Bill Murphy is a multi-faceted business and life coach, a highly regarded entrepreneur in real estate, a successful author who is dedicated to helping others heal, and a dedicated advocate for mental health and wellness. With a passion for fitness and a commitment to giving back, Bill has completed multiple marathons, ultramarathons, and Ironman competitions; he holds a second-degree black belt in the self-defense technique called Krav Maga, and he has raised over $525,000 for various charities. And if Bill’s accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, add having overcome much devastating trauma from an over-the-top abusive childhood, mental health challenges, and PTSD. In his bestselling book titled “Thriving Through the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity,” Bill has an important message that syncs with the mission of G & R Podcast: When a storm hits, we have three choices: give up and become a victim; do what we can to survive; or learn to thrive. Bill not only survived; he healed, transformed, and learned to thrive. This is an inspiring interview with a man who has achieved remarkable healing and growth to become a role model for many others!
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- Bill’s horrific, abuse-filled childhood that was spent in survival mode.
- How learning to “let go” of intense blinders brought about a remarkable breakthrough in Bill’s life.
- Bill’s journey to heal and transform the traumas from his childhood.
- The wonderful “silver linings” Bill discovered when he began to make peace with his past.
- Bill’s inspiring story of overcoming an unexpected crisis to finish a marathon.
- Why moving from success to significance is about giving back.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS BILL:
- How did you forgive yourself and your father for your abusive childhood?
- In what ways did you learn to break through your negative patterns, and what are your important tips for controlling emotions?
- How did you learn how to break out, take action, and make better choices when facing adversity?
- What positive lessons did you learn from your past mistakes that have shaped who you are today?
- What is the science behind the “power of positive thinking,” and what is the “high performance” mindset?
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Bill Murphy: Is It Possible to Overcome Devastating Trauma from an Over-the-Top Abusive Childhood and Thrive?
I’m delighted to have this opportunity to interview Bill Murphy, who will be speaking to us from Grafton, Massachusetts. Bill has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Worcester State University and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Framingham State University. He is a multifaceted business and life coach, a highly-regarded entrepreneur in real estate, a successful author who is dedicated to helping others heal, and a dedicated advocate for mental health and wellness.
With a passion for fitness and a commitment to giving back, Bill has completed multiple marathons, ultra marathons, and Ironman competitions. He holds a second-degree black belt in a self-defense technique called Krav Maga. He has raised over $525,000 for various charities. If Bill’s accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, add having overcome devastating trauma from an over-the-top abusive childhood, mental health challenges, and PTSD.
In his best-selling book titled, Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity, Bill has an important message that syncs with the message and the mission of Grief and Rebirth show. When a storm hits, we have three choices. Give up and become a victim, do what we can to survive, or learn to thrive. Bill not only survived, he healed, transformed, and learned to thrive.
I’m eager to talk with Bill about how he was able to heal and transform the traumatic storms in his life, how we can make peace with our past, the ways we can identify and break our negative patterns, his high-performance mindset, the importance of journeying from success to what he calls significance, and more. This is surely going to be an inspiring interview with a man who has achieved remarkable healing and growth to become a role model for many others. Bill, a warm welcome to the show.
That was a warm welcome. I appreciate you having me. I’m honored to be here.
Thank you so much. There is so much to you and I identify. I especially respect the healing you’ve done in your life because I too had a traumatic childhood and a traumatic background. I’ve been healing most of my life. When I meet someone else who’s done that, then moved it forward, and you’re inspiring others to do the same, I can’t wait to get you on the show. It’s wonderful because we’re going to help a lot of people. Thank you.
I guess you’re comfortable enough now to talk about it. Let’s start by having people know how you began by having you describe this horrific abuse-filled childhood that you spent in survival mode and playing the victim.
I considered my upbringing normal as a kid. I thought everybody had a little better than me, but I thought it was normal to get the ridicule, the shaming, beat-downs, and to be made to feel less than.
This was from your father, not from your community around you.
No. My friends in the community were great. I was often away from home to be around those family, community, and my friends’ families and parents. It was tough growing up because of those things that I was made to feel. While I didn’t falter as a kid as much as I probably could have, it was because I never felt jealous of others that I saw had it better than me. I was happy for them. I was received with welcome arms. My friends in the neighborhood, their dads coached me in baseball and football. We were around the park all the time. We were playing backyard ball and street hockey. Boys will be boys. Kids will be kids. It was a good community that way.
I had to be home before the streetlights went on or I’d get my butt whooped. A lot of times, I was having too much fun to get home and stayed out as long as I could to make the butt-kicking worth it. When I say I grew up thinking it was normal, my friends would be like, “We’re not going to see Murphy for a couple of weeks. He is going to get in trouble because the streetlights are going.” It was a big joke. I was like, “I got to take my licks.” That was the mindset. It felt normal.
