“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
I’ve had wonderful 2022-23 school year on the road. For the last few years, hitting the road hasn’t been a reality for many in my field. I spent over two years speaking to young people through a computer screen. Because of this, I missed one of the most important things I do in my line of work… interacting with young people, in-person, in real-time. As a travelling professional speaker, I always make sure to spend time with young people after I give a presentation. I do this for a number of reasons.
For one, I genuinely care about these kids. After they’ve listened to me share my struggles, I listen to them share their struggles with me. In these moments, I do my best to encourage youth to overcome whatever obstacle might be in their way.
I could give you countless examples of young people I’ve connected with after giving a presentation at a school, conference, or youth event. Many of these kids approach me after a presentation with tears in their eyes because something I’ve shared has connected with them in some way. I also get countless emails and messages from parents offering my gratitude for the message I instilled in their child. There aren’t enough words to express how important that is to me.
But, I have another reason why I spend some one-on-one face-time with these young people after I deliver a presentation. I do this to set an EXAMPLE. When I deliver a keynote, I discuss the power of influence we all have by simple gestures, acts of kindness, and by just giving an encouraging word to someone. You never know how that encouraging word will affect someone.
So… I live this idea out in real time. I never rush out of a presentation. Rather than spend an hour giving kids my OPINIONS and then leaving... I do my best to share with them, and then set an EXAMPLE.
I think it’s so important that we listen to young people. That’s one of the examples I set. I’m a listener. It’s interesting, as a speaker, you’d think my most important trait is talking! But often, it’s my ability to listen that connects with kids just as strongly. And kids watching me listen to other kids sets a good example. In a world where so many people just want to give their OPINION, over and over, endlessly in a social vacuum… sometimes we need to just stop. And listen.
We all have an opinion. Many like to share theirs constantly on social media. I challenge us to set examples in the world, rather than simply share our opinions. If we do this… we can help right many of the wrongs we have such strong opinions about.
If you’d like me to speak … and listen… to your youth at your school, conference, camp, or event, please reach out. I'd love to hear from you.
Are you an introvert? Perhaps you are and you just don’t know it. This is my experience.
I had no idea I was an introvert until just a few years ago. I read this article and it literally changed my life.
“23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert” by Carolyn Gregoire
I don’t remember how I came across this article. But I do remember how I felt while I was reading it.
The more I read, the more I realized, “Wait a minute… this is me. Every single sign is me!”
I read the first sign - “You find small talk incredibly cumbersome,” and thought … “Yep. I hate small talk. If I’m not talking about something meaningful, I often find the conversation pointless.”
I continued and read “Networking makes you feel like a phony.” I thought, “I feel like this at every ‘business function’ I attend where I’m trying to ‘sell myself’ to people to bring me in to speak at their school, event, or business.”
By the time I finished the list, I realized… my life experience reflects every single one of these signs. Then I realized… wait a minute… I’m introverted! This was a massive realization for me. And a huge surprise. Because I had lived my entire life thinking the opposite. Why? Because that’s what people told me.
I’ve always been a performer. When I played high school sports, I always made a show out of what I did on the football field or basketball court. The larger the crowd the better. Fast forward decades later… and I’m performing in front of thousands of people in a wrestling ring… with millions watching at home on television. And I can’t get enough of it.
I’ve transitioned that love of performing into a speaking business where I get to be on a stage… but also be my authentic self in front of large crowds.
Because of all of these things people have always assumed I’m extroverted. Outgoing. Social. I love performing. I love being front and centre in a crowd. So… I must be extroverted. Nope. Not the case. After reading this article, I realized I’m completely 100% introverted. Which is in line with sign #8 – “Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.”
Why does this matter? Well… I lived most of my life thinking I was extroverted, yet it hindered me in many ways. It hindered me because how I felt never matched how people assumed I felt.
For example, sign #3 – “You often feel alone in a crowd.” I often feel this way. Pair that with sign #16 – “You have a constantly running inner monologue.” Pair those two things and most social situations are exhausting. When I’m at “social functions,” I find myself exhausted afterward. Let me tell you… feeling alone while a constant inner monologue plays in your head can be freakin’ exhausting! Which then leads to sign #10 – “You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.”
