Life balance ‘starts with passion’
Personal reflection leads former NFL safety to new career
By Mike Cook
The Las Cruces Bulletin
When Siddeeq Shabazz was playing in the National Football League, he had a great career and was making good money — but he wasn’t happy or fulfilled. “My experience of life was not enjoyable,” he said.
With guidance from his older stepbrother, Day Adeogba, who is also his mentor, and a lot of study and personal reflection, Shabazz found the missing pieces of his life. Now 34 years old and retired from the NFL, he is raising his three children in Las Cruces and working as a wellness consultant and health coach to “help people balance life” around three key principals: passion, purpose and priority.
“It starts with passion,” Shabazz said. “The model we live by doesn’t have the correct priorities.”
That model, he said, puts finances at the top, when actually, money belongs at the bottom of his six-point hierarchy: faith, fitness, family, friends, fun —and then finance. “I help people put themselves first,” he said.
Instead of judging success in life by how much a person has in his or her bank account, Shabazz teaches a more holistic approach beginning with what he calls “principled faith.”
“What you put your faith in … affects your experience of life,” he said.
Born in Germany, Shabazz was raised a Muslim, but has converted to Christianity. Religious faith is one of the “never-changing principals” that guides his life. “It shows you a way that you can never go wrong,” Shabazz said.
The most important thing is to put your faith into something that has a solid core and comes from the inside, not the outside, he said. “What’s at your center?” and “How principled are the things you’re putting faith in?” are two important questions to ask yourself, Shabazz said.
Shabazz is a big believer in author and educator Stephen Covey and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” a book Covey wrote in 1989 and has since sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages around the world.
Since communication is “the area of biggest breakdown” Shabazz said he encounters as a wellness consultant, he especially reveres Covey’s fifth habit: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Most arguments, Shabazz said, are “not about words, but about the emotional states people are in.”
“[Having] what it takes to really understand somebody is a great skill,” he said. It can change an entire organization … when a leader is able to communicate in a more healthy, powerful way.”
It’s clear that kind of leadership is lacking today, Shabazz said, because 77 percent of the American workforce is disengaged from their jobs, and 20 percent are actively disengaged. Shabazz said he learned a system to track health in a holistic way from his step-brother that “didn’t just change my mind, it blew my mind.”
It’s comprised of 20 percent physical; 30 percent nutrition and lifestyle; and 50 percent spiritual, emotional and social, which Shabazz calls mindfulness.
And that’s why Shabazz calls his business “Higher Frequency Wellness” — it’s not just about the body. A person might engage in three to 10 healthy activities a week, and somewhere between 45 and 100 activities a week related to nutrition and lifestyle, including adequate sleep and hydration. But, that same person is likely to have 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts each day, he said. Combining all three aspects, “That’s where the joy comes in,” he said.
Shabazz grew up on a farm near Chaparral, N.M., with a very large extended family. His step-father, a native of Nigeria who served in the United States military, had 24 children, and Shabazz lived with up to 15 of them at one time.
A graduate of Gadsden High School, Shabazz was a walk-on with the New Mexico State University Aggie football team in 1998, playing until he graduated with a degree in business management and a minor in marketing in 2002. He was drafted by the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and also played two years for the Atlanta Falcons and other teams as a strong safety and on special teams. He played a year in NFL Europe and also spent three years in the Canadian Football League. Shabazz retired from football in 2010 and came home.
“The main impetus for me growing, changing and really assessing my life was my children,” said Shabazz, who has two daughters, 12 and 7, and a son, 11. “I always wanted a family, but I didn’t know what I was doing as a fiancé or father at 21 years old, and knew I’d have to change if I ever wanted a chance at giving my children the life I always wanted to.”
“It’s been an uphill battle, and I wish I was able to share a lot more time and wisdom with my children,” he said. “Like anyone I interact with, I try to share my experiences and the insights it’s given me with my children and hope that one day some of it will make sense and give them more tools than I had as I fumbled through my young adulthood.”
In addition to his wellness clients, Shabazz has also just begun a four-year doctoral program at NMSU in internal marketing. He’s also on the board of directors of Mountain View Market Co-Op, which he’s been visiting since he was eight years old.
Shabazz provides a free consultation to prospective clients, during which they complete a detailed wellness survey and assessment “to measure the balance of their health,” he said. The assessment is repeated every 90 days throughout Shabazz’s consultation “to measure the effectiveness and results of their daily habits.”
His prices vary depending on what he is providing to the client. His services include a daily online accountability wellness log, which includes a monthly personal consultation, for $50 a month; and a group fitness class, held early mornings five days a week. You can attend twice a week for $100 a month or an unlimited number of times for $175 a month.
The typical consultation period could range from three months to a year, or significantly longer; and the frequency of personal meetings could range from daily to monthly. It all depends on the client’s commitment, time availability and budget. “Everybody is unique,” Shabazz said.
It’s not about “looking good in jeans,” he said. “It’s about feeling good about the rest of your life.”