Where was your mother in all of this?
Mother was around. It felt like she protected me as much as she could, but during the real tough moments of the physical abuse, my mom and I were very close. We both looked back and she doesn’t remember where she was and I don’t remember ever seeing her. It was one of those things that maybe she hid. Not just physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. There’s nothing I can do. She was very fearful.
Was your father abusive to her also?
No. Verbally. He was very shaming to my mom and ridiculing but not physically. The physical piece of my mom not to have that was a blessing for us to grow up and not see that.
You were the recipient of his true full rage.
I would rather be me than my mom or my sisters. I’ll take the bullet. That’s how it needed to be. There’s a lot of resentment there with my parents. A lot of Irish Catholic families growing up many years ago. They had me very young. They got married very young, 19 and 20. He couldn’t be the teenager. He had to be an immediate adult. He couldn’t hang out with his friends and do his guy things because he had a responsibility. The resentment was there. “I got a kid to raise. I got a family to raise. I’m not ready, but I’m going to take it out on you. You’re going to do my work around the house.”
Was your grandfather tough on your father?
My dad says he was, but I grew up with my grandfather and I still consider him my best friend growing up. He died at a young age, relatively young, 63, with cancer. I had him around until I was fifteen. He was my bud and he protected me. He protected me not knowing how bad it was. I don’t tell. We don’t talk about it. I never left the house talking about the beatdowns, the shaming, or the ridicule. I never left the house complaining. I never went to school showing my welts and letting anybody know. I was ashamed. At that time, I was thinking I needed to be tough. Never ever could I cry during those beatdowns, because that would be showing weakness, and I would be given in. This is my thought process.
We’re going to talk about how you healed from this, but this is where you were.
That’s how I was conditioned.
With all that you went through, you healed and transformed these traumas from your childhood. PTSD, which came from your childhood, I’m sure, and there were mental health challenges too. You went to the Psychological Counseling Services when you were 48 years old. Do you want to tell us about that? I admire what got you into this. I admire that you went, to be honest with you.
I struggled with anger growing up. Even in business, I would get angry if the deal went south. I would get angry at my staff. If I was working and the TV was on too loud, I’d yell at the kids. I needed to chill out. I was a walking heart attack waiting to happen with my stress. I was hurting loved ones in my life, and that was my kids, my staff, and other people close to me in my relationships. I knew as much as I went kicking and screaming about getting into Psychological Counseling Services down in Arizona. I knew I needed to go down there.
I read a book. I like to listen to books when I train for my runs or my marathons. I listened to a book by Terry Real. Terry is a counselor. He’s a world-renowned counselor and he’s a marriage counselor. This is why Terry’s book was so important. I read this book a few years ago. The book was called, I Don’t Want to Talk About It, a tale about men’s depression. I read this book and he had written it 20 or 30 years earlier. I was like, “We don’t talk about that now. You were brave enough, courageous enough, and vulnerable enough to write this book about your own journey going through the shaming, the ridiculing, the beatdowns, and the drug-addicted dad. You tell your story.”
I went to see Terry. I sat down with Terry. He’s looking at my intake paperwork and has his head down. I said, “Terry, thanks for seeing me. I want to let you know that that book resonated with me so much that I felt as I read it, I was you as the boy in that book and your dad was my dad. I felt like I had it way worse than you growing up.” He picks up his head from the intake paperwork, takes off his glasses, looks me straight in the eye, and says something. He used a choice word, but I’ll soften it. He said, “You’re screwed if you don’t get help right now. You need to go get yourself into an intensive.” This was after talking about some of the anger and some of the things that I was dealing with. I was a stress ball.
You’ve been holding everything in for so long. You were exploding all over the place.
I go down to Arizona. I take this test, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it, but it’s called an ACE Test, Adverse Childhood Experience. It deals with childhood trauma.
Where in Arizona was this, in case someone’s tuning in and says, “I should try this. This is something I should do?” Is this like a whole clinic?
It’s an intensive. Depending on your situation, you could stay there. If there are addictions and things like that, you could stay there and stay dry, or you could be in one of the hotels. It’s in Scottsdale.
What’s the name of it?
PCS, Psychological Counseling Services. This is what Terry Real recommended. Peter Attia wrote a great book on longevity. He talked about his experiences going there as well. Similar situation where he was a ball of stress and he went down there and worked on some stuff. My therapist looked at the ACE Test with me, and he said, “Statistically, what you scored, you should be dead or in jail. Most people turn to drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, obsessive-compulsive eating, and gang violence. You should be dead or in jail, statistically. You turn to work alcoholism and a lot of extreme sports.”
