When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Kelechi Osemele is an eight-year NFL veteran, a Super Bowl champion, and an offensive guard for the New York Jets.
In his Thrive Questionnaire, he opens up about his secret life hack, how he deals with failure, and why he doesn’t get caught up in his emails.
TG: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
KO: It depends on how I’m feeling, but if I’m flowing the way I should, meditation and music are the first things that happen. Other than that, I brush my teeth and shower.
TG: What gives you energy?
KO: Music comes first of mind — it definitely gives me energy. I’m listening to music everywhere I go. If you see me anywhere I most definitely have headphones on and I’m probably listening to a playlist I put together, featuring some new artist that I recently discovered and that I’m vibing with. It’s fun to find new artists that hit your soul just the right way; it’s a pretty dope thing to me. Music puts me in whatever mood I feel like I need to be in to do whatever it is I’m doing that day, and it also just feels good. Spontaneity also gives me a kick of energy. Usually it comes from a friend texting plans of any kind involving socializing and music. Getting up and going to a concert or, the best kind of spontaneity, TRAVELING! I get really excited about last minute unplanned trips. Few things excite me more than travel, especially when it’s on a whim and it’s somewhere far that I’ve never been to before. It’s an adventure and the new unknown is a thrilling thought. I always get a fresh perspective and I come back with some amazing memories and stories. I’ll even go solo if I can’t string together enough friends in time! When I travel by myself — or with similarly minded friends — we don’t plan anything. We just ask questions and it forces us to meet new and interesting people and live like a local would. I’m also a guy that needs peace and solitude occasionally anyway, which leads me to meditation and solitude which both are states in which I derive energy from. I can be a bit of an introvert, and I need that time to recharge and reflect. Thoughts of throwing around some heavy weight in the weight room will get me hype as well! My engine gets revved up — it’s a bit mental, and in the mornings in season my teammates, the training and strength staff, and a few coaches kind of look at me like I’m crazy, but I have always been that way. Who doesn’t get excited about pushing their limits in some way or finding their strength? It’s an exciting thing. It’s also a great way to express yourself as well as recreate yourself, which I think is important in any aspect of life. Why be one-dimensional when you can change it up and improve in a variety of ways — and I see the weight room as a physical representation of that. It’s my time to kind of create and I have fun with it. What can make you feel more alive than walking around feeling physically ready to handle anything that needs to be handled? I also really like hanging around with people that inspire me. I surround myself with people that are good people and that are smarter than me, because usually that’s how my opportunities to learn and give back happen. It’s just good energy and it makes me a happier person, so that gives me the balance I need. Intellectuals with some sort of edge to them — those are my kind of people.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
KO: I find what’s important to me is eliminating things from my life that I don’t need. I feel like growth for me is learning what matters the most to me, and my happiness and my health are what I focus on. Spiritually, mentally, and physically strong is how I like to remain. I read a lot on a variety of things to kind of play around, and research different vitamin supplementation and organic foods and fuels that can help me be the best me physically. I find self-education to be important but I also work with a doctor. I also find myself researching different training methods, meditations, and spiritual trains of thought. I like reading books about spirituality because I feel it opens me up to the world around me and allows me to feel when I’m being close-minded or feel if I’m not in the right place. I’m really health focused. I focus on the whole of human development, not just if I’m feeling physically fit. I think all are equally important for true health and balance and that your life should flow from that. It always comes back to what makes me feel the vitality that makes me unique. If I don’t feel of sound mind, rested, strong and explosive, flexible, spiritually centered, happy, etc. then that throws me into a search [for] what is “off.” I will put things to the side to focus on my health; all the money in the world isn’t worth sacrificing that. When I’m not “right” then I can’t perform like I should anyway. And I find when I compartmentalize to perform and do my job without that wholistic approach, something suffers. Relationships with friends, teammates, coaches, people that look up to me and follow my lead, etc. suffer when I’m not taking care of myself the way that I should be. I prioritize through conversations with people whom I respect and are in the know for whatever it is I need to find out that may be causing me not to be my best self.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
KO: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
KO: I don’t have a great relationship with my phone. I leave it unattended a lot and it stays on the ground or wherever I forgot it last. It stays on mute and I don’t like when it bothers me. I get a bit of anxiety when I check it because people are constantly reaching out, but I try and focus on the positives like a friend reaching out.
TG: How do you deal with email?
KO: I don’t deal with email very much. I’m the guy who if it’s really important my agent will contact me or a friend will remind me. I probably could benefit from an assistant of some sort, but I see myself as a simple guy so that seems excessive. I kind of check it once a week or every few days if I’m supposed to be looking for something, otherwise there’s just too many people emailing me. I meet a lot of people and they follow up, which is good but sometimes it isn’t all that important. I like living my life in the present moment, and I can’t do that if I’m constantly checking my email.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
KO: Probably meditate and just pause. Take a deep breath. Close my eyes, maybe even drift off for a bit.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
KO: Probably right after the season ended this January. I was training twice a day and didn’t give my body time to heal. I was networking like crazy and trying to have a productive off-season. I also just ended one of those really unhealthy relationships where you’re going back and forth and kind of was dealing with the after effects of that. Looking back, it was because I didn’t realize how bad that stuff is for you not to slow down and realize what’s hurting you. I didn’t prioritize my happiness and my peace. I wasn’t making time to do the things I enjoyed. I didn’t have time to recover from training and I wasn’t being honest either about how I felt.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
KO: The last time I failed was probably during the season when I tore my MCL. The reason I failed was because after a back injury and subsequent surgery in 2013 I vowed not to let people, things, or any situations outside of my control hijack my thoughts and emotions again. I vowed not to be coerced or manipulated into a situation where I was giving up my personal power over my physical self and sacrificing my health for what really is short-term gain. Frustration doesn’t accomplish anything, it’s wasted energy. Nor do the opinions of others matter when it comes to knowing who you are deep down and being your best self. You should never relinquish that to anyone and let them define you. Yet still knowing these things through experience, this past season I found myself discouraged and succumbing to that outside pressure. The thought of not being able to help my teammates for a few games and some comments that were made to me had me overthinking things, and I rushed back faster than my body was ready for. I put out some uncharacteristically bad performances that could really damage my career and my legacy. I overcame it by honestly removing myself from practices and training regardless of any comments or opinions until I felt I was physically ready to contribute to my team again. When you get trapped by ego or identity without realizing that there’s a DEEPER self beyond that, and you fail to prioritize your health as a human being, that’s failure to me. I have overcome that failure in so many ways but first just by learning from the experience. It really depends on the person, I guess, but what good is success or accolades or money if you keep making unhealthy and unsound decisions? Health and longevity are underrated pursuits in the society we live within, but it would be quite the shame to come to the end of things realizing you didn’t prioritize what was most important to you. Whether that be your kids, your spouse, your friends and family, or your health, I think perspective which comes from reflection, pausing, and critical thinking can help you overcome bad habits and patterns of behavior. I overcame by learning to control my ego and to calm my ambitions. I overcame by realizing that I was sacrificing too much of myself without regard to consequences. I overcame simply by being aware and learning from my experiences.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
KO: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein
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