“You can’t envy somebody’s success unless you’re willing to walk in their footsteps, that they did to get there.”
Are there areas of your life that you’d like to have a significant breakthrough in, such your business, your career, your health, your income, an important relationship, a challenge you’re facing, or your overall happiness and emotional well-being?
If you answered “yes” (and I’m assuming you did), do you have a process, a formula, or a system in place that enables you to intentionally and consistently create breakthroughs? If you don’t have a process, or maybe your process just hasn’t gotten you where you want to go, this episode is for you.
Today, I’m bringing you an expert at helping people create those breakthroughs—my good friend, David Nurse. David is a life and optimization coach with the NBA. He’s coached the Brooklyn Nets, delivered keynotes all over the world, and his new book is titled, Breakthrough: A Sure-Fire Guide to Realizing Your Potential, Pushing Through Limitations, and Achieving Things You Didn’t Know Were Possible.
In today’s conversation, we discuss how he made a name for himself by breaking a Guinness world record, frameworks and strategies you can use to realize your potential in any area of life, and how to implement them as part of your daily practice.
- Why David always implements a morning routine with his athletes.
- The importance of being content and appreciating your life, and staying hungry at the same time.
- The mental cues, tools, and tactics David uses to navigate negativity, envy, and fear.
- How writing one letter helped David transform his life and helped him become a shooting coach for the Brooklyn Nets after getting cut from a semi-pro team in Spain, moving back in with his parents, and feeling like he’d never make it as a professional basketball player.
- How living with confidence, cooperation, and purpose sets you up to create breakthroughs–and why consistency is the most critical element to achieving success.
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Hal Elrod: Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for tuning in today. I appreciate you being here. And if you are looking for a breakthrough in your life, if you want to have a breakthrough in your relationship, in your business, in your career, in your income, in your health, if you’re looking for a breakthrough, this is the right episode for you.
Today is a conversation with my good friend. I shouldn’t say good friend because we’re newer friends, but we’re quickly becoming good friends. David Nurse, who wrote the book Breakthrough, he literally wrote the book on the topic, Breakthrough. And we’re going to talk about how well his story, first of all, because it’s incredible how he has created breakthrough after breakthrough after breakthrough in his own life. And we can learn a lot from the stories that he shares and the lessons within. It’s a fascinating story.
But also, he’s going to break down his breakthrough formula, about three-fourths of the way or toward the end of the episode, and you’ll want to stick around for that as well. If you don’t know who David Nurse is, he is an NBA life and optimization coach. He works with some of the top NBA players. He’s a shooting coach. He’s coached with the Brooklyn Nets. He also taught podcasts. He delivers keynotes all over the world. He’s personally helped some of the top NBA players and coaches, not to mention Hollywood actors, powerful CEOs, and entrepreneurs, live in what he calls the breakthrough mode.
And what I love about this book and this topic is that we’re all looking for a breakthrough to go to the next level in any or every area of our life. But how do you do it systematically? And that’s what David breaks down in his book. In fact, I wrote the following endorsement after I got an early copy of the book. I wrote this, if you want a different result, you must do something different first. Unfortunately, most books fall short in enabling you to sustain meaningful changes to your behavior. Breakthrough is transformative, and it will enable you to close the gap between learning and actually living what you learn. Again, I think you’ll love the book, but I think today’s conversation is going to be an eye-opener for you and really entertaining. David’s just one of the nicest guys in the world, and I think you’re going to love him as much as I do.
Before we dive into the episode today, I want to take just a minute to thank our sponsor, Organifi, and I want to thank Organifi specifically today for their immune formula. Why? Because my daughter is sick. She woke up with a sore throat this morning and a little bit of a cough and a little bit stuffy. And any time I start to get sick or if my family is sick and I want to prevent getting sick, I always take Organifi’s immune supplement. It’s a little packet. You tear it open. It’s kind of orange-flavored if you will. It’s got acerola cherry, vitamin C. Here’s the point, it’s all from whole foods. It’s not chemical vitamin C, it’s not ascorbic acid, which isn’t real vitamin C. All of Organifi’s products are derived from whole foods and so their immune supplement.
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Without further ado, I’m excited for you to meet my good friend, becoming a better and better friend every day, somebody who I just love this guy, love his energy, love his attitude, love his spirit of servant leadership. He truly is a servant leader, Mr. David Nurse.
Hal Elrod: David Nurse, it’s good to see you again, brother.
David Nurse: Hal, man, thank you for having me on this. And I’d rather be there in Austin with you, in the country of Texas, out of California, a foreign country, in your country of Texas.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I moved from my whole life in California here to Texas. It’s been a good move. Actually, I’m looking right now in front of my desk. I have a chair, this really nice comfy chair with a second microphone that when I moved here a year ago, I’m like, I’m going to start doing in-person interviews and I’ve never even unboxed the second microphone. It’s sitting in that chair for a year. So, dude, we should all work this out, and had you been my first in-person guest, man, maybe for the next interview, the next time you come on the show, we get it in person.
David Nurse: Let’s say that for our next books that come out for your next show, me eight zillion Miracle Mornings for every single generation that there is, won’t do an in-person, we will break the seal on it. We’ll say, hey, Zoom world, I know you’re too easy, but we’re going back to in-person.
Hal Elrod: Dude, we got to do Miracle Morning for NBA players, right? You’re the guy to coauthor that one.
David Nurse: Hal, can I tell you this? The players that I work with, on mindset development, I always implement a morning routine. And this is not just a shout-out to you, but I use principles, the success principles that you talk about. And it’s funny because when you are around these personal development people and optimization people. Everybody’s got a morning routine, I mean, why wouldn’t you? And then a lot of these players were these just unbelievable athletes, like on morning routine. What the heck is that? I just get up and go.
