Born the fourth of five kids, I grew up in Alton, IL (near St Louis). An early bloomer, by age five I discovered my mission in life. I’ll never forget that moment. I was standing on my front porch with my sister Katie when it dawned on me, “Katie, I think I know what I want to be when I grow up!. “Oh, ya? What’s that?” She said. After swearing her to secrecy, I announced “I want to be dragon!” After breaking confidentiality and telling mom about my dragon sized dream, Katie reported that indeed, dragons don’t exist. The harsh reality of the world (my sister) taught me my first lesson: I couldn’t be ANYTHING I wanted. I had to be MYSELF.
I was a regular midwestern kid. I grew up in a great neighborhood with neighborhood friend. I played sports, performed magic shows (obviously), got in trouble, and had some fun. I developed good habits and bad habits. I did things most normal kids do.
Following a minor league appearance at the local Catholic grade school and then navigating the waters of public high school, I moved on to college at St Louis University. Without a foundation of self-knowledge or a plan to thrive (or even survive) in the strong headwinds of the college atmosphere, my bad choices and bad habits predictably accelerated.
It was at this point in the summer of 2009 that everything changed. It was a sunny July morning. I was lying in my childhood bed feeling completely empty. I had no idea what to do. I felt like I had tried everything the world had to offer, but nothing gave me a sense of purpose or made me happy. But I knew for a fact that that I physically, mentally, and spiritually could not live even another minute floating through life without purpose. I was at my absolute limit. I was at the cold, hard rock bottom of my life and the sheer weight of my past mistakes were trapping me there. With nothing else I could think of to do, I reached out for help.
It was that morning where I found myself sitting across from Fr Shawn, the local Catholic Priest. This conversation, which turned into a confession, led to a year of deep conversion and self-discovery. I began to discover who I was in the eyes of the Father. Out of this foundation of deep security, my purpose and mission started to come into focus.
Unlike most motivational speakers, I won’t tell you that you can become ANYTHING you want to be. I will speak the truth. As much as little Nick wanted to become a real life dragon when he grew up, the truth is: he just didn’t have the genetic makeup. Our job in this lifetime is not to mold ourselves into some ideal we imagine we are supposed to be but to find out who we already are and become it. Your PURPOSE in this life is not some abstract idea that is "out there," but rather, it is deeply personal. It has been placed within you by the creator of the universe. It has been woven into the fabric of your very being. Until you understand who you are, you’ll be like I was - floating through life without purpose.
By sharing my own story, my mission is to awaken a generation of leaders that dream bigger dreams, cast more compelling visions, and lead lives with a sense of purpose and mission. In a word: I want you to become who you are. But first, like I did, you need to discover who you are.
You have a story. You are a part of something big. You are in the middle of adventure. Buckle up! It’s time to take hold of your life. This world desperately needs your strength! It’s time to show up and be seen!