322. Hold On, Possibilities Exist: The Battle Against Bullying with Tom Murphy and Rick YaroshAug 13, 2023
From the ruthless arena of mixed martial arts to mission homes aiding the homeless, Tom Murphy, former contender from Spike TV’s Ultimate Fighter Season 2, has seen it all. His wrestling days in upstate New York, subsequent MMA training in Montreal, and the platform of TV stardom paved his path to “Sweethearts and Heroes,” where he’s been addressing youth about leadership, goal-setting, and motivation.
But Murphy isn’t alone in this mission. Alongside him is Rick Yarosh, a retired US Army Sergeant, whose life changed dramatically in combat when he lost limbs and suffered burns over 60% of his body. From sports and outdoor activities as a child to the devastating injuries in 2004, Rick’s story is a testament to resilience and reevaluating life’s purpose. Embracing public speaking, he zeroes in on hope and its transformative power.
Both found a shared purpose in “Sweethearts and Heroes,” reaching over 2 million students, highlighting the often overlooked historical connotation of “bully” as “sweetheart.” They illuminate the role of “16th-century bullies,” or the sweethearts, pivotal in pushing through tough times. Their approach? Teach empathy as a muscle, which, when flexed, builds a more compassionate world. With actionable drills and a mission to empower student-led intervention, they target the silent witnesses of bullying and instill belief in better tomorrows.
Their upcoming project, the “Hope Classroom,” launching end of the month, is set to be a trove of resources designed for students, educators, and parents alike. Their message? “Hold On, Possibilities Exist.”
The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway
Rick: “You all have the opportunity, the possibility, to change and save lives and you may not believe that. You can tell me that you won’t give hope to other people. I will buy that, you cannot tell me that you can’t give hope to other people. You just have to recognize what you’re capable of and then when you recognize what you’re capable of and you give that hope to other people you receive the reward that it comes from giving that hope to others. That feeling that you get that is contagious and you’ll want to keep giving it over and over and over again.”
Tom: “Nothing changes in this world unless we actually make a sacrifice, and I think everyone’s calling is different. I think the biggest piece of advice I could give would be to listen more. I don’t think we do enough of that. I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up and act and to help people that are different than you and me. You have to be extremely brave. When I think of the word brave, I think about courageous endurance. I think it takes a lot of practice to become brave and to sit and listen to people. That’s a really, really hard thing to do. But I do know if you look at the science of empathy, that’s how it begins. It’s a three-step process and perspective taking, listening to people, and putting yourself in their shoes is the beginning of the growth of empathy in humans. And the only reason we are where we are today is because of empathy. It’s allowed us to get along and to share resources and to cooperate. And our world needs it more and more.”
Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Google Podcasts to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.
Sweethearts and Heroes: Outreach program. Dive deeper at sweetheartsandheroes.com and find them on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
The Hope Series: Introducing the “Hope Classroom,” this series offers resources for students, educators, and parents alike. Launching end of the month. Stay tuned!
Produced by NOVA Media
And when you know you can change and save a life – I don’t know if there’s anything more powerful in this world that we are capable of – that’s an amazing feeling. And when you change a life, oh, man, it feels so, so, so good.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
Hello and welcome to The Daily Helping with Dr. Richard Shuster, food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, tools to win at life. I’m your host, Dr. Richard. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, and whatever you do, this is the show that is going to help you become the best version of yourself. Each episode you will hear from some of the most amazing, talented, and successful people on the planet who followed their passions and strived to help others. Join our movement to get a million people each day to commit acts of kindness for others. Together, we’re going to make the world a better place. Are you ready? Because it’s time for your Daily Helping.
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Daily Helping podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Richard. And I’m excited about today’s episode for a lot of reasons. This is a rare kind of a two-for-one episode. I’ve got two amazing people who are talking about the work they do.
First, we have Tom Murphy. He was born in Philadelphia. He is a former mixed martial arts competitor who appeared in the second season of Spike T.V.’s Ultimate Fighter. And he’s used his UFC experiences as the wonderfully ironic and delicious hook during his Sweethearts & Heroes presentation. We’re going to talk about Sweethearts & Heroes.