It still had its consequences. Trust me. What I was doing is I was losing myself in my work. I was like, “I’m going to work hard. I’m going to have blinders on and be totally focused on work and nothing else is going to get in my way.” I didn’t turn to some of those other things that could have brought me down “dead or jail” but I would steamroll anything in my way when it came to work or training for an event. Again, it had its consequences. I needed to get help there. I was in denial on a lot of things, in retrospect, when I look back, when I went in there.
What I realized, when the clinicians had a staffing meeting, you would go and sit with twenty clinicians and they talk about you and your story. I’m listening to the clinicians that I got close with down there that I met with a lot and poured my story into them. They’re talking about me in front of me and saying, “He was put under a faucet as a toddler to stop crying. He was harnessed to his crib so he wouldn’t get out. He was put through a wall and he had to fix it the next day at 7 or 8 years old.” They’re telling these stories. I’m sitting here still thinking that I grew up in a normal environment and had a little bit harder than everybody else. I’m watching these two clinicians who deal with this stuff every day, crying across the room in front of twenty other people who are their peers telling the story about me.
That was my oh-my-gosh moment. I was like, “That sounds really bad.” If you said that your son went through that, I would be choked up. When I used to tell the story about me doing it and going through it, I would tell it to you matter of factly as if it was normal. That was the difference. Where we started to work is the self-love and self-compassion that was non-existent. I didn’t love my younger self. I didn’t love me. I didn’t care about me. I had to develop that empathy for myself as a kid when I would tell those stories or listen to how that was impactful, so I could heal.
We’re talking about the healing process. What’s so important if there’s any trauma with anybody is, you have to look inside and forgive yourself and it’s okay. Whatever happened or whatever circumstances you were in, it’s okay. Forgive yourself. Make sure you’re having your self-love. Make sure you have that self-compassion. That’s how the healing’s going to start. I didn’t have it.
That sounds like it was a great breakthrough for you because it gave you a whole new vista or a whole new way to look at yourself, your life, and everything. It was a whole new lens.
Along a breakthrough path, that’s when I admitted that I was depressed. Again, remember, I thought I would say to people I had anxiety, angst, and tension. Never would I use the D-word, but I grew up depressed. It wasn’t until I was 48 years old, and that’s when I told Terry we talked about the depression thing because he talked about that in his book. I started to piece that together, still had a long way to go, but I realized that I was battling depression while we were at it.
How could you not be?
It was masked. I would do outrageous things to cover it up.
Workaholism and extreme sports were also a way to run away from it in a way.
I still work hard, but I give myself a break and I still participate in some real extreme sports. Here’s the difference. With the healing journey, it was only a couple of years ago. I never ever enjoyed any part of the journey to the way to the top. If I had my best year in sales, if I had my best income year, if I accomplished some wonderful feats, it was, “What’s next? There’s no time to rest. Let’s go.”
Now, I have an Ironman coming up. When I do these events, the work’s already been put in and the training’s already been done. Enjoy this moment. It’s grueling and there are going to be some dark times, but enjoy it. There are so many silver linings that are going to come about this. Smile at the volunteers and say thank you to the supporters and your family who showed up.
I would be so focused with blinders on that we’re going to steamroll whatsoever in our way. We may give a little half-wave to those who are supporting and loving us, but not acknowledging them. When you’re able to take that down and allow people in to lift you up, that journey to the top is going to be so much sweeter. It’s so important. That’s part of the healing process. It starts with self-love. It starts with compassion.
I can relate. It’s almost intoxicating when you start to drop some of that stuff and all of a sudden, you allow yourself to be more aware of all the positive things. Speaking about the positive things, you had to break through a lot of negative patterns and you had to learn to control your emotions more now that you’re becoming conscious of them. What was that all about? You then had wonderful silver linings that you discovered when you began to make peace with your past. Do you want to tell us about all of that?
The silver lining, I wouldn’t trade anything for what I went through, because I believe that it was a calling that, “Here I am now.” I may not have had success in my life. I may not have had the things happen to me or get to do if I didn’t have the adversity thrown at me in the beginning where I had to go from survival to thriving. The alternative is to lie down in the fetal position and go down the wrong way. Unfortunately, I’ve had friends who had similar backgrounds and we probably all have that went down the wrong path.
There was either drug addiction or some type of self-medication a lot of times that they thought they needed to turn to for their healing or to mask their pain. A lot of times, that ended up in tragedy and still does to this day. That whole workaholism thing taught me some great values. I continue to try to understand psychology. The reason that I got my Master’s in Counseling Psychology is because I was fascinated by why things were so messed up, never talking about it.
I love that you did that.
My favorite class in college was called Abnormal Psych. It was about all the defense mechanisms that people have to mask their issues. I used to say, “My dad’s a narcissist. My dad did this. That’s why he was screwed up. That’s why this happened. This is reaction formation. These are all kinds of things that are going on.” I used to play mental games trying to understand why things were so screwed up, even though I had my own issues that I needed to get through that I wasn’t addressing at that time.
