Best Year Ever Blueprint 2018

by Kenneth Rayman on December 26, 2018

I discovered the organization when they liked a post of mine on Instagram; the name caught my attention, “Front Row Foundation,” so I clicked their profile and preceded down the rabbit hole. What I saw was something different than the typical Make A Wish charity, I saw a celebration of life rather than a gift of an experience. The focus was not on the experience itself but that moment in time you experienced something so great that it left a lasting impression on you. But they went further to show the audience and supporters how to live life in the moment themselves before illness threatened. At the time, growing in my personal development, I saw an opportunity to learn from a non glitzy and glamour-y affirmation style and instead a practical actionable way of life.

When I heard the founder, Jon Vroman, talk about Best Year Ever Blueprint, on the podcast for the charity, I saw practicality in the timeframe. Yes, Tony Robbins events are impactful because they are several days and continuous without breaks; Brendon Burchard’s events are super impactful because of his personality, drive, focus, and genuine teachings, but that, to me, represented reprogramming core beliefs not action steps. Best Year Ever had a time limit; what could I do for the next YEAR to live life in the Front Row and put Tony, Brendon, and now Jon’s, philosophies to action? It was more likely to help someone stick to concrete action steps rather than theory that may have trouble translating when on their own.

Sean Stephenson was the most powerful speaker for me because he spoke to the person in me who saw his own disability as his biggest limitation for the longest time. I had heard his message first from Mindvalley’s Afest where he told his story of not letting his condition hinder his outlook, definition, or life’s mission (even at 8 years old) that helped literally save someone’s life. I was hooked at his ability to think beyond the physical and the concept of self-actualization at such a young age. For years, I had held a grudge against my parents for the bubble they had placed me in. I was resentful of the fact that I was not like normal kids, kept safe and protected while having my social growth hindered. Never stopping to realize until I was 30+ that they were reacting to the fear the doctors placed in them. They wanted everything for me, but the doctors gave them no hope, similarly to what Sean’s parents might have experienced when they were told he might not live 24 hours. My parents shifted to safety and survival for me but, at the same time, I was promised that I’d be the boss of them professionally if I got good grades but didn’t stray from the path that fear dictated. In short, I was trained to stay in the first level of Maslow’s hierarchy but somehow magically I would reach Self-Actualization at the top. How was that possible???

Sean’s talk negated my and my parents’ fears for me as it became about who I was and the story I told about myself. His quote, “You chose your body for a reason!” struck me as I saw my writing skills honed in that achievement of good grades as my body because as he put it, “if I had your body, you couldn’t hear me.” My attention to detail that gave me context for the deeper issue at hand allowed me to write creative, eye catching, and thought provoking work. My desire to tell a new story about a person, place, or time to help foster new understanding was born from my experiences growing up in isolation where knowledge WAS power. One step closer to my “why”!!!

Kelly Flanagan talked about the defenses you develop through your strengths that you don’t realize are building an ego. His metaphor for ego was “castle walls” that protect you and your insecurities through your outward strengths. Metaphors, for me, can be useless, like business school always using the term “widgets” for products, or they can give my brain the context it needs through a vivid example, like, “castle walls to protect.” Castle walls, he said, are the ego protecting your inner insecurities about failure, which prevents you from fully connecting with others through comfort zones in your business and life. Like the “outdated software” metaphor I subscribe to, his showed me that I needed to let myself be vulnerable because growth can’t happen without vulnerability to test limits and being willing to fail.

Chris Ducker and Christopher Lochhead both gave me that extra boost of confidence in myself; Chris Ducker with his infectious attitude with building a brand around yourself that makes you want to charge out of the room and shout to the world, Christopher Lochhead had the same pull no punches brashness that I’d appreciated from Gary Vaynerchuk in the past, when he spoke on wanting to be a entrepreneur simply because nothing in the current world worked for him. Entrepreneurship was a way out of the system, not a way up for himself.

Each of these speakers had an impact on you whether it was professional or personal. Sean spoke to me through the very real limitations that we face as individuals but that we can choose to be defined by or move beyond with our talents. Kelly was a relatable soul who was down to earth with all of his examples through struggles in the economy to raising a family in the midst. Chris Ducker gave me a framework of how to devise a business around my own beliefs and values while Christopher Lochhead spoke to my heart, as a person whose struggled to define himself personally and professionally for so long, with the evidence that its okay to not fit in the modern day career field, yet as a professional knowing you can’t rest on your laurels.

While I didn’t walk out personally, as I did Mindvalley University, with such a vivid personal transformation, there were moments for me to be proud of my willingness to be in the room and push my boundaries to learn and talk to people about my passion. Seeing evidence on screen and in person of recipients of the Front Row charity while also helping to create the experience for others through donating and letter writing was a tangible feeling to treasure. Seeing the generosity in the crowd as well as those who had outward visible transformations was heartwarming. Two such instances were when someone was outbid for an auction item, after the winner found out it was the other person’s dream to own that item (a drum) and learn to play it, he donated the money yet gifted the drum to the person he outbid; the most powerful though was a woman who, on the last day, decided to publicly announce that through the goal setting exercises, networking, self-reflection, and charity work, she had been inspired to seek help for alcohol addiction and pledged to attend next year’s event sober. The moment she pledged sobriety the room erupted in cheers and she was moved to tears as the host, Hal Elrod, got off stage to go hug her.

It was an amazing sight to behold as I thought to myself, “Don’t be so sad, you didn’t have an outward transition like them. Carolyn [one of the speakers] told you that you’re in the midst of your own transition which makes it hard to see internally yet it is happening.” I held on to those words as I was wholly unable to do the goal setting exercise that closed out the event and had no visualization in the previous exercise, to which Carolyn Bostrack made her remark to me, “You’re living your transformation,” she said, “don’t be worried that you saw nothing, it means you’re there. Now keep going!”

Check out more on this amazing organization here