Purpose, Passion, And Vision With Christopher Hampton
Are you tired of letting fear of rejection, failure, and success rule your everyday? Are you ready to break through old limitations and step into the “ChampIAm” you are? In this episode, today's guest shares powerful ways you can let go of your fears and release yourself from your life's chains. Listen as host Ellie Shefi speaks with Christopher Hampton, a dedicated philanthropist and civil servant, who serves as a City Commissioner for Arts, Heritage, and Culture, and is the Director of the nonprofit Renaissance Leaders. Chris is a creator of Good Vibes Open Mic Night and the Founder of the Champ I Am organization, and he is also a best-selling author of the books Everyday Leadership for Everyday People and You Are Enough. If you're looking for practical tools to smash through what's holding you back so you can skyrocket, don't miss this episode!
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Purpose, Passion, And Vision With Christopher Hampton
Today's guest is a dedicated philanthropist and civil servant. He serves as a City Commissioner for Arts Heritage and Culture. He is the Director of the nonprofit Renaissance Leaders, the creator of Good Vibes Open-Mic Night, and the Founder of the CHAMPIAM Organization. He is also the best-selling author of the books Everyday Leadership For Everyday People and You Are Enough. A sought-after speaker, he helps entrepreneurs, leaders, and youth to unleash their inner champions and live their lives purposefully, passionately, and with vision.
Please welcome, Chris Hampton. Chris, thank you so much for being here. It is a pleasure to have you with us.
It's an honor to be a part of this platform. Thank you for the invitation to be here.
"ChampIAm" - tell us about that.
That's the motivational platform that I have. That's the beginning of the CHAMPIAM Organization. It focuses on building personal leadership. I believe that everyone has the ability to lead. It's a skill that needs to be developed and worked on intentionally, but often people don't see themselves as leadership material. Part of my platform is to motivate them to discover their purpose and passion, which ends up giving them their motivation for leadership. That's my heart: CHAMPIAM. It means you are the champ and everything you need is inside of you. It just needs to be cultivated and developed.
Where did that passion come from? What inspired you to start this movement and this organization?
I have always been in leadership. I was a Boy Scout as a kid. JROTC is where I learned a lot about leadership in high school. I went into the Army National Guard. I was a medic at that time. Leadership was something that I found myself drawn to. Whenever I'm in someone's presence, they leave empowered. I'm always trying to empower people, even when I'm volunteering with my church and the different things that I do in the community. For me it has always been about stepping forth and leading.
That is so necessary. It has always been important to cultivate leadership and empower others to step into their greatness. Especially over the last few years and with everything that has gone on with the isolation, the shift to everything being on Zoom and being remote, it's more important now than ever to help people step into their true essence and power, and to step up. Now is a time when we're all being called around the world to step up, speak up, and lead.
Thank you so much for the work that you do. You work a lot with youth. Tell us about how you tailor some of those programs when you're working with youth.
Leaders create the footsteps that need to be followed.
A lot of it has been with partnerships within the community. Good Vibes Open Mic Night started it all. I was a co-creator of that. I'm one of the people that have helped build that open mic in the city of Camden, New Jersey. It was a platform that was able to provide a safe space. I define SAFE space with acronyms. I love acronyms, so I give acronyms everywhere.
S stands for safe and a safe environment within a community that was deemed "unsafe."
A is the accepting. We accept people for who they are, and we're not trying to prejudge them.
F is basically a judgment-free zone where you're free to be yourself.
And the E stands for encouragement, empowerment, and education. We want to encourage them to find their gifts and talents. That could be singing, spoken word, rap, or anything creative. We've even had people who came to our events that paint.
In that safe space, they were able to find themselves - it wasn't just about entertainment. There is also a civic aspect to it where a lot of times, you hear in their poetry and art the anger of them seeing what is happening in their community. My challenge to them is, “What are you going to do about it now?” We give them the opportunity to use their voice to talk about their expression but also give them an avenue to help create a better community.
That's so important, to help them acknowledge, to create that safe space, and then to help them identify and acknowledge what they're feeling. To process it and be able to use their voice to express it, and then to move through it into action, empowering them to not sit in the anger, frustration, pain, or sorrow, but to use it as fuel.
I was speaking to them as a leader because what happened was I didn't do everything. I wasn't the speaker, the singer, and the host. It was hard being a motivational speaker and not finding yourself at the center of the stage. I'm in the background and they're the host, producers, or content creators. They're the ones getting the talent with their social network. I found myself talking to them in leadership language, but they have never been exposed to leadership language. We talk about leadership standards. We start on time. We're there an hour before the start time, where they're used to people starting 45 minutes late.
I'm sitting there saying, "No, this is the standard." They'll come up to the standard. I realized that they were lacking on the leadership side. So we would take those young people away to an Airbnb and do leadership advances. It got to the point where other nonprofits and school systems wanted to attend. They were sending their teachers to our leadership event. They were like, "This is one of the best leadership events that we had." We were just being ourselves. We were showing how we can make that impact and use your gift. That was my gift back to the community. It has opened so many doors for help and other partnerships.
You don't know what you don't know. If you've never been exposed to leadership and certain standards or expectations, you will rise to the expectations around you. If you've never been held to that standard or shown what's possible or shown a path, how are you expected to identify it? How are you expected to aspire to it? How are you expected to step into it? I love that you're not only showing the way, but you're teaching the way and creating a pathway for them.
