'Dream Unusually Big,' Hill Harper Tells SHU Audience

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Actor and author Hill Harper told the packed auditorium at Seton Hall University on Friday night to live "big, dynamic, impactful lives."
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Actor.  Dreamer.  Motivational Speaker.  Writer.  Philanthropist.  Hill Harper.

Hill Harper, best known for his role on “CSI:NY,” spoke about his new book, “Building a Foundation for Your Life,” Friday night to a packed Jubilee Hall Auditorium at Seton Hall University.  His speech was sponsored by the Student Activities Board at Seton Hall University. The first 75 students to arrive received a copy of one of Hill Harper’s books. 

Harper did something that most speakers don’t attempt: He never spoke at the podium.  Instead, Harper displayed his enthusiasm and passion for educating his audience on their potential and power to think big and bigger by walking up and down the aisles and engaging audience members with questions.

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“You can chose to live a smaller life than you were meant to live, you can chose that,” Harper said to the audience.  “But then, I don’t think that you’d be (in) this hall, because there are so many other places that you could be on this particular Friday night.”

He opened his speech with his favorite quote from Bobby Kennedy: “The future does not belong to those who are fearful of bold projects and new ideas. But rather the future belongs to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the great ideals and enterprises of American society.”

Harper first focused on the future.  “We are active architects of our own lives,” he said. He outlined for the audience the structures needed to accomplish goals. 

“This is about our lives,” Harper said.  “This is about how we’re going to achieve our goals. This is about us living big, dynamic, impactful lives.” 

For people to actually accomplish goals, Harper said, they need to start with a plan or a blueprint.  “We don’t want to confuse specific goal achievement with an overall blueprint,” he said.

He talked about the foundation, and he emphasized in particular education as an important aspect of the foundation.

“This size and thickness of your foundation is directly proportional to the size and scope of your goals and dreams,” he said.  “We need thick foundational elements to support them.”

To explain this, Harper shared a personal story.  He said that he played basketball with Barack Obama when he was at Harvard Law School.  He said that Obama, at 30 years old, realized that in order to achieve the goals that he wanted in his life, he needed to go back to school to continue his education.  “He was back at school, building his foundation,” confirmed Harper. “He made the choice that most of us would not have the courage to make.”

Harper then turned his attention to fear.  Fear, he said, “stands for false evidence appearing real.” More damaging, his insisted, are the fears that people project upon us in our circle.  “Risk is the key element that we have to have in our lives in order to achieve our goals,” he said.  To counteract the fear, Harper said, people must critically think about what is around them, and they must use their reason to filter out the misinformation. 

Harper used Kanye West’s album titled “College Dropout” to explain to the audience how to critically think about false evidence appearing real.

The next topic that Harper focused on is the framework of our goals.  He said, “The framework of our lives are the choices we make.”  He said that with individuals’ choices, they must learn time management and how to give more time to certain aspects of their lives.  “This is the time to give education that unitary focus,” he said.

The final subject that Harper talked about was that in the blueprint of people’s lives, they need to add doors.  “There are people out there in the world that you need to open your doors to,” he said.  These kinds of people are critical to individuals’ success.  “We all have people in our lives that we have to let out of our lives,” he said. “They are called toxic associates.”  These toxic associates project fear on others, according to Harper.

Harper encouraged audience members to believe that any goal that they can imagine for themselves, can be doubled. Tripled.  He encouraged them to dream so big that when they tell people their dreams, people laugh at them.

“Dream unreasonably big,” he said.  “Passion and energy are required to dream unreasonably big.”  

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