From Klay Thompson and Kayla McBride to our very own Basketball Diary with LeBron James back in the day, journaling has proven to be a powerful tool for the world’s best athletes.
For the older cousin of Houston Rockets guard Josh Christopher, Nicodemus, journaling has been a part of his routine ever since becoming the youngest strength and conditioning coach in the Power 5 with Tennessee at 23 years old.
Having since founded his own wellness and lifestyle consulting agency while working with NBA athletes and C-suite executives, Christopher has been on a multi-year journey deciphering the effect of order and how journaling can lead to fulfillment.
“Knowing that I’ve always had a love for helping people add value to their lives, I quickly came to realize that my role is to help people become the best version of themselves,” Christopher tells SLAM.
After seven years of research, self-reflection and scrawling 1,000s of pages of notes, Christopher now presents his first-ever book; Out Of Order.
Centered on the “7 Key Areas of Well-Being” Christopher leads the reader through 100-plus pages filled with contemplative questions and guided journaling exercises. However, the goal of achieving self-order isn’t awarded once you reach the back cover. Rather, the journey one takes throughout each chapter is the true takeaway.
Garry and Nicodemus Christopher have held a passion for sports since a young age, but Nic knew early on that athletics wasn’t necessarily his gift. “But I appreciated the work ethic. I appreciated the skill and the talent behind the game,” he says.
Inseparable since their youth, the Christopher brothers both attended Baylor University with their eyes set on impacting the world through the healthcare industry. Garry was in school to become a neurologist while his younger brother Nic was eyeing a career as an anesthesiologist. Yet at the start of Nic’s junior year, his older brother came home and hung up the scrubs for resistance bands and gym shorts.
“I’ll never forget, my brother came back to our apartment. And he said, ‘Bro, I don’t want to be a doctor anymore. I want to be a strength and conditioning coach.’ And I’m just like, You want to be a what?” Christopher remembers.
“For both of us, we thought being doctors was the only vehicle of change to help people change their lives and to save lives. But you look up 20-plus years later, we realize now that there are so many different vehicles that you can use to impact and change lives. So that was our defining moment for us. And we haven’t looked back ever since.”
While Garry currently resides as the Director of Performance for TCU, Nic’s decade-long journey leading the weight room has taken him from Purdue to Tennessee to Cal and Missouri.
Spending thousands of hours surrounded by plates, machines and student-athletes, the close-knit relationship between trainers and players was one Christopher thrived in. Although, the connection wasn’t instantaneous.
Nic describes the first and biggest mistake in his newfound career field as being too invested in the analytics of his profession. Obsessively tracking calorie counts, reps and devising a different number of sets for each individual on the roster, Christopher realized he had neglected the young men he was empowered with uplifting.
“I realized that I have a unique opportunity to meet these guys where they are in life. What you’re going through, I either was just going through or am going through it so we can just remove the veil and be transparent,” Christopher tells SLAM.
“I see the potential in you (them) to be a husband and a father. And once they knew that they could come to me on that type of time and have those types of conversations, when we got to the weight room and I’m like, ‘do four sets of six with a slow eccentric,’ it’s like ‘oh, I gotchu coach, it’s nothing.’”
Around 10 years ago Nic’s morning routine went something like this: wake up at 4:35 am, watch or read a devotional/sermon and then immediately journal his thoughts and experiences heading into the morning.
The recurring routine and dedicated time with pen and paper quickly became his release. His everyday sounding board. And then, the swiftness of life sent him a hurdle.
While serving as the strength and conditioning coach for the Cal Berkley program, Nic’s grandmother—who lived in Arkansas—traveled to visit the family in LA. At the time, Nic was in the throws of the offseason, priding himself on being available at a moment’s notice for any member of the team. Knowing the best opportunity to catch his grandmother was that weekend, Nic instead stayed behind on campus fearing a player would inevitably hit him up to get into the gym.
His grandmother passed away the following Monday.
“I’ve dealt with that regret for the longest time because I felt like I could have at least said goodbye or kissed her before she left, but I chose this profession. My identity was too caught up in what I was doing and it wasn’t based off of who I was created to be or who I was,” says Christopher.
Guilt and resentment for his decision permeated. But the experience additionally served as an informal wake-up call, harkening Christopher to the next purpose in his journey.
“Life happens and it’s like an overflow of all these experiences and everything that had taken place,” Christopher tells SLAM. “And my cup was full to the point where I had to pour this somewhere. And it just came into my heart, write the book. I have to pour this stuff into these pages.”
After coming to the understanding that order was a prerequisite to peace, Christopher began analyzing completeness, wholeness and tranquility. For 40 days and 40 nights, he partook in the daily exercises that became the exoskeleton of the book. Coming out of the experience with a true understanding of what peace both looked and felt like, Nic began crafting the official beginnings of Out Of Order.
“It was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done in my life,” Christopher explains of writing the book. “Because of the introspection, the self-examination, the vulnerability that I had to have with myself, and then I had to present it to the world.”
The expedition towards holding a hardcover novel inscribed with his own name has been years in the making. And now that it’s here, he’s discovered the next throughline in his life that’s connecting him to his next purpose—helping others formulate chaos into fulfillment.
Every chapter in Nic’s personal story has expanded his ability to add value to the lives of individuals. Whether that be Michael Porter Jr. in his lone season at Mizzou or leading pastors and Fortune 500 CEOs through exercises derived from the book, Christopher thrives in the space of wellbeing.
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