You're teaching and training them, and then allowing them to step up and take action as leaders in their community. That's how communities rise. That's how change is affected. That's the very definition of becoming a changemaker. You don't just talk the talk, but you walk the walk, and you allow others to do the same.
I share with them all the time that if you want your community to change, it has to come through you. Having someone else speak for you or having a politician come outside and be your voice doesn't translate the same. My job is to be able to empower you to use that leadership skill. To be honest with you, leadership is a topic that should be taught in schools everywhere. That’s what the inner city is lacking. What we're seeing in our society is a lack of leadership and what real leadership looks like.
We have a reality TV show version that looks like Lord of the Flies after a while, rather than exemplifies what it looks like to build a strong community from within. Do we have the same values? Do we have the same vision? The same things that we're sharing with our people on the motivational scale are the very things that need to be foundationally given to our children to learn what leadership is. I got that from organizations like Boy Scouts and JROTC which are dying out and seemed uncool at the time. There were so many things that were taught to me in those precious times, not realizing that it was molding me for a future.
Those seeds of discipline, leadership, respect, following through on things, commitment, wanting something and going after it, and putting in the work to make it happen were planted. Those seeds are so prevalent in Boy Scouts and the ROTC. We fundamentally need leadership introduced in schools and we need leadership skills taught to youth early on in school.
I learned from Sergeant Major Rodriguez. I don't even know if he's still alive. I talked about him in my book in the introduction. I shared what I learned from JROTC. He saw something on the inside of me. He saw the encouraging and the exhorter. He saw the wallflower that was on the side. He saw a part of me that even though I was not popular among my peers, they knew who to come to when there was a problem. They knew who would walk them through challenges. He created a position in JROTC which is the First Battalion Chaplain.
Flexibility is an art form. Reality is changeable, and it’s going to change on you. You have to be flexible and use that creative time to innovate.
Because I was in sync early with my spiritual side and the heart of the people that I was around, he created something for me that was never brought to the JROTC before. I was the First Battalion Chaplain ever in that position. It allowed me to counsel and be a peer educator. It was molding those motivational gifts that were inside of me.
What's important about that is you have to have mentors in your life that will speak to the future you, see that future you, and nurture that future you.
That's a mic drop moment. We need to circle back to that and hammer that in one more time. Repeat that. You need to have mentors that speak to the future you and see the future you.
A lot of us don't think about that as leadership. We don't even think about that in our lives. Who are we selecting to give voice to us? A lot of times, when we talk about peer pressure to young people, we should be talking about who are you giving voice to? Who are you allowing to speak to you that will make you move to action?
When you're aware of that power and that influence, you become more guarded about who you allow to speak into you. That's why mentors are so important. I found myself from an early age seeking next-level mentors to be able to speak into me. You don't know what you're missing until you have someone willing to speak to that.
You don't know what you don't know if you've never done it. You're not born knowing how to do it. We learn to walk and speak. We don't come out knowing how to do everything. Having mentorship or someone who is along the path, having someone who says, "Here, take my hand and let's journey together," having someone shine a spotlight on your areas of opportunity for growth, learning, or development, and having someone speak to you when you're going off the rails or off the path are so important.
If you look around the people that you spend the most time with, and they're not pouring into you, they’re not lifting you up, and they’re not empowering or inspiring you, then you don't have a supportive circle, you have a cage and they are keeping you where you are. They are keeping you in the status quo because that's the dynamic that they like.
That's the curse that we're dealing with now. I look at how impact or influence happens. Influence should be like multilevel waterfalls. What I mean by that is you should always have someone pouring into you. You should always be pouring into someone else. Each one, teach one. It takes a village or the multilevel waterfalls. Part of the impact of what we're doing in Good Vibes is that a lot of times, we're either siloed or we're so busy trying to look like the generation before us that we forget that we are supposed to pour into that generation.
Part of the reason why I see that now is I'm in-between. I'm mentoring this Millennial generation now. They're looking at me like, "I can't hang out with you at 2:00 in the morning like I used to, but I can give you this." I'm not afraid to show them that I have the wisdom to give. They are open to receiving it, but now I'm challenging them. I'm seeing them go into their work-life now. They're like, "I can't get involved with the drama, Chris. I can't do this anymore. I don't feel that way. Why am I feeling that way?” Because we've been pouring into you, and now I need you to pour into the generation coming after you, and we have no gaps.
That's so important. That's how you keep the progress and the momentum. That’s how you keep growing. We are on a journey of life. Life is not stagnant. We're constantly growing and evolving. The fastest, easiest, and most efficient way to do that is to learn from someone who has already done it and from those who have gone before you. Find out the tips, tricks, shortcuts, and landmines. You don't want to step into a pile of quicksand. You can avoid that by having someone pour into you and believe in you in those moments.
Growth is not easy. Growth is not comfortable. We have to get comfortable being uncomfortable on our journey. Having someone that can support you, speak to you, and pick you up when you're getting a little weary or a little down is so important. For you to show up and serve in that same way to those who are newer in their journey is powerful.
This is for anybody on any level, whether you're young or old. When we're looking for our mentors, don't seek affluence, seek influence. Sometimes I go to these different speaking events and these different networking events and what I notice is that what we try to do is we go to the person that's the head of the room. That's the affluence, "I got to be in that circle. I got to be next to that person," knowing that that person doesn't do all the stuff that they do to get there. They do what they do well. There are so many other people that you walked by that have influence on the affluent, but you're trying to follow the money. You have to be aware that you're looking at who are the people of influence.
