Showcasing my talents and gifts to the world is not enough; we need to demonstrate to the world, that “Leadership and success in business, as it is in life, begins by knowing ourselves, rising above our perceived limitations and accepting the challenge to positively impact our world.” Perhaps by doing so, we remind ourselves that, “The least likely person can accomplish the most extraordinary things in a most unusual way!” We can share the goodness and blessings by remembering that we should be “celebrated” not “tolerated” for the benefit of others, not to get rich.. I wrote a book, appeared on television, bringing my small successes and goodness to the world.
I had the pleasure to interview Recording Artist/Producer, Singer/Speaker/Evangelist/Humorist, and Author, Jeff Steinberg. For most of us it’s a world of small inconveniences. Traffic jams. Sore throats. Burnt toast. For Jeff Steinberg, it’s a world of major handicaps always. But does he see himself as handicapped, unfortunate, to be pitied? No, absolutely not! Jeff calls himself a MASTERPIECE IN PROGRESS! Yet to see him, he looks like anything BUT a masterpiece. Born August 18, 1951, Jeff Steinberg faced life with little hope — no arms and badly deformed legs. Jeff spent most of his early life in hospitals, including Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children in Philadelphia, PA, where he underwent orthopedic surgery, learned to walk with a brace and was fitted with his first prosthetic arm. At age nine, Jeff was placed into The Good Shepherd Home for the Physically Handicapped in Allentown, PA, where he lived until he was 19. Jeff sees his disabilities as assets, not liabilities. He believes, “A Quitter never wins; and a Winner never quits!” Jeff is proof that, “God uses the least likely person to accomplish the most extraordinary things.” He is a Recording Artist/Producer, Singer/Speaker/Evangelist/Humorist, author, a husband, father and grandfather. Since 1972, he has crisscrossed the globe delivering his very special message that that a real handicap is “anything that keeps me from being or becoming all that God created me to be.” In his distinctive style, using humor, song and the Scriptures, Jeff shows us that each person is wonderfully created in “God’s unique design,” with potential they never even dreamed possible. He has shared his message with audiences around the United States and internationally, performing for churches, television, businesses, schools, conventions, fundraisers and hospitals. Jeff was a co-host on a Television Special, called “The Best You Can Be…The Handicapped Hall of Fame.” Jeff has traveled more than five million miles over the last 40+ years sharing his unique message. Jeff Steinberg is an inductee into the Good Shepherd Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities for his achievements in the field of music, for his advocacy for the physically challenged and for carrying the message that everyone is a Masterpiece In Progress. Jeff Steinberg is a 2012 & 2013 Artist Music Guild Heritage Award four time nominee for: Male Vocalist of the year; Comedian of the year and Crossover Artist, of the year. The AMG is headquartered in Charlotte, NC. He is also a recent recipient of the prestigious Christian Music Presenters Artist Endorsement for Musical Excellence, Ministry Readiness and Spiritual Integrity.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
First — My physical appearance… Growing up in Homes and Hospitals, put me in a position where I was told by just about everybody what I couldn’t do; wouldn’t do, and shouldn’t do…
Next — My Faith… I was taught at a young age by some wonderful people that, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14). I started to see myself as a “Masterpiece — In Progress” becoming … one color at a time.
I started to understand that, if you don’t like who you are, you won’t be able to convince others to want what you have to offer… I don’t see handicaps… I see opportunities.
My message is, “You’re a Masterpiece;” what are you going to do with it??
“Quit focusing on the ‘handicap’ and start appreciating The Gift!!” If I can do what I do with what I have, you can do more!
Finally — My Extended family, my wife and Team members. The love and support of extended family (mentioned above); my wife encourages to do whatever it takes to have a positive and lasting impact on my world and beyond; and my Team, even when the face(s) within the Team changed, I realized my message has a broader reach (beyond Churches and Ministry Organizations to School assemblies, Company events, Fundraisers/telethons and more.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
Living on Purpose starts with having a purpose/message. Your purpose/message starts with acknowledging your circumstance (story). We all have one. To quote Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I believe, “Your Circumstances need not define you; but they can REFINE you.”
