“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it”
– Toni Morrison
In my eyes this quote depicts my friend Chris. He has never been one that has complained about his life, although he has many reasons to feel as if life dealt him an unfair hand. When I see his posts, his videos, I see a man who has accepted that his past will never be his future. I see a man with confidence, determination, and the willingness to defy what society would have tried to place on him; failure…. but NOPE, he continues to grow and pay it forward by sharing his story with others!
I met “Chris Inspires You” in undergrad at the best HBCU; Can I get an Aggie Pride???
Yup…I hear it!
Over the years that I have known him, he has always been genuine, willing to be transparent in order to reach back and pay it forward, and he has always been so ecstatic about #ThisThingCalledLife…
What I have learned by watching clips of his videos and knowing his story is: while Iife might fail to provide you with a fair start, you have the ability to run your race and still make it to the finish line!
Chris is an amazing husband, father, and just overall person who desires to share his story to show our future that life happens, but you can always conquer...
And as Toni Morrison says, If you want to fly…..YUP…let it go! And my friend Chris’ story will empower you.
After you read about how Chris “INSPIRES,” please check out his links below and watch his most recent engagement. This is a man who understands the importance of hard work, remaining centered and focused, and believing in self.
How do you define yourself?
I’d define myself as a resilient champion, someone who is still growing, still realizing that there’s a real, true greatness in each person in this world and we feed that greatness with the things that we say, the things we think, the things we do and the type of people we choose to keep around us.
Discuss challenges you have overcome and are still overcoming?
I grew up largely in a single parent home with my father, who abused drugs and alcohol so much that he almost took his own life when I was 14. We moved eight different times from ages 5-16, from hood to hood, and resided in homes that were infested with roaches, communities that were littered with violence, drugs, prostitution and often had little food to eat or even clean clothes to wear. That. Was. Tough. But I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. I do believe that challenges such as that shapes and molds you, helping to establish your foundation as you grow and become a better, stronger and more equipped leader. My upbringing in poverty in a single parent home never defined me. It prepared me. And even still, meeting my mom at 16 and still not having a strong relationship with her 20-some years later is an ongoing challenge that I’ve tried to channel and use it as fuel to be the very best father to my two sons. My mom, quite simply, doesn’t love me and has made it known. In her times of rage and anger, her go-to statement is “I could have thrown you in a trash can and no one would have ever known” and that’s as painful a statement as anyone can make, much less a parent to a child. My sons are getting old enough now to begin asking a lot of questions about my mother and as a father, I’ve got to be transparent with them and tell them the truth, as much as it may hurt. There are also challenges with growing success and those challenges sometimes come from those in the scope of your “circle.” As I’ve grown and have opted to be transparent with my story, some family have chided me and attempted to discredit my story for various reasons but namely because of embarrassment or an inability to see the silver linings in sheer transparency. Even after going off to college to earn a degree, there were some family and friends who’d make comments such as “you think you better than us,” comments that sting at its core, particularly for someone such as myself who worked sooooo hard to escape the grasp of poverty and wanted to make something of my life. Sometimes, these things will have you second-guess yourself and wonder whether success is worth it…..then you realize that not everyone will understand YOUR goals, dreams and desires. One of the foremost thoughts that remain present in my mind is this: This theory that you have something to lose by cutting folks off, trying something new or having a unique way of thinking is really just a delusion which limits ones ability to achieve his or her maximum potential. THAT RIGHT THERE is what drives me.
What is your current profession?
I am an Inspirational Speaker and Youth Development Leader.
Discuss your organization/ company. How can you be contacted and booked?
My Inspirational Speaking platform, ChrisInspiresYou, was founded in May 2016 and born of my vision to continue educating, empowering and inspiring young people to become the very best versions of themselves. The story is unique and certainly one that proves a resilient mentality and desire will often win out. ChrisInspiresYou grew up largely in a single-parent home with his father, who abused drugs and alcohol in Fayetteville, North Carolina’s poorest community and the 13th poorest in the state at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic. Chris, who didn’t formally meet his mother until he was 16 years old, spent a considerable amount of time looking for her and wondered why his mother didn’t want him or love him. Even after meeting his mother, she’d often, in moments of anger and frustration, call Chris names, berate his father and tell Chris “I could have thrown you in a garbage can somewhere and no one would have known.” Chris and his father moved eight times from roach-infested home to home from ages 5 to 16 because of eviction, with his father even spending time under the stars. They’ve spent time on the couches of other friends/family and his father stayed in a one-room motel for a lengthy period of time while he stayed with his grandmother during his latter years in high school. Having overcome this adversity with the strength of a support system who believed in him, including his dad, grandmother, several aunts and uncles, neighbors Mrs. Jones, Mrs. McEachern, Tonya, his youth league baseball and football coaches (Coach Blue, Coach Abraham and Coach Smokey) and a host of others, Chris went on to earn multiple college degrees and was honored for his public service and leadership with several high honors. He travels the states speaking to students about self-discovery, overcoming adversity and encouraging each to engage in service, which challenges them to become the best versions of themselves in spite of the challenges they face. Chris uses a unique approach that encourages young people to unpack their feelings of doubt, worthlessness, uncertainty and fear in a constructive manner which proves that they are not alone in their struggles.
