The Power of an Ordinary Life, with Harvey Hook (Inspiring Women, Episode 52)
Everyone, no matter how ordinary they might believe themselves to be, can leave a lasting impact on the world. That’s the message Harvey Hook, author of The Power of an Ordinary Life, offers in his book and in this interview with Inspiring Women host Betty Collins.
The host of Inspiring Women is Betty Collins and the show is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Betty’s Show Notes
As he states on his LinkedIn profile…
I create opportunities for people and communities to thrive.
Harvey Hook is my guest on this episode. I interview VERY few men on my podcast, so when I do, you know he has something big to offer my listeners.
He talks about his book, The Power of an Ordinary Life…
I wanted to write a book for what I would call the everyday, average, ordinary person, of which I am one who wanted to learn or discover if they could live a life that would leave an impact on the world. And I wholeheartedly believe every individual, every impact, every person can have an impact on the world around them. I wanted to bring others onto a journey where they could discover the steps that they could take to affirm themselves and recognize that an everyday, average, ordinary life are truly individuals who can change the course of the universe. And I truly believe that.
What did you learn when you wrote this book?
I began to realize what I was writing down in the book was who I am. I have found my purpose. That drives me. It’s the thing that leads me through life. I begin my purpose from this vantage point. All people of value, all people have hope. There’s always hope at the end.
Hosted by Betty Collins, CPA, and Director at Brady Ware and Company. Betty also serves as the Committee Chair for Empowering Women, and Director of the Brady Ware Women Initiative. Each episode is presented by Brady Ware and Company, committed to empowering women to go their distance in the workplace and at home.
For more information, go to the Resources page at Brady Ware and Company.
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[00:00:00] Betty Collins
I’m Betty Collins. And this is inspiring women. And today I’m doing something that’s a little bit different. I’m actually going to interview a man, but I guarantee you he will inspire you today. He’s got an amazing journey, and he and I have had some time together and I said, I really, really want you to be on my podcast. He’s just done some exceptional things and we’re going to talk about some of those things. But before we get started today, I have with me Harvey Hooke, and he has he’s a legend in Columbus, Ohio. As far as I’m concerned. He’s just done it. And he’s he’s just a great example. And he lives out who he is, which is what’s great about him. But, Harvey, I want you to just take a couple of minutes and tell us who you are and tell us a little bit about you.
[00:00:45] Harvey Hook
Well, thank you so much. I’m overjoyed to be able to be on the Inspiring Women podcast. So, Betty, thank you so much. So, Harvey Hook, I’m a the youngest of three boys born to a lumberjack and seamstress in Lincoln, Maine, northern Appalachia. I like to say that we were a hillbilly elegy, but without all the downside of that, we have, we had love, faith, family connectivity, and we stuck together through it all. Early on in my life, it was very important to me to know who I was and what I was supposed to do with my life. While my friends were searching for jobs and careers I was searching for what am I supposed to do with my life? Because this is how I was made and I wanted to live out my purpose. Background in Psychology, Master’s in Counseling, Denver Seminary and then piecing together 40 years of nonprofit work, serving incarcerated kids and inner city at risk youth in Denver and in Columbus, 26 years working with business, professional and government leaders. So when I was working with At Risk Kids, I was kind of a mentor, coach, counselor, guide, and I simply did the same thing with business, professional and government leaders. And so I’ve been in those roles over the years. I did some time serving children and families in the Dominican Republic with health care, housing, and the latest initiative is working with a friend to help serve homeless individuals here in central Ohio. Yes, married, two kids, both married and five delightful, delicious grandchildren.
[00:02:37] Betty Collins
There he goes. If you if you could see us, he he just lit up with a smile on that when we said that I had met you when you were in in that phase where you were really with the business community having integrity and ethics. And you always had an impression on me. And it was funny, when we had lunch a couple of months ago, you said, you know, we kind of know of each other. And so let’s just have let’s break bread together. We had a great time and.
[00:03:01] Harvey Hook
It was just the most natural thing to greet with a hug. Yeah, we just. It just was what we were supposed to do.