Hal Elrod: Sure. They’re still in their college routine, which is like stay up late, sleep in as long. I mean, when I was in college, I play video games till five in the morning, sleep till 11, go to my first class at noon. I was definitely not always a Miracle Morning guy. So, that’s understandable.
David Nurse: That’s funny, man. You are the complete opposite of that now. What video game were you playing? Did you do GoldenEye?
Hal Elrod: No, I was playing Resident Evil, killing zombies at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.
David Nurse: What else set you up for success in college?
Hal Elrod: That’s right. It is funny, my buddy, that I went to college. When he first got wind of the Miracle Morning, I remember he called me. He’s like, “Dude, this is the opposite of the Hal Elrod that I know.” You were like, “I couldn’t get you out of bed in the morning.” I was like, “Yeah, things change.”
David Nurse: Oh, is that funny? Did you get that? Like people from your childhood and they’ll reach out to you like, “Hal, how did you make it here? How did you…”
Hal Elrod: Totally. Dude, I was the biggest screw-up. Like I always sometimes I tell my story. I say, like, the only record that I broke when I was younger is I literally broke the record for the most hours of detention that any senior at our high school had ever gotten. It was like something, 170 hours of detention. And at the end of the year, I think I had to do community service, or my parents had to donate money or a company, like something to get me to graduate. So, yeah, man, that was the path that I was on, man. My parents were pretty worried.
David Nurse: That’s a lot of hours. That’s multiple days spent in detention.
Hal Elrod: It’s not humanly possible. So, yeah, we had to beg to get out of that. And it’s funny, and then I went to my 10-year high school reunion. It was really cool. This girl that I had a crush on, which I don’t know if she ever knew that, but I had a crush on her, and I saw her at the reunion. And she goes, “Yeah, Nicole can’t be here today. She said to say hi.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s awesome.” “And yes, she was asking me, who’s the most successful person at our school?” And she goes, “I thought about it. And I go, I think it’s Hal Elrod.” Just the tone in her voice and really, Nicole’s like, really? He’s like a bestselling author or something. And at that point, I think I had a girlfriend that was like, oh, man, it was my chance, it was too late. It was too late at that point, but anyway.
Hey, dude, let’s start here. I read your book a while back. You sent me an advance copy, gave you an endorsement. I started rereading all my notes before today’s interview, so I got a lot of– I want to talk about. But here’s where I want to start, and this is something I’m fascinated by this. You are in the Guinness Book of World Records, which like, stop right there, like 99.99% of people that’s like, that’s fascinating. The rest of us are not in the Guinness Book. You’re in there twice, if I’m not mistaken. Is that right?
David Nurse: So, let me tell you this story.
Hal Elrod: Yes.
David Nurse: Give people encouragement, and it’ll also be like, David, what are you doing here? Alright. All I could do was shoot a basketball. And when I played basketball, that was my love, and we can get into that. But after I realized I wasn’t going to play in the NBA being 6’1 and not very athletic and a vertical leap of about 2 inches, I was going to be a shooting coach and I wanted to be a shooting coach in the NBA. And I figured you know what? I have to do something that makes myself stand out, not only for the basketball camps that I was going to run because I wanted the people to come to my shooting camps. So, I was like, okay, what’s the world record for most threes made in a minute? And there was a YouTube video of 19 made in a minute. Like, I can do that. If I get a good rebounder, I know I can do that. Like me spot up, catch, and shoot, really good. Like we played before.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I shot it with you before. I didn’t understand, I’m like, you didn’t miss a three-pointer, and then you just started getting cocky and shooting them like 10 feet behind the three-point line. I’m like, we were playing horse. I’m like, “Who is this guy?” Yeah, that’s the first time we met, man. Anyway, alright, so back to the story.
David Nurse: So, I decided I’m going to break the record. I’m going to go for 20.
Hal Elrod: Wow.
David Nurse: And I’m going to call it Guinness World Record because obviously, that’s what, on YouTube, people are going to search. So, I did it and I got 20. And then like, oh, let me get another one. Let’s see what 5 minutes is. There’s some obscure number, like 5 minutes is a long time.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Arms are tired after 5 minutes, man.
David Nurse: Getting into a zone, you don’t even know what you’re doing anymore. So, I smashed that record, though, it was on YouTube, and I called it the Guinness World Record.
Hal Elrod: What was the record, by the way? And what did you do?
David Nurse: The record was like 73, and I got 81.
Hal Elrod: Oh, wow, okay.
David Nurse: Made it in 5 minutes. One basketball, only one basketball. So, calling this Guinness World Record and it’s catching on, like I didn’t think anything of it like it would become big. ESPN picks it up, they run it.
Hal Elrod: No way.
David Nurse: So, it’s a Guinness World Record. I’m like, oh, no. I’m thinking here, like, I’m pretty sure I have to go to Guinness to get it like…
Hal Elrod: Official.
David Nurse: At least modified, official. And then I get an email a couple of years later from Guinness and they say, “Hey, if you want this to be an official record, you have to do it with us.” They’re to be able to say and it’s all in film and everything, so it’s all there. But to me, that’s all I needed. All I needed was a validation from Guinness to say, “Hey, you have to make this official.” So, I call it a Guinness World Record, not officially…
Hal Elrod: Is it an official Guinness World Record?
David Nurse: Yeah. But it is my mission, Hal. Thank you for that reminder. I do want to do this again and I’m going to call Guinness and I’ll make a big thing about it. And hopefully, I can still make some shots.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. We’ll just tie it into the promotion of this book or your next– like, you might as well get as much juice out of that opportunity as you can.
