‘CSI: NY’ star encourages youth to ‘manifest their destinies’

Published 9:26 am Saturday, February 14, 2015

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye Hill Harper, an actor and author, spoke at East Tennessee State University about the importance of making an impact and leaving a legacy with your life.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Hill Harper, an actor and author, spoke at East Tennessee State University about the importance of making an impact and leaving a legacy with your life.

“Become an active architect of your own life.”

That was a challenge issued by author, actor and motivational speaker Hill Harper to a crowded auditorium at East Tennessee State University on Thursday night.

Harper spoke on “Impact and Legacy” at a lecture presented by ETSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs as part of the university’s celebration of Black History Month.

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Perhaps best known for his role as Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on the hit TV series “CSI: NY,” Harper is also the founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging and empowering youth to achieve personal excellence through mentoring, academic enrichment and service programs.

Thursday night, Harper encouraged those in attendance to take control of their own futures and to manifest their own destinies.

“My favorite quote on the future is this: ‘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,’ ” Hill said. That statement was made by the late Robert F. Kennedy.

All too often, Harper said, people don’t pursue their dreams out of fear.

“To me, fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real,” he said, adding everyone battles fear in many forms. “The vast majority of the fears we have are false but they dictate nearly every decision we make.”

Stepping out of the shadows of fear can be hard, Harper said, adding that people are often surrounded by others who encourage that fear.

“Sometimes parents can be the biggest dream killers because they love us so much they don’t want us to get hurt so they deter us from taking risks,” he said. “We are being taught to do the most careful, conservative thing. I think that is the absolute worst advice. I call it golden handcuffing.”

The key to overcoming those fears is self confidence, Harper said, adding that many people lack this essential part of overcoming fear. Many times, he said, people find it easier to believe in other things than to believe in themselves.

“I find it very odd that people will expend a great deal of vocal energy cheering on a sports team but they will not expend that same energy cheering themselves on,” he said.

To build a successful future, everyone must make a commitment to themselves to become an active architect of their own life. And the first step in that direction, Harper said, is to develop and sketch out a blue print for where you want to be in life. Once the blueprint is in place, start building your foundation, he said.

“We need to build a big solid foundation if we’ve got big dreams,” Harper said.

From the foundation of education and experience, begin building the framework for your dreams, Harper said. “The framework is the choices we make. Make choices that fit your blueprint.”

The last thing that is needed is a door. “Make a door and open it to step into your destiny,” Harper said.

However, to make the plan work, Harper said people have to be accountable to themselves for their own success.

“We create a dream for ourselves, but then we just kind of wait for it to fall in place,” Harper said. “What we tend to do is not be accountable to ourselves. We trust in our hope.”

“Hold yourself to more accountability than you would an architect who is building a house for you,” he added. “You are building your life.”

Harper encouraged everyone to tap into their potential and take control of their own destiny.

“You have to get up and say today is the day I’m going to get up and change my world,” he said.

By taking control of their own destiny, Harper said people can begin to have an impact on the world around them and leave a lasting legacy behind once they are gone.

To affect change in the world, different types of energy are needed, Harper said, adding two of the types are radiant energy and kinetic energy.

“Radiant energy is the energy of light, the energy of radiance, the energy of letting your light shine,” Harper said. “We need to expose injustice. We need to shine a light on it.”

Kinetic energy, he said, is the energy of movement and momentum. Change cannot happen without movement, he added.

“I would suggest you take some of your potential energy and turn it into radiant energy and shine a light on injustice,” Harper said. “Then you take the rest of your potential energy and turn it into kinetic energy to affect a change.”

Harper is also the author of five books which have been featured on the New York Times Best Seller list.

He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and cum laude with a doctorate from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government.