[00:03:07] Betty Collins
We did. We did so. But I but what has always I want to talk about today, something that you really achieve. And when people write books and they’re an author that the process is a big deal. Right. But you wrote a book, The Power of an Ordinary Life. And as we head into the end of 2022 and we head into the holidays and all those kinds of things, I want to say this book is powerful. It’s a good time to to be reflective. But your book, The Power of an Ordinary Life, I have the book and I haven’t read it thoroughly, but I keep saying it’s my next book, but it’s just the the title of it caught me from the beginning. So talk to us a little bit a bit about the book. You know, what’s the premise of the book premise?
00:03:56] Harvey Hook
I wish my next lifetime I’m going to be the guy that comes out with like the Nike logo statement saying just do it right in this lifetime. I can’t say anything that that quickly. What I wanted to do, I wanted to write a book for what I would call the everyday, average, ordinary person, of which I am one who wanted to learn or discover if they could live a life that would leave an impact on the world. And I wholeheartedly believe every individual, every impact, every person can have an impact on the world around them. I wanted to bring others onto a journey where they could discover the steps that they could take to affirm themselves and recognize that an everyday, average, ordinary life are truly individuals who can change the course of the universe. And I truly believe that.
[00:04:58] Betty Collins
And we’re in a time where we could. Really use some change in the course of our universe, right? For sure. Why did you write the book? What’s the why behind it? I mean, you kind of talked about that, but is there more to the why? Because that’s important to my why.
[00:05:13] Harvey Hook
There’s a practical reason why I was turning 50 and I needed to do something to leave my mark on humanity. So I was going to run a marathon until my orthopedic doctor said, Your left knee will not allow you to do that. And I was very disturbed. It really, really bothered me. I want to do something and I’m I journal I go through seasons of journaling every day or weeks and months at a time where I write my reflections down. And I was reviewing my journal and I discovered in my journal the game plan for the book. I wanted to help people come and know and understand what’s your what’s my destiny, what’s my purpose, what’s my mission? What are my gifts and abilities? What are my priorities? What’s my strategy for getting it done? How do I leave an impact on the world around me and what will my legacy be? And those were notes. I had journaled. I put the I, I wrote those down. I’m fairly well read.
And so I literally went to my library and sorted books into stacks that applied to each of those categories. And I looked at what others said about those things. And then I began. Then I wrote the outline to the book, and I started from there.
[00:06:38] Betty Collins
So how many years have you journaled and did you keep? Have you kept all.
[00:06:42] Harvey Hook
That journal for 40 years? And I’ve kept everything I’ve journaled. Oh, that’s why now there are, there are times in seasons where eight or nine years in a row there’s kind of nothing. Yeah. And then there are seasons where it is just flush with thoughts and poems and reflections and notes.
[00:06:59] Betty Collins
And so that was what started. Well, in the opening to your book, it’s there’s this unknown young woman named Ashley Smith. So who is she and why would her story matter to us?
[00:07:13] Harvey Hook
Oh, she really she really touched my life. I could have began the book with a story of someone that we all would know. It could have been Mother Teresa, right? We know that story. Ashley Smith, 26 year old young woman, single mother, her daughter had been taken from her because of repeated drug and alcohol abuse. 18 months prior to this event in her life, her husband had gotten into a fight, was stabbed and killed. This was a Friday night. Saturday morning, she is going to go visit her daughter, Paige, who’s living with a relative. Hours before this, there’s a man named Brian Nichols was on his way to court in Atlanta. He overpowered the female deputy, took her gun, took her handcuffs, her handcuffs, handcuffed. A deputy he met along the way, went to the courtroom, found the judge in the court. Reporter murdered. Both of them murdered. Another officer on the way somehow found his way into a federal police officials home, killed him, took his truck, made his escape. So Brian Nichols, subject to the largest manhunt in the history of the state of Georgia on the run. Ashley, it’s now 2:00 in the morning and ashley steps outside her apartment, smoke a cigarette. Brian Nichols shows up, gun into her ribs, pushes her into apartment. Ashley says to herself, My life is over. Long story short, he ties her up. He takes a shower. She’s in a chair in in the in the bathroom with him, towel over her head.
