Posted: Thursday, September 01 2016
Senior Communication Consultant Leonard Wheeler is a former NFL player (Bengals, Vikings, Panthers) who has spent the last 16 years creating culture change for elite clients around the world. In addition to addressing high-power corporations and serving as a Regional Director and Ambassador for the NFL, Leonard’s recently published book, Beyond the Locker Room, serves a respected guide for athlete and executive career transitions.
Leonard’s dynamic personality and gift for encouraging and connecting with others, have proved to be incredible assets to the game on team. We had the opportunity to ask Leonard a few questions about his background and experiences.
I always heard that every professional athlete wants to be an actor and every actor wants to be a professional athlete. Growing up as a compulsive stutterer, I developed some limiting beliefs about myself that sports helped me work through. As I continued to grow in confidence the more I was in front of audiences, I noticed that my new found self-confidence drowned out my fear of stuttering.
I started speaking in 1992 as rookie in the NFL for Athletes in Action (AIA) and for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). I owe so much to the Bengals Chaplin Jeff Patton for pushing me to speak in front of elementary, middle, and high school students. I started speaking at colleges, churches and then companies. In 2000, a woman named Kristin Vining noticed me in Blockbuster (It's a video rental shop) LOL! Kristin was representing a modeling agency at the time and that connection led me to have the opportunity to join the William Pettit Agency in Charlotte, NC. I landed my first movie audition and role in the movie Radio and first TV role with One Tree Hill. The commercials that would follow served as times that I was able to check off my “wish list”, but my passion for speaking and inspiring people and companies continued to move me daily. Here I am 16 years later, speaking, coaching and working for the NFL. I love it!!
As an entrepreneur it’s important to understand that you must continue growing and raising your level of excellence within yourself. It’s hard sometimes when those days come that you desire not to inspire others or self. I had to learn how to forgive myself when I had an off day or when I didn't land the next deal. I’m not a failure because I don’t bat 1.000. It’s about knowing your own value and worth when those discouraging days come. I learned how to reset and get back in the game.
Witty, Strong-Willed and Compassionate… oh and Determined… That’s actually four.
I would be a FBI or CIA agent for sure.
That I can’t watch a movie without eating peanut M&M’s. Peanut M&M’s are my kryptonite.
Every time I work with wounded warriors with WWP or the USO Caregivers, I become teary talking to them when I think about them sacrificing their lives for me. I feel so undeserving and desire for them to know my heart of appreciation.
Christ is the most influential person in my life. I have failed others and myself over and over and He continues to show me extended mercy and grace over and over without reminding me of my past failures.
Can I be Superman? If so, I would use my strength and speed to rescue. I would use my cold breath to cool, my heat vision to heal, my flight to raise others to a higher level, and would be an overseer of the community.
I workout like a banshee, watch a movie with Peanut M&M’s, a slushy and popcorn, and read.