Shawn Hardnett Q&A
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
The greatest accomplishment is housed in a series of texts and pictures of students as they forward pictures of graduation from college and beyond. My greatest accomplishment is in their becoming accomplished.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
My greatest setback is in the texts and forwards that come from those same students about others and their cohorts who didn’t make it, who died, who went to jail, who failed to make it to their best self. When a former student doesn’t want to see me because they feel like they have failed to reach the expectation that I set for them, it causes me to mourn. I want them to make it – and if they do not, I want them to know that I still love them.
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
This is always hard when you work the way that I do. I am not retired and I am not quite as close to it as I would like to be. Still, I maintain a vibrant life, filled with family and friends. I make regular time on my weekly calendar to be in the presence of people who I love and who love me. I also keep my home clean and quiet – my own refuge. These things fill my bucket.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
That place is still home for me. I go there and I chill out. I often times find that I need a vacation from any vacation that I take. I love the time out and about, but I sometimes need to charge up away from it all.
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
Absoulutely! I volunteer with a local organization that also focuses on life outcomes for black and brown boys and men – Life Pieces and Masterpieces. I am a lead mentor for their Saturday Academy. In addition to that, I contribute liberally to my church, to several local and national charities and a bit internationally to build wells in far away villages. There is always a little more room to give.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY, PRESENT OR PAST?
It would be a list of students, past, present and future.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?
So many people ask me how I was able to find my purpose. It would seem that many people are looking for their reason to live. I had an awesome mentor who taught me a simple truth. He said that I should – love God, love myself, and love the people who I find around me. Your purpose in life at any given time is to make the lives of the people around you better. If you are doing that, you will find happiness. You can do that at any age, from any place, for anyone, at anytime and from any position.