[00:09:05] Harvey Hook
He cleans up and he wants to talk. She began to talk about herself, her abuse lost her husband, lost her child drug abuse addiction. And he came to realize he was talking to somebody who was very much like himself. He untied her. She convinced him to take the truck. She would take her car. They went and hid the truck. And then they came back to her apartment. She began to read from the book Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. He began to ask questions. He agreed to let her go visit her daughter and gave her 40, $40. She made pancakes for him. And put real butter on the pancakes and. That transpired into her calling the police. And when the police arrived, Brian Nichols walked out the front door waving his t shirt in surrender and gave himself up to the police. And so she was he had offered her to take drugs with him. And she figured if she was going to die, she was not going to leave a legacy of drug abuse in her blood system. And she refused, no matter what it would what it would take. And so that’s why her life matters. She was just struggling to hold on. But in those hours, those 7 hours that took place between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. in the morning, everything came to fruition in her life. And Brian Nichols was given an opportunity for the beginning of a new life. That’s why her life matters.
[00:10:55] Betty Collins
Ordinary life. The power of an ordinary life. Yes, I’ve heard I’ve heard that. I’ve read the work worn book. It’s fabulous. And they’ve gone through all of that. So that’s why you started with her? Powerful. So if anything else, find out who she is, right? Yes. What did you learn when you wrote this book? What did you learn while you were doing this?
I began to realize what I was writing down in the book was who I am. I. Going to fast forward from when I wrote this book ten years into the future and the greater clarity is come. I believe that people who know who they are, it’s your identity, why they are here, that’s your purpose, how you should live. Your character are best prepared to love, love, serve and lead themselves and others in healthy, high impact ways. And there’s a study out of London, in London, England, tied together with, I believe, State University of New York. That literally shows that people who know and understand their purpose in life are healthier, happier, and they live longer. There’s something that takes place all the way down to the cellular level that really transforms those people who know their purpose in life.
And if I fully believe that if I’m employed somewhere, my number one job is not sorry, Betty, serving the needs of my employer. It’s bringing my purpose to work with me each day. And then myself and my purpose together are then best combined to serve the needs of my employer and whatever clients and vendors are that we serve out there. Hmm.
[00:13:00] Betty Collins
That’s a lot to learn. That’s a book in itself, right? It is. It is. Well, in your mind because you’re very focused on purpose. What is purpose to you? Oh, man.
[00:13:13] Harvey Hook
Purpose is. Wow, you would think I should be the expert having the expert answer for this. Ask Rick.
[00:13:20] Betty Collins
[00:13:22] Harvey Hook
So it is that thing that. Drives me the thing that leads me through life. So I’m going to tell you what my purpose is while I search for a much better answer. Okay, well, purpose. It’s your reason for being right. My your reason for being. And then I’ll come back to my purpose. Thank you. Brain cells for kicking in.
[00:13:50] Betty Collins
[00:13:51] Harvey Hook
Use your reason for being. Conversation. Three years ago, company CEO. We’re talking about my book. And he says, Harvey, you when I was 25 years old and this guy has done well, I was looking for a job in a career. I didn’t give one iota of thought to purpose. And it was it’s always been my wiring. It’s nothing. I don’t think I decided to do it. I think I had to do it to know what my purpose in life was. So it’s the reason why I’m here. It’s the reason behind everything I’ve ever done in my life. And there’s been different iterations over the years based on how I viewed or what particular segment of the world I was serving it. My purpose in life is to create opportunities for individuals and communities to thrive. That’s what I that’s what I do. So what does that look like? It looks like when I was leading the the organization, the gathering. And we would we would bring business, corporate faith, government leaders together, and we would listen to Tony Dungy, Elizabeth Dole, zig zag, you name whoever these people were.
