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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Henderson

From Struggle to Champion: The Inspirational Journey of Avi Wolfson

Updated: Nov 16, 2023


Avi looking at his inspiration
From Struggle to Champion

In the realm of inspiring stories, few resonate as profoundly as Avi Wolfson's transformative journey. In a recent episode of Michelle's Inspiration Hour podcast, Avi unfolds his tapestry of hope, resilience, and motivation, providing a beacon of light for those navigating their own challenges.


Childhood Challenges:

Avi's narrative begins in childhood, a crucial period that shapes the pillars of our identity. Struggling with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, Avi felt the weight of anxiety and social pressures. His early years were marked by a lack of understanding and coping mechanisms, setting the stage for a complex and challenging journey.


Solace in Unexpected Places:

Amidst the turbulence, Avi found solace in the military, only to confront rock bottom. However, this low point became a phoenix of resilience, propelling him towards a remarkable metamorphosis. Avi's rejection fueled a purposeful rebirth, leading him from writing to life coaching and dynamic speaking.


Unearthing Talents:

Avi's story takes unexpected turns as he discovers talents beyond the struggles. From becoming a licensed realtor and professional salesperson to clinching the title of ax-throwing champion, Avi proves that a true gift lies in sparking a fire within oneself.


The Art of Overcoming:

His journey with the Rubik's Cube serves as a metaphor for life's challenges. With a personal best time of around 10 minutes, Avi emphasizes the importance of the process over speed. It's a testament to his philosophy that failure is merely the first attempt in learning.


Empowering Others:

Writing emerges as a therapeutic outlet for Avi, initially fueled by anger and frustration. As he matures, the focus shifts to positivity and personal growth. Avi emphasizes the importance of letting go of bitterness and resentment, paving the way for a more fulfilling life.


Speaking for a Purpose:

Avi's venture into public speaking was spurred by a colleague's encouragement. Recognizing his natural talent, Avi embarked on a journey to share his story and inspire others. His purpose extends beyond personal triumphs, aiming to give a voice to those who feel silenced by societal stigmas.


Balanced Realism with Optimism:

Avi introduces the BAC Framework—Balanced Realism with Optimism. This framework encourages individuals to approach life with a balanced perspective, acknowledging challenges while maintaining an optimistic outlook.


Activating Your Spark:

The framework encourages individuals to activate their spark—the unique essence that drives passion and purpose. By identifying and nurturing this spark, one can fuel their journey towards personal and collective success.


Changing Your Narrative:

Avi emphasizes the power of reframing one's narrative. Instead of viewing failures as setbacks, see them as the first attempts in a learning process. Every rejection becomes a stepping stone to the next opportunity, fostering resilience and growth.


Conclusion: From Struggle to Champion

Avi Wolfson's story is a testament to the human spirit's ability to overcome adversity and emerge as a champion. Through ax throwing, Rubik's cubes, writing, and public speaking, Avi has woven a narrative that inspires others to embrace their unique journey and, in turn, become champions in their own lives.


As Avi continues to champion the cause of mental health awareness and empowerment, his story serves as a beacon, guiding others towards a path of resilience, self-discovery, and ultimately, becoming the champions they were meant to be.



Episode Transcript:


Michelle Henderson (00:14):

Hello, welcome to Michelle's inspiration Hour podcast where each episode unfolds a tapestry of hope and motivation through inspiring stories. I'm your host, Michelle, and today we're diving into an incredible journey with our guest, Avi Wilson. The essence of a true gift lies in sparking of fire within someone's life. Confidence and success like a contagion spreads through us igniting transformative ripples. Avi, a licensed realtor, professional salesperson, bestselling author, and acts throwing champ embodies these ethics. His journey marked by football, Frisbee and Rubik's cubes reveals a profound evolution. Yet Avi's story wasn't always one of triumph struggling with self-worth, he battled bipolar type one and major depressive disorder. His life contained anxiety and social pressures. He found solace in the military only to confront rock bottom, a phoenix of resilience. Avi's rejection fueled metamorphous birth purpose from writing to life coaching and dynamic speaking. He empowers people in business life and mental health. Join us as we uncover the champion within and let Avi's journey light your pathway to empowerment. So I am going to bring him on to hear about his inspirational story. How are you doing?

