In this episode:
The United States Air Force has the best fighter pilots in the world!
Taking the time to learn what makes them great and how to apply that to our lives is worth paying attention to. Robert “Cujo” Teschner shares insight he learned as a Colonel in the Air Force specifically around the power of a debrief and ways we can bring that into our homes. Cujo is a decorated serviceman and his love and service to this country is what makes him a true hero.
Let's have hope in a better tomorrow. Regardless of how bad a day might be, we have it in ourselves to craft a better tomorrow. If you tell yourself that that's not the case, you're wrong. So take action to make it so. Click To Tweet Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Welcome to the Line Within Us, a podcast sermon, Christian men who are hungry to be the leaders God intends you to be. I’m your host, Chris Granger. Let’s jump in. All right, Phyllis, this is your first meet episode of 2023, and I’m so excited to have you here. So let’s start off like we, we always do with some scriptures.
So Romans chapter 14, verse 12. So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Now, if you missed the spiritual kickoff, go back and check it out. Okay? I really unpack that scripture in depth. I think I’ll give you some good insight to, to what we were learning there in Romans, what Paul was trying to teach us.
So I’m excited for this one guys. We’ll be talking about how you can debrief to win at home. Okay? We brought in an expert, and I’m tell you what, this guy, he had me on the edge of my seats the whole time, and the first time I got to see him speak was earlier in 2022. I was at a a, a Vistage meeting and he was our speaker and I absolutely just, he had me captivated the entire time.
Uh, we were able to connect and, and said, I said, look, Kujo, I really want you to come on the line within us and share your story. So excited to have him here. So Robert Kujo Ner, he’s a retired F 15 and F 22 fighter pilot guys. So he’s a former F 15 weapon school instructor, F 22 Squadron Commander, senior joint staff officer and combat veteran.
So guys, I’ll tell you what, he has advanced degrees in operational art and science and NA and national security and strategy and has an extensive experience in tactical planning. Execution and organizational leadership. So I’ll tell you what, he has done so many wonderful things in his career. He’s, he’s founded a group and, uh, called Bmax Group, where his mission is to teach, inspire and nurture team teams on how to really do the, do this whole team thing the right way.
Making work more fulfilling in making teams much more effective. I’ll tell you what, he unpacks so much in this conversation that we will be able to apply directly, I mean, directly to our walk right now. So, you know, if you’re, if you’re leading at work, if you find yourself a leader at home, with your children, with your wife, and you want to improve in some certain areas, specifically around accountability and thinking about how you sh how you need to start showing up, we talk about all these things and we get very, very tactical in the ways that you can take these things and actually, Implement them right now.
This is not something you have to plan, you know, six or eight months out. You could literally take this conversation, break it down piece by piece, and implement just a few small things today, and I guarantee you they’ll make an impact. So guys, enjoy this powerful conversation with Cujo.
They just heard me give a little brief bio, but that’s just Chris reading words. Why don’t you give them, uh, a little bit of your story and make, and, and as a caveat to it, give us a, uh, one crazy fighter pilot story that you can to get us going.
03:09 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Yeah, okay. Uh, crazy fighter pilot story at the beginning or in the middle of.
03:15 Chris Grainger
Why don’t you just, you go through, uh, why don’t you do that at the very end? Why don’t you give us a little bit about you first and then just give us a little crazy story at the end. Yeah.
03:22 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Okay. So you’re looking at a guy who, when he was four years old, knew that he wanted to fly fighters. Um, I, I was actually inspired by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
I said, I wanna do whatever it is that he’s doing, however it is that I can do it over here. Top Gun comes out in 86. That reinforces the fact that I desperately need to be a fighter pilot. But I didn’t live the typical, you know, evolution into fighter pilot dumb. I was a classically trained violin and piano player.
I was the captain of my senior team. It just wasn’t any of the cool ones. I was the captain of the speech and debate team. Um, wanted to go to the academy cuz Luke wanted to go to the academy. Uh, and then later on in life I realized that was probably a good place to, to start out a flying career in the Air Force.
And so applied for the academy, got rejected and so I was on Plan B. And then, um, and then blessedly. A few weeks prior to basic at training, we get a call from the senator’s office saying that I’ve received my appointment. So I think I’m the last person in my class to get an acceptance, uh, at the Air Force Academy.
Uh, made it through that program by the skin of my teeth. Got a chance to fly airplanes. Got a pilot slot. Uh, went through two years of training to become an F 15 pilot. Got to my first operational tour, and along the way, experienced a lot of near defeats. Um mm-hmm. , very few things went exactly according to plan.
Uh, there was all kinds of disruptions, challenges, uh, adversity that had to be overcome. Uh, can dig into any of that, but ultimately got a chance to live the dream. So I, I became an F 15 pilot in 1998, formally graduated the F 15 chorus and went off, uh, and started my journey, uh, at Eggland Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
I was a wing man. Then I became a two ship at a four ship flight lead. Eventually. I got a chance to start to become an instructor pilot. I went up to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. I became an instructor pilot. I also got a chance to go to the Air Force Weapons School. So the, the program that the Navy copies in 1969 that the Air Force has had since 1949, whatever details, minor points, um, went through the program, came back as an instructor, also had a chance to fly F 20 twos.
Uh, what an amazing couple of airplanes. Uh, I’ll always be an eagle driver at heart, but I’m so blessed to have flown the F 22 Raptor, invisible airplane. So much power. It’s just incredible. Uh, I had a career that was going gangbusters, was promoted to the rank of full bird colonel, uh, because of the good people that I worked for and with.
And, uh, and then I got colorectal cancer. And because of colorectal cancer, I’ll, I’ll make the pivot out of a career that was really going well. Uh, missing most of my lower colon now body does not operate as it was originally designed to. The last time that I, I flew across the Pacific Ocean was in a very tiny single seat fighter cockpit in an F 22.
I think I was in the cockpit for probably about 10 and a half or 11 hours coming out of Honolulu into Okinawa these days. Mm-hmm. , I have some degree of anxiety if the flight lasts more than two hours. Uh, only because the system’s a bit, a bit unde dependable these days. Right, right. And yet incredibly blessed to be alive, but along the way had the privilege of working with some of the most amazing people that you’re gonna meet on planet Earth.
Um, people of faith, people who were not of faith, people who were committed though regardless to a common purpose of defending our nation, which was, which was an honorable enterprise. And, um, and something that I, I’ve valued since I was a, a kid. My father was in the Air Force, so I, I appreciate that. And I learned so much along the way, so much that, um, that needs to be shared that, uh, that I’m very, very happy to be in your midst today because I think I get a chance to share a little bit of that.
Yeah. And will begin by me sharing a story. He said he wanted some sort of a fighter pilot story of something, uh, interesting that might have happened. There was a, there was a mission that I flew sometime after I graduated from weapons school. So now I’m, I’m a weapons officer as we call them, uh, in the Air Force.
I’m the chief instructor pilot for an operational fighter squadron. I’m supposed to be one of the best pilots in the squadron. And, and the way that we, we organize things, you kinda look up to in a squadron, you’re a weapons officer. I mean, I looked up to, I was not a weapons officer. I looked up to my weapons officer, I looked up to my weapons officers when I was a squadron commander.
I respected the heck out of them and what they were bringing to the mix. Uh, and so here it is. I’m, I’m in that position. And I’m flying a mission and the person that I’m flying against, um, is trying to prove how, how good they are. So the, the mission was what we call high aspect basic fighter maneuver. So we’ll go from this standpoint.
So we’re, we simulate, we’re about, you know, four or five miles away from each other. And then we, oh, I, I see a, a potential bad guy. And so we turn in and now it’s a let’s point at each other. Let’s, let’s merge and assess good guy or bad guy. And if we assess bad guy, let’s go ahead and try and get into a position to wipe out the back.
