You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose, and Your Why
You Are The Only One Who Can Change Your Life
If you’re holding this book in your hands right now, this book is for you. I wrote it for you. You might think that sounds crazy, that thousands of people are holding this very same book in their hands, reading this very same line, but it’s true. I’m speaking directly to you.
You Owe You is a manual to help you understand your power and your purpose. It’s a guide, illustrated with many of my own struggles and triumphs, to lead you toward your why and bring you closer to fulfilling your potential. This book is for you, wherever you are on your journey toward greatness. It’s a book with an urgent message to stop waiting for the stars to align, to stop waiting for inspiration to strike, to wake up and take hold of your own life. Today. You owe it to yourself to become fully, authentically you. To live your life in the way that only you can live it.
I wish that I’d had this kind of blueprint to put me on a path toward greatness. I spent so many years lost. I spent so much time without intention. I spent much too long not pursuing my purpose. Maybe, if I had had this book, I would have seen my gifts and my power for what they were much earlier in my life. Maybe if I’d had this book, I wouldn’t have spent so many years feeling like a victim, feeling alone, consumed with what other people thought about me.
Through much stumbling and many missteps, I finally found my path toward purpose. And today I am blessed to speak to an audience that is as large as it is diverse. I am now an internationally known speaker and motivational coach. And I am fortunate to work with rich people. Poor people. Black people. White people. Middle-aged people. Octogenarians even. I speak to famous people and people who stop me on the street because they know my name.
But the first people to start following me were kids. This is because, way back in the day, I started working with kids first. In college, I spoke to my peers at Oakwood in Huntsville, Alabama. And then I started helping high school dropouts get their GEDs, just as somebody helped me years before. I worked in elementary schools and middle schools. I visited juvenile detention centers and foster homes. I taught English and drama and speech in Huntsville, and I tutored kids who struggled in school, just as I did. Through all this work, I became known as ET, the hip-hop preacher.
When YouTube started, kids were the first ones to pick up on my videos. And, eventually, some of those kids got successful. They became college athletes or professional athletes. They became entrepreneurs and educators. They became comedians and actors and musicians. Those kids grew up and they took me with them. Kids are the ones I owe this book to. Especially kids who grew up without fathers, kids who struggled with learning disabilities or trauma, kids who were troublemakers like me.
When I go to schools, when I go to prisons, when I go to NBA locker rooms and NFL training camps, when I go to Australia or LA or Detroit or London or Alabama or France, the reaction is the same: They all hear me, and they all know I’m speaking to them. Telling them that this is the moment. This is life or death. This is the time you get up and change your life. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame, it’s not about the degree or the touchdown or the check at the end of the grind. It’s about getting up every day, understanding your power, walking in your purpose, knowing what you want, and spending every minute of the rest of your life going after it.
This book is informed by so many books I’ve read before it: Dennis Kimbro’s Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, Dr. Na’im Akbar’s Visions for Black Men, M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled—and my own experiences self-publishing books like The Secret to Success and The Grind—but I hope that my book is unique in its delivery. So much of the work I’ve read before is difficult, academic, and complex. My message is deep, but it’s also simple. I want you to be able to read this book and understand its message if you are twelve years old or forty years old. I want you to be able to read this book no matter where you’re from or how far you’ve gone in school. I want my message to be clear to everyone.
My message is that you are the only one who can change your life. You are the only person who determines your value. You are the only person who can truly choose your purpose and find your path to greatness. You are the only person who can identify your difference and use it to your advantage. You are the only person who can help yourself.
I have been where you are. I am speaking to everyone who feels that they are living on the outside. Everybody who feels that the world wasn’t built for them. There is common experience in struggling to understand a language that you don’t know exists. There is common experience in feeling life or death urgency for whatever it is you have going on—raising your kids, making the rent, caring for your sick spouse, playing the most important game of your life, taking a test that makes the difference between staying in school and getting kicked out. We are human. We all feel these things if we allow ourselves to. So, when I’m speaking to my people, I’m speaking to you.
Because my work is inextricable from me, my work has always been about what it means to be a Black man in this country, trying to attain the American dream. But this does not mean playing the victim to any factor of my circumstances—race, gender, age, or socioeconomic status. This means writing your own narrative and claiming your place in the world, no matter what the world’s perception of you is. I have acted like a victim before. I thought the world was happening to me. I became homeless. I turned my back on my family and refused to take responsibility for my choices. I ate out of trash cans. I slept in abandoned buildings. I made decisions that put me in those positions, and I denied my part in all of it. I took on a victim mentality, and eventually I saw my way out of it to become a victor.
In reality, there are many secrets to success. One of them is wanting to succeed as bad as you want to breathe. But this is only the beginning. Being successful is also about knowing that the only person in the way of your success is you. It’s about seeing your power, and then finding your purpose and walking in it. It’s about getting to know yourself, and seeing so clearly who you are that you can respond to the world around you and discover opportunity in return. It’s about finding your why—your reason for getting up in the morning and grinding. It’s about knowing when you have to give up something good for something great. It’s about stretching toward your potential. It’s about seeing that, at some point, you owe it to yourself to be great.
Even if you just became aware of me, I’ve been around a long time. I’ve been grinding at this speaking thing for over thirty years. But I’m also a pastor, an educator, and a counselor. I coach professional athletes one-on-one. I work with members of my community through marriage and family counseling. I pray with thousands of people every week, all around the world. I teach at universities and in prisons. I work with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies on team-building and personal growth. Every part of my work comes from having done my own personal work, struggling through my own issues, getting educated, and grinding toward excellence. I’ve been figuring out who I am and what my purpose is my whole life. Every day, I am reaching toward my potential, waking up for my why, giving up good things to get to great things. Truly, it has been a long road. I’m here to tell you that it was worth it. The journey is everything. The whole point is the journey. I didn’t get here by wishing for it. I got here because I took myself on a trip. And I’m still on it. And, now, so are you.
Foreword by Chris Paul
Introduction You Are the Only One Who Can Change Your Life
Chapter 1 It’s You versus You: When You Take Ownership, You Become the CEO of Your Life.
Chapter 2 You Are Never in It by Yourself: You Are Only Alone When You Tell Yourself You Are Alone.
Chapter 3 Discover Your Superpower: When You Find and Channel Your Superpower, You Move Toward Your Path of Purpose.
Chapter 4 What’s Your Why?: When You Find Your Why, You Can Take Your Superpower and Your Life to the Next Level.
Chapter 5 Walk in Your Purpose: Moving Through the Awareness of Your Gifts Is Walking in Your Purpose.
Chapter 6 Put Yourself in Miracle Territory: You Can Attract Your Own Miracles.
Chapter 7 Become a Triple Threat: Knowledge Is the New Money.
Chapter 8 Sacrifice Good for Great: Good Is Good, but Good Is Not Great.
Chapter 9 You Are a Business: Anybody Can Be a Businessperson When You Start with What You Have.
Chapter 10 You Owe You: Nobody Owes You Anything. But You Owe You Everything.
|September 23, 2022
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