You’re understanding it from an intellectual standpoint, but you haven’t done your emotional work yet, which you were starting to do in therapy. You learned about controlling emotions. Before we move on, that’s important. What are your tips for people that you learned? You broke through your negative patterns, but it’s hard work. You then learn how to control your emotions. If someone triggers you and that rage starts coming up, what do you do?
There are a couple of things here with the emotion control. When it comes to high pain thresholds, I feel like my relationship with pain and working out, I’ll work out in extreme cold and extreme heat, I’ll push myself extra mileage, and do things to put my body through some stuff. I know I have a good pain threshold when it comes to physical activity, but if my twenty-year-old daughter yells at me that I don’t understand her, I go crazy like, “What do you mean I don’t understand you? Of course, I understand you.” My threshold is very low there. We’re constantly trying to evolve and understand our thresholds when it comes to emotions.
Road rage. If somebody cuts you off, what’s your threshold like? Are you going to lose it? Are you going to get centered? Honestly, I was that guy that would yell at you if you cut me off. I would react adversely a lot of times when I was set up or triggered. I’m going to go to the breath work. I’ve been doing a ton of breath work, meditation, journaling, and even in my martial arts. This is incredible. One of the things I notice is when people panic or they feel like they’re in a compromised position, their breath gets out of control. This is in physical or even everyday life. They start to stress. Their hearts beat faster. There’s anxiety. They get tired and they’re using up all this energy.
If you can control your breath for a second, ground yourself. There are so many different easy techniques that you can use to get that center. You just have to practice it. Practice that in meditation. When real life happens, “I’m going to do a 60-second box breathing, 4 seconds in, hold 4 seconds, 4 seconds out, breathe 4 seconds.” It’s the box breathing. There are so many things that you can do. You can close your eyes and visualize a better outcome for a quick second.
It’s hard to do it at the moment. This is practice. I’m not being kooky and telling somebody to go, “Just do breathwork when someone cuts you off.” Don’t close your eyes when you’re driving. Just do the work. Practice meditation. Get an app or get something that will help you in your routine so you can work on that. Maybe it’s also journaling. I love to journal and get my thoughts out.
I do this stuff in the morning, it’s part of my routine. When the day throws curve balls or adversity bombs at us, I feel like I handled it much better. I had my intense workout. I had my journaling and my meditation, and I read my scriptures. I did all the things that are not so bad when there’s a deal that feels like it’s going south that I can’t handle because I’ve already prepared my mind, body, and emotional soul to handle that at that time. Some of these practices can help with that. Whatever it is that can ground you, there are so many different things. I believe you had a show about tapping. That’s another way to do it.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all for everything. Try different things that work for you. Get that routine so you can handle that. Also, it’s part of bookending your day. If you start your day strong, end your day strong. When I say end your day strong, I don’t mean by binge-watching Netflix, the latest and greatest episode of Game of Thrones, or whatever the new craze is out there. Maybe journal. Maybe breathe for a little bit. Talk to your significant other. Talk to your kids. There was Brendon Burchard’s GrowthDay. It had this great exercise that he does every day. I practiced it. I thought it was great. It’s very easy. It’s called 3, 2, 1. No food 3 hours before bed, no work 2 hours before bed, and no scrolling or TV an hour before bed.
All of this, you talk about in your book, right? Your book is a very straight-talk self-help resource for anyone who wants to transform negative feelings, the success, happiness piece, and overall enthusiasm for life. Would you say that what you’re talking about is a lot of what you present in your book? I get from everything you’re saying that improving your life and getting past all this trauma is about giving yourself the tools and knowing that you have choices when you are faced with these emotions. Where do you want to go with that? Not just the one choice of popping off at somebody or displacing your rage onto someone. Would you agree with that?
I would. You mentioned the peace with your past. I started to say, self-love, self-compassion, forgiving yourself. Here’s where it gets hard. Now you’ve done that hard work. Where it gets a little bit harder is, in my case, my dad. My dad keeps saying he did the best he could. Here’s the thing. I have no ill will towards him. I’m not holding a grudge. I told him that. Is it a little awkward sometimes when we’re at a cookout on Father’s Day? Sure. All I ask him is, “Dad, just be a good grandfather to my kids. That’s all I need you to do.” Forgive the person that you felt wronged you.
It could be something traumatic, like a traumatic childhood or a parent. It could be some abuse of some sort. It could be the kid who sat two rows ahead of you in third grade who used to make fun of your teeth, your hair, or that you wore glasses and you still have ill will. Let it go. Watch the magic happen when you’re able to release that kind of stuff. We talk about forgiveness. We talk about gratitude. Release it. Intentionally, this is where it all comes full circle. Send that person blessings if you can.