I believe it starts with knowing who you are, what you have to offer to what you don’t have, what your boundaries are, what kind of mark you want to leave behind. …. “It’s not what happens to you that determines how far you’ll go in life; it is how you handle what happens to you.” — Zig Ziglar
Living on purpose is not quitting or not listening to people who say you can’t. My father would remind me, “The difficult we do right away; the ‘Impossible’ takes a little longer!!” — Irving Steinberg
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
My mom didn’t know about my disability till I was 17 months old; she didn’t see me for the first time till I was almost two (2) years old. I was in a children’s’ welfare shelter but, spent my early years trying to survive because Drs told my father I wouldn’t live. I grew up in homes and hospitals for kids with disabilities & old people until I was eight (8) years old.. I almost died twice while in surgery due to anesthesia …
My divorce.. Got married in 1974, we had our first child in 1977, went to Germany to speak for our US ARMY troops: While I was in California for a National Telethon fundraiser for folks with disabilities, received a letter from my wife, saying by the time you come home, I won’t be here.. Attended counseling….but she had already made up her mind.
Lost my first grandchild to a drunk driver in 2000. “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…you must do the thing you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
I know that the sum total of my life and my purpose includes my struggles.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to address, much less evaluate the US standing in the World Happiness Report. What I’ve notice in what I’ve read, the list of “Experts” compiling this report leaves out those who would evaluate and influence the Moral and Spiritual values affecting the happiness within these Countries. The Sciences are not enough.
In a book I’m writing, I ask, What are my Boundaries and Limits? The difference between “Limitations” and “Limits” are: “My Limitations are the things I cannot do; my Limits are the things I will not do.” So much emphasis being placed on, “doing whatever it takes to get the gig (bonus, etc.): How many times have we heard it said, “I would do/give anything to…”
We (Americans) have minimized or deleted the people/principles which helps us to establish boundaries (moral, Spiritual, Social, etc.) and limits necessary to the happiness and well-being of all, not just immigrants statistics.
Perhaps, it is best put this way, “There is no such thing as a ‘self made man or woman’ Every person has to have someone to help them along the way to realize their self. They need someone to help them realize their worth. When you want to give up on someone you need to ask yourself what would have happened to you if someone gave up on you. You are not self made, you are merely self proclaimed.” — David L Cook.
Having a moral and spiritual foundation that keeps you grounded, helps us to establish those limits and boundaries and also allows us to envision how we can reach beyond ourselves to contribute to the “Happiness” of others. It was offered to me; I can do no less than spread it around.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Showcasing my talents and gifts to the world is not enough; we need to demonstrate to the world, that “Leadership and success in business, as it is in life, begins by knowing ourselves, rising above our perceived limitations and accepting the challenge to positively impact our world.”
Perhaps by doing so, we remind ourselves that, “The least likely person can accomplish the most extraordinary things in a most unusual way!”
We can share the goodness and blessings by remembering that we should be “celebrated” not “tolerated” for the benefit of others, not to get rich.. I wrote a book, appeared on television, bringing my small successes and goodness to the world.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Believe in The “Masterpiece In Progress” that you are; “I am made to be awesome and wonderful.” (Psalm 139:14). “All that I CAN be… I CAN BE!!” — Jeff Steinberg
- Persevere / Thrive; don’t just survive: “Perseverance is the power to hold in spite of everything; to endure. The ability to face defeat again and again without giving up.” “Taking pains to overcome every obstacle” — Don Storms, Storms Enterprises
- “A QUITTER never wins; and a WINNER never quits!!” — Irving Steinberg
- Laugh outrageously…at yourself, your mistakes, and with those who surround you. “A three year old saw me drink picking up a glass with my teeth; hi got his mom to pour red Kool-Aide in a nice glass; he tried it and broke the glass, spilling red Kool-Aide on the new white carpet. I received a letter asking me to never return.”
- Love extravagantly yourself, the opportunities before you and those your influence reaches.
- Enjoy the distinction of being uniquely different — A five year old asked, “Why don’t you have hands??” I told him I used to bite my fingernails and one day I went too far!!
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
The Bible and How To Win Friends and Influence People , by Dale Carnegie
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have a basic outline … the start of a book with many of the Principles shared above that I’d like to be made into a book to ask the questions that usually go unasked about Success and Leadership.. I’d like to go into the studio and do a new music project: i.e., Gospel and Motivational
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Knowing who I am, I would encourage the world to believe beyond what we believe to be impossible to insisting that we must showcase the “Masterpiece” in each of us and all of us, regardless of personal ideology.