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The Greatest You: Face Reality, Release Negativity, and Live Your Purpose
by Trent Shelton
Learn More | Meet Trent Shelton
Ten years ago, I couldn’t even remotely imagine that more than nine million people would view my latest video, share it more than two hundred thousand times, and make more than fifteen thousand often very personal comments. If you’d told me that I’d have six million people following me on Facebook, a million on Instagram, and an overall social media reach of fifty million, I would have said you were tripping. Back then, if someone had suggested that I would be considered one of the most inspiring people on the web and one of the biggest influences on positivity in this generation, I would have said that this person had in mind a different Trent Shelton. Because the Trent Shelton of ten years ago was super-introverted. He had a fear of public speaking and no experience with it. He also had tattoos all over his body, so he sure didn’t look the part of an inspirational speaker.
And the truth is, it couldn’t have been me, because I wasn’t ready for it to be me. Don’t get me wrong; I knew that I wanted to help people, and I knew that reaching out to others filled me with a sense of purpose. But there was something I had to do first.
I had to get my own life together.
I had to do the work that I’m going to share with you in this book.
Ten years ago, I was in a terrible place in both my professional and personal lives. I’m going to get into this in detail in chapter 1, but for now let me just say that it felt as though I was losing every battle. I wasn’t helping myself, and I sure wasn’t helping anyone else.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I got an offer from a friend to speak in front of five thousand teenagers at his church. Public speaking was not my thing, and I worried that this was going to be just the latest in a series of disasters for me. But it was on that stage that I unlocked something in me, something I’d had deep inside all along—my true purpose. I almost blew it because, even though I’d prepared ridiculously hard, when I stepped onto the stage, I just went blank. So right then, when panic could have leveled me, I just started talking in what would become my straight-up, straight-from-the-heart, no-filter speaking style. I had no notes to lean on—just my truth and my experiences. Kids know what’s real, so I had to be real, and they really felt what I was saying and couldn’t stop asking me questions afterward. It was then that I realized a very important lesson about life: you don’t have to be perfect to help people; all you have to do is be real. The kids repeatedly told me how much they respected me, not just because they were inspired, but because they finally felt understood. Those kids made me realize the power of transparency. My being honest about my life gave them the confidence to be honest about their own. I promised myself that I would always speak this way in the future. It felt incredible to witness how my transparency was the first step to their transformation. Affecting their lives made me feel alive again. It was the first time I actually felt a purpose outside of football, and what really tripped me out was how natural it felt to inspire those kids.
I knew this was the first step in rehabbing my own life. If I was going to preach it, I had to practice it. If I was going to talk it, I had to live it. Becoming the greatest me became my mission, and I dedicated myself to becoming nothing less. The responsibility I had to others—most importantly, my young son, Tristan—gave me an entirely new level of motivation. Taking my life to the next level was no longer an option; it was a must. I knew Tristan was going to follow my lead, so I had to give him a model that would put his life on the best possible path. And as I continued to work on myself, I started tweeting about it with the hashtag #RehabTime, recording my transformation through two-minute videos under the same name. I thought RehabTime was just for me, but I quickly realized it was bigger than me. Much bigger than me.
As RehabTime began to connect with people, I started interacting with my followers. The most unforgettable of these experiences was with Ashley, an encounter that showed me why God created me. It wasn’t for football, as I’d thought up to that point; it was for RehabTime. I met Ashley at an event, and she told me that not that long before, she’d been so ready to end her life that she had a gun in her hand, cocked and loaded. Her mind was made up, and nothing was going to change it. She was going on Facebook to say her goodbyes. Her plan was to press Post and then kill herself. But when she got on Facebook, a video popped up that I’d made at two o’clock that very morning. Something had woken me out of my sleep to make it, which I now realize was God telling me to get this message to Ashley. The video was titled “Don’t End Your Life,” and in it, I urged people to fight through, to just give tomorrow a chance. Storms suck, but storms don’t last forever. Ashley watched that video, and instead of killing herself, she wrote a positive Facebook message about her life and what she was dealing with. Her message helped others dealing with suicidal thoughts that night. While she thought she was alone in her struggle, she wasn’t. At that moment she understood there was a purpose greater than her pain, and the most painful moment of her life became her most purposeful one.
At another early event, two teenagers came up, hugged me, and started crying. They told me that I had helped save their mother’s life. Even though I didn’t want to take the credit, they insisted that if it hadn’t been for my video, they would be motherless. She was fighting drug addiction, and an overdose seemed to be in her near future. But she watched one of my videos, which sparked a change and encouraged her to face her reality. She realized that it was time to go to war and overcome her addiction—not just for herself, but also for her children.
The videos and speaking engagements were definitely helping people, but the desperation out there was bigger than I ever imagined—millions and millions of people were convinced their lives were worthless, that they were stuck in a hole they could never climb out of, that their stories were over. These people needed to discover what I’d discovered for myself—that even though your story may have some bad chapters in it, it can still end well.
But let’s be real: it’s almost impossible to conquer your struggles alone. Everyone needs help, but the kind of help you get makes a big difference. You don’t need someone at the mountaintop, telling you how to get up there. You need someone next to you, climbing the mountain with you. Someone to give you the tools to overcome your pain. Someone speaking to your heart and urging you to never stop climbing.
That’s where this book comes in.
When your life is a serious mess, you don’t need someone to offer you a bunch of empty advice. You need someone who is going to be by your side as you work your way out of it. You need someone to say, “I understand where you’re at, I’m here for you, and we will conquer this together.” My videos get a ton of views, which is great, but what I love the most is how much interaction they create. When more than a hundred thousand people feel so connected to what I’m saying on a video that they respond in a deeply personal way, I know they understand that I’m on their side, that we’re fighting this battle as teammates. They understand that I’m not giving up on them, and they don’t need to give up on themselves. I’m not trying to be an oracle; I’m trying to be a colleague, a supporter, a friend. I call my followers; I respond to their messages; I even send some of them personal encouragement videos. This is all very real for me, because I understand the consequences of desperation.
So, this book is a promise. You want to take your life to a better place? I’ll be there with you, inspiring you to become your greatest you. Are you ready to do the work necessary to become the best version of yourself? If so, I offer you the benefit of my experience and the experiences of others who have been so generous to share their stories with me. I’ll be there, coaching you up and giving you the tools you need to get out of a bad situation and on to something so much better.
There’s hard work coming in this book. You’re going to have to face some things that maybe you’d prefer not to face. You’re going to have to get rid of some things in your life that are going to be very hard to get rid of. But I’ll stick with you, every step of the way, sharing with you how I dealt with the same situations.
Throughout this book, I’ll be sharing parts of my personal journey and showing the lessons these experiences have taught me. I will also share lots and lots of stories from followers all over the globe—people who have gone through (and might still be going through) hard times and feel that their stories might offer others something to identify with and provide a sense of comfort. I’ve changed their names here for their own protection, but I promise you these stories are as real as they are raw.
Enough introduction. We have work to do.
Are you ready to become the greatest you? Then it’s RehabTime.
Let’s get it.
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