The other thing is not to always look for leaders or mentors that are so far ahead of you. They have been there for so long and you're trying to reach them when you have people that are not that far ahead of you. Maybe they're six months, a year, or three years ahead of you, but they're ahead of you. I would rather look at their data because their pitfalls were recent. The other guys’ pitfalls may be applicable, but are not as applicable as someone who fell in that pit a year ago.
Especially because things are changing. The world is so different now than it was even a few years ago. Find someone who's doing what it is that you seek to do now or that is currently doing it, not someone that did it twenty years ago. The route that they took isn't necessarily even still in existence anymore. Things are changing so quickly with technology, platforms, and algorithms. The Facebook, Instagram, and Google algorithms are changing every day. You want somebody relevant who is in the space that you want to be in and doing the things that you want to do. To your point, you don't want the person that crossed the finish line ages ago. You want the person that is 1, 2, or 3 steps ahead of you, and then you guys can journey along together. That is such great insight. That is such an important point.
When you know who you are, you know the value you bring to the table.
I love the fact that we're talking about the great reset. When I talk about the great reset, a few years ago, I was nobody. It took me about six years to get CHAMPIAM to where I am now. It was a few years ago that the way that we operate in the world was reset. Because I was flexible and had the art of flexibility, I was able to position myself virtually. I heard that a lot of speakers that were used to speaking live did not transition to virtual platforms because they were not flexible. They could not make that connection or did not want to reset to become a novice at something.
That's a huge pitfall when people are operating from ego or the identity that they have developed about themselves, what they do, who they serve, theor titles and the accolades. When their identity is so wrapped up in those things, it's unfathomable to reset as a novice or to learn, pivot, and adjust. Let's talk more about that.
I'll give you an example. I was at a conference with fellow speakers. Everybody had their titles. I like creating stuff. I'll be making something up that they never heard before. I will put on my resume, "I'm a global teacher" because in the past few years, I have been able to speak in countries that my feet have never touched. I've been able to speak at conferences in Australia, England, Africa, and places that I want to go and that I will go to. I've spoken to audiences in India, Indonesia, and Egypt. What's great about that is they call me back to speak again. That was because of the great reset.
Now that the world has opened up again, one of my fellow speakers looked at me and said, "You're COVID global" like it was a curse word.
You're like, "No, I am CHAMPIAM and I am global."
I was almost offended, but I thought about it and said, "I'll take that. I'll market COVID global as a term now. I'll take what you turned at me as a negative and turn it around as a positive because who's calling you?" Now that the world has reopened, I have people calling me.
You're out there serving and delivering value to populations that couldn't get international speakers because the borders were closed. They couldn't get people pouring into them because the borders were closed. You stood up, spoke up, and showed up. You were able to pivot, adjust, and serve at such a powerful level, inspiring, empowering, leading, and cultivating that next generation of leadership in these areas that had closed borders. That's amazing.
It's a great thing. Even when I talked to my mentor about it, he said that it was a great thing. When we have that flexibility to become a creator, it gives us the opportunity to create something. While they're looking to follow in someone else's footsteps, leaders are creating the footsteps that need to be followed.
Create the footsteps and be that trailblazer. When you see an area of opportunity or a need that's not being met that you can step into as a leader or you see something that you can give voice to and shine a light on, go on. You don't need anyone's permission. This is not something where you have to wait for someone to tell you that you can. You don't need to wait for someone to give you the green light to go. Step up, be a leader, and create the footsteps.
That's what we have to look at. One of the things I used to talk about is the art of flexibility and being able to accept that reality is changeable. It's going to change for you. Therefore, you have to be able to be flexible and use that creative time to innovate. When there's a crisis, politicians say, "Never let a crisis go by unused. Never let it go to waste,” which means that in every crisis, there's an opportunity.
With the pandemic, I knew it wasn't going to go back to a total reset when they started making the mask industry. It's a multi-million-dollar industry now. We created a new industry. Grandma was sewing masks in her home and selling them on Etsy across the world, and they were designer masks. You know we’re vain, so we're going to have designer-looking masks all over. We have a multi-million-dollar industry that's not going to go away. How can you make the best of a crisis? If you're looking at it right now, you're finding something. Necessity is the mother of invention. You need to be able to look at it as an opportunity for you to create your way out of a situation.
That goes back to we are the masters of our own journey. We are the masters of our own fate. We don't need to wait for somebody to come in and save us. Life is not a fairytale. No one is coming in on a white horse to swoop us up and save the day. It's up to us to be creative, use our voice, find opportunities, change the narrative, take action, and create the life that we want. To your earlier point, each one, teach one. Expand that and have the ripple effect where it goes from the life that you want to enhance the life of your community and the greater community at large. That's how change happens. That's the nature of change. It is that ripple effect that all starts when you harness your power and your voice, and you take action.
We have to have a self-revelation of who we are. We have to do a great reprogramming. The keywords are reset and reprogram. We talk about that. We have to reprogram the fact that we've been told that we are a certain way. We have to realize that we have more power to create in our own life. We become dependent upon the government. You can be an entrepreneur and create your own resources.
When you don't know the purpose of a thing, abuse is inevitable.
You can be like grandma sewing masks and selling them on Etsy.
