How to Overcome Our Past and Have an Identity Shift (With Anthony Trucks)

How to Overcome Our Past and Have an Identity Shift (With Anthony Trucks)

At my favorite digital marketing conference of the year, Funnel Hacking Live, I had the opportunity to interview Anthony Trucks, one of the speakers at the event. Anthony is a former NFL athlete and American Ninja Warrior from NBC. He’s the host of the Aww Shift Podcast, author of multiple books such as Identity Shift, and he’s the founder of Identity Shift Coaching. 

In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how we can overcome our past and shift from our current identity to a higher level identity where we can have the life we want. 

Overcoming Our Past

At 3 years old, Anthony’s mom put him and his siblings in foster care. He felt thrust into a chaotic environment where he was abused for years. Eventually, he was taken into an all-white family at 6 years old. As a man of color, Anthony said he struggled to find his own identity and place in the world, but at age 14, his family adopted him and he entered into a new stage of life. 

While nothing was ever easy, his challenges helped him become who he is today. He shared Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote which goes, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

A smooth sea_Blog

During our conversation, Anthony gave his advice for kids in foster care. He explained that we should focus on letting people love us. Foster kids often put up a wall. They think they can’t be loved and so they don’t let anyone else in for fear of getting hurt. However, if we don’t let anyone love us, it just causes more pain. He said we should focus on letting people in and accepting their love for us. For foster families, Anthony said we need to love our kids past logic. 

This same advice can apply to all of us. Many of us may have gone through trauma early in life that still affects who we are today. As a result of the trauma, sometimes we put up defense mechanisms that make it hard for us to accept love and find healthy, loving relationships that we crave so much. We need to let people love us, especially in areas where we feel unlovable.

Our past can have a huge impact on our identities. In many cases, this impact is negative. So, how can we overcome our past? How can we become who we want to be despite the challenges thrown in our way? Anthony explained that we can focus on creating an identity shift. 

Having an Identity Shift 

Our past, our insecurities, and our pains can hold us back from success. “I found that the issue with people having success is not what they know,” Anthony said. “It’s not a matter of what you know but it’s who you are with what you know. It’s the actions you’ve taken, the conscious and subconscious.”

In order to have an identity shift, we can’t just dream it. We have to envision who we want to become and begin taking actions everyday that lead us there. “We’re consistently being someone everyday that programs us into becoming someone,” Anthony said. “If your identity doesn’t match up with your dream, you don’t get the dream.” 

If your identity _Blog

How can we shift from our current identity to a higher level identity where we can have the life we want? Here are three ways we can make this shift:

  • Determine Our Ideal Identity: The See Stage 

To start, we first need to define who we want to be. What are the components that make up our ideal identity? Anthony called this the “See Stage.” We have to see the person we want to become. Something that can help with this is finding a coach or mentor. A coach can come and say, “You’re doing great there but you can do better if you did this.” If we are a player in the game, we only see what is right in front of us, but a coach or mentor can see the entire field. 

We can also find a role model or someone we look up to. By looking at their example, it may be easier to identify what we need to do to get to where we want to be. If I want to be a great entrepreneur, I can ask myself, “What does a great entrepreneur do? What are their daily actions?”

Once we know the actions we need to take to become who we want to be, we need to look at our current identity and find ways in which we can make that shift. We need to compare and contrast. As we make this shift, we will find that we become much more successful. 

Anthony worked with a man named Frank. In the past, Frank had struggled with different obstacles such as homelessness and drugs. One day, he decided to make a difference and become someone better. Eventually, he got to a point where he had built a million dollar business and sold it. However, he still saw himself as his old self so he identified his business success as a fluke. His identity didn’t match the dream so he couldn’t replicate it. 

Anthony helped him have an identity shift and change the way he saw himself. About a year later after completing their work, Frank had made over $1 million for a business. That little shift and new identity helped Frank create a business that’s now seven figures. Seeing himself as a successful entrepreneur is what made the difference. 