David Nurse: That’s a really good idea. We should do it at the hoop that we met at, so I know that I can make…
Hal Elrod: Cal Callahan’s house. But that would be a great PR move to tie in Guinness Book of World Records and author of Breakthrough, David Nurse. That’s fun, dude. So, how long ago was that? How old were you when you broke the record?
David Nurse: Five years ago. Six years ago, when I started running in basketball camps, it’s what I did before I ended up coaching in the NBA. Might have been even longer, to be honest with you. I’m old now. And literally, all I did was I’d run in basketball camps, sleep on friend’s couches, who didn’t even know us. Their friends sleep in my car and at Walmart parking lots, just running in camps. One, I loved basketball and wanted to become an NBA coach, but two, I loved traveling. I got to see over 50 countries just through basketball alone, getting paid to do basketball camps and traveling the world, which is practice when you think about it.
And when I look back on it, Hal, I had to tell people this too, like– and it’s the hardest thing to do, enjoy where you are in the moment because I was on that mindset of like, okay, let me get this. I got to get to another country, get another stamp on my passport, another stamp instead of being, oh, wow, I’m in Venice, Italy, cruising down the rivers. Like, maybe I should soak this in for a second.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Now, you’re right. It was funny before we did this, I was in my backyard sitting there and I just had one of those mornings where you wake up, you feel off and kind of focusing on the negative or whatever. And I was kind of having a tough morning, and so sitting out there just trying to shift my paradigm about an hour ago after my lunch, and that was it, man. I’m just like, Hal, look at what you’ve built, not that I built our house, but I’m like, this is the home that you bought, your dream home that you worked so hard for, for so long. You’re living the life that you wanted and you’re not fully appreciating it. I think that’s true for all of us. I don’t care.
Even when you’re in it in challenging circumstances, not where you want to be, we have that opportunity to either focus on what’s wrong with life or appreciate what’s right. And either way, there’s always a long list of negatives and a long list of positives. And I think the reality is, whatever we look at, you are one of those positive people I know. Here’s where I want to go next. You correct me if I’m wrong, but from the outside looking in, it seems like you are living the life of your dreams and all this is just like a few things that I notice or that I know about you, (a) you’ve played professional basketball all around the world, which has been a dream of yours for a long time. You are coaching in the NBA, NBA players, some of the best players in the world and working with some of the best coaches in the world.
You now are living your dream as a speaker. You’re speaking around the world on topics like leadership, motivation, all these things. You are married to the woman of your dreams, who for those that don’t know, it is the beautiful actress Taylor Kalupa. And I reread her foreword that she wrote for your book this morning. Like, you guys are frickin adorable. She adores you, and I know it’s mutual. And you’re a multiple-time author. This is your second book, Breakthrough. Am I missing anything here? Are you living the life of your dreams that you always imagined and beyond, maybe?
David Nurse: Hal, you know well. Now that you say that, even you talking about how you struggled this morning with feeling that sense of appreciation, it’s cool to hear that coming from the morning routine guy that you struggle sometimes when you wake up in the morning and you say all those things, and it’s just like it’s a reminder to me that, yeah, I actually am living beyond what I’ve ever dreamt about.
Some of the stuff is unfathomable. I never dreamed I would have a wife like Taylor. She’s so amazing. It just words won’t do it justice, or being able to coach in the– I always wanted to play in the NBA, but what’s better than playing in the NBA is when the best players come to you to help them get even better. And yeah, so like, I really am extremely, extremely blessed and I know it.
The hardest thing for me is to continue to stay content but still hungry. I want to be content. I want to really appreciate. Okay, Hal says is, that’s actually true. So, why am I feeling like, oh, stress of what’s to come, or oh, the book hasn’t been a New York Times bestseller yet, or oh, people like the next book or– and there are these little things that keep coming in and in. And it’s just the constant reminder that, yeah, God has immensely blessed me to live the life that I want to live in and more, but it’s also encouragement to myself and to others that you really can do it.
If you want to create the life that you want for yourself, I wouldn’t say it’s easy to be done, it’s very doable. The formula isn’t that hard. The execution is extremely difficult because people don’t want to see or hear, hey, you know what? It takes consistency. It literally takes hard work. Doing the things that other people don’t necessarily love to do day after day after day, and after 10, 15 years, then people see you and they’re like, whoa, this guy’s living a life, like same for you. There you go, man. He’s had the best millions of books sold. He’s got movies, like he’s living the life. They don’t see what comes before that. So, you can never envy somebody’s success unless you’re willing to walk in their footsteps, that they’ve got to get there. So, thank you for that reminder, man. I am living the life better than I could even imagine.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I want to say what you just said, which is before you envy somebody, realize that you– you said, can you repeat that? What did you just say?
David Nurse: Yeah. You can’t envy somebody’s success unless you’re willing to walk in their footsteps, that they did to get there. And I still struggle with this, man. We have some incredible friends that are very, very successful.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, sure.
David Nurse: Going like, well, they’re at that spot, and I’m still here. Like why am I still here? It’s okay. It’s going to take time. And I really have to focus on what I said about when I was traveling the world, enjoy the here and now. God always provided. He’s always provided. There’s a verse in Matthew that God takes care of the birds. Why will he not take care of you? Not to remind myself that when I think about like, well, am I going to make it? Will I really make it? I know we will.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I had a distinction a while back that every fear we experience, we’re not actually afraid of the things we think we’re afraid of. Those aren’t what caused the fear. It’s our perceived inability to handle the things we’re afraid of. That’s what we’re afraid of because if there was a future circumstance, you go, my God, I don’t think I can handle it. You’re terrified. What if that comes to pass? I don’t know if I’m strong enough, but if you flipped it, you went, dude, I can handle anything. Well, the fear disappears. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
And you said something a minute ago which really resonated. I had a distinction recently. You talked about being content. That paradox between how do you be content with what you have and hungry to create something different or better, which inherently is saying, well, this isn’t as good as it could be. So, that balance, and I was going to bed the other night and I had this kind of experiential awareness around contentment and I just was like, that’s heaven on earth. Heaven on earth is being content with your life exactly as it is, doesn’t mean you don’t want to make changes in the future.