[00:15:18] Harvey Hook
I wanted to give deliver the best of the best to the leaders in Columbus so that their lives maybe could have a better impact on those people that they led and served. So it was always about seeking to make the person better, create opportunities. Part of that was, you know, as a as a white guy from small town USA, I jumped into in Denver, in Columbus, working in this area of reconciliation and race. And I’ve done it my entire adult life and maybe somewhat of an anomaly to my peers in the community. I went out to the significant African-American leaders in our city, and I put together forums and conversations, and they were always held in the black community, not the white community. Don’t come to where we’re at. And then I would seek to bring the white community to them on their turf. The significant speakers were always black, so it was always an opportunity. So I would lead in those areas that they weren’t necessarily in my job description. But it was a it was a way to make our community a better place to live.
[00:16:39] Betty Collins
Which is your underlying purpose. That’s just who you are. I know that when I read Purpose Driven Life, I also did Simon some x y went to the University of Why with Betty Clark. She helped me and I kind of took those two and kind of they intertwine, but yet purpose was kind of the first and then the why. They worked hand in hand. So I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through that. I’m sure you have, but.
[00:17:05] Harvey Hook
It just fabulous. I’ve read I read some of his works.
[00:17:09] Betty Collins
It just putting those two together on purpose. And it really, really helped me have a whole new I’m not about depreciation your tax return, you know. And so it just really solidified things for you.
[00:17:21] Harvey Hook
And knowing and understanding your wire on knowing and understanding your purpose, whatever path of life you’re on, they’re going to be broken toes, busted ankles, skin, knees, successes, failures, bruised divorce, drug addicted children, cancer, you name it. But if you’re pursuing your why, your why will help to sustain you through all of that as opposed to, well, this is just a job. This is just a career.
[00:17:56] Betty Collins
No, I mean, when I did those two things together, my whole entire outlook changed.
[00:18:02] Harvey Hook
[00:18:02] Betty Collins
Which which is why I’ll go into this next question. I mean, you told me that people who have purpose know I’m going to put the why in there as well. They live longer. They’re healthier and happier than their peers. I’m sure my audience would love to hear more about how do we know that? How do you know that? I’m sure it’s because, you know. But why are these people happier? Why are they living longer? Why is their health in order? Because life isn’t easy, but it can be easier, is how I describe it.
[00:18:32] Harvey Hook
Um. I. So much of this is rooted. It comes from my worldview. Yeah. Whether our you or our audience can relate to this or not, if you. If you can’t look for transferable concepts, that will work for you. I believe myself in humanity. I believe we we were created by God. And I believe he has created me with incredible worth and value. And if I am part of humanity, all of humanity comes equipped with inestimable value and worth. So I begin my purpose from that vantage point. All people of value, all people have hope. There’s always hope at the end. The glass and I have been depressed. I have been curled up in an inn on my bed before. You know, I have had all of those things going on in my life, but there has always been a purpose that would bring me back up out of that. Right. So it’s in that context, I’m not sure I’ve answered your question, though.
[00:19:48] Betty Collins
So you have I mean, I think when people understand the why and purpose, which is why I like doing and talking about your book at this time of year, because people do a lot of reflecting. They do a lot of, hey, we’re having holidays, hey, we’re in in the year. Hey, you know, we’re starting a new January 1st seems to be this reset. So I think people need to get a hold of the purpose and the why and they will have a healthier, happier life.
[00:20:13] Harvey Hook
So and so and a variety of ways to put yourself on a on a pathway to discover your purpose in life, of course, Kindle version or buy the hardback or swap back the power of an ordinary life from Amazon. The Internet’s a great place. How do I how can I know and understand my purpose in life? There’s a variety of resources out there with a series of questions. I began by journaling. I began by listening to others, and then I add practical application to that, as in, you know, the emotional quotient, the disk, Briggs Meyer, the Enneagram strength finder. There’s a variety of tools out there. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover most of those tools till later in life, but onto OC. So Harvey, your purpose is to create opportunities for people in communities to thrive. Well, how do you do that? Well, my my results tell me. I’m a visionary. I’m a. I’m a connector. Yeah. This introvert, when he goes out to networking events, just becomes the big extrovert who’s connecting with everybody. I’m a connector. I’m strategic, I’m an advocate. I’ve got to be fighting for something or someone. I’m I’m a builder and a maximizer. That is the profile of somebody who is is an entrepreneur who starts things and builds things and maximizes them. So I have a history that goes with that. So I add the internal discovery that comes by answering key questions, boiling it down to discovering your purpose. And I add on to that some of these resource tools that give me the freedom to forget about my weaknesses most of the time and give most of my attention to my strengths. I early in my life, in career, I was doing it backwards.