First, you have to do all the healing. Forgive yourself, forgive them, and then you work on the blessings. I don’t expect this to happen overnight. We talked about therapy and maybe you do need to still go there. If you’re able to do all that, now you release all that stress, angst, and anger that you’ve been suppressing for years and maybe not even talk about. Maybe you forgot about the third-grade incident that had punished you all year long. You’re like, “I didn’t like Jimmy Smith because he was so mean to me in that third grade.” Let it go. It will heal you. There’s no good in that grudge.
Just because you talk about that forgiveness, it’s a significant ingredient needed for healing. When did you get to that forgiveness about your father? That must have been well into your therapy journey, would you say?
To actively acknowledge forgiveness? Yes, but I’ve never held ill will towards him. I just want to know why.
That talks a lot about your character internally. Something inside of you didn’t hold on.
I didn’t know any better. I was just trying to understand why it was so screwed up. I wanted to understand why things were done. Maybe subconsciously, there may have been some stuff suppressed in anger, but when I was consciously trying to push it out and release it, I realized that I was not mad and upset. I know so many good people out there who hold onto these grudges towards their exes, parents, or cousins. “I’m not talking to this one. I’m not doing this. I will never speak to that man or woman again for the rest of my life.” Do you know how badly you are hurting yourself? You’re going to griddle your body. When you put that kind of stress and anger and the cortisol that flows, there’s nothing good that can come about it.
I always think of it as you’ve got these compartments where you’ve got this rage door. You’ve never released it. Some of that turns into disease problems, physical problems, and all of that kind of thing in people’s bodies. In my opinion, I see it as people get older also. They’ve been harboring all this stuff and it’s been churning away in them all their lives. All of a sudden, they get sick or something happens to them. It manifests in a physical way, but I think diseases are in emotional repression. Would you agree with that?
I would. I just listened to a podcast. It was an influencer. She was brilliant. She was very well off. She was doing well. She used to say, “Forgive people.” She would practice all this stuff. At 34 years old, she gets colon cancer, and then it’s stage four and death sentence. In this podcast, she came on after this podcast, all the credit to her, she said, “I’ve been practicing to release, to forgive, and to get over things. I never did. I did this to myself. This disease is because I still held it in. I still never talked to that individual.” I think it was her dad who abused her as a child. She still said, “I forgive you,” but she never did.
Don’t kid yourself. That was so important for me to look at myself. I was so thankful to hear that and to look at myself and say, “I need to check these boxes to make sure that I’m living what I think I’m doing. Am I sending these blessings? Am I sending these intentions? Do I forgive?” Even if you thought you released any anger towards your attacker or however you want to describe it, it’s very important to make sure that you have released it. Again, this is not overnight.
You also talk about the science behind the power of positive thinking. How we create positive self-talk, which we’re touching on when you’re talking about working with your emotions. Your high-performance mindset. I’d like you to talk about that, and then we’re going to ask you about that unexpected crisis that you had to finish a marathon. Talk about your positive self-talk and positive thinking, and how that contributed to that. Did I lead you well enough into this next question?
I want everybody to do this when you wake up. Try to observe your thoughts and what’s going on with you. Pay attention. Maybe have a journal next to you. Do this over and over again for a few days and see what you’re thinking about.
Wake up and write down what’s right on your mind.
You’re subconscious when you think about it. Here’s the thing, 90% of our thoughts are negative. We think the same thoughts the very next day. You have to break that pattern. They’re worry thoughts and anxiety thoughts. There was a study Penn State did with the worry thoughts. 80% to 90% of our thoughts are negative. 80 to 90% of them, we think the same thoughts the next day. How many of those negative or worry thoughts came true to the way we thought it was going to happen negatively? It was 9 out of 10 or 90% did not come true.
We waste our time thinking about things that are not going to happen. The very few that it did happen to weren’t as bad as they thought it was going to be. Forget the worry thoughts. We’ll say, “How am I going to do that?” What are you grateful for? Let your knees hit the floor or whatever your practice is in the morning, and say, ” I’m so thankful for the air I breathe, the roof over my head, the job I have, this great show that Irene delivers to those who can benefit, my kids, my family, and my health. It’s all free.” What am I grateful for?
That’s the easiest way to go from a victim mindset or being a victim of your circumstances, to instantly change that to, “I’m thankful for this.” Now you’re thriving. You’re ready to tackle the day. Try practicing that. You’ll be amazed at what you think. I battle every day. I caught myself. I would get mad. I let it spiral and I go down that rabbit hole a little too much than I wanted to go down that rabbit hole. I was like, ” I should’ve stopped that 60 seconds ago. Why am I spinning my wheels here?”
I catch myself doing that too. I will stop and talk to myself. I say, “You don’t want to go there. Are you kidding?” Change the message.