But it’s about this moment, my bank account is exactly what it is, whether that’s exciting or depressing. At this moment, I’m married to the person I’m married to. In this moment, my weight is what it is. If I can find that place inside where I am just completely, unconditionally content with my life exactly as it is, that’s it. I did it. I am experiencing heaven on earth. But I’m going to also do things to do even more, create even better, like continue to aspire to see what else is possible. Not because I’m not content, but because I’m excited to explore life and see what I can create.
David Nurse: Dude, I could not agree more. Let’s go in-depth on this because I think this is very, very important. What you said there, contentment is heaven on earth. So, here are the issues that I see personally that people struggle with. Number one, you have to accept the past. That is the biggest starting point. If you don’t accept the past, you can do nothing to change it. You either look at it one of two ways. Hey, I’m going to blame the past, and this is shaping me. Oh, my parents raised me this way. Like I was born to this. You either blame the past or you accept it to improve your future.
So, once you accept, the past has led you to the moment that you’re at today, you have to accept that, bad, indifferent. Everybody has something in their past that is bad that they are able to use for where they are today. Now, appreciate the present. So, you accept the past, appreciate the present exactly what you just said.
And one of the tools that I do to kick myself into this is when I have these type of negative thoughts creeping in, these self-doubt thoughts creeping in. I’m really big on mental cues in mind as I snap my fingers, this cue triggers my brain. Like, okay, here’s what’s happening. Alright, stop, S, notice, stop, a pause, notice. Okay, what’s going on here? Assess. Assess the situation. Why am I feeling this doubt? Why am I feeling that I’m not good enough? Why am I feeling like I’m just feeling down about my situation and then pivot. P is pivot. Okay, I’m going to pivot my mindset.
So, it’s hard to appreciate the present unless we’re able to be self-aware and stop the negative thoughts that come. So, the SNAP is a mental cue that I use to appreciate that. And then you understand, I also like to think of it this way too, Hal. It’s like, well, people don’t know what I have come, I’m going to like– they’ll remember five years from now. They’re like, oh, David, what is this? This uncovered gym that we saw. Like, you think of yourself as this future all-star going to come, and that leads you into the next point of anticipating the future. So, accept the past, appreciate the present, anticipate the future.
You either look at the future of one or two ways – fear of the unknown, which you’re talking about. That’s the biggest fear people have. If I told you the day that you die, I told you, hey, it’s going to be 46 years from now, you’d be okay with it because you’re able to plan to then, you’d probably live your life a little differently. But if you don’t know, you have that fear of the unknown, that’s scary because our minds want to think of this worst-case scenario. And I’m doing a lot of research for the third book, which is all about why people don’t take action and showing them how to get through that point. And there are studies done that 91.28% of worst-case scenarios never come true, not even close. It’s like 91.28% worst-case scenario.
And so, you anticipate the future, like when you’re a kid, when you have that vacation coming up to Disney World, being at Disney World isn’t the most fun part. You literally stay in the lines for 45 minutes, but the vacation, like I still get excited about it. Me and Taylor are going to take our nieces down to Disneyland. Like, I’m excited about it. I know once I get there, it’s probably not going to be as fun. And anticipating the future instead of looking as like, oh, like woe is me.
And then you just kind of wrap this back all up. It might sound kind of morbid and depressing to think of this, but it gives me a lot of freedom of thinking like 100 years from now, nobody’s going to remember any of us. Very, very small number will remember 100 years from now. And like, if you think about, I don’t even know my great grandparents’ names. Hopefully, you do. Hopefully, people do. Definitely don’t know my great, great grandparents’ names.
So, 100 years from now, what you are stressing on so much, people aren’t going to remember who you are, sorry. And five years from now, if that little stress you think that you’re going through right now, do you think it will matter five years from now? Heck no. So, that kind of…
Hal Elrod: And it probably won’t matter five months from now. You know what I mean? Or five years, yeah. I like that five-year rule, which is, will this matter in five years? It’s never worth stressing about. Just deal with whatever you can deal with. I love that, though. Accept the past, appreciate the present, anticipate the future. What a beautiful, memorable approach to life, man.
David Nurse: Yeah, now, I’ve got to live it too. Like, if I’m preaching it, the hardest thing sometimes is to live it still out. But your reminder, that helped. And I think that is really important too, like having people in your life that will remind you, that will support you but will also challenge you. Having those people like you, Hal, our friends that I know are going to cheer me on. I get a text from you literally just out of the blue, cheering me on.
But I also know that if I’m not living up to who I can be, you’ll be the first one to say, dude, this book sucked, or I’ll send you over the next book, like, hey, get this together. And it’s the people that you surround yourselves with. We all know that, but we don’t want to be the American Idol singer who’s around people that all just say, yeah, you’re so great. You’re the best singer ever, and you suck. Surround yourself with the people that will support you. And even when it’s hard, and I’ve been there before, that will call you out on your stuff and will challenge you.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And I’ll say that too, underneath all of your accomplishments, you’re one of the nicest people, David. That’s what anyone who knows you will say. One of the nicest, most sincere, most genuine, most generous people that you would ever meet. And we met, and I was like, your positive energy, and you’re like, how can I support you? And it was genuine. Not like there was no angle, you know what I mean? So, yeah, man, props to you for just being a good person and doing it the right way.
