the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 269: Turning Your Struggles into Your Story with Chris Norton | Recap Episode

Listen to the episode below

In today’s special recap episode, Rory revisits his conversation with Chris Norton, the subject of the new documentary, 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story, which can now be found on Netflix.

Chris’s life was changed forever when he suffered a severe spinal cord injury while playing college football. Since then he has gone on to have a thriving speaking career, along with a beautiful family of six kids that he adopted with his wife Emily.

Tuning in, you’ll hear Rory share his top takeaways from the conversation. He reflects on the importance of being grateful for what you have, the significance of focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can’t, and why excellence is not an accident, but a decision.

To learn more about Rory’s thoughts on his conversation with Chris, make sure you tune in today!

Key takeaways from this episode

  • Rory shares his top three takeaways from his conversation with Chris Norton.
  • Some of the inspirational stories that Rory has come across in his speaking career.
  • What these stories have to teach us about being grateful.
  • The importance of Chris’s decision that he would fight against the overwhelming odds that he would ever walk again.
  • Why excellence is not an accident, but a decision.
  • The importance of being focused on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do.
  • How we need to take a moment to be grateful for all that we have.
  • The power of service and how inspiring others gave Chris the motivation to keep going.

Tweetable Moments

“Excellence is never an accident, it is always a decision. Have you made that decision.” —  @roryvaden [0:07:35]

“Take action on what you can do. Live in what you can do, appreciate what you can do, sit in gratitude, and revel in gratitude and revel in the marvelous wonder of everything that you can do.” —  @roryvaden [0:08:38]

“If you are actually deeply aware of the impacts that your behaviors and your attitudes, even in your thoughts, but certainly your actions and your behaviors have on the people around you. It causes you to live differently” —  @roryvaden [0:13:21]

“We have completely lost sight of how our life has the most value when it is placed in the context of another human life.” —  @roryvaden [0:14:28]

“These decisions are the decisions that lead to success, to achievement, to conquering. But even bigger than that, they lead to happiness, and they lead to peace.” —  @roryvaden [0:16:21]

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton got knocked down. Hard. After suffering a spinal cord injury playing college football he lost all feeling and movement from the neck down. Chris was only given a 3% chance to ever move again.

He could have let it define him. But our lives aren’t shaped by circumstance. They’re shaped by us. Perseverance isn’t about the physical act of standing: it’s about attitude, and the ability to shape yourself in the face of adversity.

With the support of his friends, family, faith, and the love of his life, Emily, Chris proved the doctors wrong, and walked the stage at graduation that went viral worldwide. Then walked his bride, Emily, 7 yards down the aisle of their wedding. They are foster parents and have adopted 5 girls.

His story has been published twice – first with his father, and now with Emily. Plus, a documentary about his life story is out on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and AppleTV titled 7 Yards: Chris Norton Story.

Chris was named one of ITA Group’s hottest keynote speakers. He travels across the country to inspire people from all walks of life, and demonstrates how to focus on our abilities to unlock the POWER TO STAND.