The gratitude. What are your blessings? That’s the way to change when you’re down and out. You wanted to talk about the silver linings of the injury.
Tell us about that story. That’s a great story.
It was during COVID. I was training for the Boston Marathon for Make-A-Wish, children with critical illnesses. We’ve been doing a lot with them through business and some fundraising for years. I was running the marathon for them. Sixty days out to the day, I’m training getting ready for a run to go train. I missed the two bottom stairs. I jam my left foot into the floor, and the pain shoots up my legs.
You must have been so mad.
I was in too much pain to be mad. It was white hot burning pain. The way I would describe it, it was so painful that if I could cry, I couldn’t cry because it was like, “I’m blacking out right now.” It was that. What happened was I thought I broke my leg and I went to touch my quad and there was a big bulge out of my quad. I went to touch it and it was squishy because I thought the bone popped out, but it was my quad had rolled up.
Immediately, I had a friend take me to the hospital and they got me into surgery the next day. They were like, “You fractured your quadricep. We need to attach it back to the knee.” I was like, “What’s the healing time?” I thought 6 to 8 months, maybe I can still do this marathon. I remember sitting on my recliner. A couple of days went by and after the surgery, I had the next day. I had this big huge brace and the Make-A-Wish team reached out and said, “Bill, sorry to hear about your injury. We’ll withdraw you from the Boston Marathon. We’ll get you a bib next year if you want to still run for us. We’d love to have you back.”
I’ve run for a few years for them. I was like, ” Let’s figure this out. We can do the marathon of crutches. I think we can figure this out. There’s some way.” I was thinking wheelchair because I’m 60 days out, I think there’s some way we can do this. I got my Make-A-Wish rep on board. She was wonderful. She’s like, “Do you want to do this?” I’m like, “Yeah.”
While everybody is sprinting ahead, you were going to do it at your pace on crutches?
Immediately, BAA, Boston Athletic Association says, “Absolutely no way will we let you in with crutches into our race, our liability.” There are 30,000 people racing race in this race. there was no way they were going to let me in. Fine. Just because it was the pandemic and COVID, they were allowing virtual spots to race. My rep ended up securing my old alma mater, Worcester State College to allow us to use the track. Now I have a purpose. Instead of feeling down and out and being the victim, I wouldn’t blame anybody for saying, “I’m going to coach for the next couple of months. I’m going to keep my feet up. I’m going to rest like the doctor says. I’m not going to do anything.” I’m not blaming anybody for that, but I needed a reason not to go into depression, honestly. I needed a reason not to fall down.
You’re conscious enough and you’re aware now with all the personal work you’ve done, that you know the way your mind works and your needs and all.
Here’s how the why kicks in. I thought to myself, “I’m in a lot of pain. I can choose not to do this marathon and figure it out on crutches, but these kids who are given this diagnosis and this critical illness don’t have a choice. Why am I going to choose not to do this? Why can’t I do this for them and bring awareness?” Now, my mission is, “Let’s bring awareness to this mission of Make-A-Wish.” I’m training around my pool with my dog, and it’s 100 laps a mile. When I do the math, I’m like, “It’ll take me about 26 hours to do a marathon.”
We got faster as time went by, but when we talk about silver linings in your adversity, what ended up happening was we raised an incredible amount of money. I quadrupled my goal, and then the donations that came in from all the coverage that we can’t even directly pin to that, but it was the awareness that came. When I did the marathon on crutches 60 days later, the money that came in from the news channels, the coverage, the papers, and everybody that covered it brought in so much awareness and so much more money to the organization. I wouldn’t even come close to that if I had put a bib on and went to Hopkinson to Boston 26.2-mile marathon.
What comes through to me also is, in your beautiful way, we’re going to talk about moving from success to significance, which is what you did. In your beautiful way, you let those kids know that they were so important to you. That you would even run for them on crutches. That you would overcome your adversity to work for them in the organization. That must have meant a lot to a lot of people.
It was quite the day. I never heard it that way before, so thank you for pointing it out. However, I will say this. During that marathon, we finished in 6 hours and 24 minutes, which was fast.
The last 3 miles were my fastest. I had so many supporters, friends, and family going along the track with me that day. I had a Wish child come along and she had beat her diagnosis and she was thriving. She comes out for the last 3 miles to support me. I didn’t know her. She was a local kid. She comes out with her mom and she does 3 miles with me. I finished the marathon, and she was this ball of joy. She’s like, “I can’t believe you’re doing this. I’m so thankful.” She was sharing her gratitude with me.
I felt those last 3 miles, which is usually the hardest of any race when you’re finishing up, especially on crutches. I felt like I was floating on air, like my feet and my crutch weren’t hitting the ground. I tracked it. When I look at my time on my watch, my last 3 miles were my fastest 3 miles because that Wish child, Bethany, had lifted me with her enthusiasm, emotional support, and the incredible way that she motivated me to get through that. It was remarkable. That’s so powerful.