David Nurse: Thanks, man. That means a lot. And it’s like that’s what’s fun, though, building relationships with people and real relationships and being completely transparent who you are because if I had an angle, if I was trying to use people, I’d be a lot better at it than I am. I figured that part out. So, man, being comfortable in your own skin is going to make other people comfortable in their skin. And that’s when life becomes fun when you can create brotherhood like this with a group that we hang out with, which we need to do again soon, by the way.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I know. You got to get that off and you’ve been teasing that you’re going to come out here again.
David Nurse: I have. I know. Got to take action and follow through.
Hal Elrod: Let’s talk about some of the takeaways from your book. The new book is Breakthrough. And I’ll read the subtitle because I think it’s a good kind of promise of what someone’s going to get reading it. It’s a surefire guide to realizing your potential. Yeah, I’ll sign up for that. Pushing through limitations, I need some of that. And achieving things you didn’t know were possible. And you’re the perfect person to do this.
Before we dive into it, I want you to take just a couple of minutes. Who were you growing up? When did you start envisioning this life that you have now, creating it? Because I’m always curious, if somebody like I knew those kids growing up from a very young age, they were great at everything they did. They got great grades, they were super athletic, they were very popular. They had like when I grew up, I’m going to be ____.
And I was getting detention, breaking those records. So, I’m always curious, for me, it was at 19 when I met a mentor and I got hired in direct sales. That was my defining moment. I’m no longer okay with being mediocre, like I have been my whole life. I’m ready to start living to my full potential. So, 19, when it happened for me. Was there a defining moment? What were you like as a kid? And what were those early defining moments that you broke through if you will?
David Nurse: Man, I was much more like you than it was the gifted person, everything given. So, my whole life plan was to play in the NBA. And I grew up in the middle of nowhere cornfields of Iowa. I’m 6’1, vertical leap is 2 inches, like parents probably said, play tennis or golf. But all I wanted to do was play in the NBA, so I had no backup plan. I grinded my way to play college basketball, Western Illinois, where no one’s ever gone to the NBA, still thought I was going to play in the NBA.
I go play overseas in Australia, Greece, and Spain, and it sounds really cool to say playing professionally overseas, but if I’m being completely honest, it’s more like the Will Ferrell semi-pro type of league. It is the NBA. And still, I’m thinking I’m playing in the NBA and I’m so far from it. So, a moment for me is I got cut from my second division, a second division team in Northern Basque region, Spain, where they don’t even speak Spanish and could care less about basketball. I get cut from this team, joke of a league. All my hopes, goals, and dreams are taken away from me, face rubbed in the dirt.
Hal Elrod: What age was that?
David Nurse: 24. So, I’m living on my parents’ recliner chair for six months. They were living in Kansas City at the time. And I remember this point vividly. There are a few points in my life that really stand out. I’m like, this made a big change. My mom would always say these motivational, inspirational quotes, and usually, it was in one ear, out the other, whatever, Mom, I don’t care what you’re talking about.
She was doing dishes. I was kicked back in the chair, reclining. She said, “David, when one door closes, four open in an entire beachfront patio overlooking the ocean.” It caught me off guard because I thought, as always, one door, one door. What resonated with me is that what I poured into playing in the NBA my whole entire life was not for loss.
And I think that’s where a lot of people get caught up. If something, if they get fired, if they fail, they think it’s all done. No, I developed so many skills to be able to coach and teach players with more God-given ability in athleticism, seven-foot height. So, I decided, I made that pivot that I wanted to coach in the NBA. So, that became my mission.
I didn’t have any connections at all. And this is kind of where I realized, like, I love relationships. It’s like I want to major in relationships. I just had so much fun, man. Like, I handwrote a letter to every NBA gym. That’s where it started. None of them got back to me for a month and a half. I got a call from a 310 area code, which is Los Angeles. It was the GM of the Clippers at the time, Gary Sacks. And we had just a quick conversation at the end of it. He said, “If you’re ever in L.A., look me up. We’ll grab coffee.” He was saying, like, good luck with the rest of your life and he was just being nice, returning my call. I took it as an opportunity.
Hal Elrod: Oh, yeah. You went on Southwest Airlines and bought a ticket to L.A.
David Nurse: Oh, yeah. Right after that, I spent all my money, Southwest Airlines. Also, my parents booked a ticket for next week, acted like I had a basketball camp, so I didn’t seem desperate. That eats up. We hit it off. Great conversation. Every connection in the NBA stemmed from Gary Sacks, from taking a leap, from taking that chance.
Now, we talked about the basketball camps and the shooting and all that. So, I had to build myself up as the experts for the NBA wanted me and not me just being desperate, like, hey, give me a job. And finally, five years later, after traveling all over the country, living in my car, traveling all over the world, I got an email from the Brooklyn Nets when I woke up one morning in Melbourne, Australia, said Brooklyn Nets shooting coach. I didn’t know anybody from the Nets, so I thought it was spam.
I actually clicked the box. I remember having a conversation with my dad like, hey, this is probably fake, right? He said, check it out, look into it, open it up. The next week, I’m the shooting coach for the Brooklyn Nets.
Hal Elrod: Wow.
David Nurse: So, all that being said, my background history is in basically, making things happen, like taking action and making things happen, but also understanding that, hey, it’s going to take time. Nothing great that we accomplished, I don’t think anybody that is able to withstand that is just bang, happened overnight.
Hal Elrod: No, I think one of the best philosophies or paradigms I ever learned was it takes 10 years on average to become an overnight success. Like you mentioned, all the behind-the-scenes, all the failure, all the self-doubt, all the writing a letter to every GM in the NBA, you know what I mean? Yeah, so I love that there are so many great things about that story because you had a dream, right? You were set on that dream. You were physically, potentially not the height that whatever you needed to hit the dream, physically gifted. You had to pivot while sleeping on your parents’ couch after you had been overseas, what you thought was living the dream. And now, you’re on your parents’ couch, probably a little discouraged, and then you shifted. Okay, a new dream, time to give birth to a new dream. And then you persisted until you succeeded, man. So, yeah, such a great example for all of us.