She had to reprogram herself. I knew a lady who could crochet the living daylights out of anything. She's so busy thinking that she does not have a talent and that she doesn't have a gift, but her crochet work is international. The problem is we look at our gifts, talents, and abilities, and then compare them to someone else's gifts, talents, and abilities. Your power is not their power. Realize that your crochet power won't work for someone who can't crochet. You have to respect the gift that's inside of you so that you can use it. Your gift will serve you and open doors for you.
That gift was given to you. It wasn't given to someone else. It was given to you for you to be the shepherd of that gift, and for you to go out and use that gift.
I love that you brought up comparison because comparison is such a thief of joy, power, and momentum. We're in this culture of comparison on Instagram, TikTok, and advertisements. We look at these images and think we're not pretty enough, not smart enough, don't have the right clothes, etc. We think we're not in the right circle. We don't have enough money. It's always comparing, and comparison keeps you stuck. It takes your power. We're told who to be and how to act.
I would love to tie that back to something that you said earlier, which is to find the people that speak into your future self in a way that uplifts, empowers, and motivates you. That's not what the government, society, and Instagram do. We're not spoken into our potential. We're told and we’re assigned a label, but here's the beauty: it's up to us whether we accept that label or accept what we're being told.
I love how you said you were taking that label, "COVID global," and flipping it. The words are the same. Somebody has told you that and you're taking your power and flipping it. You're using it in a different way. You're using it in a way to uplift and empower. Each and every one of us has the ability to do that. It doesn't matter if you're tall, short, black, white, woman, or man. It doesn't matter if you have money or you don't. We have that ability to reframe. We have that ability to stand in our power and not accept labels that are given to us.
If you say something long enough, people will believe it.
I'll give you an example. CHAMPIAM is different because it's spelled C-H-A-M-P-I-A-M. When people look at my brand, they say, "Is he dyslexic? Did he spell champion wrong?" I'll say, "No. CHAMPIAM is what it is. When you get a load of CHAMPIAM, you'll never look at champion the same.” Now, because I've said it so much, people are saying CHAMPIAM. They apply it to being a champion and replace the word champion. It's in their mind.
My question is, what is your first response to what people call you? How are you responding when people are putting problems on you? What are you responding to when people are labeling you? When someone mislabels you, you should have an allergic reaction to say, "No, no, slow your role. That's not how we're doing this conversation. This is how you will address me." The problem is that people have said things over you so much that you believe what they said rather than what's inside of you.
Sometimes it's what you have spoken over yourself that's stopping you from having the maximum impact that you were meant to have. I was a wallflower in high school. I didn't have that self-esteem, that confidence, or that inner strength. I wasn’t comfortable with me being me, with my flaws and all. I am who I am. It takes maturity to accept and embrace that. I now watch what I say about myself, but I also listen and watch what other people say and make sure that the narrative is controlled by me.
You control your narrative. It's about standing guard at the gate of your mind and your mouth. Words have power. That's essentially what we're talking about. It’s the power of language. I love that you brought up the physiological reaction that happens from words.
I always like to give this example. If someone says, "How are you doing?" You say, "I'm so tired. I've got all these things to do. I need to do this and this. I don't know how I'm going to get it all done." Notice your heart rate speeds up. Your breathing gets more shallow. Your speech gets faster. You have this biochemical and physiological reaction of being more tired, more stressed, and more overwhelmed.
The physiology starts to match the words that you're using. It starts to match the language that is coming out of your mouth. It's so important to stand guard at the gate of your mind. We talked about it earlier with watching what comes in, the people that you surround yourself with, the environments that you're in, what you allow to be spoken over you, and the dialogue that you allow yourself to have. How often do we talk to ourselves in a way we would never speak to a child or our best friend?
We can learn and practice becoming our own best friend. It takes practice since we are conditioned from youth to do what we're told, and to believe and accept what is spoken over us. Speak to yourself as you would if your best friend came over and said they were having a rough day. Would you beat them up verbally? Would you start to tell them that they're a failure, lazy, this and that? You would say, "Come, sit down, and let's talk about it. You're awesome. You're doing the best you can. You’re doing great." You build up your best friend, but we don't do that to ourselves.
Being negative is almost like second nature because we've never learned how to combat that negative sphere. We wake up in the morning and say, "I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning." When I was single, I pushed my bed up against the wall in the corner so I only had one side of the bed to get off of. I really did that.
When you know your worth and your value, it affects how you choose to be treated and how you choose to be spoken to.
Our feelings will always jack us up. I'm trying to get fit now and fit into my suit so when I sit here, I don't have to worry about the second muscle here. My physical coach is helping me. She is saying, "How do you feel"? I say, "Don't ask me how I feel. You're a motivational person. You want me to be happy and all that. But don't ask me how I feel because if you as me how I feel, I'm going to voice it. I don't feel like being here now. I don't think I like you right now. My muscles don't like you right now.”
I conditioned myself not to go off a feeling because if I did that, I would have quit a long time ago. We don't always look at those things.
I've learned now that there has to be a period of time when you're disciplining your mouth and you learn to be quiet. You realize the power of your words. I used to like fantasy and things like that. Spells are just words. It's not that there is a mystical power, but words have effects. If you say, "I hate you," it's almost like a spell.
