Elko challenges students to find gift

Published 2:41 pm Friday, January 25, 2013

Dr. Kevin Elko, a motivational consultant who works with the University of Alabama football team, spoke to the Fort Dale Academy student body Thursday. (Advocate Staff/Andy Brown)

Kevin Elko talks to himself.

He does it when he’s alone. He does it around his family. He even does it when he walks through the airport.

He knows he gets some strange looks.

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After all, only crazy people talk to themselves, right?

But Elko insists he’s not crazy. He’s simply found what he believes is the key to success.

“True success has little to do with what others say about you and everything to do with what you say to yourself,” Elko told the student body at Fort Dale Academy Thursday. “I talk to myself all the time, and I even do it out loud.”

Elko, who serves as a motivation consultant for the University of Alabama’s football team and has worked with professional teams such as the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, calls the technique self-talk.

According to Elko, self-talk helps one eliminate unwanted thoughts or “mental clutter” that can weigh a person down and keep him or her from achieving their highest potential.

“It’s all about reaffirming yourself, and reminding yourself of what’s really important,” he said.

What’s really important, according to Elko, is helping others.

“We’d all be better off if we spent a little more time thinking about someone else,” he said. “If you’re thinking highly of yourself, you’re arrogant. If you have a low view of yourself and that’s what you’re thinking about all the time, you’re still spending all your time thinking of yourself. Make it a point to think of someone else and do something kind for them.”

Elko told the students that each day he repeats a phrase to himself.

“Everyday I say this, “I’m not looking for blessings to come to me. I’m looking to be a blessing to someone else,” he said. “In Tuscaloosa that’s what we try to do.”

Elko also challenged Fort Dale’s students to find their gift and then use it to help others.

“Everyone has a gift,” Elko said. “Find your gift and use it to serve others. It doesn’t matter what it is. Maybe you can write. Maybe you have the gift of gab. Maybe you can throw a ball between your legs like (Alabama long snapper) Carson Tinker. Whatever your gift is, find it and use it to be a blessing to someone else. The best thing you can learn to do is serve others.”

According to his website, Elko received his bachelor’s degree in biology education and coaching from California University of Pennsylvania. He then went on to West Virginia University where he received two master’s degrees and a doctorate and was later inducted into West Virginia University Hall of Fame.

He has consulted with various successful teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints, LSU’s football team and the University of Miami’s football team.

His corporate clients have included ING, Tyson Foods, Pioneer Investments, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Sun Life.

He is the author of four books, Nerves of Steel, The Pep Talk, True Greatness: Mastering the Inner Game of Business Success and Touchdown: Achieving Your Greatness on the Playing Field of Business and Life.