CNLP 276: Chris Norton on Beating the Odds in Life and Leadership, Walking Again after Being Completely Paralyzed and the Lessons That Flow From It

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Little did Chris Norton know that making a routine football play would change his life forever. Paralyzed from the neck down, doctors told him he had a 3 percent chance of ever regaining sensation in his body.

Last year, Chris walked down the aisle with his bride at his wedding. His story has been covered by The Today Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, FOX & Friends, and PEOPLE Magazine. Chris talks about the journey, what he’s learned and shares leadership lessons and even public speaking tips on how to motivate unmotivated crowds when you speak.

Welcome to Episode 276 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Chris Norton | The Seven Longest Yards

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USA Today – Chris Norton Had The Best Memorial Day Weekend

People Magazine –Groom Paralyzed Playing Football Walks Down The Aisle: ‘The Accident Brought Me To Her’

Chris Norton Foundation Wheelchair Camp

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Caring Bridge

3 Insights from Chris

1. Sometimes God has a better plan for you than the plan you had for yourself

Chris’s injury was in no way a part of his plan. His plan was to become an all-star athlete, marry the girl of his dreams, and have a lakehouse. Getting paralyzed from the neck down at the age of 18 put a massive roadblock in the way of his dream life. He had to find a way to move forward in spite of that discouragement.

Today, Chris says that God’s plan for his life after his injury is better than any life he could have dreamed of before the injury. He would encourage you that if you are going through tragedy, God can take the mess you are living and make it his message, and he can take your pain and turn it into a bigger purpose.

2. Your future will take care of itself if you take care of today

After his injury, Chris had a lot of reasons to be worried about his future. For weeks after the accident he was hardly able to sleep. He would sit in bed and just continue to think about all of the “what-ifs” of his life. He had many more questions and concerns about his future than he had answers.

When asked how he got through those times, he said that he continued to focus on whatever he could do that day. He has grown up knowing that if he can take care of the problems of today, the future will take care of itself. If you are facing a hard future, start with whatever little things you can do to help yourself today.

3. When public speaking, you have to work to control all the little factors of communication

One minor tweak that makes a world of a difference for Chris while speaking is telling stories in the present tense. When he makes that shift, it makes the story more immediate and real in the moment. Chris also looks at all of the little factors that influence an audience. Before he goes on stage, he looks at the lighting, the audio-video, the previous speakers and how far into the conference he is speaking and he adapts to overcome those obstacles.

Another thing Chris has learned is that your energy as a speaker shouldn’t be dependent on the energy the audience is bringing. Chris wants to still speak with high-energy and passion even when the audience is half asleep. To do this, he records every talk he gives and closely inspects how his energy was throughout it.

Quotes from Episode 276

Your future will take care of itself when you take care of today. @chrisanorton16 Click To Tweet Sometimes God has a better plan for you than the plan you had for yourself. @chrisanorton16 Click To Tweet It took years and years and lots of hard work to be sitting in a wheelchair and feel that my life is better than what it was before I was hurt. @chrisanorton16 Click To Tweet As we were going through these hard times, the very thing that we should have gone towards is the very thing that we pushed to the side. @chrisanorton16 Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 276

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Next Episode: Sam Collier

Five years ago, Sam Collier had almost no platform. Today, he’s a well-known podcaster, speaker, host and influencer who speaks on some of today’s largest stages. Sam talks about how he got started, how as an African-American he processed feedback and coaching from many white and minority leaders, to learn to speak to a whole new audience growing his platform to what it is today.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 277.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.