So four or five miles away, seeing a dot, now we’re racing towards one another. Closing velocities, you know, I don’t know, 1500 miles an hour. I mean, we’re just, we’re just scooting. And time goes by in, in no time. And one of the things you gotta do when you’re flying this kind of a dog fight profile is you gotta take some, you gotta take some separation, you gotta have some space.
The Air Force says you need to clo, you need to pass no closer than 500 feet from each other. How do you know that you’re at 500 feet from each other? Okay. Like, right, we have ways of trying to make sure ultimately just to be safe, right? Anyway, I’m taking my little bids, little, little check turns to make sure that I’ve got my separation.
And every time that I take a bid, one way he, he mimics me. Okay? So if I go right, he goes left. So then I come back and I go left. He goes, right , and all the time, I mean, we’re still scooting at each other at the, at the speed of nothing. And before you know it, it’s, it’s time to merge. And I’m a hundred percent convinced we’re gonna hit each other.
So we’re, we’re, I go into this and I do a last minute as, as aggressive of maneuver as I can possibly accomplish. And he does the same thing. Cause he recognizes, I mean, this is, and I cannot, I cannot express to you enough how fast this thing has taken place. The speed, right? The speed. So you’re like, you, you’re looking at, Hey, take, take a bit away.
Take a bit. It’s not gonna happen. We’re gonna hit boom, and, and you’re ready for it. And uh, and in that instant where I knew that we were gonna hit, uh, time slowed down. I was very aware of things. I was very aware of sound and distance. Uh, I was aware of how far we were over the ocean, about 115 miles. I remember thinking, I can’t stand Shark Week, uh, only because it is created within me.
a tremendous fear of sharks. And I’m, I’m not over the ocean. When we hit, if I can survive this thing now, the next, the next issue is like this great white sharks come. Thanks shark. Right? So, so these are crazy thoughts going through your mind, okay? And they must be going through in like a, a nanosecond, because the speed, I still haven’t hit the airplane, but I know that it’s gonna happen any second now.
And now the airplane, as I’m, I’m watching, I’m looking out the right side of my cockpit and I see the belly of his airplane go by and it goes by like, you know, frame by frame. And I’m counting rivets underneath his airplane. Now this must have happened like that. Because time has slowed down. People talk about in, in like, you know, near death experiences or coming back from Yeah.
Time slow. It does, and I’m looking and I can see how the rivets are positioned. So like it’s not just seeing individual rivets, which in and of itself is an amazing thing. I’ve never paid attention to the rivets on underneath the airplane, but I can tell you which direction each rivet is, you know, is screwed in.
Now I’m watching this go on and I’m like, wow, he missed me. And that’s the first thought that goes through my mind is he missed me. Then I’m like, oh no, he is gonna hit the tails. He’s gonna hit the, he’s gonna hit, he’s gonna shave off one of my tails. I wonder what that’s gonna do to me. And so I look behind me and, and it looks like he’s gonna miss the tails too, which is amazing cuz he’s that close.
Okay. He’s that close to me. And then the final thing that goes through my mind as this, as, as this near, near past takes place is, oh no, he has his full afterburner saying he’s gonna melt my canopy. And I, I look up and I see. You know, an epic amount of thrust coming out of the back end of his airplane and it doesn’t melt my canopy.
And I, I just, in that inside, I was just, I was praising the McDonald Douglass engineers, you know, for the great work that they had done to build a canopy that can withstand the tremendous, um, heat coming outta the back end of this thing. Anyway, we, we escaped this thing by this skin of our teeth. And what’s interesting is, is that, uh, the first thing that we do after we like collect ourselves and you know, like take a deep breath, is we stop fighting and we go back home to debrief to figure out why it was this thing just happened.
We had plenty of gas left to go do more engagements. I mean, you could sit there and, and say, okay, hey, we’re lucky to be alive, but we are alive. Let’s go back and do some more cool stuff. Now. We, uh, we stopped fighting. We went back, we raced back to Langley to go debrief. To learn from this experience. Yeah, because wouldn’t have, wouldn’t have been bad if we went and set that same thing up again.
And then this time we did hit. And what was, what was really, uh, fascinating about the debrief experience was, was that the pilot who I flew against, the first thing that he did as we were in the pilot van coming back to the squadron was he said, cou, I’m so sorry. And what he tried to do is take immediate ownership for this, you know, nearly horrific, but actually very successful outcome.
We didn’t, that was a win. And I thought, what an awesome, what an awesome tribe I’m a part of. Yeah. Where the instinctive answer isn’t to justify or to say, Hey, you know, it wasn’t, the instinctive approach was, Hey, this, this is on me and I’m so, I mean, it’s not, you know, I screwed this up. I’ll do it better next time is, I’m sorry.
Mm-hmm. , I’m so sorry for this. Mm-hmm. . And, uh, and I came back and I said, well, I appreciate that brother, but actually we don’t even know what happened yet. We, we think we know, but we have to follow our methodology to figure out is there even anything to be sorry about. Um, and so let’s go back and follow our approach and learn from this thing.
And we did. And it was a, it was a wonderful experience. Uh, recently I got a chance to see that pilot again at a reunion that I went to, and great American, great professional. We both learned a ton from that day. And here we are to tell the story. So hopefully that fits the bill for a interesting Fighter pilot story from back in the day.
14:17 Chris Grainger
he blew me away. Ka Cujo. So, I mean, for our listeners out. I got to see Cujo speak, you know, in person. And it was one of the best days of just period of, of, of watching a presentation. Cause when you think about it, you’re just gonna watch any presentation, whoever gets excited about that. But I can tell you one thing, after about five minutes, seconds into watching Cujo, you get started and the, and the energy level you have and just your story and, and you’re just a great storyteller like you just did here, man, that was, that was, that was incredible.
And that’s why I, I’m so glad that you, you brought up the debrief part of, of, in that story, because I kind of wanna dig into that for our listeners today, because we got a lot of men listening. They’re, they’re trying to lead, they’re trying to lead their families. They’re trying to lead, you know, be leaders at work or, uh, lead their children and things like that.
And I wanna start off by, I have your book here, uh, spoiler alert for, for the guys. This will be the book of the week. So I’ll come back on the Fun Friday. We’ll make sure that we, we have all the links there for that. But right at the very beginning you have what’s called the mis, the mission is Essentials.
And I want to read that for our listeners. And kind of set up for us where we’re going be diving into this conversation, cuz you mentioned the word debrief a few times, and I love your definition of a debrief right here. It says, A debrief is a process of, of constructively evaluating the quality of the decisions everyone on the team made from planning through execution in relation to the objectives to team set out to achieve.
Then you have a, by the way, and I, and I, the by the waste part for me is what I really enjoy, uh, the most. And I think, we’ll, we’ll unpack it some, it says a debrief is not a gruesome sport or a place of blame or shame. Quite the opposite. In fact, the debrief is where we celebrate our victories as well as learn from our failures.
What we do in this order to build co cohesive teams to, and. Improve moving forward. A debrief properly run is a, an affirming positive experience. It is also where we begin the practice of accountable leadership. Love that, by the way, section. Thank you for putting that in there. So I’m curious, man, why do we not naturally do this?
This is not naturally how we think, particularly at home when we’re talking about leading our children or, or just leading our wives, or just being the, the spiritual leaders in general. This is not a natural way of thinking, Cujo.
16:27 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
It’s not, it’s not a natural way of thinking anywhere. Um, you know, birthed in war, this approach was not practiced the way that I teach it now when it was originally engineered.
I have no idea what a debrief looked like in World War I, but my, my suspicion is it, it, it didn’t have as much vulnerability, empathy, humility, and ownership. Uh, back then. I could be completely wrong. I might be blown away if I could get into a time machine and go back and see it, but, but I don’t know if we ever really thought about it that way.
But what I do know is, Is that we have been very conscientious in the military of trying to figure out how to build teams that win. And we’ve evolved our practice of the debrief. And in many ways the military’s kind of been out in front of society, um, on a number of things. Like, you know, I mean, I think we were, we were pretty good at, at emphasizing merit over background or color, race, uh, heritage, whatever.