If you don't know the word of the spell or the prayer that you need to be praying or the declarations that need to come out of your mouth, you need to discipline your mouth. Be quiet and learn a new language. Learn what it means to affirm positively. You're going to sit there and say, "I'm thankful for another day that I can wake up where other people didn't." We call that a prayer, but you look at it and say, "I'm right now disciplining my mouth to be grateful for where I'm at. Whether you ascribe to a God or not, "I'm grateful to be up this morning." That does something to you chemically than saying, "Today is another day that I got to go to work."
I'm disciplining my mouth until I learn what to say to replace the negative. You've been like these guys for a long time. You didn't get there overnight. It's not going to happen overnight.
I had a situation. I'm going to be open with you. When I first was married, I had a blended family situation. One of the situations I didn't know about was I had an anger button. The key to that anger button was disrespect. When I was not being treated the way that I thought I should, all of a sudden, I would go from a 0 to 10. Whether I was rightfully so or wrongfully so, I would go from 0 to 10. I would start saying things. I blast everybody in the house out. It wasn't great. I'm totally different now, so don't judge me.
Here's what I learned. I learned that my child at the time was hitting a button. I had to realize what that button was. I had to unplug the button in her presence. I hit that button every day because she hit a button that I didn't even know was existing. I unplugged the button and learned to watch my mouth. That was a discipline thing that didn't happen overnight. I didn’t get over it overnight. We now have a family and I have grandkids. We're all good. We're happy and building together. It took a concentrated discipline of my mouth and my thoughts to be able to respond to the situation. Some of you are losing jobs because of that. You can't keep your mouth shut and you can’t keep your thoughts right. You have to learn how to connect both of those together.
It's about responding, not reacting. When we're triggered, what a gift that she gave you by finding that hidden button and pressing it to activate that reaction mode. When you would explode, that's a reaction, not a conscious response. What a gift that she put the spotlight on it so that you could learn to respond intentionally. There's a power in that. Much of it is about power, respect, and showing up. When you can stand in your power, stop and formulate the response that is true to you, not a reaction, and you're able to convey that, you are standing in your power. That is so much more powerful than just a reaction.
Reaction is a power that has gone amok. Being able to have control of your power is a discipline. That's why even being a father and a husband, it's important that you keep control because if you do lose control, it affects the ripples in the pond. People are more affected than you are affected by it. Everything that we've been talking about, even though it's motivational, inspirational, and exhortational, it's still in the subject of leadership because the very first person that we have to learn to lead is ourselves.
Everything that we've been talking about provids actionable things that each and every person can implement. They're all free and accessible. Watch the language that you use. Watch the thoughts that you have. Stand up and lead. Get a mentor. Each one teach one. As you're learning, you're teaching. These are tools that you can implement right away to step into the leader that you are, to become the CHAMPIAM, to be the full embodiment of yourself, and to create a life that you love, and then there's the ripple effect.
These are super powerful mindset tips. They're leadership tips. They are habit creation. You can change your life just by changing your thoughts and your words, which then changes the beliefs, the paradigms, the programming, and then taking action on that.
You talked a little bit about working out, moving your body, and working towards your goals. Walk us through some other habits or practices that have helped you to evolve into the man that you are.
I did the health challenge because what started CHAMPIAM was the heart scare. I want to be healthy enough to be able to do what I'm supposed to do. I try to make sure that I make time for myself to create. I try to make sure that I make time for myself to where I am mentored on different levels. That was setting my expectations out there for the next level. I always say, "Help me to see who I need to connect to in this season of my life." I'm always looking at that.
“Help me to see who I need to connect to in this season of my life.” It's so good.
I was always looking for male mentors at that level, and people who are seasoned. Sometimes the people who I'm looking for are rare. The reason why I say you need to know what you're looking for and make an opening for that is because if you don't put the expectation out there, the expectation won't be met. Make sure that you're cleaning out your life to make room for the people that are supposed to be coming into your life so that they can recognize you. They need to see that you're working where you are. A lot of times, it's when you're working that someone taps you on the shoulder and say, "Can you be here? I saw this in you. Here's another opportunity for you, even though it's not in your comfort zone." I'm always making time to establish and make sure, am I too comfortable?
A lot of times, your gift will open doors for you quicker than your character can maintain you.
You push yourself out of that. That's important. You actively seek opportunities to become uncomfortable and to grow. Growth and change are scary and uncomfortable. It goes back to what we talked about earlier with being willing to have that label of being a novice. At each level, you went from being the expert at the level below to now you're the new kid on the block, learning, growing, and developing as you move up.
I'm also a dualpreneur. I have a full-time job as well. I pursued my passion at the same time. They don't have to be separate. My job accepts me for my gifts, my talent, and my future. They know that I'm a speaker. They know that I go out there and do the things. They make room for me to do what I need to do. When you know your purpose, you know what to negotiate when you come to your table.
That is so profound because I know our audience is going to say, "If you work a full-time job, how are you doing all this other stuff? How does your boss let you do it? How do you have time for it? You've got a wife, kids, and grandkids. How can you possibly juggle it all?” That is the answer. That is absolutely critical.
I'll give you an answer to that. In order for me to live a few years ago, I worked two full-time jobs and was a caretaker for my mom before she passed. Twenty-four hours a day, I was doing two full-time jobs, going to church, taking care of my mom, and doing all those things. Did they have everything to do with my full purpose? Yes, it has prepared me. If you ask me how I have the time, I had to make time. I made time. You make time to do what you need to do and what you want to do. The thing about it is that writing a book can only take an hour a night out of your 24-hour day. How much time are you spending in front of the TV when you could be creating?