And we also have Rick Yarosh. Rick is a hero in every sense of the word. He’s a retired U.S. Army sergeant, a husband, a father of two. And he embodies strength and resilience because Rick fought for his recovery as he was severely injured in combat, losing limbs and suffering burns over 60 percent of his body. Despite that, he doesn’t let those circumstances define him. He tours the country as a motivational speaker, inspiring millions with his message of hope, again, with Sweethearts & Heroes, which we’re here to talk about today.
Tom and Rick, welcome to The Daily Helping. It is awesome, awesome to have you guys with us today.
And it is awesome to be here with you, Dr. Richard.
I just want to thank you as well. You know, and you took the time to share about yourself before we started, and I’m just so grateful to get to know someone that has made such a sacrifice to help other people. And I hope that I can do the same in my life as you’ve modeled with yours.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
Well, it sounds like you are, and I appreciate that. But you’re being, from what I understand, quite a bit modest. And so, Tom, I want to do this with both of you very quickly to kind of set the stage. But one of the things I love to do with guests I have is to hop in the time machine and go back, let’s go – and we’re going to start with Tom – tell us your superhero origin story. What is this thing –
I can’t believe you just used those two things. That is unbelievable. Rick, you know where I’m going with this?
It is insane that both of those things were just said.
I’ll make this quick. I’ll make this quick. I’ll get to my story here. But let me just make this statement quick. So, we have spent the last seven or eight years in this thing called Circle. It’s probably the most important work we do. And I collect questions from students. They give the best questions. Teachers give terrible questions. Students give the best things that are relevant, things that touch different archetypal structures that we all have in common.
And if you can tease out the intent of the question, it usually connects everyone. And my two favorite questions, the one I lead with when I do Circle, whether it’s with business, whether it’s with students, I always say, Who’s your favorite superhero? And I have a long diatribe on why that question is just so important. It’s been around for thousands of years, that question.
But the other one, which is probably my favorite question that I got from a ninth grader was, Where would you go if you had a time machine? And so, I have a DeLorean and I just can’t believe – now, you didn’t know about those questions, did you, Dr. Richard?
Dr. Richard Shuster:
No, I did not.
Oh, shoot. That’s unbelievable. So, those two questions have changed my life. We could do two different podcasts on both. But real quickly, I’ll tell you about my origin story.
I was born and raised in Philadelphia. My parents ran a mission home, used to take people off the streets of Philadelphia. We never had a lot of money growing up. I think in 1979, my dad said he made $8,000 or 9,000, but we always had people living with us. At the age of nine, my parents actually gave my bedroom away and I slept in a bathtub for a year because someone needed it more than me.
And I spent my life going in and out of prison at that age visiting my brothers and sisters,. I was labeled dyslexic. My dad took me out of school in the second grade and just told me that I had this amazing superpower that I could read backwards better than other people, which probably wasn’t a great thing to tell a young, struggling learner. But he got such a kick out of doing all my schoolwork backwards.
But then, fast forward, we moved to Upstate New York. I still had some real challenges in education, but I fell in love with the sport of wrestling. It dominated my life. I thought I was going to wrestle for the rest of my life. That’s the way young men think. But I couldn’t get into college. And the craziest story ever, I ended up getting into a school I was going to wrestle, got there, fell in love with education. A man and a woman came into my life and just taught me that I had every strategy I needed to become successful academically if I used the same strategies that I used for the sport of wrestling. And so, I just had this wonderful relationship with education.
Fast forward from there, I get done wrestling, I get done college, a degree in psych and a minor in philosophy. And I wasn’t ready to stop wrestling. And I’ve happened, the universe moved me to a space about an hour away from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. And I’m a training junkie. I love to train. And so, I started training with the team in Montreal. It happens that it’s probably one of the greatest mixed martial arts schools on Planet Earth. And fell in love with the coach there, he’s a philosopher, and I spent more time talking philosophy than training.