  • Take Action

Once we can see our ideal identity and our current identity, we can begin to take the right actions to get us to where we want to go. Often, in the beginning, who we think we are can prevent us from becoming who we want to be. We may think, “That doesn’t sound like me” or “That’s not who I am.”

We may want to become a person who wakes up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym, but prevent ourselves from going by saying, “I’m just not that type of person.” Instead of taking action and going to the gym, we take the action of sleeping in. How can we reprogram this? 

“We know what to do but a lot of us aren’t doing the thing we’re supposed to do,” Anthony said. “In order to identify, you have to do the thing that’s out of character . . . and lo and behold, the action and certain outcome . . .  breed brand identity and make that shift over time.”

In order to have an identity shift we often have to do things that are out of character in order for it to eventually become part of our character. 

  • Be Louder Than The Negative Voices 

Sometimes we identify in a lesser capacity because of other voices in our lives. This could be the voice inside our own head telling us we aren’t good enough, or it could be the voice of other people who are telling us we aren’t capable. How can we get rid of those voices?

Anthony explained that those voices are likely always going to be there. We can’t get rid of them or replace them; we simply have to be louder than them. The voice that wins is the one that is louder. 

Our minds focus on the greater pain; we can’t really focus on more than one thing at once. So, we need to create a louder positive voice and create the thing that our mind really focuses on. 

At the gym, there is a point in Anthony’s workouts where he wants to give up and quit. He wants to stop and go home. But, he had to ask himself, “What does the identity I’m trying to create want to do?” The person he wants to become doesn’t give up when things get hard and so he keeps going. 

When that voice of doubt comes into our heads, we should remember that it’s not about what we want, it’s about what our better self (the person we want to become) wants. “The more you’re doing, the more comfortable you get with living in line with that identity. It becomes who you are if you’ve done it enough.” Anthony said. 

In his book, Identity Shift, Anthony asks the question, “What promise did God make to the world when he created you?” That is a question he keeps asking himself. He knows he has greater potential than who he currently is, and we do too. If we take the right actions we can create a better identity for ourselves. 

The Freedom of Entrepreneurship

When Anthony shifted his identity from being a foster kid with past trauma, he was able to become a NFL player and a successful entrepreneur. Now, entrepreneurship helps him live his ideal life. 

One of the most incredible things about entrepreneurship is that it can give us the freedom and control we need in life to focus on what is truly important. For Anthony, it gives him the freedom he needs to be a great dad for his kids. 

“I’m in what I call a “Season of Dad” right now,” Anthony said. “Everything in life still goes on, but it’s the season of being a dad that’s a priority first.” 

Because Anthony is an entrepreneur with his own business, he has the control to choose where he spends his time. He can move his schedule around so he can make it to his kids’ sports games and drop them off at school in the mornings. He knows how important it is to take the time to really establish emotional connections with his kids now, and entrepreneurship has given him the ability to really prioritize his family. 

“I can control when I get up, when I take my kids to school, and when I bring them home because I control my schedule. I control my income. I control what I say yes and I say no to,” Anthony said. “[Entrepreneurship] allows me to have a different level of success that I want, which is the control of my life in a way most people don’t have.”

In addition to control, entrepreneurship can also help us make an impact and gain fulfillment. As entrepreneurs, we need to make sure we set the right priorities and take advantage of the unique position we are in to really make a difference in the lives of those around us. 


Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Anthony for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

  1. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. The challenges we face help us become better versions of ourselves.
  2. If our current identity doesn’t match up with our dream, we won’t get our dream. 
  3. To have an identity shift, we first need to see the person we want to become.
  4. Mentors and role models can help us determine what we need to do to get to where we want to be. 
  5. We often have to do things that are out of character in order for it to eventually become part of our character. 
  6. While we may not be able to get rid of the negative voices, we can be louder than them with our positive voices. 
  7. Entrepreneurship can give us control, freedom, and fulfillment. 

Connect with Anthony

To learn more about or connect with Anthony:

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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