Avi Wolfson (01:52):

Doing fantastic, Michelle. Thank you so much for that wonderful introduction. Such an honor to be here and to be able to speak with you.

Michelle Henderson (01:59):

Oh, absolutely. Well, and I for you as well. So I am really excited about this conversation that we're about to have and your inspirational story. And we're always love to begin with. Our guest is where it all started, and the older you are, it's like, okay, that's way years beyond what I want to talk about. But since you're a little bit younger, it won't be as long. So let's start when you were a child. Okay. Now, I know that you were diagnosed with bipolar and depressive disorder when you were a young adult, but did you have a lot of difficulties growing up? Did you have a lot of these symptoms and a lot of problems in school? Can you explain what you had to go through? Bless your heart.

Avi Wolfson (02:50):

Thank you so much, Michelle. Yeah, and to your point, it starts all at childhood and we think that oftentimes we leave that part of us, but really that inner child is something that comes with us, whether we realize it or not, it is a part of us. It is an aspect of us even when we become adults, and it's important to recognize that and how that inner child manifests itself in different ways, oftentimes through masks, which I'd like to talk a little bit more about too at some point. But yeah, it started in the childhood and the childhood is so important because that is the pillars of who we are. That is where it all begins, and that is where we discover ourselves and better understand ourselves and it kind of paves our path for the rest of our life. So it's an extremely important time, and it does largely dictate the people that we become as adults.

And so for me, in my experience, I just didn't know what was wrong. I knew something felt very, very off, but I didn't know how to cope with that. Right? I couldn't label it. I couldn't put a name to it. And bipolar disorder, it can vary in how it looks, but in my case, it was this extreme abundance of energy and that can be very difficult to contain. And through my life, I've learned how to siphon that energy into productive and positive things. But when I was younger, it just, I didn't understand myself as well, and I just didn't have the awareness. I just know that I felt pretty extreme at times and I just didn't know what to do with that. So I just internalized that and blamed myself for not feeling okay and not having a source or a valve or anything to work through that.

And then I also was diagnosed with depression, which is something that ran in my family. But again, it is just something that we didn't talk about. We don't talk about anxiety or depression or bipolar disorder or whatever, medical disorders, and that's very common for a lot of families to not talk about those things. But they're so important and it's so important to recognize 'em. And I wish I had gotten help earlier in my life, but I didn't. But with that said, we all have adversities we need to work through. And that doesn't mean that we can't overcome them. Yes, those were challenges, but they've made me a stronger person and understand myself better and have put me in a better position to give inspiration and support to others so that they don't have to go through what I go through or what anybody who has to go through medical diagnosis or whatever hardship that may be or look like, we all have things that we carry with those from our childhood. Absolutely. And understanding them and having coping mechanisms in place really helps us guide us on a better path forward.

Michelle Henderson (06:08):

And I totally agree. I actually worked as a behavior analyst and also an educational diagnostician the school system. And I know a lot of people sometimes are against putting labels on children, and I completely understand their perspective as well. But at the same time, how are we going to give them strategies? How are we going to fit a program to help them go on? And I know the rule of thumb for autism, of course, is earlier diagnosis, the better, especially for speaking and being, especially if they're nonverbal. And so I really commend you for coming out and saying, yes, I do have my and depression. Because a lot of people, again, kind of put it under the rug. And like you said, it's just something that we have to work through. And with your writing, that's one thing I want to talk about is your writing. Did that lead, was that therapy for you as writing these stories?