[00:22:19] Betty Collins
Yeah. I think we all do that, though. You know, it’s easy to do it. So. Obviously, you know your purpose. You define it. Well, it’s it what’s interesting is you could be on a beach somewhere and instead you take on this whole new big thing, which I’ll let you talk about. But so obviously, knowing your purpose, it’s your life’s work. It isn’t. I’m this age. I’m done. Right. And so how has knowing your purpose impacted life work? You know, I don’t know if I’m asking that correctly, but you’re you’re not retired at all. You’re not stopping at all. You’re just doing something differently because it’s life’s work.
[00:23:04] Harvey Hook
It’s it’s my life work to live my purpose until I’m gone. I’m 69 years old and there are other things in life I could be doing. Every significant role I’ve ever had in life came because somebody picked up a phone and called me. I’ve never needed my resume and I’ve got a pretty good resume. I’ve sharpened it multiple times and nobody ever wanted me when the resume went through the door first. But so so for me, it was an opportunity. I got a phone call. Yeah, from an attorney friend here in Columbus, Ohio, Juan Jose Perez.
And he is starting a. Nonprofit organization, Vista Village Vista, Beautiful View, Vista Village. And what we are doing is we are developing a tiny homes community to serve homeless individuals, tiny homes, 420 square feet, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living area, front porch. And we are putting all that time and energy and effort into the beauty of the home, because we want to embrace the dignity of the individuals whom we are going to be serving. It is in southeast Columbus. We have 15 acres of land we’re developing it in. In two phases. And the people we’re going to serve will be truly the homeless living in their cars or living in the camps who want to come off the land. Young adults aging out of foster care.
[00:24:42] Harvey Hook
Ex-offenders returning to society. Veterans and those coming through substance recovery programs. We’re going to put those populations together. There’s a great meal and need in each one of those communities. Every individual who comes into this village, this is what we’re doing to seek the best outcomes for success for them, not for us. Each one of them comes in, will have an existing relationship with the service provider. So they’re not meeting anybody new, so to speak. They have a service provider. They have a case plan. They make a commitment to continue that case plan to live at Vista Village for 18 to 24 months. Yes, we will be the new people. We will facilitate and coordinate the services. We will have rules and guidelines. But our hope is to provide these individuals hope, help love healing, professional services, financial literacy, mental health care, health care, dental vision, workforce development. So our community partners will provide all of that. And then over 18 to 24 months, they will secure employment, have a savings account. And then at the end of that, we will work with other community partners to move them to their own independent living and the broader community. And at that point, that opens the door for the next resident to come and live at Vista Village.
[00:26:25] Betty Collins
And the reason I wanted you to to talk a little bit about that was just everything’s driven by purpose. You don’t have to do what you’re doing, right? You’re 69 years old. You don’t have to do. But yet your purpose drives it. Your wife drives it, and you’re the power of your ordinary life. Continues, yeah.
[00:26:46] Harvey Hook
Continues. And I’m here to help my my younger associate, John Perez, who’s 66, who the reason we’re all in this thing together as an attorney, he has clients. One of his clients was sued by the city of Columbus to move a homeless camp off their downtown property. And John chose to work with the city, work with Mount Carmel health care system and their homeless outreach ministry to transition that camp off to an alternate location. So we handled it ethically, morally, spiritually and not legally. And so as he got engaged in this process, he said he asked, what about the homeless? How are we serving the needs of the homeless in this community and nationally? Two years of research. It’s from there that we discovered tiny homes. It is more cost effective. Yeah. Wraparound services does provide a much higher degree of success on the back side. And and then John and I get to continue to live out our purpose, and others will join us in this effort.
