• Kristin Nordling

Lessons From a Former Professional Wrestler

Updated: Jun 29

I love what I do; I keep pinching myself and realizing that I AM living my dream! I have the honor of meeting some amazing people, I get to hear their stories and if I am lucky enough, I get to help find them a new opportunity.


My favorite question to ask is, "When you look back in your career, what are you most proud of?" The answers always make me smile. You can tell a lot about a person when they answer that question; what motivates them, how they are inspired, what keeps them engaged and most importantly, you get to hear the pride in their voices when they share their story.


Today, I met Mike Kinney. His story has had a big impact on me. So big, I am actually writing my first blog!


Mike has a great story and thankfully he shared it in a TED talk, so now I can share it with you! In 2017, the TED Institute partnered with UPS, they put a call out to all UPS employees to see if anyone wanted to share their story. Mike submitted his story and forgot about it. Months later he got the call – he was selected! Long story short, Mike worked with a TED coach for several months and then there he was, in front of a large audience ending the line-up of speakers. As he shared his story with me, I could feel the pride when he said, “there is no better feeling than hearing the round of applause at the end of your TED talk.” Soon after this speech, the TED Institute reached out to him and let him know they were going to post his talk. This meant that he was going to be delivering his message to more than his colleagues, he was going to be a public speaker and his message could be seen all over the world. While that is a cool story in itself, his message was even more impactful.


Fifteen minutes after my interview with him, I googled “Mike Kinney and TED”. Here I sat, with my 19-year-old son, watching the story unfold of Cowboy Gator McGraw. Oh, sorry, did I forget to mention, that Mike is a former professional wrestler aka Cowboy Gator McGraw???? We were listening intently, his message was not only professionally strong, but it was also funny and heartwarming.


Mike shares how by focusing on and “turning up” your strengths, it can have a profound impact on you both personally and professionally. He shares reaching your fullest potential is about confidence and self-love. “Turning up” your gifts and strengths can open all the doors you need.


While we were watching, my son looked at me and said, “I am going to give a TED talk someday.” I know he will, because he will be “turning up” his gifts of gab, bringing people happiness and making this a better world.


So, this had me reflect on myself, am I “turning up” my strengths? I believe I am, and I think I can do it even more! It is about confidence and understanding what brings ME joy!


What does “turning up” your gifts and strengths mean to you? What are you going to turn up?


While I may have not been the biggest professional wrestling fan back in the 80s, I want to thank you, Cowboy Gator McGraw, for sharing your story!


I would love to hear how you are going to turn up your strengths. How can I help you identify those strengths and get you into your next opportunity?



To watch Mike’s full TED talk, click here. He is available for speaking engagements, if you are interested in learning more, please contact him at aprowrestlersguide.com.


Kristin Nordling is the President and Founder of Lakeside HR Group. Lakeside HR Group partners with companies to support their recruiting, HR and coaching needs. For more information, visit the website at www.lakesidehrgroup.com or contact Kristin at knordling@lakesidehrgroup.com




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