This is an interview with my good friend Brady Peters, he is probably one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. He definitely inspired me when he came to visit as a Roadie with Invisible Children. Brady has a great heart and through several conversations he helped set my heart in a good place.
Ok Brady, If you had to describe yourself as a breakfast cereal, which one would you be and why?
Does it need to be a cereal or could it be a breakfast food? I guess I am changing the question, but I think I would describe myself as toast. This is because you can serve it a million different ways, but it is still simple. And I like toast a lot, I guess. It’s plain and simple and everyone likes it.
What does the term Authenticity mean to you?
To me, authenticity is a way of living, working, and I think that it’s attractive when you see real authenticity in people. You can’t help but be drawn to it because it is something we all desire. Whether it is an organization, a person, a company, or a product, if it is authentic and real, it is attractive.
Share a time when you really felt like you were truly following your heart?
Hmmm…I would say I was truly following my heart right after I graduated from college and went to work for a non-profit in Colorado. I knew that I wouldn’t get paid for a while, since I was just interning, and it just takes time out of college to get experience. You can’t expect to have a full-time paid job right away. So, I interned for the summer and I interned during the fall. Then I came back in the spring, and I knew that I probably still wouldn’t be getting paid. However, there was something about this organization, called Light Gives Heat, that I realized this is something I could be doing for a while. So, I asked myself, if I don’t get paid, is money the reason I am doing this or am I doing it because I believe that it is what I should be doing? I knew that I wanted this to be a part of my life. Then when I made the decision to return to work with them, with the knowledge that money was not going to be a part of the equation, then that was the time that I really realized that following my heart is good, but it’s going to require sacrifice. I feel like that time in my life was really a turning point in realizing the cost of following your heart, literally and figuratively.
How do you define success?
There are many different types of success. I think every person has their own way to gauge their success. I think for me, if I am being successful ….I think success is a mixture of things for me. Some of the most important things for me to be successful are to surround myself with loving and like-minded and like-hearted people. I also think that for me in order to be a success there has to be an element of risk taking and knowing that my success doesn’t solely ride on my accomplishments or failures, but success is a big picture, it’s a way of approaching the world. I also think that defeat often takes the form of settling down and not looking for a way to grow or expand your horizons. So, I would say that success is always looking for ways to grow and it isn’t something that you can reach, it is always rising and is not stagnant.
Who inspires you? Why?
Besides you…because that’s the answer. There are a lot of people that inspire me. I think that I could point to one guy that I worked with at Invisible Children named, Jedidah [Jenkins]. I think a lot of people would be inspired by him, and I think the reason he is inspiring to me is that his sense of purpose is so clear. You can see his purpose radiating out from him. Lots of time people look at him and wonder how can you be so vibrant at all times? It’s not that he has super human abilities or is faking it, it’s because he has found freedom in letting himself be himself. That is just so beautiful and it is inspiring. He is inspiring not because he makes a ton of money, he works in an office with a bunch of interns, and it’s not the sexiest and most glamorous job, but he is free and he is himself all the time. I think that is one thing that is inspiring about him. That is what I really admired about him and that is something I want to see more of in myself.
It’s hard to do.
It really is, there is so much vulnerability in being authentic and being a free person who is not ashamed to be free around people who feel like they don’t have permission or don’t feel worthy of being themselves. It’s a strange dynamic when you are in an environment where there are people that are strongly themselves and there are people who are along for the ride. I hope that I can work in an environment where there is freedom to be who you are.
Where have you seen the power of connectedness in your life?
I know that I keep pointing back to Invisible Children, for good reason because it is such a beautiful place to work. When I set foot in the doors of Invisible Children in March, the video Kony 2012 and the Kony 2012 campaign just took off; we started getting emails from people asking how they can get involved. I was a part of the team who were responding to emails and directing them to people they should get in touch with and where they should go. We were getting email from all over, places like: Belarus, Thailand, Australia, South Africa, I mean, ALL OVER THE PLACE. It was insane. Just seeing the way the global community saw an issue and was moved to respond was unbelievable. Even driving through the streets with the Kony 2012 sticker or driving in the Invisible Children van, you would always see somebody who was waving or just excited about the work that is being done and that they could be a part of it.
What is one experience that you have had that shifted your perspective about something?
