Chris Hooten is an experienced educator and collegiate administrator who specializes in volunteer management, youth development, diversity and inclusion, and relations between community members and institutions of higher learning. He holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from George Washington University and a Bachelor’s in political science and gender studies from Indiana University Bloomington. He has earned multiple awards and honors for his community service and commitment to educational equity, including the Kiwanis Distinguished Service and Community Service Leader awards.
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I hope that you had a lot of great takeaways from that conversation. Here are some of my main insights.
1. Chris has what he calls his three “work reattachment questions” that he asks himself every day as a way to stay connected to the work and remain engaged with it.
Question number one is why is it important? Who does it benefit?
Question number two, who supports me?
Question number three, what can I do today?
I loved those three questions.
2. His story highlights the value and importance of having mentors. And as he said, sometimes we need the support and the confirmation that we receive from our mentors and that, with that support from others, we can really find ourselves. I found it very powerful when he said, I want to be the person who was there for me. What a great aspirational statement that is! And what better way is there to pay it forward than to do that?
3. Really being seen is powerful.
4. His ABC formula A, what are the things that I cannot change? B, the choices that we make, what are the things that I have control over and can change? And C, what is the desired outcome? I just thought that was a very powerful formula. And more than that, I loved the intention with which he uses it to move in the direction that he wants to go.
5. Focus on what you do want, not on what you don’t want. It goes to what I heard years ago, and that is, “what we resist persists.” Put our attention and intention on those things that we want.
6. I love how he approaches his gratitude journal. And I’ll tell you right now, I’ve tried it and I’ll share with you in a minute, how it’s benefited me, but I love that he journals about not just those things that have happened, that he’s grateful for, but expressing gratitude for the things that haven’t happened yet.
I used this almost immediately after my conversation with Chris. As you know, I am an avid, some maybe say rabid cross-country skier. When the East Troublesome Fire burned through our community, one of the things that it decimated was one of our favorite Nordic skiing centers, which is about two minutes from our house.
Last year I was out 96 times skiing, and it was so easy to put in a day of work and go over there and get a quick ski. It was awesome. It’s been heartbreaking to see that it’s just been destroyed. As you can imagine, having a Nordic center with beautiful cross country ski trails, two minutes away is a real bonus for someone who loves to ski.
After the fire went through, we didn’t really know when, or even if they’d be able to reopen that the Nordic center. So I tried Chris’s hack and found myself expressing gratitude for being able to once again, ski my favorite trails and for the workers who put in an immense effort to reopen the center.
And it was powerful, instead of mourning the loss, I was reconnected to how it will feel when it is reopened and good news for me, anyhow, they’re saying that they’ll have about 80% of it open this winter. We just need a little bit more snow. So try that hack. It really worked for me.
7. You have to know your worth. If you’re not happy and you aren’t feeling valued, you owe it to yourself to find a new path. I loved the question that Chris asks himself, “If I knew my worth, what would I do in this moment?” That is a powerful question. And I’m going to remember that for future use.
8. When people don’t treat you well. And with respect, you have options besides just accepting the treatment that doesn’t work for you. It doesn’t mean that you’re bad. It doesn’t mean that they’re bad. It just means it’s not working. And at the end of the day, we’re always teaching people how to treat us. So be careful of what you tolerate.
9. Instead of worrying about what others might say, I loved how he put it. He said, “I worry about what am I going to say?” That’s a powerful, powerful question. We’re the ones that have to look ourselves in the mirror every morning and every night. What am I going to say?
10. If you have to give up who you are to fit in, that is not love, and that is not acceptance, and that is not belonging. This is when I truly felt that Chris and I are kindred spirits. This is something that I went through in my early thirties when I lost friends and others in my life, because somehow I found the courage to stand up for who I knew myself to be. And that meant stepping outside the mold, the box that they wanted me to be in. It wasn’t easy. It was hard and it wasn’t without pain, but there’s absolutely no way that I could be who I am today had I stayed within the boundaries that others had set for me.
11. The scars that we have can give us confidence because they show us what we have already survived.
This is incredibly powerful. I can not tell you how many times in my life, when I’ve been faced with a new challenge and I’ve thought to myself, Hey, this challenge, it doesn’t stand a chance because I have faced and I have conquered scarier and bigger challenges than this. And then I actively draw upon the confidence and the learnings from those earlier challenges.
It is a powerful journaling exercise to do if you haven’t done it already, but think about some of the key challenges that you have faced in your life and that you have conquered and then write about how did you conquer them. What can you take with you from that point forward? It’s an incredibly, incredibly powerful exercise.
I hope that you took away as much from that conversation as I did and that you feel fueled to keep going in the direction of your goals and your dreams and towards that authentic life that is yours to have.
Accelerate Your Progress
Now that the new year has begun, I’ve created a free video guide on how we can recognize if we are falling prey to one of the biggest derailers and killers of our goals. I call it the Just-Wait Voice. This is a voice that shows up inside of us and it keeps us stuck because it encourages us to just wait. Instead of taking action, I’ve coached thousands of people in my career, and I hate it. I hate it when I see this voice show up because it’s what keeps us from taking action.
And if it keeps us from taking action, it keeps us from making progress and it keeps us from learning. So, because I hate this voice so much and I’ve seen it so much, I’ve put together a free guide that will help us recognize whether or not we are falling prey to it. You can go to http://www.unyielded.net/goalkiller and sign up to be notified when the free guide is available in January 2021.
This has been the UnYielded podcast, where we are committed to bringing stories and guests who can help us all live more fulfilled and authentic lives. Chris Hooten is a sterling example of that. If you have found the podcast helpful, please consider leaving us a review on Apple and think about who you could share it with, who would benefit from the message of hope and positivity. You might just help someone have the very best year of their life.