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Wisconsin Airmen inspired to 'Live the Dream'

Curtis Zimmerman, guest speaker, leads members of the 115th Fighter Wing, Madison, Wis., in a game of Simon Says, during Wingman day, Mar. 6, 2011.  Wingman day promoted "living the dream," and taking care of your fellow airman.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ashley Bell)

Curtis Zimmerman, guest speaker, leads members of the 115th Fighter Wing, Madison, Wis., in a game of Simon Says, during Wingman day, Mar. 6, 2011. Wingman day promoted "living the dream," and taking care of your fellow airman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ashley Bell)

MADISON, Wis. -- National-level motivational speaker Curtis Zimmerman encouraged more than 800 Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing to take control of the "scripts" in their lives, as part of a Wingman Day March 5.

Zimmerman explained that everyone is the star of their own show ... the stage is theirs and they have control of who and what happens in it.

"This day is about making smart choices and looking out for each other," said Brig. Gen. Joseph Brandemuehl, 115th FW commander. "We must continually strive to improve the wellness of our organization, ourselves and our families...resiliency, unit wellness and being good wingmen are the themes of the Wingman Day."

Wingman Day was created to strengthen the morale and welfare of units by devoting time to building relationships between co-workers and discussing topics like suicide prevention, responsible drinking behavior, financial management and identification and intervention of troubled Airmen.

Zimmerman's message was intermingled with games such as juggling and coordination exercises in an effort to induce a message of hope and optimism with a dose of realism that encouraged all in attendance to, "Live the Dream."

"I use the metaphor that encourages people to be the star in their own life," said Zimmerman. "Too many of us let our show be dictated by outside influences...we need to give those people less lines in our own show and by doing this our life can get better."

Growing up in Los Angeles, Zimmerman learned to perform as a mime, juggler and fire eater before taking his talents to television and cruise ships. His presentation incorporates the juggling to demonstrate a message he calls, "failing successfully," that includes bringing someone up in front of the large audience and teaching them how to juggle.

That lucky participant was Staff Sgt. Brian Young, 115th Security Forces Squadron. While Young was not able to perfect the skill, he did drop the balls many times en route to nearly perfecting the art; thereby illustrating Zimmerman's message.

"Obviously it was frustrating, but the point of me struggling through something also gave the same message across to everybody ... no matter how many times somebody fails, you still have to try to pick them up or the lesson is never going to be learned."

"I think the message he was trying to get across is that 'You are the only person that can make yourself successful, but if you're surrounded by people that support you than it helps you is important,'" Young said.

Zimmerman talked about his personal story of childhood illness, poverty and family challenges. When asked what about his story helps him communicate his message, he said that everyone has a story not unlike his.

"I give 100 speeches a year and none will be as important as the one I give today," said Zimmerman. "I want to help people understand what it means to 'Live the Dream.'"

Zimmerman stated he is happy when his audience gets the message.

"The process to learn is to believe that 'I can do it,'" said Zimmerman. "Once you believe you can do it, the next step in the process is to drop the ball, knowing that you have to fail to succeed."

Zimmerman shuns the idea of lack of "natural ability" as a reason why people cannot do certain things and says it is often used as an excuse. He explained that he dropped the ball thousands of times until he was able to succeed at juggling.

Young seems to have grasped the message of "failing successfully."

"I think when it came to the juggling, it's probably easier than I was making it," Young said. "I'll pick them up from time to time and I'll just keep practicing."
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