When I was in college, I took a course called, Business and Professional Speaking. It was a good course, but I went to school at a small college in Kansas so most of my classmates were middle-class, white, and there wasn’t much diversity within the class. The professor of the class would say okay, you have an improv speech to make today. She would throw out a topic and we would have to give a five minute speech if we were called on. It was really intimidating sometimes and she would have us just be uncomfortable for a few minutes and sit there to work out our feelings and thoughts that way. Every Friday, people would just be praying please don’t call on me; I don’t want to do this. They would get up and stumble through a five minute speech. One day, she said, I want you to think of one moment or day in your life that something happened, an event or something in your life that after that moment you were never the same. I want you to talk about it to the class. The immense diversity of stories that came from this group of students that I previously thought were all very similar and came from similar backgrounds was astounding. We had a girl who was riding the bus one morning and the bus driver got a call from someone who said to drop this girl off. So, they just dropped her off on the side of the road where her mom was waiting for her and she then found out that her dad had just passed away. So she became a caretaker for her siblings when she was only eight years old. There was another girl, who on Sept. 11 knew someone from her community who was in one of the planes that crashed. There were just gnarly stories that were coming out of the mouths of my peers that I just assumed unfairly that didn’t have good stories. The crazy thing about that day was that everyone who stood up shared their stories with such confidence, and sincerity, and such ease, because they were the experts of their own stories. They didn’t have to be nervous, they were just being themselves, and they spoke beautifully. People who were stumbling and stuttering on their words, were now speaking with clarity and confidence. It just moved me in a way that it made me realize that everybody has a story to tell and everybody wants to tell their story, but not everybody is willing to listen. If we can listen to people’s stories and their experiences, I think that it would change the way that we see each other and the way that the world interacts with each other. We would just understand a little bit more where someone is coming from if we just took the time to listen to a story.
Have you ever set aside fear to move forward?
I don’t think that I have ever set it aside, but I’ve carried it behind me. I think that fear can stop someone dead in their tracks. I know that I have been stopped by fear before, but I think it can also be a good indicator that you are going down the right track because if you were doing something that isn’t worth while there wouldn’t be any resistance. You wouldn’t feel fear if you were just living an ordinary life. I think that fear is an indicator that something is going on and that something big is about to happen. I think disregarding fear is something people can do, but I wouldn’t for a second think that dismissing fear is the right action for me to take, because if I’m going to measure where I’ve come from and how far I’ve gone, I need to include my fears in that measurement. It helps me gauge my development as a person and as a soul.
What is one question you would love to ask people? And why?
I really like that question my speech teacher had asked, “What is the one moment or one day that changed you.” It is not a threatening question, but it certainly opens up a big door to understand where a person is coming from and where they have been and where they are going. I think those defining moments can be an indicator of the character of a person and the kind of things that they value. Yeah, it would probably be that question, yeah.
If you had a super hero power, what would it be? And why?
He is technically a super villain, but he is a misunderstood super villain. His name is Magneo and he has magnets as a means to attract metal things and do super cool stuff with it. I’ve always thought that he was cool, but not because he was bad, but because of his power and his ability to build stuff and fly things around and play some cool pranks on people.
Anything else you want to share, where you are at in life, your journey?
Hmmm…yeah, this past summer, I really came face to face with a lot of my anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. There were a few times over the summer where I started having panic attacks, which were really scary. You realize that there is a lot of stuff going on in your mind that you aren’t aware of, or that you don’t think is worth the time to deal with. I can point back to the times this summer where I have really experienced these times where I thought, “Am I going crazy?” I really thought that I might be going crazy or that there is something wrong in my mind. I started doing research online, and looking at what anxiety really is, and I saw that there are so many people that are dealing with anxiety and depression. This made me wonder how I managed to never know about this, I mean there are millions and millions of people who deal with this kind of stuff. I’m not sure, but it seems like people avoid talking about or admitting it. I don’t think that is healthy. If you are dealing with something, don’t be ashamed of it, once you speak it into the universe, and into relationships, chances are you’ll probably meet somebody who has dealt with it before and they can help you out. I talked with a few people that I worked with over the summer and one person was like, oh yeah I had panic attacks for a year when I was in second grade, and another person said, yeah I dealt with panic attacks all through high school. I was like oh so I’m not a weirdo, and they were like no, this is just something that happens to people sometimes. You can totally deal with it, you might feel like you are going crazy, but you aren’t. It was just freeing, and I think that if more people would just share the things that they viewed as a weakness or a disability, I think they would be incredibly surprised to find that there are a lot of people dealing with very similar issues and that its nothing to be ashamed of. This just something that I have learned this summer.
Any parting words?
Be true to who you are and stop at nothing! Yeah Stop at Nothing…
(Note: Stop at Nothing is the slogan that was used for the Kony 2012 campaign)