But it led me to a crazy little T.V. show that my sister applied me to. And I never watched a single episode, but it was a reality T.V. show. When I got done, people said to me, "Can you talk to my kids?" And I’ve just always been good at taking lessons from coaches, whether it’s in the business world. And simultaneously, I was having a 17 year career in the railroad industry, and so I’ve kind of a unique business background.
Anyway, I just found myself talking to young people, leadership, motivation, goal setting stuff. And as I land my plane on this, what I found was that a lot of young people, after I was done talking, would sneak back into auditoriums and want to tell me their story. And it was really a story of a struggle and the hopelessness that they were feeling on the inside. And I just had this moment and I thought, you know, these are my brothers and sisters growing up, these young people. I’ve seen them before. I know them. But I can’t talk about this feeling of hopelessness and hope, I mean, I’ve struggled in my life with things.
So, there’s a crazy chance meeting with our organization and Rick happens. After I’d been talking to kids for about two years, we finally get Rick to talk to us because he ignored us for a long time. And I just begged him to come and watch this assembly, and he did and we’ve been together ever since. And we’ve seen over 2 million students from Houston, to Hawaii, to Montreal, and back a couple times. And we’ve just developed this very unique message that has blossomed into a full blown set of classes, curriculum and really wraps around the social and emotional space. And that’s a huge topic, and one I’m sure you want to get into right now but we’d love to, but there’s lots of components and parts to this thing.
But Rick and I spend every year with boots on the ground with individuals. And, you know, we’re in about 100 plus schools every school year sharing this message and the content that we put together. And I get to travel with one of the world’s hope experts, Rick Yarosh.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
I want to hear more about it, but first I know you’ve got your little toy DeLorean over there, which people can’t see if they’re listening to this on Apple Podcasts.
But, Rick, I want to ask you the same question, so tell us your journey. What puts you on the path that you’re on today with Tom?
Yeah. So, I mean, we’ll go way back just like Tom did. You know, growing up I was big into athletics, wrestling and football were my two big ones. But everything we did was around our family, so family went to all that stuff, and my brothers wrestled at the same time. I grew up canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing. We lived outside, so we did a lot of that stuff. Again, we did it all as a family, so family is so big in my life.
And one of the things that wasn’t real big in my life was academics. And my parents pushed me as hard as they could, but I never really cared about succeeding in my academic career. Like, in high school, I barely graduated. And when that happened and I barely graduated, it was like, "Okay. What do I do now?" And I went into the workforce and didn’t really love that, was barely getting by. Kind of the same thing I did in high school, I barely got by in high school and now barely getting by out of high school.
And I knew I needed to have a change in my life and that’s where the Military came in. I decided to join the Army when I was 21, so three years out of high school. And it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made was joining the Military because it put me on a track. It just changed my mindset.
And then, I got injured. In 2004, I got injured and I got injured extremely badly and it changed my life. It took away my purpose, which at that time was being a soldier and being a leader. And then, I had to figure out who I was again. And actually somebody approached me and asked me what I wanted to do with my life after my injury, you know, probably eight months after my injury or nine months after. And I told them that I wanted to be a public speaker. And I have no idea why I said something so ridiculous, something so stupid because I was terrified of public speaking, but that’s what I said.
And this person actually set up a public speaking engagement. And I think this is a little bit similar to some of the story that you shared. Now, when I went out in front of that group and spoke for the first time, I got up there, I had no clue what I told those people in that room. I had notes that I had written down that I had slid up my sleeve, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, you’re supposed to have notes when you’re public speak. And I forgot that I had those notes so I, honestly, had no idea what I said to those people. I just spoke.
And when I was done, I recognized that everyone in that room was listening to what I was saying – everyone – because of the way I look, because I have a story. And at that moment, it didn’t matter what I said. But if I was going to continue what I was doing, then I needed to help people because people were going to listen. So, if people are going to listen, I better have something that can help people. And so, I went out there and I started speaking across the country.
And, you know, I think at the beginning it was just kind of like a war story. I was telling my experience, what happened to me. And then, thankfully, I met Sweethearts & Heroes and I met Tom and that’s where the message of hope came from. And that’s truly what I knew I needed to do to help people. Let’s share this message of hope, because everyone in this world deals with a lack of hope at some point in their life, maybe even hopelessness, and we need to know how to get through those situations when we deal with that.