Uh, from my experience, it was, if you could perform, you’re gonna go someplace in this and that, that’s a, that’s a, a great, a great way to look at life. And, and so there’s a lot that has come from that. But, but I think in the personal world, you know, you look at how families have kind of evolved over time.
I know for a fact that my father was criticized nonstop by his father, and it had an effect on how my, how my dad looked at the world and how he saw things and. I’ve spoken to many people from my dad’s generation who said that they had similar experiences with, with their parents and specifically their fathers.
And you know, it, it took a toll. And so then you have another generation that tries to account for that and tries to do things differently. And yet vestiges, uh, keep on making their way through. I think it’s very easy for us to be critical. I also think it’s very easy for us to look at the family as, as a separate entity from the teams that we’re trying to build at work.
So at work we’re, we’re focused on, hey, we’ve gotta hit our revenue goals, so we’re gonna get the team together to get there. And maybe there’s some good leadership skills that we practice at work to get the work team to be its best to achieve what it is that we’re supposed to do here to continue to get the paychecks and whatnot.
But then we come home and we cross a divide. And on this side of the divide at home, we’re not thinking team dynamics. We’re think. You know, I’m the, whoever I, whatever role it is, I’ve assign to myself here. Right. And the rest of the people on this team, they’re, they’re whatever role it is that they they have here.
And, and maybe though we could be outstanding practitioners of leadership and teammanship at work, we don’t do that. And the place that we need it the most. And that’s an interesting one. And I say that because that resembles my life. I had an artificial divide. I did teaming at work a certain way. I taught high performance teamwork at work.
I did not even fathom that there would be cross applicability into the family domain. Like, it never even occurred to me that I might want to crossly some of these principles into the family domain. Mm-hmm. until it’s, until it’s almost too late. Right.
19:26 Chris Grainger
Right. Hey, let’s take a quick break. We’re gonna dive into that deeper here in a minute.
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So Kujo talking about, you know, making that divide and, and, and, and cuz so many times you’re right man. I’ve gone through leadership training and, and work. Years ecos all they’ve sent me to so many different leadership programs and trainings and books, and you read all this stuff. I never once thought about bringing it to the house
I just, I just never did. And I don’t know why it, it just never clicked for me. So I, I guess what was that clicking moment for you? Like, oh, this actually would work at home.
20:55 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Yeah. Here’s the clicking moment. Uh, colorectal cancer. Mm. So, so I mentioned the cancer, I mentioned the cancer journey and how it’s the tipping point outta the military for us as a family.
Uh, what was fascinating about the cancer journey is, is that when I got cancer, um, it was on the heels of having symptoms that were pretty obvious. So the symptoms lead me to get a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy finds the cancerous tumor, and here we are. But the symptoms, the symptoms were very special to me in the sense that it’s the second time that I had those symptoms.
Oh, the first time was a decade earlier, and nobody on the planet knew that I had these symptoms aside from me. So where was I? A decade earlier? The year was 2004. In 2004, I was a young instructor recently returned to the weapons school, the fighter, the Air Force Fighter, weapons School, weapons Instructor course is what it’s called these days.
But here I am going through the Air Force Top Gun program as a brand new teacher and I’m busy. I’m also bulletproof. Those are back in the days as a young captain where I was fearless and indestructible where nothing could take me down. I, I doctors with suspicion, like all that they do is clip your wings.
So avoid doctors at all costs. I was a male that also worked against me in those moments, but, but I had, I had symptoms that were very, very obvious that that like 99.9% of humanity would’ve done something about. But to me, as the superhuman, at least the supposed superhuman, I’m like, nah, don’t have time for this.
I will them to go away. And after several months they did. I proved my dominance over my body to myself. Didn’t tell my flight surgeon whose responsibility it was to keep me healthy. Didn’t tell my fiance, now wife that I had these things going on, didn’t talk to my future in-laws doctor nurse combination about this.
Just to get a, just to get a read from them. Didn’t tell my parents who, you know, with a history, understanding what the family has experienced over time could have given me some insight that we have a history of colorectal cancer. I didn’t do any of that. Why didn’t I do any of that? Well, because I never th I never really thought that I owed it to anybody to share this kind of a thing.
Uh, so I didn’t, I didn’t communicate to literally anybody on the planet until it was too late in 2013 when I tell my wife that I’ve got these symptoms and it’s the second time she was horrified. Mm-hmm. . And when I woke up from my colonoscopy, my doctor says to me, you know, her testar, I’m so sorry. Uh, I found a humongous tumor growing in your lower colon.
I think it’s been growing for a decade. On the inside, I’m thinking to myself, you’re exactly right. I had my colonoscopy in February of 2014. The original symptoms were the summer of 2004. I’m like, a plus for precision, my friend. Right, right. So what do we do? Um, couple years later, I write Debrief to Win, and the original version of that book tells the cancer story.
The, the current version doesn’t. Mm-hmm. , uh, doesn’t, because Mr. Gerber, who wrote the Forward, uh, the author of the EMyth, he said, don’t bring the cancer story into business. It’s a downer. Nobody wants to, to read about cancer. But the original version of Debrief to Win is my debrief of my cancer journey and how it is that I hold myself accountable for getting it.
Mm-hmm. and I specifically identify as the root cause of me developing into colorectal cancer. The fact that I didn’t practice high performance team Princip, At home. I didn’t have a sense of mission at home, didn’t have objectives on the health and wellness side at home. I didn’t have a plan to be able to achieve my objectives at home.
That’s the stuff that I did at work. I do different things at home, was my philosophy back in 2004. Right. And it didn’t serve well. And so it took the disruption of almost dying to recognize that the most important team that I’m blessed to be on is the family team. And why wouldn’t I practice teamwork principles at home?
Mm-hmm. people who I love and I’m blessed to be able to be here with and, and help co-lead mm-hmm. . So now we do that. What? Right. Right.
25:00 Chris Grainger
So I mean that, that, that’s in many ways, you know, 10 years and then you get that diagnosis and you know, it sounds like you and your wife, you, you responded the right way, which not many people would’ve, many people would’ve responded, able to turn, they’d been, you know, ra you know, just lashing out at God.
But it sounds like in that, in that moment, I’m just, I’m, I’m just reading in between the lines here. Sounds like you kinda ran to God There. Is
25:24 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
that, is that right? Oh, oh, a hundred percent. Actually, let’s, let’s dig into that. Let’s, let’s talk about a couple of phases early on in this cancer journey that, that, that people might identify with.
Okay. First phase in the cancer journey. So let’s just talk initial diagnosis. I’ve had to do colonoscopy prep, now I’ve had my colon. I’m fuzzy. I’m now stunned by the fact that I’ve got a 10 year old tumor growing in my lower colon. Don’t know if I’ve got days, weeks, or months left to live, but one of the, the biggest urges that I have in that moment is I, I have to go satiate my hunger.
I’m starving. Okay, so I’m on the heels of, you could almost be dead. I’m starving, which is a funky, my wife six months. And your wife was
26:07 Chris Grainger
pregnant too, right?
26:07 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Yeah, she was pregnant six months with our fourth child. So she’s also starving. So what do the two of us do on the heels of this devastating diagnosis?
We go to lunch. We go to lunch in the basement of the building in downtown Stuttgart, Germany, where we get this horrible diagnosis. It’s a gorgeous February date. It’s very rare for Germany that it’s sunny and beautiful outside. It’s cold as anything, but it’s sunny and beautiful. And we’re sitting in this cafe having whatever it was that we ate, and we sat there across from each other.
We affirmed this, honey. Our story just got better. And that was the mindset that we adopted in that instant, not one that was done for like the benefit of the future made for TV movie of the week or whatever it was. Actually, it was actually drawing from a lifetime of living in disruption in the fighter pilot business that says nothing ever goes according to plan.
