From Victim to Victor w/ Kawan Glover, Serial Overcomer

Imagine you’re a successful athlete in the prime of your life. Now imagine you have a massive stroke, and several brain surgeries, followed by years of speech therapy, slow healing, and recovery. Would you throw yourself a pity party? Sink into a comfortable rut and stay there? Or would you become a serial overcomer and dedicate your life to helping others take control of their mindset and become the hero of their own story? Kawan Glover, author of Favor, How Stroke Struggle and Surgery Helped Me Find My Life's Purpose, chose the latter path. And that’s made all the difference.

Highlight Reel

0:10 - Born on December 25th

1:10 - The stroke of destiny

2:15 - The siren song of depression

4:20 - From victimhood to victory

5:15 - It isn’t your fault, but it is your responsibility

9:00 - Clearing the internal hurdles

10:40 - Making friends with death

11:15 - A foundation of gratitude

12:00 - Kawan Glover, serial overcomer

14:30 - Be the hero of your own story

16:30 - Every misstep is a lesson, not a loss

17:30 - Hurry up and slow down

18:45 - Repeatable results

22:41 - The ideal scene

Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hi, everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. I'm your hostess Adrienne MacIain. And today we have Kawan Glover, please come on, introduce yourself.

Kawan Glover 0:12

Hey, my name is Kawan Glover. As Adrienne said, I was born on 25th of December in 1993, a snowy day, and I've had a number of different needs to take place in my life. I'm a stroke survivor, three time brain surgery survivor. I've written a book, I've started a business, and I am a serial overcomer. And I'm here today to have a conversation about my journey. And wherever else we talk about.

Adrienne MacIain 0:38

That's amazing. I love a serial overcomer.

Kawan Glover 0:41

That's beautiful.

Adrienne MacIain 0:43

So I'm also a December baby. So we could probably have a whole podcast about the peculiarities of being born in the month of December, especially on the 25th, I imagine.

Kawan Glover 0:56

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Adrienne MacIain 0:59

Yeah. But let's jump in with the first question that I usually ask, which is, what story is the world not getting?

Kawan Glover 1:10

A lot of you know what my journey in particular, a lot of times you hear about the massive surgeries. And I've had three of them, you know, brain surgeries, I've had a stroke, and you hear about that a lot in the community. But the stories that are not being told what happens in between and after those procedures, the dark times the emotional mental trauma, you have to deal with the recovery, not only physically, but the hardest part is the the other types of recovery, the mental, emotional, financial, or have to undergo to get through those dark times when you find yourself alone, not worthy you find yourself being becoming a burden, you feel shame about what you've been through, or who you have become, you're no longer the same person you were before. So again, you hear about the stroke, you hear about the surgery, you're about the physical recovery, but we don't know much about what happens in between all that and even after.

Adrienne MacIain 2:09

So tell us a little bit more about that. What is it like, in those in-between phases.

Kawan Glover 2:18

You know, depression is an interesting thing is not sadness. Because sadness comes and goes, depression is like, it really is that lingering cloud, it makes the world feel cold. And when it sets in, you start to almost feel good about it. It's like comforting, like, Oh, I am the worst person in the world. This is the terrible circumstance that I have to live with. And you start to find comfort in isolating yourself and being okay with: this is just my life now. And it's so crafty in that it nestles this nice little warm bed for you to just lay in and never move again. So it makes you feel like this is where you're supposed to be. And again, when you deal with physical trauma, it lives in your body, but it also builds a house like mine, and sometimes a house is hidden, and then only shows face and certain situations when you're triggered. So in order to combat those things, I had to look at the person in the mirror, I had to really self-assess, I had to really figure out 'Hey, am I holding stuff in?' like, 'Hey, is this manifesting in other places?' And then, you know, I had to embrace other routines I had to embrace loving myself and, you know, from where I was to where I am now, I'd say it's a quantum leap, like, I love myself more than Kanye loves Kanye and that's a big I love you to me. So, you know, it takes a while to develop those, those tendencies and practices. And it's not a battle that's easily fought, but when you finally can see the other side of that, when you when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel again, it feels pretty amazing.

Adrienne MacIain 4:12

So when did that where did that shift happen for you? Where did you start to see that little pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel.

