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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Julia

From Top to Bottom and Back, with Courageous Humility with Joel Hawbaker: Creator Series

Welcome to our new series Creator’s Creations!

We are sharing highlights from transformation stories and how we are creating FIT Life Creation and the community. In this Creator series feature, we are featuring From Top to Bottom and Back, with Courageous Humility with Joel Hawbaker.

Highlights of Story and Creations:

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” - C.S. Lewis in The Magician’s Nephew

Married, divorced, remarried. Success, utter failure and loss, then greater success. From the fear of others and their opinion to freedom and joy in who I was created to be. I’ve experienced all of these things and more in my personal life in the last ten years, and I’m thankful to have come out the other side of the pain and anger to a place of peace, and contentment.

The beginning of Courageous Humility

In my professional life, I’ve had a wide variety of occupations: trash collector, firefighter, construction worker, school teacher, insurance salesman, soccer coach, financial planner, pizza delivery guy, professional speaker, author, blended/stepfamily coach. Every one of these jobs has taught me something different, and yet they all have also taught me the same lesson: my mindset determines my enjoyment and my success in every situation.

These days I speak with many different groups about what I call Courageous Humility, a leadership philosophy rooted in personal responsibility, humility, confidence, and courage. I believe we are called to use our gifts and talents in the service of others, to help them become better versions of themselves by helping them improve their mindset and their attitude so that their actions will follow.

I’ve been blessed to share these messages with high schools, colleges, churches, with groups of hundreds, and with intimate groups of less than ten, from corporate and church leadership retreats to family conferences The goal is always the same: to help people realize that they have the power to take responsibility for their decisions and in doing so to improve the relationship they have with those around them. After all, I firmly believe that if you take care of relationships, the results will take care of themselves.

My goal is to always be helping others to improve personally and professionally; to help them become the people, the leaders, the families that they were created to be; and to help them understand the importance of their mindset and choices.

Your Brand

Courageous Humility is about using the gifts and talents you have to serve others. It takes courage to trust others to do their jobs, and takes humility to be willing to put their needs before your own.

I’ve been blessed to speak and teach about courageous humility, blended families, and leadership at a wide variety of events and locations including conferences (Military Order of World Wars—Youth Leadership Conference, 2018 and 2019), colleges and universities (Duke University TIP Institute, Jacksonville State University, University of Montevallo), corporate retreats (Diehl Aerospace), fundraisers (Calhoun County’s Community Enabler “Bosses Busing Tables” luncheon), and more!

Biggest Success Factors

As I mentioned above, one of my core teachings is that if you take care of relationships, the results will take care of themselves. If I want a successful marriage (and I do!), then I need to focus on maintaining a strong relationship with my wife and my children.

In our case, I also need to make sure that we have a good relationship with my ex-wife and her husband as well because that relationship influences my marriage too.

I also had to learn that everything in my life was my responsibility: either I accept that and therefore have the power to transform it, or I relinquish responsibility to someone else and have to live with the consequences.

I choose to take responsibility which empowers me to make necessary changes, and I seek to encourage and inspire others to do the same. Twelve years ago I lost my father to cancer, and ten years ago I went through a very painful divorce.

I spent about a year embittered and angry and blaming everyone else for where I was. After some hard conversations with people I loved, and with the help of those around me, I began to realize that I had allowed myself to play the victim.

Once I accepted that I was responsible for where I was, I saw that I could make different choices that would produce much better results. I changed jobs and found joy in my work, instead of just working to pay the bills. I began to write and found joy in sharing the lessons I've learned with others. And I began to speak and teach and found joy in opening the eyes of people to the power of personal responsibility.

The common thread through all of this success was a powerful three-part support system of my faith, my family, and my friends. My church came alongside me through the divorce and afterward. My family was a consistent source of encouragement and help when I needed it.

And my friends were with me every step of the way, helping me do more than I had thought possible. It is this same type of support system that I want to help others create: who is important to you? What is important to your success? And how can I help you build this in your life?