We’re still gonna find a way to win when we do win, despite the fact that that nothing has gone according to the plan. The story is gonna be so much better to tell at roll call on Friday night. And so that’s the thing that we thrive on. It was funny looking at it from the outside, that we live the fighter pilot life in that moment.
You don’t know how you’re gonna respond to things until you’re tested. And it was in that moment that the two of us, I was, I was really happy to see harness something that was kind of instilled in us as a team ever since I was flying fighters. Okay, so that’s the first thing. Second thing was four days into the wait period, you know, so we’re, we have to wait five days or so to get the biopsy results to find out just how bad this cancer is.
It was day four that I went downstairs into our basement in a little village called Gathering in Germany, and I was just overcome with a motion. I just started bawling. And I did so for two reasons. Uh, and it was not, it was not calculated. It just, it just hits me like this tidal wave. First reason is I’m like, man, I’m about to leave my life and our unborn child and our three born children by themselves.
I’m not gonna be here to, we’re overseas. This is horrible. And I felt so, so bad about that. . The, the thing that I was even, even feeling worse about was the fact that I’m like, and, and, Hey, Mr. Big guy, by the way, um, I may not have done all the stuff exactly according to the way that you have asked me to do, and I feel so bad about that as well.
But instead of feeling any anger, um, it was quite the opposite. I said, look, I’m not, I’m not trying to re renegotiate the deal. Like the deal that you gave me was, was epic from the get-go. It’s the best deal that I could have ever asked for, that anybody could ask for. All that I’m going to ask for is that you trust that I’m gonna use whatever time I’ve got left for good.
I didn’t ask for an extension. I didn’t ask for, you know, Hey, if you, then I’ll, in that moment, I said, I, I here by affirm that whatever time I’ve got left on this planet could be days, could be weeks, could be months, could be years I’m going to use to do good, and, and that’s it. Right? That’s, that’s all that I can, that’s all that I can do in this.
And then I felt better and I went upstairs and, and my wife and I, we began the journey that involved a heck of a lot of laughter, uh, surrounded by two horrific GI surgeries where the pain was so excruciating that I cannot describe it adequately in human words, . And it was one being a minus the pain, a wonderful experience of bonding for my wife and I and for my children and us.
29:39 Chris Grainger
Now this is, what, eight years ago or so? Eight years ago? That’s right. At this point
29:43 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
now, yep. Surgery was in early March. So how second? Surgery was about 90 to a hundred days later. Yeah.
29:51 Chris Grainger
Okay. So how, how are you doing now?
29:54 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
You know, I think, uh, mostly good. Uh, the body does not respond well to, I don’t get absorbed nutrients very well any longer.
I don’t, I don’t have the energy that I used to. Um, I’ve got a lot of things that, uh, that, that. Don’t perform to specs and yet I’d say mostly good. Um, a I’m still here, b I’m, you know, privileged to, to lead a beautiful family and to spend uh, whatever time that we get to spend together in an incredibly quality way, I’d say mostly good and we’ll figure out how to continue to improve on the physical issues as we go forward.
Right. Well, I mean, just thank you for sharing
30:35 Chris Grainger
that. Cause I mean, again, stories like that, you know, are important to, to get out cuz it, it, it gives hope to others cuz you never know who’s listening. We have a lot of listeners to the line within us out there and, and I’m sure you know, whether it’s cancer or, or other types of sicknesses that hit, hit her guys directly or their families directly and how you respond to that moment.
I thought it was very, uh, just encouraging to hear you. You say that you and your wife responded with laughter. You had a lot more laughter in that season. Yes. And man, what a, what a beautiful, what a beautiful way to respond to, to something that could really turn, could make so many people just go, go completely away from God and just, and, and just have and, and be bitter.
You guys chosen the other, the other path. Well, I, and,
31:21 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
and you know, you could, you could sit there in a pride way and say, look at how awesome we’re, uh, what, what I, what I am constantly reminded of is how blessed we were to be raised in an environment. And she lived it as well as the wife, you know, of a, of a member of a fighter squadron.
Um, to be raised with a bunch of people whose attitude was, no matter what the odds are, no matter how difficult things are, we’re gonna find a way. Uh, and that’s sort of that, that kind of like, it affects your outlook on life. So we’re beneficiaries of a mindset, attitude, approach that we’re privileged to have in our high performance teams.
In the military, which is really, really cool. Then, then we come back to, I felt since the moment that I first laid outta my wife, um, that I was, that the good Lord put her in my life, um, as a gift and a blessing. I, I was, I was taken by her moment, number one, and she validated the fact that she was that blessing in my life through our darkest times.
And so what a, what an awesome experience that is. Would I, would I reverse engineer my life and get rid of the cancer story? Heck no. Uh, because of so much good that came from it, it affirmed everything that I had hoped. There’s nothing more that I could have wished for, uh, an, a spouse, uh, or in the children that were privileged to have.
I mean, they showed me unconditional love when I was the griest grouch of all time when I had nothing left in the tank and I was in an agony and pain for days and weeks on end. They were the ones who always were kind, always supportive to me. What, what more is there than that? Like, I mean, that’s just, that’s just so ethically wonderful.
Um, but you said something, uh, earlier that I feel like I have to come back to. So when we’re talking about, when we’re talking about, um, you know, the experience of cancer and the journey that we’ve gone through and how it was that my wife and I were blessed to be able to respond in that moment, I have to share with you that I had another tearful moment in those early days, and it was when I was in the hospital recovering from surgery number one, and the, the nurses were forcing me to get up and walk.
They said, it’s really important that you get up and walk. As painful as it is, as, as much as you can’t really do it very well, you have to walk just to the bathroom and back. And so I, I was following their, their counsel. It was horrifically painful. I’m walking to the bath and I get to the bathroom and I just burst out in tears.
But they aren’t tears of pain. They aren’t tears of anger or frustration. They’re actually a funky. Set of tears of joy. And the reason why I had joy in that moment was that I finally had empathy. I had this, I had this, this epiphany moment of empathy has finally awoken to me that was absent previous. And I was taken back in time to a night when I, my wife and I were in Washington, dc I was a student at the National War College, and we were invited, uh, to attend a dinner honoring Admiral McRaven.
So, if you remember the gentleman that gave the commencement speech or to talk about the Make Your Bed, uh, former Navy Seal, four Star, Navy Admiral, um, he was being honored. All the, all the joint chiefs were there. We were sitting at the table of a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who is now my instructor at the War College for his, it was just such a wonderful thing at the Reagan Center.
And seated at our table, uh, was I think a tech sergeant who lost both of his legs in a, uh, in a bomb attack in Iraq. So he seated there in his, uh, in his wheelchair, and his wife is there, and because he’s. A wounded warrior, all the generals and admirals make a point to come by our table, to shake his hands to thank him for what, what he’s done.
You know? And I, as a lieutenant colonel, I’m, I’m there in my mess, dress or formal, you know, attire. Mm-hmm. , my wife’s looking stunning in a beautiful gown where everybody says the right things, right. All the things that you would probably write out, you know, you must say this to person who’s lost legs, you know?
And what struck me in the moment was, was how disinterested he was in any of that. He sat there, I mean, he tolerated it. He shook the hands of whoever didn’t move him at all. His, his poor wife was there making up for it, you know? Oh, thank you so much, sir. He was really powerful that you’d come and meet with us and da, da, da.
She was doing brilliant work, right? He, he, he didn’t care at all. Why? I didn’t understand it when I was healthy and fit, when everything had gone perfectly for me on the physical side. I, but I did understand it when a piece of me was missing. Um, I empathize with the fact that he didn’t maybe feel like he was as much of the person that he once was, and that no words are gonna change that.
And the reason why it was tears of joy is I think it’s a very human thing to be empathetic. I think it’s inhuman or anti, whatever it’s robotic to, to, to, to see the world as a series of ones and zero as well. Just overcome that dysfunction. Oh, just deal with it. Move on. I mean, ultimately, ultimately we need to be empathetic to understand where people are coming from.