I would say the two of you lifted each other. She was psyched to see what you were doing for her and other kids who had been like her. She’s transcended what happened to her but you were there supporting them, and she was thrilled to support you in whatever way she could. What a beautiful thing. I love how you say moving from success to significance is about giving back, which you’re doing. Why do you say when you give back that celebrating oneself is also important?
That’s the journey. When I said I would never acknowledge my accomplishments, I would brush it off. As a society, we tend to do that. “Great shot on the golf course. That was a lucky shot. Nice job on your presentation.” “I got lucky on that. That was my secretary.” We can still be humble. There’s still humility, but it’s okay to take credit for things because we’re so hard. We talked about self-talk. We can be so mean to ourselves. Sometimes we talk to ourselves like we would never talk to anybody else. You could talk to somebody and they’re like, “I’m an idiot. I can’t believe I did this.”
In an everyday conversation, if I called you an idiot, that would be very insulting. You say, “I’m an idiot.” When you’re talking to yourself, it’s okay. It’s the programming that you’re putting yourself in. Be aware of your self-talk. That’s when we take the blinders down and that’s when we’re celebrating our journeys along the way. Pick as many people up as you possibly can, but acknowledge those who are supporting you and picking you up as well.
Would you say that’s part of leaving your legacy, supporting people?
Yeah. The legacy thing was important. I said this to my dad. I said, “Dad, you think by giving $1 away, you’re going to be losing $1. I think of it as giving $1 away.” You’re making an impact somewhere else in this world. It doesn’t have to be monetary. You could give your time. You could give of yourself. You could help fundraise. There are so many things you can do to give. I’m not talking about donating.
I thought that was super important as I’m blessed enough to have some success in business and to have some success in some areas of my life. I knew that I needed to give back because so many people have helped me along the way to achieve some things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise achieved, like incredible mentors who gave their time.
When I give back, I want my kids to see that. It’s about making a difference for others and not about being selfish. Be selfless. I’m so happy to say, it took me a long time. I was well into my 30s before I figured this out. My son just graduated college. My middle, she’s a sophomore in college. My oldest is a senior in high school. My two oldest, my son and daughter, wanted to do a mission and they went down to Puerto Rico to help with the hurricane victims for a week. They did the Providence Marathon in 2022 with me for Make-A-Wish. When I was 19 years old to 23 years old, I didn’t think about giving back. I was like, “Where’s the party?”
Look at the role model they have.
That’s what I wanted to do for the legacy piece. It’s to help them see. Through all my faults, they can at least maybe see some good that we’re giving back and we have to make a difference. It’s so important in life.
It’s wonderful how you’re able to see the positive in so much. It’s something you could teach people. I know that you’ve got a journal and a workbook that you make available, and then you’re making your journal and workbook available as a special offer for our Grief and Rebirth audience. Tell us anything else you’d like us to know about your book, Thriving in the Storm.
The exercises that are on the website, ThrivingInTheStorm.com, are in the book but these exercises are also in the journal that is available to you to download. These are things that have helped me with my healing. I’ve practiced every single one of these exercises. I do them periodically. I still do every single one of them. I’ve practiced those. That’s some of the things that I put in there to help others make a difference.
It was very hard for me to ever admit I was depressed and that I grew up that way. As a kid, if I told you I was depressed, I would be in the schoolyard fighting. You are depressed. That’s weak and soft. There’d be a lot of choice words, but I would be bullied and I’d have to fight my way out of it. That’s the way things were growing up. It’s the way things are for men a lot of times. It’s the stigmatism.
You build a shield, don’t you?
Men don’t talk about it. Terry Real said this beautifully years ago, “Men don’t talk about it.” Why is that? It’s because of the stigmatism. You need to be a tough man. Don’t cry. You can still be a tough guy, share your feelings, and be incredibly tough. The danger is this. Why are men more likely to take their own lives four times more than women? Men don’t talk about it. They don’t seek help.
I have met some of the most intense and toughest dudes who have reached out to me and been like, “I’m so glad you mentioned that. I needed that because I would’ve never said that. I never would’ve talked about that. That took a lot of courage.” As much as it was embarrassing for me to say it, I felt like I was called to share it.
You’re sharing that, and then you have these high-performance mindset classes. Are they offered online? What other services and training do you offer people? A lot of people would be interested in participating in what you’re offering.
We’re developing some of the coursework. We put some coursework together. Hopefully, it should be rolled out in the next couple of months. Some of the coursework is on mindset. It starts with a lot of things we just talked about. You got a little mini-taste of it. Make peace with your past. Forgive yourself. Self-love. Self-compassion. If you’re stuck somewhere, look at what’s holding you back.
