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- Inspiration / Achievement
- Mental Health / Psychology
- Military / Veterans / Patriotism
- Sports Related
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Caleb Campbell West Point Graduate | Former US Army Officer | Ex-NFL Athlete | High Capacity Leadership Expert
In 2006, the Department of Defense (DoD) created a new policy called the Alternative Service Obligation Policy that would allow cadet athletes from West Point with a professional contract to pursue their professional career while also serving in the United States Army. Even though this policy was passed, it was not widely accepted by all—notably Caleb’s peers. Through the pushback, Caleb began to internalize just how important it was that he made his time in the NFL as successful as possible.
In a way, this is how he would give back. It was his battle to fight and his war to win.
But not long into the NFL, Caleb knew that his time living out his childhood dream would be a short lived experience. Without having the understanding or tools on how to manage the stress and pressure of the NFL, the internal angst, fear and onslaught of mental health challenges that Caleb began to face crippled him and his performance. Caleb knew that it was only a matter of time before he would be released from the team and his NFL career would be over.
But then, on the day of his first NFL contract signing and on the eve of his first NFL training camp, the unexpected happened.
Minutes before Caleb was getting ready to sign his first NFL contract, the DoD decided, unknown to Caleb at the time, to revise and rescind the 2006 policy that was allowing him to play. Under the new policy, Caleb was to report back to Active Duty immediately and serve for at least three years before he could apply for early release. In the matter of a phone call, everything changed.
While most of the sports world watched Caleb’s story unfold live on national television, what they didn’t see was that Caleb was elated and overwhelmingly happy that his chances of playing the NFL were over—for the time being.
At least this way, he knew he had a second chance to do the work to become bigger, faster and stronger so that he could give himself the best chance at succeeding in the NFL.
Caleb embraced this change and went back to serve on active duty. For three years he served his country and did the work to keep his NFL dream alive. Three years later, he found himself back in the NFL.
Caleb would go on and play for the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and the Kansas City Chiefs. But, despite accomplishing his childhood dreams, he began to realize that the goal posts to his life continuously moved ten more yards down the field. His way of doing life, the ruthless ambition and maxing out his capacity to get the results that he wanted, was leaving him the type of tired that more sleep doesn't solve.
Feeling all alone and trapped in this inner war of 'never enough'—Caleb was faced with a hard decision--to hold on tighter or to find the courage to pivot.
In the pursuit of success, Caleb lost himself as a leader, as an athlete and as a person - the life that he had worked so hard for was now unrecognizable. Knowing something had to change, Caleb made one of the hardest decisions of his life—he hung up his cleats and decided that it was time to go find his heart.
After the NFL, Caleb had a tremendous thirst for real change. Despite having multiple job offers, he knew that changing games without addressing anything internal would lead to the same results.
It was Albert Einstein that said we can’t solve a problem at the same level of awareness that created the problem. And Caleb knew that he would have to dig deeper if he wanted to see real change.
Through a series of unexpected events, Caleb found himself living in Canada where he would work as the janitor of an organization for the next several years of his life in exchange for therapy.
Day after day, Caleb worked at discovering a new level of awareness that would help him build a life that he could be proud of. In his darkest season, Caleb emerged from the other side with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of his life’s work and message.
Now, it's Caleb's passion to deliver keynotes and facilitate brave conversations to help leaders make the internal shifts that are needed to experience external leaps.