Guest Speaker: John Kriesel
Still Standing. Still Smiling
Lessons to be Learned Listening to John Kriesel:
- Challenges -- Everybody faces adversity. It doesn't matter the size or scope of your challenge, it is the attitude that you bring to the table that will help you overcome that adversity and it will make you a stronger person.
- Acceptance -- You can't begin to resolve your challenge until you accept it. John lost his legs and two buddies in Iraq explosion. Rather than wallow in self-pity, he resolved to live his life to the fullest and to make the best out of his second chance at life.
- Plan -- Develop a plan to overcome your challenge, make it into an opportunity. When told he might not walk again and would be hospitalized two years, John doubled his physical therapy regimen, working himself to exhaustion. He walked out of Walter Reed Medical Center nine months later.
- Humor -- In his darkest moments, John found time to laugh. Always a lighthearted guy, he discovered laughter and not taking yourself too seriously are powerful medicine in any endeavor.
- Support -- Nobody does it alone. Friends, family and people you don't know will help but you need to accept their help. Success is a team sport. John’s army buddies, medical staff in four hospitals, family, and scores of people, many he never met, got John up on his new feet.
- Share -- Use your success to help others and you help yourself. The greater your success, the more you will enjoy sharing it by helping others beat their challenges, no matter how big or small those challenges may be.
About the Speaker
If Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was writing his incredibly popular book, The Power of Positive Thinking, today he would need to add a separate chapter on John Kriesel.
In 2006 Kriesel was nearly blown to shreds by a 200 pound roadside bomb in the parched sands of Iraq, but battlefield angels in army uniforms kept him breathing long enough to reach a field hospital. He died three times and was shocked back to life. Somehow he survived through four hospitals, 35 surgeries and months of recovery. He lost both legs and suffered numerous other major injuries, but it was the loss of two close friends that hurt the most.
The guy who wasn’t supposed to survive and was told he probably would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life walked out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center after nine months. Working with author Jim Kosmo, Kriesel reveals his motivational story in Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel, winner of eight national book awards.
Four years after his near-death experience in Iraq Kriesel became a civilian marketing employee with the Minnesota Army National Guard and in 2012 was named Director of Veterans Services for Anoka County. He also is a part time host on KFAN Sports Radio and former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. He was elected to the House in 2010 after a vigorous campaign where he was told he could not win in his district. He personally visited several thousand homes in all weather conditions and literally wore out the socket in one of his prosthetic legs. He won. After tours of duty in Kosovo and Iraq and a lengthy medical recovery Kriesel’s family wanted to spend more time with him and he chose not to run for re-election.
As a legislator he was anything but a quiet freshman challenging even his own party and frequently speaking his mind. “Kriesel’s honesty is a breath of fresh air at the Capitol,” declared the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. In addition to serving veterans in the Twin Cities and being a frequent voice on KFAN’s Power Trip Morning Show, he continues to share his upbeat, motivational message with businesses and organizations throughout the United States.