Why can’t you break through? We peel back the layers. I do that a lot with my coaching clients. We’ll peel back layers and be like, “Sometimes if you’re white-knuckling, pressing, and pushing so hard to achieve a goal year after year, you put down the same goals every single year and you can’t get through it, it might be time to release that a little bit.”
Your subconscious already knows you want that, but let go a little bit. Don’t white knuckle your way to get there and go do something else. In 2019, in my real estate and mortgage business, I was a high producer, but I couldn’t beat my own goal. I couldn’t get to the goal I wanted. For ten years, I was stuck at the same number. That year I did my first Ironman, and it was in November. That was the year I checked myself into PCS.
Wouldn’t you know that I had my best income year, my best sales year, and my best work year, because I finally let go, I worked on myself, and I did some other things that I’ve never done physically. When I was able to let go a little bit of all these things that I’ve been white-knuckling, pressing, and pushing towards, my subconscious knew that it needed to take care of it. When I was able to take care of myself with the healing, it blossomed. Everything blossomed.
What a message that is for everyone. I’d like to know the Bill Murphy tip for finding joy in life. What would you say to people with all you’ve been through?
We talked a little bit about it. The joy is your blessings, but every single thing that I do now that I work hard for and that I never was able to enjoy because as I thought I was on to the next thing, when I stop and say, “I get to do this. I don’t have to do this, I get to do this.” A good friend of mine is a tough guy, a speaker, and an NFL football coach. He’s battling right now and he has to do the work. I get to do it and that’s where the joy is. He was already in a good place physically and he got cancer. I get to do these things. I don’t have to do them. He has to do some of the things he’s doing right now.
Look at what you’re doing also as you’re getting older in life. You’re making such a contribution and such a difference in people’s lives. It’s wonderful because as you go through your whole journey, you can love yourself and you can feel good about that. Your life had such meaning and helped so many people. It’s a wonderful thing.
If you’re stuck or down and out, this may go in with the joy. We talked about gratitude and blessings but consciously find a way if you’re stuck, down, and falling victim to your circumstances. If you have to grieve, grieve. If you have to go through a process of something, do it. Find a way to go help somebody else. “Who can I help? Can I call my mom? Can I go help her? Can I go help my sisters? Can I help a client? Can I help my team? Can I help somebody? What can I do to make a difference somewhere else?” When you do that, it’ll release anything that’s going on with you at that time. It’ll make it that much easier for you to climb out of your own doldrums and go towards joy.
That’s a perfect way for me to say that I love this great quote from your book, Thriving in the Storm. It says, ” I am living proof that it’s not only possible to survive the various storms, but to thrive by turning those feelings of shame, anger, resentment, rejection, and fear into happiness, joy, and an overall enthusiasm for life.” Through remarkable healing and growth, you have become an admirable role model for so many others.
Thank you from my heart for this inspiring, healing, and meaningful interview with you. Here’s a loving reminder, everyone. Make sure to follow us and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, and wherever you get your show, including YouTube. As I like to say, to be continued. Thank you so much, Bill. Many blessings. Bye for now.
- Bill Murphy’s book: Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity
- Bill Murphy’s Website
- Connect with Bill Murphy on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube
- Terrence Real’s I Don’t Want to Talk About It referenced in this episode
- Psychological Counseling Services in Arizona
- Brendon Burchard’s GrowthDay
- @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram
- Irene Weinberg on Facebook
- Irene Weinberg – Grief, Rebirth + Healing Podcast on YouTube
About Bill Murphy
Growing up in a toxic and abusive home environment, Bill Murphy was constantly overwhelmed by fear and doubt. Nevertheless he was motivated to show those around him that he could accomplish what he set out to do, in spite of being verbally and physically knocked down.
Bill believes that when the storm hits, you have three choices: give up and become a victim; do what you can to survive; or learn to thrive. You don’t need to have exceptional talents or resources to overcome adversity, be resilient, and achieve extraordinary goals. You are capable of more than you realize. You can learn to thrive. Bill Murphy is proof.
Bill will be the first to tell you he is nothing special, but he’s been able to overcome an abusive childhood, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), mental health challenges, and unexpected crises to finish an Ironman, earn a black belt in Krav Maga, and run the Boston Marathon five times—including one on crutches. He’s a regular guy who is now thriving at the top of his profession, too. Through his debut release, Thriving in the Storm, he seeks to explain how anyone can achieve similar success.
Outside of writing, Bill is also a nationally recognized mortgage originator who has closed over one and a half billion dollars in loans, and a top producer for 25 years. He has raised over $500,000 for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, and actively supports a number of charities, including Fairway Cares, The American Warrior Initiative, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He is the founder of the nonprofit Thrive Foundation.