As a kid, Tony Hoffman was a gifted athlete—the best at anything he tried. The problem was, he didn’t have the discipline to practice hard, or to listen to the advice of coaches, parents, teachers, or anyone else in authority. He told the assembled audience that everything came easy, but he wanted it easier, so he looked for every shortcut in life he could find.
“I was always looking for a shortcut—the shortcuts killed me,” said Hoffman as he exhorted the crowd to do things the right way. “You might be looking for a shortcut, and that shortcut might be the reason you don’t find long-term sobriety.”
Hoffman shared his history of getting kicked out of junior high, and turning to BMX, where he rose to the top of the professional ranks by the age of 18. But wanting to get rich fast led to years of unfortunate decisions, homelessness, addiction, and eventually to prison, where he decided he needed to change every aspect of his life, down to the tiniest detail.
His personal mantra in prison: “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts become your words. Be careful what you say because your words become your actions. Be careful what you do because your actions become your habits. Be careful what you make a habit, because your habits become your character. And your character becomes your destiny.”
These words became the guiding principles of Tony Hoffman’s recovery, and his message to people in recovery. They helped him return to sobriety, return to BMX racing, open up a non-profit to help disadvantaged youth, and even go to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as a BMX coach.