Brooks Harper had one key message for Elk Lake and Susquehanna County Career and Technology students last week: Just C-H-I-L-L-L.
The motivational speaker made a stop at Elk Lake High School for two assemblies on Nov. 19 for grades 6-12, which focused on coping techniques, self-worth and the power of gratitude.
A native of South Carolina, Harper uses his 15 years of leadership experience in corporate America to “invest in and inspire our current and future workforce.”
In the presentation, he looked back at his life before he became a career speaker and author when he dreaded going to work every day. Each Sunday around 4 p.m., he would feel sick knowing that another workweek was just around the corner.
“Life is too short for that,” he said. Rather than remaining unhappy, Harper turned his passion for helping others into a career and has since spoken on hundreds of campuses across the U.S.
“Turn learning into earning and your passion into your paycheck,” he told an auditorium full of students.
This generation of students has proven to be the most anxious, with constant worries negatively impacting all areas of their lives, he said.
As a teenager, Harper’s own daughter was under immense stress and lost her hair due to alopecia.
Often in life, altering your perspective could have an impact, he said.
In addition to his daughter, he used motivational speaker and author Joel Sonnenberg as an example. Through an automobile accident at 22 months old, Sonnenberg experienced burns on 85 percent of his body, which impacted his hands, ears and skull.
“Some things happen to us that are not of our making, and that’s his story,” Harper said.
Despite this, Harper said Sonnenberg has grown into one of the most enthusiastic, positive people he has ever seen.
The ‘C’ in his “C-H-I-L-L-L” acronym stands for “count your assets.” His daughter wrote a list of everything she feels thankful for while struggling with her hair loss.
Focusing on gratitude can reduce the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body by 23 percent, Harper said.
‘H’ means “healthy outlets,” or something you can turn to in times of stress.
“Mine is faith and fitness,” he said.
‘I’ stands for “invest in yourself and the return into others.” To build up her confidence, Harper had his daughter write a list of her positive qualities and read them to herself in front of a mirror each day.
After some time, she didn’t need the list anymore.
“One of the most important conversations you will have is about yourself with yourself when you’re by yourself,” he said.
Speaking at schools around the country, Harper said he has noticed that too many students do not see their own value. Once they realize their own worth, they could help others do the same.
“As you invest in yourself through the power of education, one day you’re going to invest in other people,” Harper said, recalling those who invested in him during his youth through his local Boys & Girls Club.
The first ‘L’ in the acronym stands for “lean.” Harper encouraged Elk Lake and SCCTC students to find people they trust and lean on them for support.
Through the second ‘L,’ he told students to “let loose” by forgiving others and letting go of any resentment or negativity.
Finally, the third ‘L’ stood for “laugh,” the “best medicine” in life, which is known to boost the body’s immune system.
“This is your school, your community,” he said. “Stand up and look after each other.”