Kawan Glover 4:23

So in my business, I take you from victimhood to victory and teach you to be the ultimate hero in your own journey. And I like to call it the bottom of the V if you can see on that thing right there. There's a point at the bottom where you have to is this where I'm going to remain for the rest of my life, you have to make a decision. And then you start to see that shifts. So for me, it was on August... sometime in August last year. And I just watched finished watching Tony Robbins 'I'm Not Your Guru,' and I couldn't understand--you know, I got into surgery, I got into physical rehab--why I was still holding on to something. And for me, it was guilt. And when I had that moment I broke down and can let it roll out. But then lying in my bed that night I was like, you know, all the things that happen to you are not your fault. But it is your responsibility to take these experiences and use them for the greater good. And that's the point at the bottom of the V, where you are at your darkest, lowest point, when you have to make a decision. And that's really all it takes. Now, after you make that decision, it's not like all sunshine and roses. But that's when the work can really begin.

Adrienne MacIain 5:40

Yeah. I love that 'it isn't our fault, but it is our responsibility.' That's something I've heard over and over again by people who are good leaders. So what was it like for you, when you were in that just that bottom of the V, the darkest point for you? What was that like?

Kawan Glover 6:03

It just felt like nothing was supposed to work. It felt like this is the endpoint for my life. Like, mentally I just was not there emotionally. I was all over the place. And I started to give up, I felt like I had been defeated. And this enemy is an enemy from which I can't come back anymore. I had lost mental energy, emotional energy, spiritual energy, my lifeforce was being drained. It felt like I was at the bottom of the pit, and light didn't, light began to no longer exist. And it felt like I was dying from the inside out. But the power of making a decision to make that change can lead you up a path towards victory. And that's when you complete your beat. And that's what I had to realize. Again, it's not It wasn't my fault. And I blamed myself continuously for everything that happened. And I took over-responsibility, but it wasn't my fault. But it became my responsibility. And that's when I realized, you know, people would always tell me, you know, you should tell this story, people have to hear this, people have to know, and, you know, all those things came to me, and then I can start to come back to the voices in my head, the naysayer in my life, which ended up being who I was.

Adrienne MacIain 7:49

What were the steps that you took to start to kind of climb your way out of it?

Kawan Glover 7:55

I think the first step is acknowledging, you know, that's when I realized it was a guilt that I was carrying around. And then it was the last step in that process is accepting. But in the middle of that you have to adapt to the new changes both physically, mentally, and emotionally to kind of pinpoint exactly where these changes have taken place. And then you can make adaptations to adjust it or where you are now. So instead of using my body as a tool, I can use my mind and my words to change lives. And I've actually found that's actually been more powerful using my stories, my voice. I like to say that vulnerability is my superpower, empathy is my weapon of choice. And my story is my fuel source. And that I can use those three things to change the world, one person at a time. And my ultimate life goal is to reach 100 and impact a billion people on the way actually impact the whole world. I'm always 100. So, um, I think I'm starting to see that that's actually possible. Yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 9:05

So what blocks have you had to overcome in order to share this story with the world?

Kawan Glover 9:12

A lot of self-worth issues. Like, why does anyone want to hear this? Like, I, you know, I did this to myself. And these are things that stemmed off from that guilt, a lot of self-doubt, like, I can't write a book. I can't tell a story. I'm not a speaker. Like, the way I use words now, I had to go through a lot of speech therapy because you know, the muscles on the side of my face, they work but there are no nerve endings. Like I don't feel what's going on over here. So I don't know unless I'm looking at myself. what's actually going on with that side of my body and just, you know, I lost a lot of confidence. You know, I'd been an athlete most of my life, I'd run track, I played football, I boxed. So when I wasn't able to control my body it was like, I'm in my 20s, this is supposed to be the prime of my life, like, how can this be? And I think, accepting that this is my reality, not worrying about the past and not being concerned with the future, I think acceptance. So first I had to acknowledge, then I had to adjust and adapt, then I had to accept. Those were the three stages of climbing up the other side of that V.

Adrienne MacIain 10:29

Yeah. So how did it change you? How did it change you to go through all of that?

Kawan Glover 10:39

It's funny, because the number of times my life was literally on the line, um, you become close acquaintances with death, for lack of a better term, the river becomes kind of like a neighbor that's like, Hey, you know, I think it's your time. And I'm like, I don't think so, come back later. So you kind of fall in that relationship, and you start to, again, accept that that is an inevitable part of life. But it's not my time right now. And also, it allowed me to embrace my faith, it allowed me to embrace that gratitude is my foundation. So every day when I get up, the first thing I say to myself is, I'm grateful that I'm alive. And those little micro gratitudes, about breathing, about seeing, about tasting food, about smelling the inside of your room, about having covers, about having a place to rest my head, those pile up, those add up, those extra minutes, you get greater and actually, gratitude increases serotonin and dopamine in your brain, so it allows me to be calm and enjoy the situation no matter what I what I face, and that's why I call myself a serial overcomer. Because no matter what challenge, struggle, whatever, phase, whatever tests I have, I no longer feel unbalanced or bothered or disturbed, because I know that no matter what this challenge is, I'm going to get through it and I'm going to learn something from it. And, you know, always having that internal learning mindset, that's really helped me as well. It's not what you've been through, it's what you use it to become.