I’ve come to learn that I’m not alone. I’ve come to learn that most creative people (actors, musicians, performers) are introverted. But this does not need to be a hinderance for you whatsoever. In fact, this realization should not hinder you in anyway. You can use this knowledge to help you be more successful in your endeavors. This was the case with me.
Once I realized I was an introvert, I realized what I needed to do to recharge. Extroverts recharge in social situations. They want to be around other people and it energizes them. Introverts recharge by being alone. They gain energy by being alone. Once their batteries are recharged, they’re ready to get back out there and tackle the world. This one piece of knowledge helped me immensely. If you’re introverted (but don’t know it) and wondering why you don’t feel recharged being around other people (even the ones you love), it’s disorienting. You might feel guilty that after spending time with loved ones, you’re even more exhausted than you were prior to the get-together!
Once you realize you need some downtime… alone… you can start to be much more productive. Without the guilt.
It can also help in your relationship. If you’re introverted, you’re likely with an extrovert. Sign #11 – “You’re in a relationship with an extrovert.” That’s definitely the case with me. Simply realizing this has helped my relationship immensely. Before, my extroverted wife took offense to me needing to be alone rather than getting together with extended family for long lengths of time. And I resented her expecting me to relax and feel refreshed by these get-togethers. Once she learned that I felt exhausted by these things (and I realized that she needed these things herself to feel recharged) we came to a greater understanding of another and our individual needs. This led to a much more harmonious and successful relationship.
I’ve often been accused of being very “intense.” That can intimidate people. I’ve come to realize that that isn’t a personal flaw. That’s simply sign #5 of being an introvert! That intensity has led to numerous successes in my life. So, I no longer supress that intensity. I accept it and relish in it. And use it to push me forward in so many ways that lead to success in my career.
Lastly, I’ve used this knowledge to succeed in my business because I’ve honed in on another skill I have as an introvert… sign #20 – “You look at the big picture.” There’s been numerous points in my life and career, where I’ve had the ability to zoom out of the situation and see a situation for what it is… in the big picture. Some people can’t see the forest for the trees. I’ve always looked at a situation from a larger perspective, which many people I work with greatly appreciate. On the flip side, I realize that I often can miss details because of my way of thinking. Therefore, when I’m working with a team… I always want someone who looks at the smaller, fine details. They’ll catch things I miss while I’m busy looking at the “big picture.” This has helped me greatly in filling in the gaps as I move forward in my goals.
In the end, I hope all this information helps you in some way. If you’re introverted, and never knew it, I hope this information has been as eye-opening for you as it has been for me. You can now use this information to start making decisions with a better understanding of yourself so you can set yourself up for success.
On the other hand, if you’re extroverted, hopefully this information helps you better understand the introvert in your life. (It might even be your spouse!) And with this information you can come to a deeper understanding of the introvert you might work with or be in a relationship with and it can lead to even greater and more positive experiences in the future.
Are you introverted and never knew it? I hope this newfound knowledge will be used as a tool for success in numerous ways in your life moving forward. Onward and upward.
Everybody today wants to be an “influencer.”
As I travel across Canada, speaking to youth, I always take time to spend some 1-on-1 moments with the young people I’m about to do a presentation for. During these moments, I often ask them: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The number one answer I get back from them is: “Famous. I want to be famous.”
We live in a world where young people are striving to increase their viewership online. They want more “followers.” They want more “likes.” They want to be seen as an “influencer.”
When I get this answer from young people, I immediately ask, “Famous for doing what?” And, 9 times out of 10, they respond with, “Anything. It doesn’t matter. I just want to be famous.”
I don’t like this response. It goes against everything in my being. I share this feeling with the youth I’m talking to. And I tell them why.
When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a professional wrestler. My idols were guys like Hulk Hogan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. These men were my heroes. These were my “influencers.” The amazing feats of athleticism and charisma they displayed in the wrestling ring inspired me. It developed a passion for performance in me that I never lost. I just knew in my five-year-old childhood brain – “I have to do that.”