So, that’s where I’m at today. And as Tom said, you know, right around 2 million students across the country. And that would have never happened if I didn’t join up with Sweethearts & Heroes. Maybe I’d be at, you know, half-a-million or 100,000, I don’t know. But I’m at 2 million because of joining with Sweethearts & Heroes.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
So, Sweethearts & Heroes, Tom, was this your baby and then Rick joined up?
I would say that Sweethearts & Heroes is our baby. And I think that the inception of it was a friend of mine that asked me to do a silly little presentation on bullying, and I said call me. And he knew I was doing some stuff with kids on leadership, motivational kind of stuff. And he called me in a panic and said, "Hey, man. You know, I got this bullying presentation I’m in charge of, it fell through last minute, we need someone."
And I’m a bit of a information hound. I like to dig into history, in the past, and the origin of things. And I just looked up the word bully, and what I discovered was that in the 16th century, about 40 years after Columbus sailed, the word bully meant sweetheart. It was a very endearing term. It was someone that came into your life and kicked you in the shorts and said, "Let’s go, man. You can do better than that. I see more potential in you."
And your life has been riddled by those, Dr. Richard. You know, if I went through your past and I pulled out all of your 16th century bullies, you wouldn’t be on this call today. These are people that when you didn’t feel like going to practice, they said get your crap and get in the car. When you didn’t feel like playing that instrument for the first time because it was hard, they said let’s go, young man, I bought this thing for you. Or when you didn’t feel like getting out of bed one day because life was tough and you were dealing with adversity. But what they gave you was hope.
And as I told you, as I was talking to young people and they were coming to me with this struggle and these stories, it just really hit me that I didn’t really know what I was talking about when it came to what true hopelessness was. And that’s when I met Rick and I just discovered I just really had this – I don’t know, the universe kind of was like, "You’ve got to team up with this guy."
And the person that I did the presentation for, he was on my wrestling team in college. And my original intent was to look across this auditorium of 900 students and say, "Hey, students. The only reason I could get into that cage -" because I would show a little mixed martial arts when I would start – "is because of your gym teacher." And what I was really saying was that, that man was bigger than me, stronger than me, older than me, and when I didn’t feel like pushing myself in the practice room, in the weight room, he pushed me and he made me better, stronger, faster. And that’s what these Sweethearts do, these carriers of hope.
And I think, really, Rick Yarosh is the one that kind of teased out of me the true gift that a Sweetheart or a 16th century bully gives, especially for young people that are struggling deeply.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
So, with that context, guys, first of all, are you guys a 501(c)(3)? Like, how are you structured?
I’ll make it super quick. We used to be. Just because it’s only Rick and I and we spend over 200 days a year on the road, our accountant just said, "Hey. The schools don’t care whether you’re a nonprofit or not. It’s going to be much easier for you just to run it as an LLC." So, we still have our 501(c)(3) status, but we just run as an LLC because it’s primarily Rick and I. We have some other team members, but primarily Rick and I.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
And so, tell us about the work that you do specifically in schools.
Jump on it, Rick.
Oh. I mean, so we go into these schools and we hope at the end of the day, we open these kids’ eyes to make them recognize what they’re truly capable of. Like, when we talk bullying, we aren’t there for the bully, we’re not there totally for the kid who is bullied. We’re there for everyone else who sees it happening. And that’s the majority of the people in that room.
You know, I wasn’t bullied as a kid and I wouldn’t see myself as a bully as a kid, but I saw it all the time. And most of the time, 99 percent of the time, I didn’t do anything about it. So, we’re talking to those kids that see it happen and don’t do anything about it. And we’re letting them recognize, at least my part of it, is to let them recognize that every single one of them in that room carries hope with them. And when they give that hope to other people, when they make the choice to give that hope to other people, they can change and save lives.
And I usually share that through a story with a little girl who I met in San Antonio. When I was in rough shape, I was dealing with a lot, I wasn’t accepted by kids out in public after I got out of the hospital because of the way I looked. And, truly, I looked like a monster to kids. They don’t see me as a human being, they don’t see me as a man because they’ve never seen anything like me before and they’re trying to figure it out and they’re thinking monster, something like that. And that’s how kids saw me so I was struggling at that time in my life.