Avi Wolfson (07:11):

That's a great, great question, Michelle. Yes. Writing was, I've always been a good writer, and writing was a healthy outlet in that valve I talked about that we each need to find to release frustrations, pains, whatever that may be. So writing was one of those things for me, it was an outlet for me to let off steam and just let go of negative energy. But when I first started writing, it came from a place of great anger and resentment and frustration. And once I had worked through that, I realized that I didn't want that to be my whole life. I don't want to hold onto this resentment. And I actually talk a lot about not being bitter or resentful because that doesn't help us accomplish our goals. That doesn't help us achieve happiness and wellbeing and becoming prosperous in life, right? Holding onto those things deters people away from us, keeps us away from good things, and it's not where we want to be.

So I had to let go of that old story, that narrative. I told myself that, and yes, it was true. Things weren't fair to me and this and that didn't happen. But you know what I realized as I grew older and matured is that life isn't fair. And we're all dealt with a hand in life of cards. And those cards, some might be okay, some might be not so great and some might be terrible, but regardless of the cards that we're given, we have to do our best to play the hand. So that is the bigger message and the thing that I learned. So I took that and I started going in a different direction with writing that was more positive and allowed me to confront my childhood, and I was able to monetize it. And when you can have so many of those positive things that can be life-changing, it can really be something powerful and positive and that can just feel so self-fulfilling and good.

And I think we all have a story that we need to tell in one way or another. And so I hope that for listeners that you can realize what it is for yourself that makes your heartbeat, what is it that you find fulfillment in, and how can you take that, whether it's a hobby or something you enjoy doing or something you want to spend more time doing or become an expert, a subject matter expert in, what can you do with that to make it more meaningful in your life and apply it in a positive way? And so yeah, that was, writing is something that's near and dear to my heart,

Michelle Henderson (09:51):

And I absolutely love that, especially when I was in middle school, I would come home and I would write in a journal, like you said, it was really angry because I felt like no one else was listening to me, but I had to get the things written down onto notebook because I thought, this notebook's going to listen to me if no one else will. That kind of thing. And I think as you grow up too, you start realizing, like you said, we're not victims. We only are victims if we allow ourselves to be victims. So with that said as well, and I commend you again for finding what your soul was really needing and your purpose. Now, did you have to, forgiveness is such a big word. So did you have to forgive yourself for what you have been through and forgive others? And if you did, how did you handle that?

Avi Wolfson (10:47):

Absolutely. Yeah, I did. I have to forgive people that I felt betrayed by that let me down, that abandoned me. And that was a really hard thing too. And then also being gentle and compassionate towards myself, which for a very long time I, I was actually quite harsh to myself. Ironically, it's oftentimes my own worst enemy was my mind. And learning to come from a place of self-hate to self-compassion. And that's hard when I felt so frustrated and disappointed with so many parts of my life where I just felt stuck and trapped, and there was nothing I could do to escape that. But at the end, there's always a tunnel. There's always a light at the end, and it will pass. And time really does heal all, even if it takes a long time, things always get better and they move in the right direction.

And it's so important to have a positive mindset too, towards actually believing that even when things are hard as it is for so many people. And so, yes, forgiving the people that did not do right by me and being okay with that. And you know what? There were some people even more recently that I had a really hard time and I just felt so hurt and betrayed, and it's hard to see things another way, but it all comes back to the same thing, which is if we harbor ill will, and anger and resentment, we're only punishing ourselves. Louis Smad said to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you. And you know what? I don't know that everything is forgivable. I mean, there's some terrible people in the world, but I think when I hear, I think it's incredibly strong for people.

I've been on some other podcasts and abuse and some really terrible things that have been done to people. And I just find it extremely courageous to be able to forgive somebody that's just done something so horrible to permanently change your life in a negative way. And I have a hard time wrapping my head around that to be able to forgive, but still recognize how empowering that can be to be able to do that and to let go of that. And even if we can't forgive, at the very least, being able to accept that what happened has happened, the past can't be changed, learn from it, move on, and you'll do better the next time around.