I never grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler because I wanted to be rich and famous. I grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler simply because I loved it. I was passionate about it. I found something in wrestling that captivated my attention. And spawned my imagination. I found something I truly loved. And I just had to do it. Being “famous” for doing something I loved never crossed my mind.
Fast forward over thirty years. After years of determination, perseverance, and hardship, I find myself living my dream. I now find myself wrestling on a television show that airs worldwide in 120 countries, in 150 million homes. And, I also find myself getting to share my adventures and lessons I’ve learned along the way with thousands of youth across North America as a professional speaker. A lot of the youth that I speak to are enamoured with the fact that I’m on television because in their eyes, it means that I’m “famous.” I’ve achieved what they desire… to just be famous. It’s in these moments that I find the need to share with them what really matters in life. And it sure isn’t being “famous.”
The truth is… it does matter that we be influencers. But, not the kind that just accrues an online following because of the clothes we wear or the shoes we’re sporting. What matters is that we be a positive influence in this world rather than a negative one. And we all have the power to be a positive influence in this world… if we simply make that choice.
A number of years ago, I started a grassroots charity fundraising campaign called “Giv’er for Charity.” I began partnering with young fans I was meeting at wrestling shows and raising money for different local children’s charities. I was able to recognize the sphere of influence I operated in. Children looked up to me, and I wanted to use that positive influence and be able to spread it to others. Since I started “Giv’er for Charity” in 2018, together with young people I’ve connected with at my wrestling events, we’ve been able to raise over $18,000 for different children’s charities across the country. I don’t tell this fact to youth to brag. I tell them this fact because I want it to inspire them. I want it to teach them a valuable lesson: You don’t have to be in the “big time” to make a big difference.
The fact is… I wasn’t wrestling on national television when I started “Giv’er for Charity.” I wasn’t in the “big time.” I was essentially wrestling in the “minor leagues” of professional wrestling. The shows I wrestled on only had a few hundred people in attendance… not thousands. And the shows were not televised. It was definitely not the “big time.” However, I noticed the small “sphere of influence” I had at these events and capitalized on it. I used that influence to help change the lives of hundreds of young people by working with amazing organizations like the Rumball Camp of the Deaf, the Lansdowne Children’s Centre, and the Special Olympics.
One thing I try to instill in youth who want to “just be famous” is this… quantity follows quality. Many young people today are focused on the quantity of their influence. The quantity of their Instagram likes. The quantity of their so-called “influence.” I strive to change that perspective for them. My story helps them change their perspective. To focus on the quality.
When I started to focus on the quality of my human interactions, rather than the quantity of my digital ones… my influence started to grow. The quantity of my influence grew because I focused on the quality of it. I used my influence with young people to try to help other people and be a light in the world. And guess what happened? A few years after I did that… I signed a contract with a major wrestling company and started wrestling worldwide. And my influence grew exponentially. But that was never the goal. The goal was to simply do what I love. Be a professional wrestler. And help some people along the way. Quantity follows quality.
When our goal becomes to strive for doing whatever we are passionate about… and being a positive influence to others along the way… it changes the world. That sounds like a grandiose claim. But it truly does.
I know that because I’m doing it right now. I’m doing what I love as a professional wrestler and sharing that story with youth across the country. I’m inspiring young people with my stories of working with disadvantaged youth and being a positive influence to them. And in doing so, I’m seeing perspectives change.
When I share these stories with youth, the typical statement of “I just want to be famous” changes. I start to hear from the hearts of young people. I start to hear that they actually desire to make a difference in the world. They want to help people. They want to inspire people to make the world a better place in some way.
I have a new passion now. I still have a passion to perform as a professional wrestler. The same passion that I had as a young five-year-old boy. But my passion has evolved. I have a passion to share stories with young people that ignites a newfound passion in them. A passion to be a true positive influencer in this world.
I’m living out this passion every day. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
So yes… it’s true… everybody today wants to be an “influencer.” But I take pride in the fact that I have the ability to change some young people’s perspectives about what this really means. They want to be an influencer. A positive influencer. One that inspires good in those around them. And, in doing so, the cycle of positive influence continues. This is the key to being a TRUE influencer.
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