Adrienne MacIain 12:25

Absolutely, yeah. So who do you think needs to hear this story?

Kawan Glover 12:32

There are a lot of people, and especially right now, in the state of the world, in the state of the political climate, in the state of disarray that this year has brought upon us that people feel stuck, they feel like there's a dark place they found themselves into, they feel like, they don't know where to turn, they feel like everything they do is wrong, or they feel like they are overly concerned with the opinions of others. And I would like to say directly to those people who may be listening, that it's often not the external world that is causing you to fall into that rut that's causing color to be taken from your world, it's the person in the mirror, it's you creating those thought loops, it's you creating those narratives, it's you creating that chaos, that anxiety, that person that you fall into because of fear-based decision making. Attributing too much of what's happening for you in the now to those things that you did do, that you might do, and that the world is telling you you should do. I think those people that don't often realize there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But one of the things I know now is that sometimes you have to crack to let the light in. And those people are holding things back. And they're so strong, like men are just so strong, so stoic, but in order to heal and grow, when you're lifting weights you have to break down muscle fibers. And then there are people on the other side that are just like, 'Oh, woe is me!' and they've built a house in the neighborhood of victims. You have to move out of that comforting feeling, that the warm blanket of anxiety and depression and makes you want to stay where you are and root yourself in the present moment and recognize the powerful person that you are because everybody on this planet is one of one. You are the only one that can be you. So embrace that use it and become the hero in your own story.

Adrienne MacIain 14:40

Absolutely. I love the idea--you know people always say 'That which does not kill us makes us stronger.' Well, that's only true if you give yourself the time to heal, right? You break down those muscle fibers when you work out. And so then you have to rest to allow those muscle fibers to build back up again, right? And I think that's something that people often miss. When they're training, they overtrain, and they work themselves too hard, and they just get, they hit a wall. It's the same thing when you're working with inner trauma, right? You have to have that support, you have to give yourself time and forgiveness. And sometimes self care looks like working out. And sometimes self care looks like napping. And you need both."

Kawan Glover 15:27

Absolutely, I I didn't just address everything in one day, like, 'I'm gonna change my life right now everything's gonna work out!' I don't think that's realistic. I think you bite off the bite you can chew, and slowly, over time, you have to lay your healing brick by brick. And at some point, you'll have a wall that defends you from other traumas. But a lot of people think I have to get everything right now I have to solve this problem immediately. Time is really your friend. And healing doesn't come as a quick fix solution, a magic bullet. You have to heal and give yourself time to accept that healing, that change. Everyone out here don't give themself enough time or giving themself enough grace to understand that they are still human. And it takes time.

Adrienne MacIain 16:23

Yeah. So what advice do you have for the people who are listening who might be going through something that they think they just... they're not gonna get through this?

Kawan Glover 16:36

You don't go through anything just to go through it. I think people are are really like trees, and we spend our lives growing. Maybe not physically, but mentally, you always have to open yourself up to unique experience. And if you see every misstep as a lesson, not a loss, you're always constantly, I'm always looking for the lesson when I make a mistake, or what was I supposed to learn there? What does that give me the opportunity to do now? And I think people that feel stuck, one are either comforted by, you know, wallowing in that pity that that sadness, that fear, because it feels safe, they don't have to do anything. And then other people are just gonna ram everything through, right at one time. I think you should 1. hurry up and slow down. Take time to acknowledge, adapt, and accept. And those three things come with time. So hurry up and slow down. Take those three A's and use them and apply them to your life. And also do some deep work introspectively. Understand what your triggers are, what really puts you in that foul mood, what really takes your energy away, and stop doing that. Do things that bring you joy, do things that put you in a better space that bring you calm and serenity, bring you peace. A lot of people put themselves into situations which they know are going to exacerbate whatever pain they're feeling, but they keep doing and expecting a different result. There is literally the definition of insanity. Stop doing that purpose, slow down, stop doing head and then apply those three as I think you can really find a solution for yourself on an on the back end. And again, my job on this planet is to bridge the gap between the darkness and the light. And there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And one thing I've learned through my whole life experience, and I keep learning is there's always hope. And when you allow yourself to lose that thought that's when you give way to despair and things start to fall apart.