And I don’t think I was, when I was on active duty, it took cancer to get me to that point. And I’m grateful for it. And then we fast forward. I was on a flight not too long ago. We were coming outta St. Louis. I was on my way to Boise, Idaho. We had to stop in, in, uh, salt Lake City. And coming outta St. Louis, we were, we were socked under with ice and we had to get the ice.
And we, you know, it’s an hour and a half delay is the ultimate outcome. And everybody has a connection in Salt Lake. And so everybody’s frustrated on the way to Salt Lake and we’re looking at our things and everybody knows they’re not gonna make it. And it’s just, it’s just throwing. Travel into total chaos.
When we get to the ground in Salt Lake, two people come racing up from the back of the airplane while we’re taxiing to the front to be the first people off. And now, you know, we got the announcements, you know, like, you cannot be, we’re on an active taxi way. You need to return to your seats, and they won’t.
And so now the airplane has to come to a stop because it can’t continue to taxi with people that are standing up. And now people are, I mean, it’s, it’s almost coming to blows. Then eventually they, they cajole the people to go back. But bef the nanosecond that we stop at the gate, one of those two comes back, pushes everybody out of the way to be the first person off the airplane.
And now people have got their cell phones out, they’re ready to record the fight that’s gonna take place for sure. Right. And I remember being really angry in that. Because I had a connection to catch and there was a chance that I might make it, but everything had to go exactly perfect for me to do so, and, and this was not gonna help us, ends up, none of us make our connection cuz they couldn’t get the air stairs to, to connect.
It’s 45 minutes to get off the airplane, which is only aided the, the whole anger piece. But it was in that moment that I reminded myself, I have no idea what this person’s dealing with on the inside right now. Right. And what you said really hit home. You never know what somebody’s, somebody’s dealing with on the outside.
What people ask us, how you doing? Oh, I’m fine, I’m great. You know, life is great, brother on the inside, I just lost my best friend. Got the cancer diagnosis coming back. Dog’s about to die, wife’s gonna leave me. Whatever the case might be on the inside, we’re broken. And it, I, I was reminded of the revelation and Stuttgart to be able to sit there and throttle back my anger and go, what if her mom’s about to die?
What if something else horrific is about to happen? And she has to get there. Right. Like that’s, that’s probably a better way to think about things than the opposite. Assume fault, assume guilt, assume punishment. Right? And, um, and so I, I, I, you know, I, I appreciate you allowing me to go down that path for just a moment because that was something that I had to learn and I learned it late in life, and it’s unfortunate.
I wish I had had that empathy a little bit earlier. Amen, brother.
38:55 Chris Grainger
Hey, we’ll be, we’ll be right back guys.
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Now, I’m curious, Cujo, on the empathy standpoint. You know, as a man, I’m leading my family. Uh, you know, I’m trying to do the best job I can. I’m not the most empathetic. With the people that live underneath my roof. And you know, I’m sure there are a lot of guys listening right now. They’re, they’re, they’re nodding their heads right now.
Like their wives get the worst version of them possible. And my wife right now, she listens to every episode of the line with within us. She’s probably sitting there nodding, getting me an amen right now. Go wherever she’s at, listening to this. Right. And I’m, and I have to very be intentional about, you know, giving her the best version cuz she deserves the best man.
She does not deserve the leftovers. And having that empathy with our children, with our wives. So how do you, how do you help, how do you, I guess, get the guy who’s listening right now who struggles with that stuff. What do they need to do to start moving in the right direction for empathy
40:38 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
at home? Yeah, I think it, brilliant question.
And I suffer the affliction of, I can talk a big game, but living it is, Practice with you, man. And I know that Diane, she’s gonna be listening into everything that we’re talking about and she’s like, oh, that’s all great and stuff. But how about yesterday, right? ?
40:59 Chris Grainger
Yeah. I, I tell my wife all the time, I’m like, I got this podcast and we talk about leadership for Christian men and we crush all these topics.
And they’re like, if I were to actually walk out this stuff flawlessly, you would, this would be the most immaculate husband on the planet. Like, you know how awesome I would be? I was like, but if I fall so short every day of this stuff. But I guess we just, sanctification, just cheat, keep trying to get better and better.
But sorry to interrupt you though, man, but we wanted to make sure we give ourselves some grace
41:26 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
and that’s just it. Yeah. We have to give ourselves the grace. No expectation that you’re gonna be able to be perfect ever, or that you’re gonna get there over time. It’s just a constant struggle to be as close to that as you can be.
And it’s gonna take the rest of our lives to get there. And I think that the way that we, that we start on that journey is to make every day a mission. . If you think about it in a business setting, we might look at, at the world that way, like, you know, Hey, we’re gonna break out. We’ve got all these objectives, we’ve got these quarterly rocks, we’ve got, you know, these, these things that we’re going to go out there and achieve.
And then we’re gonna break those down into manageable slices. And every week we’re gonna get together as a team and assess are we on track? We’re gonna take a look at our measurements, our KPIs, we’re gonna, we’re gonna assess how we’re doing okay. And that, that has, that has a lot of goodness to it, maybe.
Mm-hmm. , maybe we can cross apply into, on the family side of the house. Um, a mission mindset. And see, part of our mission is to evolve into being men of character, women of character, people who live the core values that are useful in a team setting. And if we say that we want to be more empathetic, that’s one of the things we wanna focus on.
Maybe today’s mission is to demonstrate empathy and to, and to pump the brakes just a little bit before we immediately make a snap judgment that this person sucks, that this person is a failure, that this person’s done something bad, horrific, whatever else. And, and in that moment of pumping the brakes going, what is the context within which this decision was made?
What factors led to it? What was the person thinking to arrive at a conclusion, hopefully, that they made the best decision that they were capable of in that moment. And to be in that analysis, a better partner, a better father, a better whatever it is that we need to be in this day’s mission. And if we can take it in, in a small, uh, small chunks like that, that sets us up.
Two. And there’s a, there’s a spiritual basis for debrief to win, by the way, if we can, at the end of the day, assess whether or not we achieved mission success that day and learn from it in route to having a better mission the next day, now we’re onto something. And Frank, wonderful young woman, trapped in an attic and a horrible time in the world’s history, kept a diary.
Most people have heard of it. One of her reflections is, wouldn’t it be neat? And this is a paraphrase, but here it is. She’s a teenager and she writes, wouldn’t it be neat if at the end of every day, every man and every woman would take the time to reflect on the day, both the good and the bad of the day in route to trying to have a better day the next day?
Like, that’s really brilliant. And what a, a magnificent reflection from somebody in a really tough spot that we might wanna harness if we see the day as a mission, if one of the mission objectives is to become more empathetic, we set that as at the beginning of the day. Our idea of what right looks like.
And then at the end of the day, we assess whether or not we achieved it, why or why not to help us to be more empathetic in the next day. And we’re gonna continue to push ourselves every day in that fashion. I think that is part of the ticket to success long term, right? We’re never gonna be perfect, but by having that mission focus, I think we’re gonna be a lot better.
44:33 Chris Grainger
with you, man. I, I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m completely with you. And, and so far as a mission focus, let’s, let’s take it a little bit further and talk about, okay, debriefing a mission. I know this is, you’re very big on this, the debrief to win. You have this process, particularly with guys. I wanna focus on this one section here where you talk about, uh, when you’re doing a debrief on a mission, it’s so easy to just, uh, debrief.
You know what goes wrong. And I feel like as men in particular, man, and this is the guilt, the chief center speaking here, all I wanna talk about to my kids is, why did you not do what I told you to do? I, I’ve told you, I shouldn’t have to tell you 10 times the verse, I never take the time to celebrate with them when things are done right.
You know, when they do stuff, when they do. So maybe we do celebrate the big stuff, but not the little stuff. You know, we’re not celebrating the small wins and is speak to, speak to the guys, including me, chief centers here. Why do we need to start debriefing the, the wins as well? Because man, we don’t want our kids, you know, thinking that all dad is gonna ever wanna talk about is the stuff that I’m doing wrong.