And I was in a restaurant in San Antonio and sitting at a table with my brother. And this family came in and sat across from us at another table. And there’s a little girl in the family who sat on the same side of the table where she was facing me. So, she was staring at me just like everyone in the restaurant was, because that’s what everyone did, they’re trying to figure out what happened to me. But I could also tell that the little girl was afraid of me.
And, you know, she was sitting next to her grandfather. And being in San Antonio, the grandfather might have been Military or at least understood that I was probably Military. And he leaned down close to her and quietly said to her go say hi. He wanted his granddaughter to come over and say hello to me. And I didn’t really want her coming over because I know how this goes. She’s afraid, I can see it.
And she didn’t come over, so he actually said it again, go say hi to him. And this time, she did start to come over to me. I didn’t want her coming all the way over because I knew she was uncomfortable. So, when she got halfway over, as nicely as I could say to her, I said, "Hey, how are you doing?" But when I said that, exactly what I expected to happen happened, she turned around and she ran back to her grandpa as fast as she could.
And, you know, at that moment, I’m just like, "Rick, deal with it, because this is the way your life will always be. You’re always going to look different. Kids are always going to see you as a monster. Just get used to it."
But that early on in my recovery, I didn’t know how to get used to it. I didn’t know how to deal with things like that. So, when the little girl got back to her grandpa, she looked at him and she said, "Grandpa, he’s is really nice." And that’s obviously not what I expected her to say. And anybody that’s listening right now, that’s not what they expected either. They expected that that little girl just get back to her grandpa and say, "Grandpa, he’s really scary." And that’s not what happened.
But what that little girl did for me in that moment was she gave me hope and she didn’t even recognize that she had hope to give me. I didn’t recognize she had hoped to give me. I didn’t know she could change my life forever. But that hope she gave me, that is the same exact hope that every one of us in this world carries with us every day of our lives. And at some point, we can make a choice to give it to other people.
Because at our age and when we talk to kids in schools, middle schools and high schools, especially, those kids recognize what someone looks like when they’re dealing with something difficult. They see each other every day. They know there’s a change in that person. Now, they need to know that they can do something for them and that something is changing or saving their life. That’s the power of hope and that’s the power that every single one of them carry. And that is my job when I go into these schools, is to let them know what they are truly capable of.
Now, does that mean they will use it? No, it does not. I do not know if they will use it or not because it still is a choice. But I can give them the tools to recognize what they are capable of. And when you know you can change and save a life – I don’t know if there’s anything more powerful in this world that we are capable of – that’s an amazing feeling. And when you change a life, oh, man, it feels so, so, so good.
Dr. Richard, can I wrap around that just for a second?
Dr. Richard Shuster:
So, that’s the heart of this message, you know, Sweethearts are the carriers of hope. Heroes, take action – that’s the other side of what we talk about – and they’re willing to do things other people aren’t willing to do and they jump into action and they save people that are suffering.
But let me give you just a couple statistics here, because you should know this, your audience should know this. You know, we started in this world of bullying, sometimes people just refer to us as kind of these bully guys. But, you know, our message doesn’t have much to do with bullying. When you really look under the hood, it’s really about humanity and what’s going on with the human race today.
Things like empathy have been nearly cut in half in our students in the last 30 years, both cognitively and affectively. Empathy in our high school to college bound students is suffering in a major way. And we’ve developed something called Empathetic Fitness. We know it’s like a muscle in the brain. When you exercise those circuits, they grow. And those neurons that fire together, wire together, and if you don’t use those things, they atrophy like any neural structure will pare away.
Our message from day one, Dr. Richard, has been about student empowerment. And when I say that word, most people think, "Oh. You’re empowering those kids that are marginalized." And I say, "Well, not really." And as Rick said, our message is for those other kids. We know that 96 percent of negative behavior is never addressed by teachers, by administrators because it’s done in the shadows of the school. And nothing has changed from when you were a kid, from when I was a kid, from when Rick was a kid. It’s in the locker rooms, the cafeterias. I mean, certainly it’s transitioned to online now in a much greater way, which those kids are three to four times more likely to make a destructive decision when it’s done online.