David Nurse: And I never really knew where I was leading. So, to wrap up that question, I never really knew leading, I never was a guy like I knew exactly what I was going to do and I still did when I was coaching there. I got fired after the first year and I had to pivot again. But I think life is like a long hallway, where you start and where you finish, there are many doors on each side. You walk down this hallway, you went to a door, you learn something, you learn some skills, and then you keep going.
So, it’s a continual learning process, and I really think that’s what makes life fun too, is we wake up excited for the day because we know we’re going to improve, we pour into ourselves so that we can point to others. There’s really no end. Like, hey, I made it because I know that feeling. If I ever feel like, hey, I made it, then I’m going to become complacent. And that’s what I don’t want. I want contentment, not complacency.
So, viewing life is like, hey, you don’t have to know necessarily what you’re going to do long term. And I think a lot of people get caught up in that, and that’s why they don’t take action. The worst thing you can do is go nowhere. Even if you go in the wrong way, like it’s not the wrong way, you’re learning a skill to be able to use or you’re learning what not to do. The famous Thomas Edison, how many times not to make the light bulb?
Hal Elrod: Light bulb, yeah.
David Nurse: The worst thing you can do, like two people out there, if you’re feeling stuck, just go, like go one direction. What’s juicing you up? I tell people when you have purpose and passion, that equals mission. So, if you have a passion for something, what makes you excited when you wake up in the morning? If you could do anything, what would that be?
Now, if you can tie that to a purpose. So, it’s not saying, hey, I just want to play video games and make money for myself. Probably not the way to go, but what can it do for other people? So, if that passion equals purpose, go for it. That’s going to get you on your mission. And like you said, it’s going to take time. I’m not telling somebody, hey, if you work in an office job, quit today and then go dive into your passion, expect to make money. No, I call it hiding the ships. You don’t have to burn the ships. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Hal Elrod: I love it.
David Nurse: You know what? Little bit, it only takes literally five minutes of the day, five minutes a day, five minutes a day. If you do the compounding effect, 10 years, if you’re doing five minutes of the day, yeah, you’ll probably be able to step away from what you don’t like to do to what you really want to do, but you have to start. Just like our good friend, Justin Donald, would tell us, like, you got to start investing early. Don’t wait. So, don’t wait another day.
Hal Elrod: It’s so true. And Mark Victor Hansen, I once heard him say, just lean into it. You don’t have to make a quantum leap. Just lean into it, that five minutes a day, a couple of hours a week, whatever, just leaning into the next thing, exploring what you want to do. And I think people, it’s like they’re waiting until they have everything, clear picture of exactly what they want and what they need to do before they’re taking action, but it’s not that way. Success is messy. You move forward, you learn something new, you try something, you fail, you pivot, you pivot, you figure something else out. And it’s like you can’t predict the future.
So, I was talking to somebody the other day, I forgot what the context of our– we were talking about Miracle Morning, and I was saying that I went to this dinner and I wasn’t going to go with all these high-level entrepreneurs. John Assaraf was there. Mike Koenigs was there. John Lee Dumas was there. Who else? A bunch of folks. And I was like, this was Miracle Morning had just come out. And I remember I wasn’t going to go, I felt I was nervous. I’m like, I’m not on these guys level. I don’t even know how I got invited to this dinner. And my wife said, “Just go, just go. Stop being a baby.” She challenged my manhood a little bit. Stop being a baby, go. And who knows what’ll happen? Maybe nothing, maybe something.
And Mike Koenigs introduced me to his agent, who now the Miracle Morning is translated into 37 languages and published in those countries because I frickin went to a dinner that I couldn’t have predicted, well, if I go to this dinner, I’m going to meet a guy who’s going to introduce me to this person who will turn this into that. You don’t know. It just keeps going forward and taking advantage of opportunities or creating those opportunities. And yeah, those are the people that win in life. The people that they don’t know where they’re going except that it’s forward. And they take wrong turns. Sometimes, they make U-turns, but they keep moving forward. And as they do, they meet new people, they attract new opportunities, they mess up, they grow, and they become, as you said, the person that they need to be to take that next step and create what they want for their life. Talk about breakthroughs, man.
David Nurse: Wow. Hey, I got to say that is amazing, dude. You’ve given me goosebumps saying that because I feel that way so many times before I hit on Breakthrough. I think that’s so important for people to hear. Like, I’ll go to dinners, I’ll go to events, and like, I don’t want to go. I don’t feel like going. But every time that I do because I don’t feel, hey, I’m not making it as much as them, I’m not as popular as them, I’m not– but every time I come out of there, I feel so much better about myself. I’m so glad that I did it.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, that’s so true. That insecurity of like what if we start talking and they ask what I do, a feeling like I’m not on their level. And that was my thing is I’m like, I’m a self-published author. I haven’t had any success. So, I was embarrassed. But yeah, it’s like you find that people generally want to help you and they want to pull you up.