45:38 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Yeah. Yeah. Good. Listen, can I speak to myself in this as well, ? Okay. Because I too suffer this affliction. Yes sir. I have a bias towards being hypercritical. My wife said, when I used to come back from, from deployments, I was the eye of Mordor and I would notice everything that had been changed. And goodness, she took that as a personal attack.
And it was always a dicey proposition in those early days post-deployment for us. But, Here’s the thing, you have to ask yourself like, what is the best way to make an impact on somebody? Like what is the most effective mechanism to help somebody to grow and to learn? And in, in asking that question, you might wanna further reflect on who did you learn the best from?
And some people out there say, well, it’s, you know, it was Coach Wicks because man, he was just such a tough guy. But you knew he was, he was right and he had credibility. And that may be the case. And, and, and Perfect. Right? So go be Coach Wickers or, or whoever your coach might have been. But I think most folks would, would think back to.
There was this teacher, she, and she just understood. She just got it and she had this way. It was a gentle way, but it was a firm way, you know? And, and when, when she said something, you listened, you know, and she was so positive. But when she told you that you were outta line, you immediately fixed it cause you didn’t wanna upset her.
You think about that, and then you ask yourself, how do I replicate that? If the answer is, I replicate that by always highlighting the failures. I’m always the person to criticize. They know, they know that our dad’s here in the house and I’m gonna maintain the standard. You might find that, wait a second, I’m kind of, now that I think about it, getting away from that teacher who had such a profound impact on me, and maybe if I were to try to, in that daily mission focus, be more like her or him, then mm-hmm.
then we can get there. I don’t think that our kids thrive if all that they hear is everything that they’re doing wrong. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. and the occasional celebration of, all right. Nice job with the a plus. All right, keep it up. May be sufficient, but my suspicion is, is that at their level of learning where they are in this whole thing, because of how much they look up to us as their parents, hopefully a kind word will go so much farther in helping us when we need to go a little bit more on the hard side to get the point across.
So if you’re consistent, hey, look at that. Nice job. Nice job washing your hands before you eat. Hey, really nice job cleaning up after yourself today. That is impressive. Nice, nice work, Nicholas. Now when you’ve gotta come back and say, Hey, you disappointed me because you told a lie, or whatever, the delta between happy dad and, and, and you know, disappointed dad is that much more significant.
They want, they want this, right? They let you down and they’re gonna probably raise their performance in many cases. Not all. The difficulty with parenting leadership in general is that it’s situational and there’s no one size fits all. But I do think in general we respond better to positive reinforcement.
Peppered in with the occasional, here’s the area that needs to be, uh, fixed, then the here are all of your mistakes. Fix them all. And I’m always angry at you . Yeah. Which is sometimes we don’t think we’re coming across that way, but I promise you the kids are seeing us that way.
48:46 Chris Grainger
Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think it’s just, man, it’s something we’re just not aware of.
And I think we just gotta be a little bit more in tune and aware. Uh, and like you said, I love how you start off with empathy there. And I also think it’s something as dads in particular is as men listening, your kids need to see a, a pretty high level of vulnerability with you. You don’t have to be freaking Superman, you know?
And if you’re trying to be that in front of your children all the time, You know, you’re, you’re just gonna stress yourself to destiny and you’re never gonna be able to live up to that. So I, I always have to remind myself, you know what, yeah. I even have a Superman shirt and I think it’s the stupidest shirt on the planet.
It’s, it’s fun to wear because Superman’s cool, but I ain’t that guy, you know? But it, it’s, so, it’s just it, I don’t know, man. I feel like we got to make sure we, we, we need to lower that level of, of, of, of responsibility that we’re putting on ourselves and just understand, you know, what we’re going to mess up.
But when we mess up, I think some powerful words that our kids can need to hear, men in particular say is, I was wrong, or I’m sorry. And, and just the impact of that, particularly me raising three girls and now a son, but three girls. My daughters need to hear that pretty regularly from their, from their father to, to understand what empathy and, and, and sacrifice and all that.
Those, those, those things we want them to learn. Uh, looks.
49:57 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
That’s exactly right. And, and if we take from the world of professional teams, if we study into the principles that allow us to build, uh, the best possible teams, we’ll find that the modeling behavior of the leader is the most important, uh, mechanism to get the team to, to, to live a certain way, to behave a certain way.
So now we crossly that into the family team, our modeling behavior as parents and specifically as fathers. If, if, if the demographic is largely that it’s so important to building young men and women of character, right? Right. If we, I guess who’s gonna follow on our footsteps? If we can’t ever own up to our mistakes and weaknesses, guess who’s gonna be the next generation of not owning up our mistakes and weaknesses?
And then we’re deploying kids into the world who aren’t necessarily doing good, but are actually the poison on a team that people wanna cut out. I was talking to somebody just a couple of days ago and they were asking me some situational questions. One of them was tied to, Hey, we’ve got a team. It’s a sports team.
Well, we’ve got a bunch of good players, but none of them are that great. Uh, and then we’ve got a superstar. And the superstar that’s getting home runs. Mm-hmm. , cold glove defense, complete jerk. The person who you do not want to hang out with. Um, what do you do there? And, and the, and the, and my question, my follow up question was, was, Hey, is this like a world championship team?
Like, is this somebody that’s like playing baseball on the Astros right now? Cause if that’s the case, there’s really, I, I can’t offer you too much. Right. But it turns out it was, it was a, it was a kid in school. Okay. Well then from my vantage point, um, kids cut from the team pretty quick. I mean, you know, there was some more context there.
But let’s, let’s get rid of to, to let that person know that this behavior. Means that no matter how good you are at what you do, you can’t be a member of this team. And we needed to make sure that the folks who are out there behaving appropriately, who may not have the same gifts and talents or rewarded for, for that fact.
And that around here, what matters is who you are, the character that you bring, not necessarily the skill sets you have. We’re gonna work on the skills. We’re gonna, we’re gonna continue to develop your skills, but we cannot have people that behave this way in the world. Nobody needs that at any level. Man,
52:05 Chris Grainger
that story right there.
So, quick story on that one. Cause you, you immediately brought it up to me. So, high school, senior year, high school for me, I played baseball. And that, this, the coach going into to our senior year, made a rule, said, okay, you guys wanna play ball, which you, you’re gonna have to put in the work in the off season.
So if you didn’t play football or if you didn’t play basketball, you had to put in your condition, you had to go to, uh, weightlifting, right? You had to do and, and show up and put in that preseason workout. So we did, and we had a really good team, right? I mean, our, our, our team was, was one of the best that at that school would ever had.
And this was a small county. So for us to have a good team was a big deal. I mean, it was pretty cool that we had a good team except one player, our left fielder refused to go to conditioning. And he was, I mean, we played with this kid, Cujo. I remember playing with this kid in t-ball from, I was four years old and we’re up now 18 seniors of high school.
And I, we kept saying, Josh, you need to come to conditioning. And he just, he kept blowing it off, blowing it off. Coach stood and said, you know, when it comes time to ma the team, Josh was, he was not on the roster. He missed his senior year. But I tell you what, you know, that team, we rallied together because we actually respected the coach for, for one following through for what he put in place.
And man, we had a phenomenal year, Josh. He, it’s probably one of the biggest re regrets of his life for how he, how he responded. But that was a lesson for me of. Of accountability. Do what you’re supposed to do, show up, but then follow through for what you actually, you know, the, the, the plan. What’s important.
You make important by actually following through and keep and, and staying to it. So, man, uh, that just, that jumped out when you said that that story immediately came to the forefront. I wanted to share it with you.
53:48 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Absolutely. And I’d tell you what, you know, the bigger picture here, and I think from your podcast standpoint is, is developing people of character.