Michelle Henderson (13:22):

Oh, I love it. And you know what? We're human and we're work in progress. It's how I love to say it. Okay. So I do want to talk about, hi. If you are being inspired by this episode, please share with somebody that will also be inspired. We are here to change the world. All right. Let's get back to the conversation. Something I thought was fascinating about you. Okay. Is that you are a champion at ax throwing. I've never actually taken in this sport, but it is like a new sport that is really taken off. So how did you find, what's your inspiration behind? I think I'm going to pick up an ax and I'm going to throw it.

Avi Wolfson (14:17):

It's a really funny story, Michelle. So it was around 2019, and I live very close to it. And this is when it just came to my city and in the house I was living at, somebody came in from an Airbnb in a room that was in the house, and she was a professor that came in from Germany, and she was going out and about and she said, Hey, I saw some people throwing axes in a warehouse. We should go. And I'm like, no, that's not possible. People don't throw axes. They're just like, no, really, really? They were throwing it. And I was like, okay. I didn't believe her. And she dragged me there. And the next thing I know we're throwing axes. And it was just, I still remember the first time, it was the most bizarre feeling. We're told to be very careful with tools.

And here I was throwing a sharp ax at a board. And so it was fun. I enjoyed it. And I was like, Hey, maybe I'll sign up for a league. And lo and behold, I won the whole thing. And that was the first time in my life that I came in first place. And it meant so much to me because I had tried so hard in my childhood. I always wanted to be number one. And I never got that. I only came in second. That was the closest I ever got. But that was a huge moment of pride and joy for me because I reached a point that made me realize that I was capable of things that I didn't think I was.

Michelle Henderson (15:44):

Congratulations. And that's what it takes. You know what? You had the courage to actually go, well, what the heck? I think I'll do it and try it. Well, congratulations. And besides being a great writer, you've got to find those extra. Well, another thing that I was really impressed by was the Rubik's Cube. My husband can do it, but I'm like, I'm not a mathematical person, so I could never, what's your time? And did you ever time yourself?

Avi Wolfson (16:15):

Yeah. So the fastest I've done it has been about right around 10 minutes. So I can't speed cube or do that, but my goal was to, I wanted to be able to solve it, and I wanted to be able to solve it without using any instructions or guidance. And I did accomplish that goal, which I'm very proud of, even though it takes me like 10 minutes.

But the process is, it's really phenomen only about or 5.8% of the population knows how to solve the Rubik's cube. And I learned it, and I did it. And the way I did it is I learned from somebody who explained it in a video. I had watched a lot of different ways of explaining it. But this all comes back to how important it is. If knowledge is power, then learning is a superpower. And if we don't have an optimal way of learning, then it's not going to be effective. So learning is even more important than the knowledge itself because it's how we learn and to understand that each and every person learns differently. And I had found it in a way that made so much sense to me and I was able to learn myself. And then from there, I created my own mnemonic to memorize the steps. Wow. To be able to figure it out, which is very cool. It's a very interesting and intriguing process, and I was very proud when I was able to do it.

Michelle Henderson (17:47):

Well, I would be very proud too because yeah, I stopped trying after a while. I said, no, this is not for me. Well,

Avi Wolfson (17:55):

Maybe I can teach you.

Michelle Henderson (17:57):

I'm just impressed. I'm impressed. Well, and speaking of switch two is you found not only the writing has been really good for you, but now you speak and not everybody can speak, especially public speaking. I think they say that's the number one fear.

Avi Wolfson (18:14):

Oh yeah. People are more afraid of speaking than being in a funeral home in the casket, not living anymore.

Michelle Henderson (18:21):

Yes, yes. So how did you start speaking? I mean, did you decide, well, I'll take the next step from writing to go and speak the word? Or how did you start this?

Avi Wolfson (18:34):

In life? We all have something that makes our heartbeat. And what I learned is that we all have natural talent and skills at things, but they are dormant. We don't know what they are until we exercise ourselves in finding what it is that we are good at. And for me, this is one of those things that words just come to me and I'm a good presenter. I don't know why, but I just am. And it's something that is embedded in my DNA when I speak, I inspire people and I don't have have that creativity. And I had noticed that people notice that in me, even though I didn't really think about it. And then after hearing it so many times, Avi, when you speak, you really inspire. And they say it and they mean it. And these are people I am not even friends with or close with.

