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Have you ever thought of yourself as ordinary or insignificant? Maybe you feel like your life is boring. You look around and see famous people leading lives that seem so much better than yours.

In this episode, Dr. Rick is joined by Dwight Edwards, and they discuss how to stop being “vanilla” and live an epic life, no matter your circumstances.

Show Highlights Include:

  • How to live an epic life without being well known (6:27)
  • Why anyone can live an epic life, even if you feel like you’re nothing special (7:42)
  • The specific gifts you need to focus on to make the most of your life (7:48)
  • Handicapped? No education? Here’s how to live an epic life anyway (8:24)
  • The five traits that characterize an extraordinary life (9:25)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby. And, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello there, friends. I’m so glad you can join us today. I always love having a special guests. I know that many of you have really enjoyed Kevin Breeding coming on and talking and I'm hoping that Kevin will continue being a regular on our podcasts.

Let me tell you, boy, do I have someone for you today. As a matter of fact, my hope is that this man will agree to come back over and over again. I want to tell you about our special guest, introduce our topic, and I know that, at the end of our session, you are going to be challenged to go to another level in your life. [01:00.9]

My very special guest is the Dwight Edwards. Dwight is one of my best friends. Dwight literally mentored me before the world knew anything about me and we have a relationship that started on a tee ball field in Little League in College Station, Texas, when we would go and watch our younger children play ball. We started this wonderful, wonderful relationship right there on a Little League field.

And so, I'd like to welcome Dwight. I'm so glad that you're here, Dwight, and I know this is going to embarrass you, but I have to talk a little bit about you and I hope you don't mind [sound dropped] you my friend.

Dwight Edwards: It doesn’t look like I have a choice.

Dr. Rigsby: Dwight is joining us from his home in the Woodlands, Texas. Years ago, in the ’70s, Dwight was a former professional tennis player and he then went into ministry. The last name, Edwards, will sound familiar to many of you folks. Dwight is an actual descendant of the renowned theologian, Jonathan Edwards, whose famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God has been studied all around the globe. [02:07.2]

These days, Dwight is a best-selling author. He has written six books. My favorite is Say ‘No’ to Vanilla, which we're going to talk about today. He is a highly sought-after motivational speaker. I considered Dwight one of the three most powerful effective communicators that I know, and that is no exaggeration. He is a mentor to me. He's one of my best friends.

On a personal note, Dwight was by my side when my first wife passed away. You'll see in my book, Afraid to Hope, Dwight made a very powerful statement hours after my wife passed away that, really, I held onto for years. And then, Dwight, a few years later, joyfully married me and my wife, Janet.

And so, with a great deal of pleasure, I welcome Dwight. He's my brother. I love him. We get to talk about one of his favorite topics today and, Dwight, I want to start right out of the box with this. What is wrong with vanilla? [03:08.6]

Dwight: Nothing wrong with vanilla. It’s the most ordered flavor every day of the year around the world. The great thing about vanilla is you know exactly what you're going to get. That's never in danger of an extreme and basically it's just safe. It's right there in the middle. There's nothing wrong with it. But if there's something better than that, then we're fools to just hold on to what's most comfortable, easy and quickly accessible.

Dr. Rigsby: So, what you're getting, friends, is this. Dwight is equating vanilla, using it as a metaphor for the way in which we live. Basically, kind of an average existence, would you say, Dwight?

Dwight: Exactly. The book that I wrote just previous to this one, it was called A Tale of Three Ships and Say ‘No’ to Vanilla is really the sequel to it, and just very quickly, my point was that, as we go through life, we're all going to end up on one of three ships, probably all of us at one time or another on each. [04:05.0]

The first ship is the sinking ship and the goal in life is just survival. You're just trying to get by, job to job, paycheck to paycheck. And sometimes survival is a great goal. I'm not taking that away. Getting out of bed is epic living.

Dr. Rigsby: You bet.

Dwight: But, too often, people just kind of settle for just going through the routine, never feeling like there's anything better that life has to offer.

The second ship is the ship I think most Americans especially want to be on and it's the cruise ship, and the great goal of life is unbridled enjoyment and that is to ride as many rides as you can, eat as much cotton candy as you can, enjoy life to the hilt, have as much fun as possible. The old beer commercial put it like this: “You only go around once in life. So grab for all the gusto you can.”

Dr. Rigsby: Yep, you got it.

Dwight: The third ship is the ship what, really, saying no to vanilla is all about and it's the battleship, and the battleship is remarkably different than the other ships. It's cutting through the waters. It's resourced. It's on mission. It understands why it's here, and there is an aliveness and there is adventure, and there's a daringness and there's a risk-takingness that really trumps the other two ships. [05:15.9]

So, basically, what we're saying in saying no to vanilla is to have the courage to go for the best that you can be, to be willing to drain dry all the potential that God placed within you and to hang on for the ride of your life.

Dr. Rigsby: Wow. Die empty is what you're saying.

