As a part of my series about sports stars who are making a social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Harris, a 10 year veteran of the NFL. In 2015, he became a Super Bowl Champion after winning Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos. He has also played for the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring in 2016. He graduated from Notre Dame with two degrees, one in Economics and Policy and the other in Political Science. These days you can Catch Ryan on ‘The Fantasy Football Hour’, CBS4 Denver, Altitude TV and more. You can also listen to Ryan on the radio During Notre Dame Football broadcasts and on Altitude Radio in Denver. Ryan also speaks across the nation about Mindset, Leading to win, and Team Dynamics.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
When you win the Super Bowl, everything you believe about yourself comes true for other people. I want people to have that moment in their lives.
Additionally during my time in the NFL I witnessed many players go bankrupt, or worse, when they were done playing. I even had one teammate take their own life when faced with the end of their career.
Through speaking, broadcasting, and writing, I am able to talk about my failures, and give people examples of how I pulled myself out of those situations when my good was not good enough.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I once got hit so hard a shat my pants. It’s a thing.
What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?
Pick up a shovel and dig. No matter what you set your sights on, if you want to achieve it you must sacrifice. You must work unbelievably hard. And you will fail at some point. You must abandon external validation to pursue your greatness. We won a superbowl in front of millions of people. None of whom were with me rehabbing after any of my 9 surgeries. Outside of my trainer, no one was with me in the gym, or on the field as I practiced the things that would make me a champion.
Do it for you. And do not care about what others think of you. Winning looks different. Enjoy it.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
My parents. My mother was the youngest school district administrator in Saint Paul Public school history. She then got her Doctorate. My Father was a career engineer who was at all but one of my football games growing up.
Also the deceased Col. Hal Moore. He spoke to the All- American team I was on in High School and taught me “three strikes you’re not out” and “ there’s always one more thing you can do”.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have helped people change careers. Readers have written me about jobs they have gotten because of the mindset they brought to their interview. A father told me I helped him realize he had not had any FUN with his son in years, and it changed their relationship.
Specifically in broadcasting, I remind people that football players are husbands, fathers, extroverts, introverts, human beings.
Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
I am excited to be working with a health group in Denver who has created a new platform for men’s health. Other companies I am involved with are tackling issues of gender equity, inclusion, tech opportunities for communities of color, and overall financial literacy.
What methods are you using to most effectively share your cause with the world?
I write as much as I can. I find that it reaches many people at their convenience. Speaking and my radio show also provide opportunities for impact. Beyond that, I do what all of us have the power to do, Volunteer. When we give our time we give our greatest gift.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
Opportunity, inclusion, gender equity, men’s health, and financial literacy have had profound impact not just in my life, but also in retirement! I am a loser if I am a champion for only myself.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
One person I have impacted overcame a toxic relationship, thoughts of suicide, alcoholism, and fear of failure. They now are married with a daughter and have a career with a side company that provides additional income and a sense of belonging. They tell me frequently I saved their life. “If I can help somebody, as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain”
What are your 3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Believe in the work- Hard work pays off
Do not care what others think- so many people fear success that when you go for it you scare the crap out of them. Add to that, may people are happy with the lowest rungs of success.
In the NFL I thought everyone wanted to win a championship. The truth is many players did not. Many loved what it meant to play even a down and that was all for them. Every year in training camp I could tell you the rookies that were not going to make it and blame someone else- all the while they knew the work it would take to be successful and they wanted nothing to do with it. Over 1600 players will suit up in a given year and only 53 will call themselves champions.
Celebrate every win- they are all around you. Remember what you have gone through to get to any moment!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Do something New. When step out of our comfort zone we build bridges of commonality. We create a world of relationships vs tribes. We all have something in common with each other. Find it, by doing something new.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
“I can” I used these words every time I failed. I can helped me focus on the future not the past, brought me movement instead of stagnation. To find possibilities, solutions, and you future, discover what you CAN do in a situation.