When you have people telling you you're good at something, believe it. Don't be humble, don't be modest, go for it. Really do it. And that's what happened. It was two years ago when one of my colleagues, I told her about my dream, which was to be a speaker, but I never had the courage to really make that leap of faith. And she told me I could do it, and that was the push that I really needed. She gave me that push and I signed up and I got into a speaking community. I took the course, I learned it, the art of speaking, and now I'm doing it. And I'm literally living out my dream of what it is that I've always wanted to do. And it's been incredibly rewarding experience and so fulfilling. And I just am so happy to have the opportunity to help other people in the ways that I wish I had helped as a kid.

Michelle Henderson (20:24):

Well, and you know what the third thought occurred to me is as a child, you felt like you weren't listened to and now people are listening to you. You're able to express yourself.

Avi Wolfson (20:38):

It's taken a long time, but it's worth the wait. And you never know how close you are to reaching it. I can't tell you how many times this was by no means a smooth journey, how many times I took one step back, two steps forward. It's a lot. You have to put yourself out there. You have to be comfortable and let go of the notion that people are going to either really like what you have to say or they're not. And you have to be okay with both. And I fully accepted that and understanding that and being okay with that and putting myself out there, and I've said this before, which is there's nothing glorifying about saying, Hey, look at me. I've got a bipolar disorder in a major depressive disorder. Look how awesome I am. It's not about that. I'm doing it for myself, but also more importantly, for other people that do have medical conditions that have suppressed it and have hid it within themselves because they're afraid of being judged or being told that they're crazy or whatever, social stigma is associated with that.

And that's one of the big reasons why I speak, is because I want to give a voice to the people that feel like they don't have one or they're too afraid to speak up. That's really why I speak, and that's given me the courage to come out. And that's exactly how my coaches described it. We all, or a lot of us, depending on what it is, we have to come out with what we are dealing with, what we're facing and really confront it. For me, that's bipolar disorder because I know and for so long, I mean, I didn't tell people about this. I don't even talk about it with my friends, really, it's just something that doesn't come up right, because it's not a very positive topic. It's not exciting or it's medical. It's like something you talk to your doctor about. Not really general, the general public. But as a speaker, that is my purpose. I do talk about it and I'm not ashamed about it. And I'm actually quite honored that I get to give a voice to the people that have the same condition as me or are struggling with something similar or people that didn't get the support they need and are no longer with us. I want to make sure that they count and that I honor their lives and the lives of others who are going through something similar.

Michelle Henderson (23:05):

I love it. I love it. And like you said, a lot of people feel ashamed and they should not feel ashamed because that is a part of who they are. And I think you're bringing really a lot of great light to where everybody needs to be looking with a mental illness. And like you said, it is physical, it is mental, it's everything. And you should not be ashamed. So I love this How to be a Champion. And this is free. Is that free on your website?

Avi Wolfson (23:40):

Yes, a hundred percent free. This is a workbook that I give away as a freebie when I do speaking events. It's totally free, complimentary. And this is the framework that I created to make other people champions because a difference between a champion and a true champion, which is one that doesn't only win for themselves, but also goes out of their way to set themselves on the righteous path of helping other people become champions like themselves. And I think that's what we need more of in this world. We need better leaders who are not about tooting their own horns and they actually want to help other people and not say, look at me. I'm so great, and look at my legacy and everything I stand for. Good for you. What did you bring to this world that you helped improve for future generations? What difference did you make in other people's lives other than creating your own wealth?

Anybody can do that. That's not impressive to me. Bob Marley said, the greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively. And that message is what resonates with me and the kind of change that I'd like to see in the world. And we all have something that we want to see change in the world. And I'd like to challenge all of your listeners to think about what is it that I want to do to leave a lasting impact? This is what my workbook is about. It's about the BAC framework, which is balanced realism with optimism, activate your spark and change your narrative. This is about a life-changing process where you can make a difference in other people's lives. You absolutely can. And to remember that it is within your own power, right? Parents can only give good advice or put children on the right paths, but the final forming of a person character lies in our own hands. And that was said by and Frank and wow, such a good testament to who we are as people and our accountability and responsibility as individuals to get out there and to make a positive mark on the world.