You’re scrolling Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok.
You’re watching cats fighting on Instagram when you could be writing your next novel or painting your next picture, or going onto YouTube University and learning something new that you didn't know before. You're misusing the time that you have because you're not purpose-driven. You're life driven. There's a difference between being purpose-driven and life driven. When you're purpose-driven, everything is funneled through that vision of who you are and who you see in yourself going.
In this job that I am at, I got promoted because of my purpose and view on life. I went from being a sales agent to now managing a whole state. You’re like, "How does he find time to do all that?" I have over 300 hours of vacation time. I'm able to use my 300 hours of vacation to get paid to speak in another paid environment. The paid events that I'm speaking at are going to be paying me more than my job could be paying me within four months.
You have to be able to know who you are. When you know who you are, you know the value that you bring to the table and why you're working. Most of us are working because someone told us to work or we need a temporary house over our heads. What I realized was I am working in a job that is training me up for my purpose.
Being in leadership is training me up for my purpose. Going to these executive board meetings is training me up for my purpose. Why? It's teaching me the language of executives. It's teaching me how to respond in a corporate environment. It's teaching me how to manage my life so that I don't have to be managed. All those lessons I learned from my full-time job were preparing me for where I was going. Even though they were looking at me for a response, it was so much valuable to me because it was training me for where I was going.
The difference between being life driven is surviving. It's paying the bills. It's people who say, "I need to pay the bills. I have responsibilities. I need a roof over my head. I need hot water. I need food to eat." They're looking for opportunities to get by, as opposed to looking for opportunities that align with your purpose and prepare you for your purpose, that allow you then to step into that next level where you can shine. When you are in alignment with your passion and your purpose, you will shine. When you shine, that's when doors open. That's when people tap you on the shoulder. That's when someone says, "Take my hand. Let me help you. You're exceptional. Here, let me promote you."
It's stepping into that full power and purpose, and doing that thing that only you can do. You can bring that gift that we talked about earlier to any job. I've done it all, guys. I've got all the accolades and titles now, but I've peddled perfume in parking lots out of the trunk of my car. I've worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken, “Would you like original or extra crispy?” I've been there. I've been a server. You name it. I've done it. All of it has prepared me to do what I do, to be who I am, and to serve the way that I serve.
We can be intentional. I love that you brought that up. That's a powerful reframe: Are you working to live or are you living in alignment with your purpose?
Work without proper purpose is abuse. “When you don't know the purpose of this thing, abuse is inevitable." I heard Dr. Myles Munroe say that. A lot of us are victims of life abuse. We are abusing the life that we have because we are unaware of the purpose that life is supposed to be. When you understand your purpose and what you are, it affects everything around you. It affects how you choose to be treated and spoken to. When you know your worth and value, it changes the whole world of how you see it. You go from living the rat race. A lot of us are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because we are being abused for so long in our jobs. It's not necessarily that the abusive situation is your job. The job is not the abuser. You are because you're failing to realize the greater purpose that there's more to you than your 9:00 to 5:00. Your job is supposed to work for you, not you for it.
Always be planting because what you're planting today, you're going to eventually eat from later.
It can be a means to an end, but your job works for you. You don't work for it. Be intentional about the jobs that you take, the discipline that you have, and the schedule that you set. Use your voice to negotiate the things that you want. There has never been more opportunity in the job market. People are hiring right and left. It has never been easier. With remote work, you're not limited to your neighborhood or your state. You're not even limited to your country. You can now go and work in so many places with a remote workforce.
What an empowering time to take a moment to re-evaluate your purpose, what you want, and your life. Is the life that you've built and the way that you've set it up serving you? Is it setting you up for your greatness? Is it setting you up for your purpose? Is it setting you up for the life that you desire? It's so powerful.
Tell us a little bit about some of the tools because you've been through them. Make no mistake, I don't want people in the audience going, "He's got it all figured out. He's had this amazing charmed life." You have been through it. Tell us a little bit about that and some of the biggest tools that you used for resilience to shift things and overcome quite a few of the challenges that you've had.
I'm glad I don't look like what I went through. It might be little compared to everybody else. I didn't graduate from high school. I was a high school dropout. People don't know that about me. My mother was a bipolar schizophrenic. I didn't even know that until I was seventeen in high school. My parents got divorced. I was one of the most educated high school dropouts because I was trying to fill shoes that I wasn't supposed to. I ended up failing 2 or 3 classes. I didn't want to go back a whole year for 2 or 3 classes.
My mother was a teacher. She was heartbroken when I dropped out because she's an educator. Education was important to us. I dropped out, got my GED, and went into the United States Army. You would never know that, but I got an opportunity to show myself who I was. It wasn't that I just needed to get out of the neighborhood. I did need to get out of the neighborhood, but I had to get out of the neighborhood and do something different with me.
The Army was that place where I was able to find more about myself. When they said, "Be all that you can be in the Army," they were not kidding. I didn't even know that I could rap and run. I didn't know I was physical. I was the wallflower nerd. I didn't realize that there was so much on the inside of me that I had yet to put a demand on until I was in a zone where I was with different people, different cultures, and different environments where it challenged me to be better. I needed that. That was the catalyst. It was the United States military that showed me that. Ever since then, I've always been ducking and moving.