My website is www.chrisinspiresyou.com and folks can follow me on IG, LinkedIn and Facebook @Chris Inspires You or using the hashtags #chrisinspiresyou, #educateempowerinspireserve or #inspirationalspeakerfromnc.
What was your motive for stepping out to share your story?
I’ve always felt that EVERYONE has a story to share and that by sharing YOUR story in YOUR way, you aren’t allowing others to write YOUR narrative. The big mistake that we sometimes make is that we attempt to tell others’ stories for them based on where they are from, how they look, who they are affiliated with and the like and ultimately, we end up not knowing a thing! As a person, you’ve got to take time to discover who you are, what you desire, what you like and what you suck at…..we all suck at something, right? Once we’re able to identify these things, we can then put our energy, effort and attention into the things we really, truly desire. My desire has always, and will always be, to push and challenge young people to become the best version of themselves and I’m a firm believer that God never put us on this Earth to just exist. We are here to lead with purpose and significance for others, more than ourselves so we can’t sit on our hands and waste the enormous gifts that God has provided us. Find something you enjoy doing and do it…A LOT! Our time here is limited so we’ve got to make the most of EVERY moment. Ultimately, people may forget your name, your affiliation and the like but a person will never, ever forget how you make them feel. My story, I hope, will make people feel like they are capable of sharing THEIR stories and doing the great things that they desire doing.
How do you feel this is a benefit to our youth?
Transparency will ALWAYS be a benefit to youth. Transparency often means love and love is THE most important, most powerful human emotion. I Love You are three of the most powerful words in the English language but is such a struggle for us to not only say to someone else but also to look ourselves in the mirror and say “I Love You.” Sharing YOUR story and being transparent is a byproduct of “I Love You” and every person, young or old, deserves transparency and deserves a love that is unfailing, undeniable and unmistakable. Even more, encouraging youth to embrace the struggle and understand the adversity will make the success feel that much better. You never want to forget those things…there’s a real beauty in that struggle that you’ve got to embrace. Losing/Adversity/Failure will teach you things that winning just simply can’t and once you begin to win, it’s an unstoppable force but with success comes more challenge and the better you prepare yourself NOW, the better prepared you’ll be at that time. Stay ready so you never have to get ready.
As a Black male, do you feel that the challenges you faced are or were because of your race?
The family challenges, no. Other challenges, perhaps at times but one must remember his or her purpose here. You’ve got to realize that you possess a gift and for some of us, we can see the gift…hear the gift…feel the gift. For others, it takes a little time to dig a little deeper to find that gift but it’s in there. Part of that gift, for me, is being a black male. I love being black. I love raising my handsome black sons and being married to a fine, strong, beautiful black woman. That makes my life as complete as you could imagine.
Do you feel successful?
Success is defined, in my opinion, by understanding who you are, what you like, what you desire and how you go about handling your life’s responsibilities. It ALL starts with how we choose to start our journeys…..how deeply we understand our roles, responsibilities and influence for those we lead…how MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY and EMOTIONALLY ready we are to do the kind of work that will drive thru communities and transcend an entire generation. I feel successful but I’m still grinding. I want more. I want to inspire more. I want people to feel personal success in such a way that it is an emotion that’s intoxicating.
What is the secret to your success?
I have no magic formula or secret to success. The mind controls the body so when the mind wants to win, the body follows.
You are in a Greek organization, would you share why you believe such organizations are important?
Greek life influences social life on many college campuses, particularly organizations whose focus remains on serving its community and uniting students. Speaking specifically from the perspective of a black student who earned degrees from an HBCU and a PWI, it is, in my opinion, critically important in the black community as greek organizations unite students who often share similar ideals, beliefs and core principles. The histories of each organization is rich and can be viewed by many as part of the foundation for one’s collegiate experience.
What mantra do you life by?
I have a few but the one that knocks them all over is this: You can never ever expect little of yourself and demand great results. The other is this: Your structures may be fractured but your foundation still stands. When I look in the mirror and remind myself of these things, I’m ready to grind. I’m ready to win. I’m ready to challenge myself to be the best version of myself while encouraging others to do much the same.
Do you have fears or concerns for your son?
Absolutely. As a father, my two sons are the wind beneath the wings of my life and I realize that growing up in the 80’s/90’s is considerably different than growing up now. They’ll experience challenges that I never even had to think about. Social media is often a driving force behind so much that is happening these days and we can’t shield them from EVERYTHING. What we CAN do however is keep them rooted in their foundational principles…God, love, service and respect.
What do you wish you would have known when you were a teenager?
I wish I had developed stronger relationships with family and friends. This isn’t to say that I lack strong relationships but as I’ve said, love is such a powerful emotion and when you show love and feel loved, it changes the trajectories of one’s life. Not having my mother around caused me to put up a shield, a barrier and not allow everyone in. I was often embarrassed by my circumstances but I wish I had embraced it much sooner, thus allowing that energy to flow naturally to those around me.
Last words for the readers?
As the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated.”
ChrisInspiresYouThree-time award winning and seven-time award nominated Inspirational Speaker and Youth Director
JUST BElieve in YOUrself
Chris’ recent engagements: https://www.chrisinspiresyou.com speaking-engagements