What doesn't Dr. Adolph Brown III do? At the age of 40, he just authored his seventh motivational book. Maybe that helps explain how he can ... run the Wellness Group in Virginia Beach, host a radio show as an authority on clinical psychology, coach kickboxing at his 42-member dojo, answer as a semiretired dean at Hampton University, raise seven children with his wife, Marla, and — this is the one he brags about — nurture a large, lush garden at home. But with apologies to the green peppers and butternut squash, his name (just "Doc" please) has gained the most acclaim through his global travels as a motivational speaker. And yes, there is one thing he doesn't do.
"I don't do coffee," he says. "I get high on life! Every single day is a bonus! Whoo! Whoooo!"
And with that he bounces a little bit higher on the Radar Galaxy, a monstrous inflatable tube sitting on the lawn at the Orlando Wakeboard Academy. Working a piece of gum with his jaw and a pair of boxing gloves with his hands, Doc could pass for an intramural athlete instead of a college administrator. Beneath his suit coat and buttoned-up attire is a T-shirt with Doc's personal motto printed across the back: "It's Gonna Be a Great Day!" His enthusiasm bubbles to such an extent that Doc asks if photographer Josh Letchworth wants him to do a back flip ... and slips off the side of the Galaxy, landing in a colorful pile of air-filled towables. He will not stay down for long. In a foretaste of the next 13 hours, Doc will scramble back to top of the heap.
Let's get busy!" Doc has been up since 3:30 a.m. When he hears a groggy voice mention a need for motivation four hours later, Doc seizes the moment for a quick lesson.
"Motivation isn't just a bunch of rah-rah stuff," he says, snapping on a life vest. He uses his hands and eyes to converge on a carefully spoken point. "Motivation is finishing what you start, with a positive attitude!"
One week earlier Doc was stamping his attitude on the island of Fiji. Right now he's struggling for acceptance on a much smaller island known as the HO Diamond Back, which is obviously too small for his solid 170-pound frame — "obvious" because he rolls off the tube before the boat, a Centurion Typhoon, can even pull out of idle.
"I'm OK! I'm OK!" he yells from the giant dunk tank known as Lake Fairview.
"Hey Doc," a passenger yells from the boat. "Just remember … when things go wrong …" There's a pause as Doc collects himself, and mentally digests what is being said before finishing the familiar sentence.
"… you don't have to go with them!" It's a message Doc often uses in his appearances before business leaders and student bodies, and one of several that the tube crew has memorized for moments like this.
Doc rights the wrongs of the Diamond Back by releasing some air from it, then rides on a sliver of its back edge and uses the corners of the diamond shape to keep it under control. Satisfied, he sits on the swim platform, spitting out a cocktail of water and enthusiasm.
"Just because you mess up doesn't mean you have to give up!" he says. "How many more do we have?"
The man who has turned motivation into a career, and vice versa, is told: one down, 18 to go. It's a start.
The O'Brien O-Pod gives Doc a change of perspective. On this, he can lie flat on his stomach and see the water ahead through an inflated porthole. Doc also has a riding partner on the O-Pod. They can't see each other because of a hump of rubber between them, but they do harmonize loud grunts as the tube bounces over progressively rougher water. "Uh … Oh! … Ah! … No!" Doc then hears the following words from his riding partner: "One does not become an accomplished mariner …"
Doc has just a second to speak before the O-Pod hits another avalanche. "… by sailing smooth seas!"