It took me 46 years to get to my prosperous life. I was always fighting and growing. I was using the tips that we've been sharing along here as a part of my transformation, but I was getting the end result of the work that I was putting in. There were times when I was unemployed. Even when we didn't have and I was unemployed, by the end of the year, we were always making much more than I was making before I was unemployed. Why? Because when I got the next job, it was always a step up. It was always moving.
I learned not to give up and not to give in, but to always continue to grow and to always continue to be flexible for change because life is going to throw everything at you. A person that is not malleable and flexible will get beat down every time. I've learned up until now that these last few years have been the best years of my life, only because of the art of being flexible.
The tree in a hurricane that is not flexible gets snapped in half or it gets uprooted and thrown. The trees that bend get a little pruned and some branches may have gone, but they're the ones that survive.
We talk about that in the art of flexibility. It’s being able to bend but not break. Give yourself permission to give that gift and get that permission to bend. We've been taught to be rigid in our thought. My thought is the older I get, the more flexible I become. I'm not as rigid as I used to be in my ways of thinking. There are more ways to accomplish the end result. Therefore, you may find a better way by just being flexible.
It’s being open. When you're open, that's when you can see other possibilities and other ways where you can grow. It's like the old adage, you can't see the forest through the trees. If you're so stuck in it, you don't see the big picture. You don't see other possibilities. You've got your blinders on. You only see the one road in front of you. That can be a dangerous rabbit hole especially if you're on a downward trajectory and the walls are caving in. You got all that negative self-talk and are spiraling. All you see is that big black hole and the walls are caving in and you don't see a way out. That's when people get into a world of hurt as opposed to training themselves. You also brought up the point that we're conditioned to be rigid in our thinking.
This is not a one-and-done. This is not like magic where you're going to try it one time, and your life is going to be rainbows, unicorns, fairy dust, and all perfect. It's a practice to train yourself to be flexible and open. It's a practice to train yourself to ask for help, live in gratitude, use empowering language, and assign empowering meanings and perspectives. It's something that is a daily practice.
Part and parcel of that is the subject of failure. We are taught that there's one way. If things don't go exactly the way we envisioned, it's a failure. If we try something and we begin to institute these practices, when we make a mistake, stumble, fall, don't do it one day, or the negative self-doubt, the imposter syndrome, and the limiting beliefs creep up, that somehow, we've failed, as opposed to its part of the journey.
Your seeds have to be stronger than those others are scattering in your life.
There are three fears I talk about that keep us comfortable and keep us in our comfort zone. There is the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, and the fear of success. The key to all of those fears is to become fearless. When I talk about being fearless, I'm not talking about the commando that comes out there. At the end of the movie, you see him walk up. You didn't realize that when you see the commando walking out there in the sunset, he's beaten up. Everybody around him is gone. His friends are gone and there’s nobody around. I stay away from people like that. When I say fearless, I would say it like this, "The more I know, I fear less."
There's always a way around the problem. The thing that you're fearing the most, you got to look at it differently and say, "I need to know more about this so that I can find a way around this." We look at it and we're not being so quick to react. We’re going back to react and to respond. When a problem comes or a situation or an opportunity is in front of you, you find yourself fearful. Fear is okay as long as you don't let it constrict you, confine you, or stop you.
You realized that it might be a loss that you have to evaluate the cost, but it shouldn't be so much that it makes you stop moving forward. You need to learn more about it. That's why we go back to our mentor conversation. Our teachers were there. I'm not afraid of success anymore. That's why my success has been coming to me more and more. My fear of success was what if I couldn't make it? What if I couldn't sustain it? What if I can't handle that famous side of me coming out now? Now I'm starting to get with people like you to say, "This is how you navigate. This is how you do it. This is how you need to upgrade.” I'm no longer fearful. I fear less because I've been exposed to more.
That's such an important and profound insight to fear less. I love the point about just evaluating it. When something is coming up and you're uneasy, unsure, and afraid, say, "Where is this coming from? Is this fear that serves and protects me? Is this fear that keeps me from driving off the cliff at 100 miles an hour in Yosemite? Is this a fear that is holding me back? Is it a fear that is a function of our 2000-year-old brain that is wired for survival? Is it that fear of success? Is it that fear of failure? Is it the fear of I am not enough? Is it any of those fears?” If so, you can recognize it and evaluate it.
If the fear serves you, honor it. If the fear doesn't serve you, you can say, "That’s great. Not today. Thank you so much. I'm good," and continue. Step into the thing that you're afraid of, feel the fear, and do it anyway.
Since you love acronyms, there's an acronym about fear. FEAR is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real. It's us worrying about something or trying to predict something or envision something that hasn't happened yet and may not happen. We stop ourselves from doing something that isn't even based in reality. It might happen or it might not happen, but we're limiting ourselves based on this false evidence appearing real.
Let me give you another thing on top of that. Once you realize that you're responding to false evidence that is appearing real, we're going to talk about the reset acronym. That reset acronym says, "Recognize that I'm in your comfort zone." I need you to embrace your vision again. When you're fearful, and you find yourself in that fearful self, realize that you've been comfortable with that fear. I need you to embrace the vision. Go back to the big picture, look at it again, and embrace it.
Set goals and plans around that vision. Now it's no longer a dream. It becomes a reality because now you're preparing for what is to come. What we're going to do is we are going to evaluate the cost. What is going to be the cost for me to take this step out? It doesn't mean that you need to be scared to step out. You're evaluating what it's going to take for you to go to the next level. It may cost you something to see that mentor. It may cost you something to go to that next class. Evaluate the cost. Don't just jump.