David Nurse: You know what’s so funny about that? Even when we met for the first time, when Justin said, “Yeah, Hal’s coming over.” I was like, “No way, Hal Elrod, like the bestselling au– that Hal?” He’s like, “Yeah, he’s coming. He’s a cool guy.” Like, “Okay, alright.” It was amazing, but that’s the way I felt. So, when you don’t think people are thinking that of you, they probably actually are.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And then here’s the beauty of it, by the way, how did you win me over? You didn’t win me over because I knew your bio. You didn’t win me over because you told me you broke the Guinness world. I didn’t learn that till much later. Like, you won me over because you were just genuinely– you were literally the epitome of how to win friends and influence people. You were sincerely interested in me. You were super encouraging. We were playing horse. You didn’t miss a single shot. And no matter how many I missed, you’re like ah, buddy, you’re– I almost felt like a kid. You’re like, you’re doing great, buddy. You’re doing great. It was like, I felt good. You encouraged me. So, yeah, man, that’s what everybody has. We all have the ability to be kind and to be interested in other people. And those two traits above all else are what create human connection.
So, if you’re listening to this, I want you to really remember that being kind and being interested in other people, as simple as that might sound, that is how you create a human connection. Not because you’re impressive, it’s because you’re a good human, good person. So, let’s do this. Talk to the audience about how we can create breakthroughs in our own life. And I’d love for you to maybe frame it in terms of what holds us back because I think that’s important. If we’re not aware of the obstacle that stands in the way or that holds us back, then we’re going to keep bumping up against it. So, what holds us back from creating breakthroughs? And how can we implement the breakthrough formula that you teach in your book?
David Nurse: Great question, great point. So, breakthroughs are a very abstract term. People always want them. When you ask him, “Hey, do you want a breakthrough?” But then he asks, “What is a breakthrough?” And usually, say, “You know what? I just had a stroke of luck, a little happy accident.” And so, the biggest thing holding people back from breakthroughs is not having a formula, not having a guide. It’s just going through life and hoping, continually hoping something great happens. But you can actually set yourself up on a formula if you live in these four quadrants daily, which are not hard to live in. Hal, I’m not saying like, hey, you know what? Like you’ve got to hit this point, this point, this point, this point, this point, and all this kind of crazy stuff.
It literally comes to the basis of it starts with confidence, which means self-awareness. It’s not your resume, it’s not your accolades. Those are things that are just the tips of the iceberg, but self-awareness of everything is taken away from you. If your business card, if your identity, other people see you as taken away, are you okay with who you are? So, it all starts with who. I know Simon Sinek says, it starts with why. You got to be selfish first, who you are first. So, once you know who you are away from what you do, that’s where you start.
The next piece is who are the people are you around? This is the cooperation. So, this is the where part. You start with who, you go to the where, where are the people around you? And we all have different God-given strengths for a reason, like weaknesses is just another term for complements wish list. To me, that means we put ourselves around people that aren’t necessarily like us but will improve us, like…
Hal Elrod: Wait. We got to say that again. Weakness is a complements wish list, meaning that’s a wish list of the people that you need to surround yourself with that complement your strengths, yes?
David Nurse: Very well said.
Hal Elrod: I’ve never heard it said like that. So, I didn’t want to gloss over that. That was powerful.
David Nurse: So, I think it is Einstein that said it, if a goldfish tries to climb a wall his entire life, he’s going to feel like he’s dumb in his entire life. If you tell me to go fix something or go build something or go do anything, technology-based, I’m going to feel like I’m very dumb. That’s not my strength. So, I’m going to surround myself with people.
When you find this ultimate team, it’s like a Formula One race car driver. The driver is great. You get the best tire guy, you get the best lug nut guy, you get the best oil guy. You make this ultimate team around you. If you’re a basketball fan, the 98 Bulls, best team in NBA history, Jordan best score, Pippen best sidekick, Kerr best shooter, Rodman best crazy man. Well, you know what? Color your hair, he’s going to come with her, he’s going to kick out of the game or not. His misfits that put us together, like we talked about earlier too, the people that challenge and support. So, finding your team, finding the people around you that can improve you.
And this is also like one thing I get a lot, well, hey, I don’t get to choose the people I’m going to be around. Okay, that’s fine. Like, you don’t have to spend your time thinking about what they’re saying. The coworker I work who’s negative, like that doesn’t have to affect you. You can build the team around you nowadays even better than ever, virtually. It doesn’t have to be physical.
Hal Elrod: True, yeah.
David Nurse: What about my family? Okay, you can love your family, but you don’t have to spend your time being so caught up with the family drama. You don’t have to spend your energy on people that are bringing you down. Surround yourself with this challenge and support. So, you have the who, the confidence, you have the where, this is the cooperation, the team around you.
And now, it’s what are you doing? What are you actually doing? This is the service. So, if you are doing what you’re doing for yourself, if you feel like, hey, I have to make this amount in my bank account or I want this amount of followers, you’ll be miserable, like Steve Jobs on his deathbed, miserable. He had nobody around him. He was probably one of the most successful people ever that will never fulfill you. But if what you’re doing is for others, true, genuine service, which I define as giving your time and energy when it’s not convenient for you, that I’m not good at this. If I have my schedule, I’m on my schedule, but people need us more than ever now. It’s like people will always put on a face and act like they’re okay, but can you be there for someone who needs you for 15 minutes, for 10 minutes? Change their entire life.
One of the things that I’ve done that I try to stay true to is a text message, three people every morning, or video message them, someone I haven’t talked to for a while and just pointed out them genuinely, letting them know, like, hey, if I can help you, let me know. And I’m serious about it. Hey, I’m just cheering you on. That’s all I want you to know. I know you’re doing great things, just cheering you on. And sometimes, the responses have been like, man, I needed this a little pick me up. I needed this. So, be that person who can encourage, serve others. That’s the what you were doing. And as we know and that’s not always easy to accept this, but when you pour into other people and you don’t expect anything in return, God has a way of bringing it all back to you in return. Hard to do, but when you do it, man, it’s as fulfilling as can be.
