, voted #shutdown. Make sure they meet fate of Christine Quinn” (source)

That is all the proof I needed that the entrenched gay liberal establishment will never support someone having an opinion outside of their closed club. They will never understand how I can call myself a gay conservative.

And don’t get me wrong. I believe that the way the House-leadership has handled this process has been wrong and ill-conceived. The former leader of the GOP has some words that Speaker Boehner should listen to today:

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

The words of President Lincoln in his famous Cooper Union speech.

When I tweeted Aravosis about my disappointment in the LGBT presses response to these two congressional leaders, this is the response I got:

You help elect someone so they’ll follow YOUR beliefs. (source)

You are the only person in sane America who thinks voting with Boehner on the shutdown is honorable. (source)

Two comments back to Mr. Aravosis:

First, you elect someone because you believe in their beliefs and trust their judgement … not because they will follow your beliefs. These two leaders voted on what they believed to be right given the facts and it may very-well cost them their jobs, and that is honorable.

Secondly, I am not the only sane person who thinks making changes to the law are honorable. It is not how I would have gone about it, but that is beside the point.

Calling out these two votes is cynical and does nothing but fuel a city already drenched in kerosene and cloaked in hate and fear. The name calling, threats, and special-interest claims to votes must end now. Because now, who are the bullies?

Focus on Opportunity

Life Lesson Of The Week
Make the most of each day.
-Anonymous’ Life Lesson from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Focus On It
There are any number of cliches that I can use with this week’s lesson. Each day is a gift that we are given and it is up to us to use it to our advantage. Recently, I saw an image that said that dads only have 960 Saturdays until newborns go off to college. The point was to make the most of each and every moment.

Our lives are short and there is no point in letting fear and worry get in the way of the good in your life.

How do we do this? Enjoy today and repeat that tomorrow.

Fears Are Imaginary

This article is not about a wheelchair. And it is not about tennis. It is about self-motivation, improvement and simple decisions to eliminate invisible barriers.

While Jamie Burdekin and Esther Vergeer’s stories are different, their lessons are quite similar.

Jamie and Esther represent some of the best tennis talent on the planet. They are connected through the game, but also the chair through which they play it.

Esther VergeerJamie was already an up-and-coming wheelchair tennis player when he injured his wrist while training. The diagnosis was not good. In order to have a chance to play again, he would need surgery. Even then, playing might not happen again his doctors told him. It is one thing to become a great wheelchair tennis player. It is another to re-learn how to be a world-class tennis player.

But for a man who has beaten the odds before, Jamie took it in stride and  blocked all of the negativity out. He even went so far as to ease the worry of the doctor, assuring him of his faith in the doctor’s skills. What would happen, would happen.

Jamie did make it back to the court, but it was slow and sometimes painful, both physically and emotionally. For a man who had been the fifth-best player in the world prior to the injury, it just wasn’t the same. And to add insult to injury, during his rehab his coach had Jamie use a smaller racquet, tennis balls made for beginners and a mini-net. It wasn’t all fun and games for Jamie. He said it was a bit embarrassing at times and people gave him strange looks, but he was back on the court playing tennis. Before the accident the landed him in a wheelchair, Jamie had never played tennis, and after his accident he started playing with a full-size racquet and on a full-size court. Having the surgery on his wrist was a risk, but also a blessing. It gave not only the coaches a chance to improve every aspect of his game but also it allowed Jamie to learn the game like children do every day around the world.

And while Jamie did not win a medal at the London Olympics, he does not fear what is next, just what he can do with what he has.

For Esther, who recently retired, she became wheelchair-bound at a young age, but did not let that stop her.

Of all the athletes, politicians, doctors, and writers I have met, Esther is probably the most humble, honest, and hardest working I will ever meet. I will never forget when I re-connected with her in 2010. I was at a tournament site when she checked in with the tournament director. She had come straight from the airport to get in a short hit with her coach. I left the site to get to the tournament hotel for a quick workout before my dinner. Who did I run into in the hotel gym later the night? Esther. Here is a woman who is the No. 1 women’s wheelchair tennis player on the planet. She was the Roger Federer of her sport. But what struck me was the fact that while all her competitors were out having dinner and relaxing, the best player in the world and favorite to win the tournament was at the gym continuing to work to get even better.

Who knew that when Esther had spinal surgery at age eight (which landed her in the wheelchair), that she would change the face of wheelchair tennis 25 years later. As an eight-year-old, she first picked up basketball, but soon added tennis, and in 1998, decided to focus only on tennis. A year later she was the best in the world. She is a woman who, even as a young child, took the unknown and embraced it. One other thing you should know about Esther, who retired in early 2013 from the game, was that she last lost a tennis match in January 2003. In that time, she won 470 straight matches and spent an astounding 668 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world.

Jamie and Esther are living proof that limitations are choices and that those limits are just manifestations of fear.