Your Challenges & How You Turned Pain into Purpose

First big challenge: Taking Responsibility

It’s always easier to blame others than to take responsibility for where we are, the choices we’ve made, and the outcomes we’ve created for ourselves. I know that life isn’t fair and sometimes we’re dealt a difficult hand, but we still have the choice of how we respond to that.

I’m always reminded of the saying of President Teddy Roosevelt, “Do the best you can with what you have where you are.” That’s all any of us can do! The question is, are you really doing your best, or are you slacking off and blaming others for your lack of success?

I was quite guilty of blaming others, and when I finally decided to take responsibility, that’s when the transformation began. Instead of feeling entitled to a good life and being angry that I wasn’t getting it, I was now empowered to change my life into something quite different than before.

For example, following my divorce, I had let myself go personally by eating terrible food constantly and causing my weight to climb from about 160 to almost 200 pounds. Once I chose to change my eating habits, and with the help of an accountability partner--who is now my wife--I was able to lose 40+ pounds and have kept most of it off for seven years. She also helped me see that if I wanted to write and teach and coach and help others, that I could do those things if I chose to. So I did!

TIP: Choose to take responsibility. This allows you to go from feeling entitled to being empowered to make the necessary changes in your life.

Second big challenge: Turn a Loss into a Lesson

For most of my adult life, I’ve been a high school history and Bible teacher, and so you’d think that I would have understood the importance of what people call ‘learning experiences.’ But in reality, I am often extremely competitive, and so a loss was just a loss. However, as I began to reflect on taking responsibility, I also realized that a loss can be much more than just a loss. A loss is an opportunity to learn.

As a teacher, I helped students see that when they performed poorly on a test, that was an opportunity to try to figure out why they had done so and to experiment with other ways to do better: take notes differently, study at a different time of day, etc.

The same has also happened in my business: if I’m not having the success I want, rather than just getting frustrated I can examine various factors and try to figure out what I need to change, what I need to do differently, in order to experience the success I’m looking for.

Many coaches, both in business and sports, have shared this wisdom, and I wish I had grasped it when I was younger. But the truth is that a loss is only a loss if you let it become one. If you choose to, you can turn every loss into a learning experience that will serve you better in the future.

TIP: You’re going to lose sometimes, so when you do, choose to learn from it.

Third Big Challenge: Consistency

One of the most important elements of growth and change in any area of life is consistency. If I only exercise once every two weeks, then even if it’s a killer workout, it’s not really doing my body any good. It may actually be causing harm.

If I only eat one healthy meal every three days, I can’t honestly claim that I’m trying to make good choices regarding food. If I only make it a priority to spend time with my wife and daughters when it’s convenient for me, then I’m not consistently showing my family the love they need and deserve.

This is also true in our businesses: if we work sporadically, we won’t ever see the level of success that we’re capable of because our results will be inconsistent as well. In order to be consistent with our work, we have to have a plan and work it.

I’ve seen this quote attributed to numerous people from business writer Napoleon Hill to football coaches: “Plan your work and work your plan.” It’s a profound truth, and it’s one that took me years to grasp.

Once I started consistently focusing on my business, applying the lessons I’d learned from previous losses and failures, I began to see much more progress, growth, and success. From writing books to speaking gigs,

I began to see and hear more stories and get more feedback from people that I’d been able to help and serve and inspire. This in turn caused me to want to focus on becoming even more consistent so that my success would continue to grow.

Three quick aspects of consistency are worth mentioning here: collaboration, communication, and contemplation. First, you have to work with others in your circle well if you’re going to experience success. I truly believe that no leader has ever accomplished anything worthwhile alone: we all have teams, co-workers, spouses, etc, and we need to work with them to experience success.

Second, you have to communicate your vision to your team and to yourself, and you need to do that regularly so you don’t lose sight of it. Finally, you need to have set times to reflect, to contemplate and think about what’s working and what isn’t. By doing these three things consistently, you’re setting yourself up for tremendous growth, change, and success.

TIP: Consistency is critical, and it’s found through collaboration, communication, and contemplation.

What do you think is most important: responsibility, losing and learning, or consistency?

I think that responsibility is the most important because it is the starting point, but in truth all three of these principles are woven together to create success. If you want to start a business, then you first have to understand that it’s up to you.