But our message has been about empowering young people to help other young people. That’s been our message from day one. It’s not for teachers. It’s not for parents. We certainly have things for both of those groups to support students. But our students are the ones in the trenches. And that we know that 85 percent of the time there’s someone there watching that negative behavior that’s directed towards kids that are being treated the wrong way, that are truly suffering.
But when you walk up to most kids and you say, "What do you do when you see someone that’s struggling, that’s being bullied, that’s being treated the wrong way?" Most kids across North America will look at you and say, "Uh. Tell a teacher?" Because they really don’t know what to do. And even if they did, they don’t spend very much time practicing those skills.
And that’s really where, you know, we have separated ourselves from just a group of awareness and we’ve developed things, not just the use of Circle to grow empathy in young people, but we’ve also developed something called a Bully Drill. Much like a fire drill, you know, when you say what do you do when you catch on fire? You say stop, drop, and roll. Yet, before today, Dr. Richard, you probably have never met a single human that’s ever used that very simple, action-based, life saving skill.
So, a lot of what we do is about giving kids these skills and having them practice these skills. So that when they’re in this situation, they’ll be able to react because they practiced these skills when it comes to helping young people that maybe are just looking or feeling hopeless or maybe kids that are truly being treated the wrong way by other human beings.
So, I just kind of wanted to wrap around, because Rick’s right, the secret and the key to this whole thing is the fact that every human being carries that hope. But I think more and more today, it’s harder for kids to recognize that, and to understand it, and to say that I am the solution to this issue of hopelessness. And make no mistake about it, Dr. Richard, our kids are more hopeless today than maybe ever before in human history.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
I would argue that the entire populace has more hopelessness than ever before. And what’s scary to me about that is that we know that the research has been done over and over again across genders, across cultures, across age, that one of the most important predictors of emotional well-being is self-efficacy. Period.
If you have some baseline belief that tomorrow can be better, your chances of overcoming whatever you’re dealing with radically increases. But if you remove that, if you have an external locus of control and believe that everything in your life is because somebody else is doing something to you, you already have two strikes against you. So, I absolutely love the work that you guys are doing and I’m so grateful that you’re doing it.
I love what you just said about tomorrow can be better. So, we talk about that hope to kids and bystander empowerment is our big thing and we don’t really focus on the bully or the person who’s bullied. But that hope piece, that truly is to recognize that the bystander can give hope to those people who are feeling hopeless.
But HOPE also is an acronym that we use, and that’s for those kids who are feeling hopeless, those kids that maybe are bullied. And it stands for Hold On, Possibilities Exist!
So, in my life, not tomorrow it can be better, but I know tomorrow will be better. That’s how I live my life every day now. And I’m not saying that today is bad. I’m just saying I know that tomorrow will be better. And the next day after that will be better. I say that I’m happy today. I was happy yesterday, but I’m happier today than I was yesterday. And I know that I will feel the same way tomorrow. And that doesn’t mean I won’t deal with difficult things, that’s for sure.
But that’s basically what we give those kids who are really struggling, H-O-P-E, Hold on, Possibilities Exist! And when you hold on long enough, somebody is going to show up in your life and they’re going to help you get through that thing that you cannot get through on your own.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
Beautifully said. Well, again, I just love what you guys are doing. It’s so important. As you know, I wrap up every episode by asking my guests – since there’s two of you, since this is a two-for-one – your biggest helping, which is the single most important piece of information you’d like somebody to walk away with after you heard our conversation today. And, Rick, let’s start with you.
You know, I said it already, and that’s the fact that you, every one of you that’s watching, that’s listening to this right now, you all have the opportunity, the possibility to change and save lives. And you may not believe that. You can tell me that you won’t give hope to other people, I will buy that. You cannot tell me that you can’t give hope to other people. You just have to recognize what you’re capable of. And then, when you recognize what you’re capable of and you give that hope to other people, you receive the reward that comes from giving that hope to others. That feeling that you get that is contagious and you’ll want to keep giving it over and over and over again.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
Beautifully said. Tom, what about you? Take us home.