Links Mentioned

Chris Norton

Chris Norton on Instagram

Chris Norton on Facebook

7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

RV (00:03): Wow. You can only be more grateful when you hear stories like that, of Chris Norton and what an incredible story and a powerful interview and so many great reminders that extend, you know, far beyond, far beyond what we’re doing in terms of building a business and building a personal brand to just being grateful for life and, and being grateful for the ability to walk and put your clothes on and go for a run and throw your kids up in the air. And I just, I love, I love it’s. One of the things I love about this industry is that you meet so many people that are like that. I mean you know, we just, I have friends that have overcome so much you know, our friend Hal Elrod died one of our friends, Danny Bader, that is a brand builder member. RV (00:57): He, he died for a few minutes, like we’ve got you know, John O John O’Leary is one of my dearest friends. I just love that man. And he was burned on a hundred percent of his body and he just, you hear these amazing stories of people just overcoming and it’s just such great, great perspective on life and business, and, and then watching people of like that turn their, turn, their pain into purpose, right. Turn their struggle into their story. And what a beautiful moment to, to, you know, see someone like Chris, be able to go through something so hard and now know that he’s traveling the world, telling the story about how he overcame that. And through that he makes enough money to provide for seven children, six adopted and one foster at this point. But they’ve, they’ve did you catch that in the interview where he talked about, they have had 19 foster kids that, I mean, that’s incredible how that’s extraordinary and just super inspiring. RV (02:07): So if you didn’t listen to the, the interview about Chris, go back and, and, and listen to it, make sure you hear this story about how his life changed in a minute in a second, a split second. He got paralyzed in, in a football game and, and it changed his whole life. But for me I’ll just share my big highlights, some of the biggest reminders that really stuck out to me. First of all, th this one, you know, I grabbed, I, when I was taking notes, when I was listening, I, I didn’t realize that I would come back and, and grab this, but this was kind of a quick moment and a subtle moment when, and Chris was telling a story, but I looking back through my notes, I realized how monumental of a decision. This is in a split second. RV (02:58): And so happens is, you know, he, he gets paralyzed. He has a four hour surgery. The next day he wakes up, he’s coming out of you know, he’s basically coming back to consciousness and he asks the surgeon, am I ever gonna walk again? And the surgeon says, you know, you only have a 3% chance of even in being able to move, let alone walk, like being able to move a finger or an arm, let alone walk. And and the, the split second decision that he made, which he kind of buzzed right through when he was telling the story was, he said, you know, I decided that I was gonna do whatever it takes to be a part of that 3%. And, and he kind of just like tapped on that. But thinking about it after to me is like, that is that, that pivot point moment, right? RV (03:54): Where in, in it’s basically like his entire future was going to head in one of two directions based on basically a subconscious calculation, a subconscious decision that happens in this, this one moment of hopelessness to go either. I’m going to allow my nearly guaranteed fate to just take its course and be the 97% or to choose in a split. Second, I’m gonna be a part of the 3%. I am going to have a life that is different than most people in my situation, that I am going to find a way to do whatever it takes to become someone who achieves and has the thing that most people don’t have. And you might not ever be paralyzed. I hope you’re not. I hope you never find yourself in any kind of, you know, desperate and dire situation like that. But the thing that we all have in common with Chris is that all of us have to make those decisions. RV (05:00): We have to make that decision. At some point in our life, we have to make that decision to go. I don’t care what the statistics say. I don’t care what happens to the majority of people. I don’t care about how improbable or unlikely or impossible that this journey may be on. I’m going to do whatever it takes to be in that top 1%. I’m going to do whatever it takes to be the exception to the rule. I am willing to do whatever it takes to break free of the pack of the norm of the average of the statistics. And I will go out and achieve and, and, and, and have, and conquer the things that I feel called to have you made that decision, like listening right here right now, have you made that decision in your life? RV (06:03): Have you already come to the conclusion? Have you already arrived at the commitment to say, I don’t care what it takes? And I don’t, I don’t care what has happened to everybody else, whatever it takes is what I am willing to do, because that is a requirement of greatness. It’s a prerequisite of success. It is an absolute necessity. You can’t have it without that. Excellence is never an accident. It is always a decision. Have you made that decision? So that was a great reminder for me, the second thing. And he said this several times, which was just, you’ve heard this before. I’ve heard this before. I’ve said it before. You’ve probably said it before. But to, to reexperience this in the realness of the situation that Chris was in, is he talked about being focused on what you can do, not worrying about what you can’t do. And, and, and not just, not only worrying about what you can’t do, but not count don’t count what you can’t do. Don’t measure what you can’t do. Don’t all the things you can’t do. Don’t focus on the things you can’t do. Don’t don’t think about the things you can’t do. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed with what you can’t do, rather instead, focus on what you can do. RV (07:43): Think about what you can do, plan what you can do, appreciate what you can do. Take action on what you can do live in what you can do, appreciate what you can do. Sit in gratitude and revel in gratitude and revel in the marvelous wonder of everything that you can do. If you do that, you’ll be happy. You’ll be grateful, no matter what your situation is. And that hit me so much when he was saying, you know, people walk up to me on the street, you know, even now, and they just say, oh, I feel so, so sorry for you. And, and I would too. I do too. When I, I see people and, and he nailed it, right? It’s that happens because we’re projecting our fears are, we’re like our insecurities of what, how we would maybe respond in that situation. But I don’t get even a shred even, I don’t even get a sliver of sense that Chris is unhappy. RV (08:50): I mean, definitely was a dark road there, right? I mean, he talked about every bit of, it sounds like it took every bit of four years to, to get out of that, but like where he is today with kids and impacting lives and running a business and you know, married and getting to speak and do the things that he wants to do. I mean, I don’t get a, a sense of all that he’s unhappy and that’s because he’s focused, he focused on what he can do. He continues to focus on what he can do. He’s grateful for what he has. And that’s inspiring to me to go, how much should I, how much more in my life could I afford to be that way? Like, there’s so much that I have in my life that other people and have, and I so quickly and easily overlook them. RV (09:41): And, and there’s, there’s even so many things I have in my life today that were faint dreams of what I had when I was younger. That would be it, it would be impossible. Things that I never thought would become true that are my actual reality every day. And I step over them as if they were nothing. I look past them as if they weren’t even there. I don’t even stop for a second to say, thank you, God. Thank you, wife. Thank you friends. Thank you family. Thank you kids. Thank you. Business partners like you for what I have RV (10:25): And, and Chris does, and that’s, that’s what part of what makes him amazing and, and just extraordinary and inspiring. And so I hope you’re doing that. I hope you’re doing that. I hope you’re not stepping over those things and taking the smallest, the smallest, smallest things for granted. And and then the third thing, which again, is something you’ve heard before. Something you’ve probably said, certainly something I’ve heard something. I talk a lot about that. We talk a lot about at brand builders group, but it hits different in the context of a real life situation like this, which is the power of service, the power of service. There is something so deep and profound and, and powerful AB about a spirit of service. And when Chris shifted his conversation, like in his own mind, when he SHA changed his thoughts, when he started realizing that his actions and his behaviors were affecting other people that gave him the fuel to keep going. RV (11:45): And it is, I believe this is the well that we all want to be drawing from. This is the source that we want to pull, like, you know, our inspiration from, and that we wanna pour, pull our motivation from, because if it’s money, you’ll get some money and it’ll wear off. If it’s, if it’s fame, you’ll get some fame and you’ll realize it’s not that big of a deal. Like, but if, if you are J genuinely concerned about contributing to the betterment of humanity, if, if you are actually deeply aware of the impacts that your behaviors and your attitudes, even, and your thoughts but certainly your actions and your behaviors have on the people around you, it causes you to live differently, to live, to live more aware, to be more alive, to be more astute. And, and also to be more powerful, to be more commanding, to be, to be more bold, to be more confident, to have more perseverance or right. RV (12:57): It’s easy to let ourselves down. It’s tremendously difficult to let down somebody else it’s so much more inspiring and compelling to, to want to benefit other people. And so if you can find a way to live in that spirit of service every day for your life and for your business, you can overcome just about anything. Chris is a real life example of that, but when we’re burn out, when we’re scared, when we’re tired, when we are exhausted, when we’re overwhelmed, we’re only thinking about ourselves in those moments, we have completely lost sight of how our life has value in the con has the most value when it is placed in the context of another human life. RV (13:52): When we’re present to that, the pain, the challenges, the difficulties they wan, they, they, they start to lessen. They don’t go away, but they, they pale in comparison to the positive impact that we’re having on somebody else. As, as we say, around here a lot, there is no fear when the mission to serve is clear. So are you clear, are you clear on who you’re serving and not just, are you clear, but are you present to it? Are you mindful and conscientious and deliberate and intentional and aware and focused on who you are serving and realizing the, RV (14:52): The echo that your IM that your behaviors have on their life. Because if you are, then you’re probably operating from a place of endurance and perseverance and strength and persistence, because it’s not so easy to give up when, you know, there’s someone that’s to, depending on you. And so we gotta get present to that. We gotta get present to the idea, you know, these three ideas, we gotta get present to the idea that I’m going to commit to being different from the ordinary, that I am going to pay attention to what I can control and not worry about what I can’t control and that I am going to place my life in the context of others through the way of service in that these decisions will help me be more grateful. These decisions will give me more endurance. These decisions are the decisions that lead to success to achieve my it conquering, but even bigger than that, they li they lead to happiness and they lead to peace. RV (16:04): So I hope you were inspired as much as I was by the Chris Norton story. And by all the stories of all the great guests that we have here every single week, if you haven’t yet, please go leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, wherever you listen. So that O other people know what they can experience, what they can expect to experience the kinds of amazing stories, just like this one that they will hear if they, to subscribe to this podcast and share this episode, like this episode, specifically share this with somebody the, who needs encouragement and inspiration and, and send this to them, and just either send them the link or go onto iTunes and, and copy the link from there and send them and say, listen to this episode. And this story about Chris Norton have a great one. We’ll catch you next time on the influential personal brand.

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