Michelle Henderson (25:48):

Love it. Love it. All right. Well, is there anything else that we did not talk about that you want to make sure that is on this episode?

Avi Wolfson (26:01):

If I could impart some words of wisdom.

Michelle Henderson (26:03):

Absolutely. Love that.

Avi Wolfson (26:05):

Okay.

Michelle Henderson (26:05):

Everybody needs wise words. Yes.

Avi Wolfson (26:09):

So for any of listeners maybe struggling, having a hard time, we can challenge you to think. When you think of failure, oftentimes we think of it as a negative thing. We internalize it because that's what society has taught us. Failing is bad. If you're a failure, you're a loser. But the word fail, what it stands for is first attempt in learning. That is what fail stands for. When you feel like you've reached the end and you can't go on anymore and there's nothing left, remember that end word end stands for effort, never dies. And no matter how many times you're told no, remember when you're being told no, it stands for next opportunity. And I'd like for everyone to think about that. When you hear something negative in your life or when you feel you're shot down, pivot, change that mindset. Look at it in a positive way. How can you reframe this in a positive way that will benefit you in your life to make your life better and those around you better? It's all about mindset, and we have to make a conscious choice that we're going to make our lives better and those around us better.

Michelle Henderson (27:23):

Oh, great. Words of wisdom. I absolutely will love that. Because you don't know who's listening that truly needs to hear those words at this moment. Okay.

Avi Wolfson (27:34):

Yes.

Michelle Henderson (27:35):

Are you ready for the last question?

Avi Wolfson (27:38):

I am.

Michelle Henderson (27:38):

Alright, let's bring on the wheel. Oh, wow. I know. Everybody goes, oh, it's like the Wheel of fortune. So let's spin it and see what's the last question. We never know. So you can't get ready for this one. Oh,

Avi Wolfson (27:53):

That's great. I love this. This is so good.

Michelle Henderson (27:55):

Okay, good. That's the next one. Okay. Because we already talked about a lot of your talents. We talked about your childhood memory, but not favorite childhood memory.

Avi Wolfson (28:11):

That's a good one. My favorite childhood memory, I would have to say I can really remember really far back. And I remember when I was just three or four years old, I was so happy and I was so free and nothing was imparted on me. There was no pressure, there was nothing that I was expected of me. And I just remember that as being the best part of my childhood when I had no expectations when I just could be me and there were no expectations and my parents loved me. I remember that time that was a special time to me and I was very, very young. But I think about that sometimes.Would've to say, yeah, I remember that time in my life and it was important to me.

Michelle Henderson (29:25):

Oh, I love it. Absolutely. And you're right. I mean, that is the age where we can have those child eyes and just be in the moment and be present. Ensure our authentic self. Well, I'll be working. Everybody reach you. What's your favorite form of communication?

Avi Wolfson (29:46):

My favorite form of communication is through LinkedIn. So if you look up my name, Avi Wolfson, I'll pop right up. Always happy to connect. I love connecting with people, love having conversations. If there's an opportunity for collaboration or you just want to pick my brain or you want to talk about something, please reach out to me. I love connecting and communicating with people, and I'm always about the win-win and how we can help each other or just connect or just have a chat or whatever it may be. That's where I do most of my communication from is LinkedIn.

Michelle Henderson (30:18):

Oh, that's awesome. Alright. Well you heard it here everybody. And just like Avi was saying that take one day at a time and you don't know what each day is going to bring and whatever you're going through, it's not the last opportunity. You have many opportunities ahead of you. So if you were going to say one word, Avi, to say goodbye to everybody, what one word would it be?

Avi Wolfson (30:49):

It would be empathy.

Michelle Henderson (30:53):

Empathy. There you go.


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