Adrienne MacIain 18:44

Yeah. And it's very true that one of the beautiful things about living on this planet, right is that we have laws of physics, and you can get repeatable results. If you throw a ball straight up into the air, it's gonna come right back to you, right? If you throw it a little bit off, it's not. And so if you're getting the right results, you know, when you do something like keep doing it, you're gonna get those same results. But if you're not, and you keep doing that, you're gonna get those same bad results, right? If you want results you've never gotten you have to try something you've never tried before. You have to take a risk and do something kind of scary. I always say that everything you want is on the other side of your fear. And so as soon as you find something that scares you a little bit like, guess what, that's what you should probably do.

Kawan Glover 19:33

Yeah, and you know when I do podcasts now I'm like crap, people are gonna see my face, I gotta share my story again. So you know, I encourage you to do something just a little bit scary every day and expand your realm of influence, expand your mind and your emotions and I think that is one of the keys to life, when you get comfortable being uncomfortable, everything is a little bit easier.

Adrienne MacIain 20:02

I love that: get comfortable with discomfort. So important. We spend so much of our lives running away from pain. And if people would just take the time to make friends with their pain, and just embrace it, you'd be amazing amazed at how it just disappears.

Kawan Glover 20:21

When you avoid and push down and run away from pain, pain is a part of life that is inevitable. So at some point, some way somehow, that pain is going to resurface. And because you pressed it away and ran away from ir so long, it's going to hit you a lot harder when it comes back. So you're going to avoid this for the rest of your life. But at the end it's going to hit you like a sledgehammer. So I'd rather take the smaller doses and address it right now. And then allow myself to learn from it instead of avoiding it. And again, pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice. So if you avoid the pain, you're going to suffer in other areas in the long run.

Adrienne MacIain 21:08

Absolutely. So what do you think is the main message or takeaway for people listening to this?

Kawan Glover 21:17

You know, I, the message of my book is always hope. Push, persist until something happens. And that's what I did. But I like to say it in a little more of a flowery language. The thing about-- there's a story I remember about an optimist and a pessimist. The brother Jake was the optimist. I think his name was Jared, was the pessimists. And the thing about the difference between the two is shown when they look out the window and it's raining outside. Well, Jake, the optimist, he looks out the window and looks over the horizon and sees the sun coming over the hill. But when Jared the pessimists looks out the window, sees the rain, he's overly concerned with the stains on the window. And I like to say that whenever the time seemed dark, whenever seems gloomy and like things are never going to change. The darkest night always comes before the brightest morning. And your morning is just over the horizon, your morning is on the way, your morning is coming. And there is nothing on this planet--hell, Earth, snow, wind, fire, snowstorm--that can stop that your morning is on the way.

Adrienne MacIain 22:41

Beautiful. All right, so let's shift gears a little bit. We're gonna do a little exercise here, which I like to do with my guests. So what I'm gonna have you do is close your eyes, if that's comfortable for you. And I am going to wave a magic wand and all of your deepest desires have just come true. So everything that you really want--deep, deep in your soul has just come to pass. So I want you to wake up in this new reality and look around and just tell me what you see, what you hear, what you can taste, touch and smell in this ideal space.

Kawan Glover 23:27

Well, I'm living in a house, I'm married, I have two kids. One a girl, I think the girl's older. I have a call in about 20 minutes with my company. We're doing a merger right now with another company. We have a deal with Netflix to do a talk series. I'm looking to my cell phone log has a lot of numbers I didn't have before in there. I just had a meeting with my favorite new artist yesterday, Kid Cudi. I'm on my fifth book, and I'm supposed to meet up with some of my best friends later. And I just feel an overwhelming sense of peace, calm... I'm about to meditate before this call. And I just finished the latest Stephen King book. And it was awesome. And I think I'm no longer worried about money or, you know, my body is back in 100% and I am living my dream and my book is selling--my bookS are selling all over the world and getting translated. And um, you know, today there are no words.

Adrienne MacIain 24:49

You're in your your living room space, right, whatever the central living area of this home is. And I want you to look over, there's a bookshelf that's just full of your books. It's just got your name, your name, your name, your name, all over this bookshelf. And I want you to take a breath in: something delicious is being prepared for you right now. Do you smell that?

Kawan Glover 24:51


Adrienne MacIain 25:20

Yeah. Everything's being provided for you in this space. You've done your work. There's nothing more that you need to do right now. You can just be in this beautiful space. Do you hear anything?