And the final piece comes to the why. This is the purpose. So, people think of purpose of like, well, my purpose of what I’m doing. No, no, no. It’s not necessarily what you’re doing, it’s why you are doing it. Why you are doing it? So, if you have a job you don’t like, okay, well, you can put together a plan for how to get to a different thing that you like, but in the meantime, work your butt off at it. Like your kids are going to see this. Your kids aren’t going to necessarily listen to all you say, but they will definitely see what you’re doing, your actions. And this is your purpose of why you are doing what you do.
And then bonus points in this, if you have that, like we talked about that passion and you have that purpose, so like something that I love and I think we’ve all been gifted this amazing gift from God to be able to use. Like even if I go down to the coffee shop and the person behind the barista is like, this bean was roasted at 37 degrees Fahrenheit in the Himalayan Andes Mountains, whatever, I love that. I love people that become obsessed with their passion. I know that is a word people are like, ah, but I think balance is B.S. I don’t want another yoga class or this to feel this. I don’t want to be 80/20 lukewarm loving my wife, 80/20 on the mission that I’m on. No, I want to be obsessed with it. Obsessed just means essentialism.
And that wraps it up for the purpose. So, the confidence, the cooperation service, and the purpose, put those together, you live in those daily, you’re going to create breakthroughs. I don’t know when they’re exactly going to happen, but you’re setting yourself up to make breakthroughs become regularly occurring actions in your life.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, and I want to say that that is what I loved about your book from the get-go is finally a book that shows you how to be aware and intentional to create the breakthroughs in your life, not just let them happen by chance because most people, yeah, it’s like, they’re waiting for a breakthrough. And for me, I have a little ritual that I do in the evening where before I go to bed, I ask myself, what could I have done better today? And then how can I go? How can I create more tomorrow? And where can I be better?
I have this process whereas I’m laying down to sleep before I really tune out for the night to go to sleep, your 15-minute window where I have a notepad by my bed and I write down all my ideas and then act on them the next morning. In your book, you teach how to structure every day in these four quadrants so that you aren’t having to schedule extra time in. You’re just simply structuring the way you organize your day so that breakthroughs, it’s always on your mind, it’s something that you’re consciously actively creating.
And yeah, I think it’s great because that is what do we need if we want to improve or transform any area of our lives? We need breakthroughs. I need a breakthrough to take my marriage to the next level. I need a breakthrough to figure out how to– if I don’t love my job, like you said, to get out of this job and figure out what I’m going to do next. I need that clarity, that breakthrough. And so, yeah, man, that’s what I loved about this book.
David Nurse: Thanks, man. Thanks, man, really, I’ve been in-depth on the book. I know how many books that you get and people send to you. And when you’re sending me chapters and sending me things from it, like that really fills me up, man. Not many people do that, so thank you.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, brother. Well, hey, man, like attracts like, dude, so keep doing what you’re doing. Where is the best place for people to buy the book, Amazon or anywhere else they should go to get the book, and/or to connect with you?
David Nurse: Sure, yeah, DavidNurse.com is my website. I have a newsletter, a weekly newsletter, that I do that I promote a book, a podcast that I’m reading, and a mindset quote and mentality for the week. So, you can go there, get the book. You can go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, anywhere books live really. Support the Barnes and Nobles. You know what? I love going into a bookstore and actually picking a physical copy of a book. Amazon is doing just fine, like they don’t…
Hal Elrod: Yeah. That’ll be all right. Barnes and Noble probably needs a little more support than Amazon does right now, for sure. Cool, brother. Well, last question, is there anything else that you want to share? And I guess what I might be curious about or what I am curious about is what’s on the horizon for you? What’s next for you? What are you excited about in terms of everything you talk about? Because I know you live with purpose, you live from a place of service, so what is your next goal, your next mission? What are you excited about moving forward?
David Nurse: Man, love that question. I’ve always got something. So, I got another book that I’m writing and I really love the process of writing a book. I know sometimes it’s banging my head against a wall, but I love the process and I love the outcome of it. And I’m also working on creating a show. I know a lot of people will say, “Hey, I’ve got a show in the works,” but I’m going to make it happen. I’ve got a great connection to someone who’s done a ton of shows, so that’s going to be…
Hal Elrod: Like a podcast or a TV show? What do you mean a show?
David Nurse: Well, a TV show.
Hal Elrod: Oh, wow.
David Nurse: We’re going big. Yeah, big TV show. So, that’s on the horizon. And yeah, I mean, like the reminder that you gave me earlier too, of just enjoying the life that I have because it is my dream life, it’s more than my dream life. So, me and Taylor have some great travel. We have an Alaskan cruise. We’re going to go to Europe. So, before we have kids, we’re going to get a lot of travel in and continue what I call the honeymoon mindset.
Hal Elrod: Awesome, brother. Well, I love you, man. I appreciate you. I’m excited. Anybody listening, check out the book. You can go to DavidNurse.com or Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and it is called Breakthrough: A Sure-Fire Guide to Realizing Your Potential, Pushing Through Limitations, and Achieving Things You Didn’t Know Were Possible. Appreciate you, David. Thanks for today, man.
David Nurse: Thanks, Hal. You’re the man.
Hal Elrod: Alright. Goal achievers and members of the Miracle Morning Community, you know I love you. Thanks for being here today. And I will talk to y’all next week.
Loved the episode with David Nurse – How to Create Your Next Breakthrough. Enjoyed hearing you guys discuss being satisfied with where you are while creating new things, which is something I contemplate a lot because it sometimes seems like those things are contradictory. I’m gradually seeing that being fully present and appreciating where we are actually helps us move forward and that they aren’t two separate things. I’m reading The Art of Being While Becoming by Vladimir Chen which also addresses this question. I’ve been finding it super helpful. Thank you David Nurse! Thank you, Hal! Love your podcast!!