We’re talking about the family domain. It’s to. Kids of character that can go off and do good in the world. I think that’s our primary charge as parents. Um, it, it isn’t to position them to, you know, earn hundreds of millions of dollars or to be on the front cover or whatever else. Those are all potential niceties.
Although there’s not gonna be made that, those are all things that be devastating in a bigger picture. Um, but what matters much more than that is who they are and, and what kind of legacy they’re gonna live. And we have an influence on that. Mm-hmm. . So if we poison the well by giving bad examples of what Right.
Looks like, we have to hope they’re able to overcome that limitation and on their own correct. And become something better. But why, why go about it that way, ? Why not, why not try to give them the best examples that we can of what Wright looks like? Demonstrate love of our spouse so that they can mm-hmm.
in turn do the same with theirs down the road. That’s, that’s really, that’s mission critical right now at a time when. Ownership is so, is so low in society right now where we’re, we’re constantly being told that, you know, despite the fact that things are getting worse, it’s somebody else’s fault. Uh, it’s a really tough time to be a kid.
Yeah. Um, it’s a really tough time. The values that that, that we might find to be important that you and I might espouse and talk about in a setting like this aren’t universally embraced. And, and so it’s really critical that we teach and live more importantly what it is that we value at home. Uh, because that’s the place where, where we have sort of exclusive rights to the training of , of the people that we’re privileged to, to shepherd along at this stage of the game.
And that’s, that’s really, really important. It’s always important, but, but I think right now, especially so, oh, it’s
55:38 Chris Grainger
critical. It, it is so crucial right now. Hey, we’ll take our last break. We’ll be right back guys.
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Soja, we’re, we’re getting kind of towards the end here. I mean, you’re, you’re all over so many important things. You know, we we’re talking about the debrief, and that does sound a little bit formal. So what do you, what, practically speaking, if you were to try to speak to some guys right now who want to start implementing some of what you teach at home, what would that look like With our spouse and our children?
56:52 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Yeah. I, I think formal structures can poison the process just a little bit. I mean, if you come back and you’re like, all right, five year old, we’re, we’re now gonna, you know, here, here’s our 17 step checklist. May not be embraced. I think. I think we, we simplify now. So here it is. There’s a book, chapter six of the book is the methodology chapter.
It talks about a six part methodology to ultimately get to a root cause of why things went the way that they did. So we can learn. . I think in a family setting, it’s important that we clarify to people on the team, you know, what are we trying to achieve here? So if we, if we take each day as its own mission, it may be that for the 17 year old, the objective is, Hey, um, in today’s mission, you, you, you’re gonna study for your final, it’s on Friday.
So your, your objective is, is to get four hours of study time in. Right? And that can be through the course. We have four hours to position you to have the best possible outcome on Friday’s deal. So we’ve, we’ve added specificity here. You know, it’s something that’s measurable, , achievable, uh, it’s time constrained.
Uh, same thing for the 14 year old, for whatever it is that he needs. The 11 year old, the eight year, the, the five-year-old could be as simple as today you are going to brush your teeth without anybody having to tell you to do so, you know, that’s your objective today. Right? Right. And so five-year-olds included in the whole process.
And then at the end of the day, maybe taking a page from, from Man Frank, we asked, did we achieve what it was that we set out to do? Yes or no. And then why? And it could be that the 17 year old comes back and says, you know, I did not, I did not achieve success. I did not, uh, study four hours today for the final Y cuz I got sidetracked by Xbox dad.
And, and then maybe the extension of that is a self-reflection on how we’re going to, how we’re gonna account for that and rebound from it, which actually happened last year. My, then 16 year old said, dad, I was supposed to study for the thing. I got sidetracked by Xbox. What I’ve done is, and this is the part that, um, that blew me away.
I didn’t say a word other than, you know, how did today go? He said, what I’m gonna, what I’ve done about it is I’ve unplugged Xbox of sitting on your desk in your office. I cannot be distracted by it tomorrow and tomorrow I’m gonna make up for lost time. Clearly that, My allergies were affecting me cuz the moisture in my eye, , you know, must, it could not have been a tear, it had to have been an allergy.
Um, right. But now when the 16, seventh year, year old says that, that’s modeling behavior for the 14 year old who looks up to the 16 year old who says, well if my older brother can do, and mom and dad were totally good with that. Right? 14 year old follows it and the, all the way down to the five year old who in our case is the youngest, is watching all of this going down.
You know, I did not brush my teeth or I did brush my teeth. And Why’d you brush your teeth? Cuz I wanted to make you happy, dad. Okay, good, good. That’s enough of a justification. That’s a good enough root cause for why it is that you did what you set out to do today. Great job. Winning the day, son. Let’s go win.
59:54 Chris Grainger
Mm-hmm. . So is this, is this a a, a pretty consistent, is it daily when you set these missions? Are these, are these DA daily missions to keep that time ban
1:00:02 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
somewhat narrow? In an ideal situation, yes. But the time band is really, I mean, it’s as simple as if I’m driving and I remember back in the day when I was driving the older two to, to school, uh, I would ask them at the beginning of the drive, Hey, what does success look like for you today?
And they would come up with their conclusions. I might coach them up on, Hey, that’s not enough clarity, or that’s not enough specificity or whatever. But generally speaking, they, they defined it so that, you know, at night before we did our family prayers, did you achieve it? So before we do family prayers, did you achieve how you define success today?
Yes or no? If yes, why, if, if no, why not? And that’s it. I mean, and we, we’ve all got time for that interaction. Yeah. And it could be a beautiful interaction, by the way. And then you go into your family prayers and call it today, man, kaja. Well
1:00:49 Chris Grainger
that’s, that’s some great practical. Uh, advice for you guys. You can, you can implement this process right now, but before we let you go, Cujo, we wanna have a quick lightning round with you.
We like, lets do, to have a little fun here at the end of the line within us. Let’s, let’s have some fun here. So, awesome. These are a little bit more spiritual questions, but I, I, I’d love to get your take. So, what’s your favorite thing about God?
1:01:10 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Uh, the fact that he loved me so much that he created me out of nothing, just to spend all eternity with him.
1:01:17 Chris Grainger
Amen. Brother. What’s now, you’ll, you’ll probably appreciate this one. With your military background, what’s, what’s your least favorite thing about Satan?
1:01:28 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
and I say everything. The fact that, the fact that actually I suffer the affliction of pride as well. Mm-hmm. Proud of
1:01:37 Chris Grainger
1:01:38 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
and, um, you and I, I’ve gotta watch out for that. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . My, my pride is my biggest downfall. Right among, among men.
1:01:50 Chris Grainger
I mean, it’s only three we have. We had the, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, man.
So I mean, the pride of life gets so many guys, and hey, right here with you on that one. You know, and pride gets in our way. It just, it, it, it holds us back from so much. So thank you for being honest with that. So n the next question here, what are you currently struggling with right now?
1:02:10 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Um, you know, as an entrepreneur, uh, who recognizes that my business is the economic engine that fuels my family devoting too much time to the economic engine that fuels my family and not, yeah, that balance.
If, if at the end of my days, you know, with my dying breath, I go back and reflect on, I could have spent this much more time with my wife or children, that’ll be such a disappointment. So that’s the, that is my biggest struggle, you know, how does one create balance here in the Air Force? I had very, very low to no balance, but I accounted for it, right.
Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to do that appropriately. So that’s, that’s the, that’s the struggle. Okay. Well
1:02:50 Chris Grainger
just kind of staying on that same, pulling that same thread a little bit, what’d you spend too much time doing last year?
1:02:56 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Um, working on my, on my company .
1:02:59 Chris Grainger
Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I thought you’d go there.
I just wanted to see, was there something
1:03:02 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
else? Yeah, and it’s, I I think it’s one of those things where, you know, in the, in the perfect world, which we do not live in, clearly, uh, you could do both things equally well. You, you can’t. So, uh, so the one thing that I, I must say is knowing that this is a, you know, a difficult push to get everything up and running to where it needs to be.