Kawan Glover 25:37

Um, I hear little footsteps. And I can hear, like, some of the pans, like clinking around. I really smell like blueberry muffin, but like the big fluffy soft ones. And I'm turning around now to head over to the kitchen. And I can't really see my wife's face, but I can see her smiling back at me. And she just kind of gives me a smirk and like a thumbs up.

Adrienne MacIain 26:04


Kawan Glover 26:04

That's what I see.

Adrienne MacIain 26:05

That's great. And so I want you to... you're in that meeting now, okay, you're having this meeting. There's all this collaboration happening. Just all these ideas going back and forth. And I want-- you say something, and it's like, everything just stops for a moment. And everyone kind of looks at you, and says, 'Wow, that's a great idea!' And I want you to just soak in that validation for a second. That your gifts are so appreciated and valued in the space. That you are making a real impact just by being you and just coming up with your ideas that just naturally flow out of you.

Kawan Glover 26:57

Yeah, I can. I can hear it. Like I just say something on offhandedly. And then everybody, the phone goes quiet for a minute. And then I can hear someone they're like, 'Are you serious?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I think that's a good idea.' And then everybody's like, sighs of relief. And you know, the last person speaks and says, 'I think you're gonna do great for the world.' And then the call ends.

Adrienne MacIain 27:25

Perfect. So now I want you to go somewhere, there's kind of a, a secret spot somewhere, maybe it's outside, maybe it's inside, but it's like your happy place. I want you to go to wherever that is, and describe it for me.

Kawan Glover 27:44

You know, there's, I can't help but see, like a children's book and an apple tree. And I'm kind of sitting under it. I have a book in my hand. And it's well, it's 72 degrees, light breeze. There's soft music playing in the background...

Adrienne MacIain 28:04

What kind of music?

Kawan Glover 28:05

I know what the tree is! I don't even, it's like, no words, it's more like a there's a song that was somewehre in avatar called leaves on a vine, and that melody is kind of humming, beautiful humming and humming and I'm reading some book, and I'm just, nothing else matters right now. Just peace.

Adrienne MacIain 28:30

Yeah, just peace. Soak that in for a minute. You smell that outdoor smell, the apples falling on the ground. The grass is just a little bit wet, and you can smell that. There's a nice breeze. It's not too cool. It's just refreshing. There we go. And so what I want you to do now is I want you to look back into your memory from this space. What had to happen for you to get to where you are right now? What commitments did you need to make to yourself, and keep, in order to end up in this space?

Kawan Glover 29:28

I have to, one, keep writing. I have to be open to new opportunities and bigger opportunities. I think maybe I'm playing too small. I'm keeping in an area where I feel I can control everything, I think, and self doubts about my physical state have been keeping me from not dating. I think you know letting myself be who I am fully all the time. And embracing my truth that I tell people to do for themselves. I think being, you know, there's literally a tattoo on my chest that says BE. And I need to live in that state constantly, and allowing myself to be who I'm meant to be like, you know, write things down and do more than what I'm doing and allowing myself to be celebrated by myself and others. I think I need to be... I just need to be. And everything else will come.

Adrienne MacIain 30:47

Absolutely. So to remind yourself of that, what I recommend is that you get that piece of music that you talked about. It was from Avatar, I think you said?

Kawan Glover 31:00


Adrienne MacIain 31:01

And so get that piece of music. Get a little slideshow together, maybe have that apple tree, something that reminds you of that smile that your wife gave you? Something that reminds you of that home, maybe a picture of your book, and just have that little slideshow and listen to that music and allow yourself to just be, and feel those feelings every morning, just as part of your morning routine. So that will really set the tone for the rest of your day and get you right into those kind of core desired feelings as you go into the rest of your day.

Kawan Glover 31:40

I think that's an awesome idea.

Adrienne MacIain 31:43

All right. Is there anything else you'd like the audience to know before you tell them where they can find you?

Kawan Glover 31:54

You are one of one. So treat yourself as such.

Adrienne MacIain 32:00

Perfect. All right, Where can the people at home find you?

Kawan Glover 32:06

I'm on all social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, but you can find me primarily on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. It's my name Kawan Glover. Only difference on Twitter is an underscore between my first and last name. Also have my book out: Favor, How Stroke Struggle and Surgery Helped Me Find My Life's Purpose. It's available on Amazon in ebook and paperback format: And the last thing I want to say to everyone is: achieve victory. Become the hero of your own story. That's my goal in life, that should be yours, and address the person in the mirror and he will tell you exactly what you need to do to get there.

Adrienne MacIain 32:54

Thank you so much for being here. That was wonderful.

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