When you go through tough times in your life—especially when you’ve been mistreated in the past, it’s easy to play the martyr. To walk around with a chip on your shoulder. Often, that becomes an unconscious excuse for not being your best self—and it keeps you from living up to your full potential as a man.
If anyone had an excuse to be jaded by his past, it’s today’s guest, Steve Pemberton. Growing up, Steve spent years in the foster care system, where he lived with one particularly brutal and abusive family. For 11 years he was physically and verbally assaulted, starved, and constantly taught that he was nothing. Somehow, he managed to escape that situation and not only survive, but go on to graduate from a top university, and become a bestselling author, speaker, philanthropist, and senior-level executive for the likes of Monster, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Globoforce.
Today we dive into Steve’s story—which has been chronicled in best-selling memoir A Chance in the World—and is now a major motion picture that releases next month. Steve and I talk about how to maintain resilience and hope during impossible times, the one passion Steve developed that may have saved his life, how having one or two people who believe in you can make all the difference, and much more.
I didn’t need anyone to believe in me at that point because I had already developed a belief system that I was all I had.”
- How Steve was able to survive the brutal psychological and physical abuse from his foster parents
- Why Steve found “comfort in the struggle” and refused to give up
- How reading became the long-term nourishment that helped Steve hang on
- The neighborly “angel” who saw potential in Steve when no one else cared
- The turning point when Steve was suddenly able to escape a terrible situation
- The moment that triggered Steve to begin tracking down his biological family
- How Steve’s past experiences influence his own beliefs as a parent
- Why the foster care system is an American crisis that no one is talking about
Realizing that there was…an inheritance of tragedy that I had come from was important, because now I this additional responsibility to make sure that it would not appear again.”
- Watership Down
- Upward Bound Program
- A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home
- The Blind Side
- A Chance in the World (motion picture)
- A Chance in the World Foundation