This weeks CALI Award goes to Eric Bailey who is a motivation and vision speaker. Based in Queensland, Australia he speaks at schools, companies and not-for-profit organisations locally and around the world.
Born in South Central L.A. Eric was forced to confront the significant barriers around him from a very young age including abject poverty, crime, drug abuse and negative peer influence.
Eric now shares his message of hope, determination and how we can all overcome obstacles in our lives.
Q. Tell us about the work that you do as a mentor and visionary for young people.
Eric: My work is to show them that they were born for greatness.
That no matter what obstacles they are facing at home, at school, or in life, that anything is possible for them. I use my own life story and struggles of being adopted and raised amidst poverty and violence as well as the bullying and racism that I faced, and they can relate to so many aspects of that.
It encourages them because they can truly see that if they believe in themselves and fight for what they want, then nothing can hold them back.
I show them that if I could sustain a positive mindset and clear vision from the ‘hood’, play professional basketball and travel the world, then what was possible for these awesome young people at well-funded and brilliant schools in Australia? When they hear this, and when they see this, they get excited. It’s very powerful.
There is well-known saying that I first heard back when I was in primary school in South Central Los Angeles, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I guess I really didn’t understand it fully then, but 19 years ago when I walked into my first Australian school and heard the year 10 students telling me how bad their lives were, how confused they felt and that they believed that they had no opportunities to succeed; I thought, “what a waste”.
Yes they faced real obstacles, but a lot of it was in their minds, in their self-perception, they lacked true vision of what was possible for their lives.
Hence my life purpose was born. I knew there and then that I could make a difference in their lives by not only sharing the pain and lows that I faced to get where I am today, but more importantly how I overcame the exact-same obstacles and how they can too by developing their hopes, dreams and visions.
The work that I do is more than speaking to them, it is teaching them, encouraging them, relating to them and giving them not just strategies and techniques to handle life, but by showing them that I believe in them.
Q: You are successful and determined despite adversity, what drives you?
Eric: The thing that drives me the most is the clock!
Every day that I get up in the morning is one step closer to the end. We all have limited opportunities to make a difference in the lives around us. I don’t want to die and know that I wasted a breath or my talent.
I must, and want, to develop a generation of young people who will exceed all expectations that are placed on them.
When I grew up amongst the drugs, violence, and poverty of South Central, I wish I had met mentors or role-models who had the urgency, experience and leadership to help me be more focused and driven, to help me see the choices that I had then. But I had to learn things the hard way – now I have the chance to be the voice and the mentor to these kids that I never had.
If only my mother and father had lived long enough to see what their baby boy had become. Out of adversity comes opportunity. This is where my minds at right now.
Q: What are you aiming to achieve?
Eric: My ultimate goal is to leave the planet in better hands than what it was when I first made my arrival.
For the youth, their minds are so fragile and easily impacted. If we do nothing, then they will believe the lies they are told, the bullies that hurt them, or the images from movies and everything else that can drag them down in an adult world where they are growing up way too fast.
But if I can, if we can, help them to understand that no matter their race, religion, struggles, skills or grades, that they are valuable and important – that they have options, that they can succeed, that they can be happy, then that is what I must do.
I want the next generation to be equipped to make decisions on what they have already seen, and not what they are told by those around them, by society, or in the media. That’s why vision is so important. If you can anticipate and visualize your own future and what is required, then you will have no problem handling success and failures along the way.
I want the youth of today to be able to have a vision of hope and determination for their future and a way to escape their confusion and often depression.
Q: What is something you are particularly proud of?
Eric: A few years ago I spoke in a high school. My talk was about personal responsibility that covered mind, body, and soul.
At the end of my talk a young lady spoke to me in confidence about a situation at home that was very troubling. Drugs and abuse were happening. She also told me that she contemplated suicide very often. We spoke for over 45 minutes. I convinced her to seek some help from school officials.
I later received the following correspondence from her. Here is part of that email.
“You saved my life, I was going to do something really stupid after school today… I was planning to get as high as I could even if it ended up fatal. I didn’t care. Drugs has consumed my life since age 12 and I can’t shake it… ” Thank you – Student in pain – (name withheld for privacy)
These kinds of stories from precious young lives keep me focused and motivated.
Q: Why are you so motivated to make a difference?
Eric: My motivation comes from seeing results of the lives I connect with.
Hearing a parent say that they can see the difference in their child. Getting an email from a young person who says they just got into University because of my talk or mentoring program. Hearing a dad say he feels like a new man because I have helped improve the communication between he and his son.
A young lady emailing and saying she realizes now that her body is her temple – you see, I have a 26 year old daughter, and I treat these teens just like I treat her. With respect but with boundaries. I relate to them, level with them and then try to paint lessons in powerful pictures for them that they can recall at anytime.
When I see a life that was at risk, hurting, confused or broken suddenly change, turn around and head in a new direction that motivates me to keep going.
I also think my drive comes from my lack of self-belief early in life. I wasted maybe 14 years of my life waiting and hoping for things to change. I believe that now with 21st Century technology, with a dedicated and wonderful education system in Australia and passionate teachers, that if students are supported, equipped and encouraged in the right way, then anything is possible.
They are the future and we are responsible for them, that motivates me.
Q: Do you feel there is reward in your efforts?
Eric: The only reward that interests me is knowing that I have been able to encourage and drastically add value to lives of my audience or client. If they can just duplicate my message and affect the life of another person then it is all worth it.
So yes, I find it very rewarding.
Q: If you had your way, everyone would spend 5 minutes a day…
Eric: They would start the day with a prayer of thankfulness for being alive another day.
During this time they would; consider what needs to be done differently today so that they will have a better tomorrow, think of one kind random act to commit during the day, and then go out and be the best that they can be to themselves and people all around them.
Connect with Eric:
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