Uh, my wife is a hundred percent in lockstep with me. She knows why I’m committing the time. It’s not a way to escape. It’s not Cause this is my baby and nothing else matters. It’s because we know where we’re gonna go and we’re ultimately gonna get to a position where I’m spending most of my time with my wife and kids.
And in order to get there, gotta sacrifice right now just, just to be that hundred percent. On board with this approach. Yeah.
1:03:47 Chris Grainger
Well, I mean, it sounds like you have a very specific mission for this business and, and, and you’re in a season right now of that growth season, but once you get past that growth, man, it’s, it’s, you’ll, you’ll be in a, in a, in the cockpit seat to stick to the theme.
Right. That’s exactly right. Well, how about two more quick questions. What’s a new habit that you want to create moving forward?
1:04:09 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
1:04:11 Chris Grainger
New habit. How many you want? You’ve already started, you
1:04:13 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
know. Yeah. My prayer life suffers so much based upon how cattywampus each day is, and that cannot be the case. I mean, I had at the height of my cancer journey, the best spiritual life, uh, that I’ve had on this planet.
And then as health has come into, into, uh, focus again, and as things have gotten, you know, good with the business, uh, the spiritual life suffers. And, uh, and I’m very aware of that. Um, so I need to get an old habit. Back to the forefront again to become who I was at my best. Amen,
1:04:46 Chris Grainger
brother. I think we all need better, you know, just to, to dial that prayer life in a little bit more.
No matter what season. It’s easy. Like you said, when you’re in a valley, man, you, it’s easy to go to the altar at that point, but now when we’re out of that one, we’re just doing well. Or even on a, we forget to go to the altar sometimes. So, uh, great. Thank you for sharing that. And last question for you, Kujo.
What’s one thing you hope that the listeners out there remember from this powerful conversation that we’ve had today?
1:05:14 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Yeah, here it is. Let’s have hope in a better tomorrow where people of hope, uh, regardless of how bad a day might be, we can, and we have it in ourselves to craft a better tomorrow. And if you tell yourself that that’s not the case, you’re wrong
So, so then the only thing is, is to take action on realizing that hope and a better tomorrow to make it so. I absolutely love
1:05:36 Chris Grainger
that Cujo. So where, where do you want guys to go to connect with you to get your materials? Obviously we’re won’t have the link for your book and our show notes, guys, but where should they go to check you out?
Cujo? You know, I
1:05:46 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
might say if you go to robert teichner.com, uh, which is the keynote website and you go to the media tab, uh, I’ve got a bunch of podcasts there and, you know, they’re, they’re mostly businessy, but there’s a constant theme just told different ways about this belief and a better tomorrow. Um, and one of them is the ready for takeoff podcast where I talk about how many things I didn’t do right.
as a young pilot. And so that might be a good place to go.
1:06:14 Chris Grainger
Okay. We’ll make, we’ll sync that up as well for your listeners out there. But Kujo, I, I, it’s been an honor to have you here, sir. Thank you again for your service to our country and, and it’s just been, it was incredible for me. This is, this is a, a recording I was pretty amped up about.
I told my wife and her, we told her. Her, her parents who are, are Air Force as well. So they’re, everybody’s excited to hear this one. So, uh, thank you again, my, my friend, for taking the time with us on the line within us.
1:06:39 Robert “Cujo” Teschner
Chris, it’s an honor, it’s a privilege to be able to share what little goodness I might bring to your listeners.
I honor what you’re doing in the world. I really do. Very, very grateful to Vistage for bringing us into each other’s orbits. Thank you for having me, and a very, very, so happy Thanksgiving to you and everybody. I’m time stamping right now, but it is important that, that you know that, that we care for you here.
1:07:00 Chris Grainger
Thank you so much, Kujo. Absolutely.
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Now, guys, I told you it was gonna be a, it was gonna be a great conversation. Eventually you’re gonna start listening and believing me. I’m just, just kidding. But seriously, it was phenomenal to have Cujo on here. I just, it, it was, it was such a treat, such a delight to be able to work with him, uh, the way that he talks about, you know, having that hope and a better tomorrow.
I really, truly believe in that and also believe that it’s up to us as the leaders, as the men start standing up and taking a stance and, and, and have some responsibility. Guys, we g we have to start leaning in and taking the principles that, that Cujo is teaching here, that he talked about, man. And you start implementing that.
You gonna make such an impact and, and everyone around you. Everyone around you. And I just love this story. I love how vulnerable he was, you know, the whole cancer story, how that impacted him, how they responded in that valley, in that dark time that they, he, he and his wife came together, responded, and, and the impact they’re making right now.
I mean, just look at this, what they’re doing right now. So I just continue to pray blessings for him. I want to keep, I guys keep cujo in your prayers as well, particularly for health. I mean, when you have surgeries like this and you have these types of things that, that happen in your life, we just wanna keep him lifted in prayer.
Uh, let’s wrap him. And the, in the whole Testa your family, I think he said he had a 17 year old down to a five-year old with, you know, five children at home. Uh, he’s got a busy household. We want to just pray blessings for Vmax Group and for his health and for a long life so he can, can lead them as well as just, just have a, a wonderful impact on so many people.
So I pray this, this was a conversation that served you well. I want you to think about this as well. Is accountability a dirty word in your family? Just think about that. Is accountability a dirty word? And it could be, it’s a dirty word because of the way that we as men are coming off with our questions, how we direct our, our feedback to the ones that mean the most.
So I’ll tell you what, I’m a really start being very more intentional and careful about the words that I say to my children and to my wife. And be intentional to start speaking life. Start speaking blessings into them more. And when you step, when you see them doing things right, tell ’em don’t just wait or when something goes wrong, step in and be the guy, the enforcer.
That’s not our job. Let’s be like Barnabas. Let’s be that that son of encouragement. Let’s encourage others in our homes and then watch the blessing that flows from there. The guys, I pray that this conversation served you well. I pray you got something. Out of that you to, to take and apply to your life right now.
And if you did, I would encourage you to share it with someone else. I would also ask you that you give us rating and review a five star rating, write a review that makes all the difference in the world. And then I want the last thing. If you want to, to connect with us more, go to the community. Our community is wide open that it is, it’s the only way to get an, an exclusive, uh, opportunities to engage with me with others directly every week.
We have lunches, we have live events, we have ask me anything. We have bible study, we have forums, we have courses. We are building content every day to serve you, to help you be the leader God intends you to be. Cuz we need strong Christian men stepping up at home, stepping up with our children, stepping up in business, across the board and our communities.
And that’s what the line within us is all about. So don’t just sit on the sidelines, go to the line within.us. Join our community. It’s 30 day free trial. Just get in and see, see for yourself. And then once you see that there’s value there to help you grow, I pray you continue to be part of our community moving forward.
So thank you guys again. Looking forward to this year. 2023 is here. I cannot believe it. Wow, we’re at 2022 go. But I’m just looking forward to, to being obedient, to whatever God has called the lion within us to do. And we’re just gonna do that guys. We’re just gonna simply do whatever the good Lord tells us to do.
So I pray you have a great day. Come back on Friday. I’m gonna have some good tips to wrap your week up and hopefully guys that’ll be something to send you to the weekend, especially with a couple fun dad jokes that I think you’re gonna enjoy. So we’ll see you back here on our fun Friday. Get after it.
Remember the debrief to win, and let’s get out there and unleash the lion within.
He provides deep insight and quite frankly the most incredible story you will ever hear about a close call from the cockpit where time seemed to slow down. We dig into topics such as vulnerability, empathy, humility and ownership.
Cujo shares the powerful story of how cancer rocked his world and the way he and his family responded. There are many lessons that he shared and all can be applied to dramatically impact your daily walk to be the leader God indends you to be.
Learn about the wonderful idea of how to conduct effective debriefs at home and we want to thank Cujo for sharing the impactful insight he did!
Listen, learn, apply and unleash the Lion Within!
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