Dwight: Exactly.

Dr. Rigsby: You're saying so much more than that, Dwight. I have so many questions to ask. Let me start with this. As I'm listening to you, I'm thinking most people probably don't immediately walk on the gangplank onto the battleship. We like to talk about it, but that requires a tremendous commitment to live an epic life. So, before we go any further, define, give me your definition of “epic.”

Dwight: Epic, I think, is just taking the sum total of your gift-talent-passion mix, and absolutely maximizing it, absolutely draining it dry. [06:08.6]

So, I would say this. Most epic lives are never heard of. Most epic lives are lived in the shadows—the first-grade teacher. They're the Little League coach. The Boy Scout master, on and on and on—but their life is no less epic than the ones we hear of because they're simply fulfilling what they were made to do.

Dr. Rigsby: You're right. Keep going, please.

Dwight: That's why in the book that I wrote, Say ‘No’ to Vanilla, in the final chapter, the epilogue is one of my favorite vanilla busters, Rudy. Rudy Ruettiger. We would not even know who he is if it wasn't for the movie. Yet he's the perfect embodiment of what we're talking about.

A guy who has a dream, played for Notre Dame, and yet all the odds were stacked against him. Willingness to think outside the box, figure a way to get into Notre Dame when he couldn't get straight in.

Risk-taking. His parents, his whole family was against it. He took the risk to say, No, I'm going to follow my dream. [07:02.5]
Diligence. Nobody worked harder on that team than Rudy, nobody, and the coach said, “Rudy, I wish that your heart was in all my players.”

And, finally, perseverance, refusal to give up.
So, I’d like to ask the question: for every Rudy we hear about, there's probably a thousand we never hear about.

Dr. Rigsby: No doubt.

Dwight: But they don't live any less epic lives. So, that’s, I think, what I would define epic as.

Dr. Rigsby: I love your definition. Maximizing your gifts. Purposefully and intentionally living your gifts.
I want to just layer that. I talked about epic previous episode and I talked about this endurance, this sustainable endurance marked by quality, and if we can layer that with maximizing your gifts, staying in your lane and literally fulfilling what you were called to do, now epic, if I'm hearing you correctly, no longer is the sole domain of the rich or the famous, or the entitled or the wealthy, or you fill in the blank, but everybody now has the potential to live in epic life. It's a great equalizer, isn't it? [08:10.6]

Dwight: Absolutely, and that's why the handicapped, the disadvantaged and so forth, they have every bit as much an opportunity to live an epic life. I think it's just having the courage to go down deep enough within your soul to figure out, This is what I'm made to do.

In my book, I call it “your extraordinary dream.” Great book by Paulo Coelho called The Alchemist and, in it, he calls it your “personal legend.” But, in either case, I love what Thoreau says. This probably puts it together. He said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with a song still in them,” and that's exactly what we're saying: don’t go to the grave with a song unsung—and that’s what we mean by “an epic life.”

Dr. Rigsby: You've got me so fired up. We have way too much material to cover, so we're going to stop right here, Dwight. Will you come back on a future episode? [09:08.1]

Dwight: I’d love to.

Dr. Rigsby: Let me tell you why. You mentioned a couple of words that I've just jotted down here: passion, creativity, courage, diligence, perseverance. And I know because I've read Say ‘No’ to Vanilla, those are five traits that you've come up with that really do characterize that person that lives an extraordinary life.

Dwight: Right.

Dr. Rigsby: This will be a stopping point for this particular episode, but we literally have to come back and talk about getting on that battleship, and talking about maximizing your gifts.

And when we come back again, Dwight, if you don't mind, I would like to share a story about a person that I know very well that lived in relative obscurity. Yet, he lived in epic life. And if I'm hearing you correctly, as we bring this to a close, most people are not Rudys. Most people don't have their lives made into a movie.

Dwight: Yes.

Dr. Rigsby: So, would you agree that most people live their epic lives in relative obscurity? [10:02.2]

Dwight: Oh, absolutely. For those who live epic lives, it's usually in obscurity. Exactly. I'd love to come back, Rick, absolutely.

Dr. Rigsby: We'll come back and we'll talk about traits of extraordinary people, traits of those that walk on that gangplank onto the battleship, traits of people that live extraordinary lives.
Dwight Edwards, thank you so much for your time.

Dwight: Absolutely, Rick. I love being with you, brother.

Dr. Rigsby: I love being with you. You've encouraged so many people. Hey, Dwight, by the way, how can people learn more about you?

Dwight: There's a website, VanillaBusters.com, and they can order the book right off that and get a feel for what we do, and basically it's just trying to help people become the best they can.

Dr. Rigsby: I love that we're in partnership together, brother, encouraging people. On behalf of Dwight Edwards, this is Dr. Rick asking you the very most important question I can ask you today. How you living?

Dwight: Nice.

Dr. Rigsby: I’ll talk to you again real soon.

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his best-selling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/freegift to get the print or audio book right now.

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