The last thing is taking action. When we reset, we're taking action. The action is now because every day you are making a commitment to move closer and closer to your vision.
We gave you a whole bunch of acronyms. Hopefully, you can remember those things, but there's the R-words. We talked about reprogramming, resetting and recalibrating. You now have a practical application on how to do all of those things.
We've also talked about the value of mentorship, each one teach one, and the mentors and the guidance that you seek. What's the best advice that someone has given you?
I would go to my spiritual mentor who saw all of this stuff in me before. He says, "The best thing is to make sure that you don't get to a place where your character cannot sustain you.” A lot of times, your gift will open doors for you quicker than your character can maintain you. Character is important. He always told me, “Embrace who you are, flaws and all, but make sure that you're setting yourself, that you are there, that your character is first and your talent is second.”
That’s great advice. What's something that you wish somebody would have told you that you had to learn the hard way?
It's never the right time to step out. The reason why I say that is because, as a speaker, I was always looking at my family to be right and perfect. My finances had to be perfect. At the time, I was separated for ten years from my wife. We are now reunited after ten years. We have been together for about five years after that. During that time, I knew that I was supposed to be encouraging and helping men and helping to minister to different people that were hurt. I'm looking at myself during that time and I was like, "I was hurt." You don't think that you could ever help someone when you're hurt, but that's the time when you're supposed to help. That's a perfect time.
I was getting mad because I was helping other men with their families and restoring their families. I was like, "God, what's up? We're not throwing pots and pans at each other. They were, and they're back together and I'm still stuck in hurt land.” Just to see their lives turned around, but that was when CHAMPIAM was birthed, in my downtime. It's never the perfect time to step out. I wish I would have stepped out six years earlier. At the same time, it's never too late to step out. It's never the right time, but it's never too late to step out either.
It's never the right time goes to the fact that we want all of our ducks in a row. We want everything to line up perfectly. That goes to, “I'll do it when, I'll be that person when, I'll do this thing when, I'll travel when or I'll step up when.” The time is always now. Life isn't perfect. Life is going to be a journey of twists and turns and ups and downs. If we're always waiting for when, someday doesn't come. Today is the day. We don't know what tomorrow brings. The one thing that we do know is that change is constant. That is the one thing that we know. Life is going to change. Circumstances are going to change. The world is going to change. To your point, do you change with it? Are you flexible? Do you adapt? Do you roll with it?
What popped in my head was that you are eating today the seeds that you planted yesterday. Whatever harvest that's in your life now is a result of what you have planted before. What's the lesson that you've learned? Always be planting because what you're planting today, you're eventually going to eat later. Are you planting misery and brokenness? Are you crazy about what's going on economically? That's why you have to be so sensitive about what the media is getting out and what you're watching on TV because they're planting their seeds. Your seeds have to be stronger than the seeds that other people are scattering in your life. What are you eating today? If you don't like what you're eating, you have the control to change the seeds that you put in your life. Start changing today.
As we start to wind down our time together, piggybacking on the seeds that you've been planting today and your whole life, let's imagine you've come to the end of your life. It has been the life best lived. You have left it all on the table. What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want them to say about you?
I want them to say that the Champ is here! What they see is that it's not only that the Champ is here, but that I've planted seeds of legacy and empowerment that are there. You will see my effect on 3 to 4 generations in action. When you look at me, you'll see great leaders standing beside me in different communities and global communities, not just in my religious community but also outside of my circles that are there that will have the CHAMPIAM spot. I have never seen it. I didn't see anybody else in my time, but they know that the Champ was here. That's what I want on my gravestone, "The Champ is here."
How can people connect with you? How can they find out more about you and what you do?
You can reach me on CHAMPIAM.org. That's my website. You can contact me there. My book is Everyday Leadership For Everyday People. It's sold on Barnes & Noble and Amazon platforms. That's available as well.
Definitely connect with Chris, Mr. CHAMPIAM. He has dropped so many golden nuggets. You'll want to reread this because there have been some powerful things shared.
Thank you so much, Chris, for being here, Mr. CHAMPIAM. Thank you for all you do in the world, for how you show up so powerfully, for the leaders that you're creating, for the next generations that you're impacting, and for your heart and service. Thank you for your service both past, present, and future.
Before you go, do you have any parting words that you would like to share?
I want to say thank you again for the opportunity to be here. I want the readers to walk away with this, that you're not going to be a life abuser. You're going to make the most of this life and you have more control over the life that you have than you think. You are the artist and the creator of your life. You have the ability to wipe that canvas clean and create a new picture where you win. Create a picture that you win in the end. The Champ is here, and the Champ is you. The Champ is now.
Thank you so much for being here. The Champ is now.
Until next time.
- Everyday Leadership For Everyday People - Amazon
- Everyday Leadership For Everyday People - Barnes & Noble
About Christopher Hampton
Christopher Hampton is a dedicated philanthropist and civil servant. He serves as a city Commissioner for Arts, Heritage, and Culture, is the Director of the nonprofit Renaissance Leaders, the creator of Good Vibes open mic night, and the founder of the Champ I Am organization. He is also the best-selling author of the books Everyday Leadership for Everyday People and You Are Enough. A sought-after speaker, he helps entrepreneurs, leaders, and youth to unleash their inner champion and live their lives purposefully, passionately, and with vision.