[00:28:07] Betty Collins
Well, what I know, my audience knows now is you’re obviously your book is amazing. You should read it. You understand purpose. Talk to my audience as we kind of wind down about. How do you get started in knowing that for you? You said it came really natural to have my purpose, right? How does someone get started when they’re going to get ready to start a new year they’re getting? I mean, everyone does this. What do we call them?
[00:28:34] Harvey Hook
The the New Year’s resolutions.
[00:28:36] Betty Collins
Instead, how would you direct people in my audience to go know, start with your purpose and here’s how you start doing that? How do they do that?
[00:28:44] Harvey Hook
Well, however you want to do this, whether it’s an iPad computer. I love paper and pencil. Right. You ask yourself the question, why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? I would ask five other people in your life, What do you think my purpose in life is? On the beauty of that is they get to think about their purpose as well. I would look at the five or six significant things you’ve done in your life and what brought what gave you joy from doing those four or five things where you sensed you were successful? Not that the final results were were worthy of an award, but successful because it filled up who you were. I would look at those things. I would and I can provide to you and to your audience resources such as the Enneagram or the Emotional Quotient. I’m connected to leaders in those fields in Columbus. I can provide a series of questions and a process for people to go through, but it really, you know, it’s not worthwhile. You know, it’s not you know, you don’t you’re not going to come up with in six guesses, so to speak. Right. But but you stay with it and you’re right and reflect. And I had a friend I shared with him my version of my purpose at that time. And he said, Harvey, that’s way too many words. I think it’s I think I’m down to seven words now to create to create opportunities for people and communities to thrive. It may be longer, but I know and understand what.
[00:30:28] Betty Collins
What that is what.
[00:30:28] Harvey Hook
That means. And it doesn’t mean it’s it’s not it’s not tiny homes. It’s not the business community. It’s not my work in the Dominican Republic or incarcerated kids. It’s all of those things. It’s simply who I brought to each one of those situations and then what I brought out of myself while I was there.
[00:30:49] Betty Collins
I know our audience would love it and we’ll we’ll connect and make sure that they can go to these resources that you definitely can to get people started and get people thinking and getting the mindset change the purpose. And of course, you didn’t say they should read the power of an ordinary life, but I will. Oh, please. It’s right now. It’s on Amazon. Still, correct? Yes. Yeah. Okay. All right. It is. So you definitely just want to go out and find that, but I want you to leave. What are your final thoughts on today’s conversation? We just enjoyed listening to you. I can get very you notice I haven’t talked much, which is not like me. I’ve done more listening today. But what would be some final thoughts that you would like to leave with the audience.
[00:31:30] Harvey Hook
For on those occasions when someone wants me to autograph my.
[00:31:35] Betty Collins
[00:31:37] Harvey Hook
I write the date, I write the name and I ask the question, What will you do today in some small way to change the world forever? I always ask that question. It’s so. It’s not. So I’ve chosen not to quote. Give a short quip, inspirational comment or best of luck in life, which for those who do it great, good for me. It’s a throwaway line I don’t want to use. I want the person to read what I wrote and look at themselves. And that’s that’s the starting point. So what will you do today in some small way to change the world forever? Because I can’t be in Ukraine today alongside a Zelenskiy. I can’t do that. But I’m going to encounter people in my neighborhood, people in my family, people in the workplace over the next three or four days. And there’s something I can do there.
[00:32:40] Betty Collins
Ashley Smith did it 2 a.m. in the morning.
[00:32:42] Harvey Hook
Yes, she did.
[00:32:43] Betty Collins
Correct. Well, it’s been a pleasure having you today. I enjoyed getting to connect connect with you a couple of months ago. And I just wanted my audience to really hear the message that you have so powerful. So Harvey Hooke, he wrote The Power of an Ordinary Life. He’s lived a very powerful, ordinary life and just does it so humbly. So thank you for being with us today. And we’re looking forward to some of those resources that we can my audience can take it a step further.
[00:33:11] Harvey Hook
Wonderful. I’ll put those together and get them.
[00:33:13] Betty Collins
Over to you. Sounds wonderful.
[00:33:15] Harvey Hook
Thank you, Betty.