You know, when you think about helping, man, I think it’s really if you probably looked up a definition, it would have something to do with making something easier, offering to help someone. And when think of that word offering, the first thing that pops into my head is sacrifice and what are you willing to sacrifice.
And I have a lot of guilt in my life because I feel like I’ve sacrificed a lot of my time with my children. But I do know that the sacrifice with my own children to help other kids in this world, I believe that my kids have taken away a tremendous amount from that example. And it’s really neat, as I’ve gotten older now, my kids are older now, to watch them make sacrifices for other people.
And, you know, it kind of takes me full circle back to the conversation we had off air why you are the way you are, Dr. Richard, because you had a wonderful father that made a sacrifice. And your father’s sacrifice was his family. And it was just wonderful to hear how he did so much for you.
And nothing changes in this world unless we actually make a sacrifice. And I think everyone’s calling us different. I think the biggest piece of advice I could give would be to listen more. I don’t think we do enough of that. I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up and act and to help people that are different than you and me. But I think you have to be extremely brave. And when I think of the word brave, I think about courageous endurance. I think it takes a lot of practice to become brave. And I think it takes a lot of practice to be brave and to sit and listen to people. That’s a really, really hard thing to do.
But I do know if you look at the science of empathy, Dr. Richard, that’s how it begins. It’s a three-step process. Perspective taking and listening to people, putting yourself in their shoes is the beginning of the growth of empathy in humans. And the only reason we are where we are today is because of empathy. It’s allowed us to get along and to share resources and to cooperate. And our world needs it more and more.
And if we don’t spend more time listening to young people and the challenges they’re going through, the destructive decisions that they’re making are just going to continue to skyrocket. And we’ve got to get people like you and other great educators and people that are willing to help young people through these difficult transitions in their life that have never been more difficult.
So, I don’t know, I’m rambling a little bit. But I just say you got to listen more. And I think that that’s what I’ve spent the last five or six years of my life doing is spending more time listening. And I think that’s probably the best way to help people.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
I love this. So, if you’re listening to this and if you’re a parent and you’re saying, "Man, I’d like to have these guys come talk to my kids at their school" or, you know, you got a sibling who’s in high school or you think it’s a great idea, how do people find out more about Sweethearts & Heroes and get in touch with you guys?
Well, they can check out our website, for sure, sweetheartsandheroes.com. That’s the best way to contact us. But we have so much content out there on YouTube, Instagram. We have a Facebook page that we post on every single day. You can Google Sweethearts & Heroes and you will find so much information on both of us and the rest of our team.
Dr. Richard, we do have a wonderful series we’ve been working on for over two years now. It takes this message because, you know, Rick and I can only get to about 50,000 to 70,000 kids a year face-to-face. But we have a wonderful series called The Hope Series that’s coming out. And we’re turning it into The Hope Classroom, which gives all of these resources and curriculum and the courses that we’ve built. So, we’re going to be very proudly launching that here at the end of this month, this Hope Series, which is very dynamically shot and delivered for any student or parent or educator that wants to learn more.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
Astounding. And we will have links to everything Sweethearts & Heroes in the show notes at thedailyhelping.com. Well, gentlemen, this has been an honor and a pleasure. Thank you for doing the work that you’re doing and thanks for being a guest on The Daily Helping today.
Thank you for having us, Dr. Richard. It’s been amazing.
Dr. Richard Shuster:
I appreciate it. And I also want to thank each and every one of you who took time out of your day to listen to this conversation. If you liked it, if you’re inspired, if you’ve got hope, if you learned something, go give us a follow on Apple Podcasts and leave us a five star review, because that is what helps other people find the show. But most importantly, go out there today and do something nice for somebody else, even if you don’t know who they are, and post in your social media feeds using the hashtag #MyDailyHelping because the happiest people are those that help others.
There is incredible potential that lies within each and every one of us to create positive change in our lives (and the lives of others) while achieving our dreams.