No matter what type of business you start, you’ll face challenges, setbacks, and bumps in the road. How are you going to respond to them, by blaming someone else or by seeking a solution? This choice is one of responsibility, and it is foundational to all of the success you can experience.

I once heard a pastor say, “No one ever stumbled into a life of holiness by accident.” I believe him, and I believe the same is true of business: no one accidentally creates a thriving, successful business. You may stumble across a unique opportunity, but you still have to put in the work to take advantage of that.

At the same time, if you’re not learning from the setbacks and challenges you face, then you’re likely to run into them over and over again. One of the major lessons I learned from my divorce is that if I wanted to have a successful relationship in the future then I needed to be a better husband than I had been in the past.

And finally, it’s important to remember that our habits are not one-time events. They are actions that we have either taught ourselves to do repeatedly or allowed ourselves to do repeatedly. The question we need to ask is: is this habit, this consistent choice, a helpful and productive one, or one that is not beneficial to my overall goals? The answer to that question will shape much of your success moving forward.


Favorite Adventure

I’ve been blessed to have been able to travel some, having spent a few weeks in Honduras on a mission trip during the summer after my freshman year of college and also spending the spring semester of my sophomore year studying Medieval Civilizations at New College, Oxford University, in the UK.

My wife and I also attend her family reunions every two years in New Mexico and Oklahoma, and we’ve enjoyed traveling in the US to speak at various events, especially when we bring our dogs Bruiser and Butterscotch. But my most recent favorite adventure was traveling to New York in February of 2019 to watch my older daughter sing.

She has been blessed with a naturally beautiful singing voice (thanks to her mother) and with exceptional ability to learn music quickly, especially harmonizing parts (something learned from her stepmother).

As a result, she was chosen to sing in an international choir that performed at famed Carnegie Hall in New York City. She spent a week there with her mom rehearsing and site-seeing, and I flew up a couple of days before the performance as well.

My daughter and I got to spend a whole day together seeing the sites of New York: we went shopping on Fifth Avenue, strolled through Times Square, visited the top of Rockefeller Center, gazed up at the Empire State Building, rode the subway, and ate lunch from a street vendor.

For a couple of people who both grew up in the same small town in Alabama, this was quite an adventure! To be able to share that time with her was amazing, and then to see her perform on a world-famous stage was a bonus.

Final words for those looking to transform their lives with courage and humility

You have the power to choose! You may not get to choose everything in your life--no one does--but you have the ability to make the most of what you’ve been given, and I believe the best way you can do that is through serving others.

Take the gifts you have and ask yourself how you can use those to make a positive impact on the lives of those around you. When you do, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish, how much better you feel, and the transformations you’ll see in your own life and in the lives of those you are serving.

You have a unique combination of gifts, talents, and interests, and so you also have a unique capacity to serve and inspire others. Let’s see it!

FIT Life Creation

Creation Series: Joel Hawbaker & Courageous Humility




Create a Life and Business You Love & Creator Series

Transformation is required to create a life and business you love in each and every area. As the Creator and CEO of FIT Life Creation, I am not immune. I am co-creating and co-writing my story with our Creator each and every moment.

Don't compare your Chapter 1 to Chapter 7, or anyone's Chapter 22 or novel. Choose to humble yourself and be an eternal student. Refine your character to believe in faith for the impossible and ground yourself to be content when results are delayed for your growth.

What did you get from Joel's Creator Series article?

What action will you take next?

What will you take action on in the next 90 days?

If you love this post, you'll love How Transformation is Required to Create a Life & Business You Love.

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Creator Series Contributions

If you would love to be considered for our Creation Series,

E-mail us a draft of your submission with the following:

1 Your Story

2 Your Brand

3 Biggest Success Factors

4 Your Challenges & How You Turned Pain into Purpose

5 Actionable Tips All Along the Way

6 What You Think is Most Important with ?s Above

7 Favorite Adventure

8 Final Tips for those creating what they love

Essentially follow the template and format you see


1 Your Media Kit

2 Confirm You Will Back Link on Your Blog/Media Page

3 5+ High Quality Images

4 3+ Back Links to Your Platform

5 1+ External Press You Have

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