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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fighter (Christopher Greenwood)

TITLE: Fighter
AUTHOR: Christopher Greenwood and Shannon Constantine Logan
PUBLISHER: Manafest Productions Inc, 2013, (156 pages).

This book is a personal story of how musician Chris "Manafest" Greenwood fights back from the doldrums of despair, clings on to five keys of hope, and battles forward to achieve his dreams, and at the same time to encourage many others to not give up on their dreams. Greenwood bares out his growing up years with dramatic details . At the age of 5, his father had already attempted three suicides of which the final one was successful. He had to endure verbal assaults from his grandfather. As a fatherless teenager, he did not know what it means to have a father to guide him in his life decisions. At Grades 5 and 6, he found comfort in junk food amid verbal bullying in school. Even in Church, he was often reluctant to go as some people in church appeared to him as "plain weirdos." Thankfully, his mother and older sister proved to be a strong source of support. His turning point from flight to fight came when he invited Jesus into his life. His attitude began to change. His outlook started to brighten. His gifting proceeded to blossom. Having sold more than 200,000 records worldwide, nominated three times for the JUNO awards, and fast becoming a music sensation, Greenwood becomes more widely known as "Manafest." This unique name contain two meanings. The first is based on the word "manifest" which communicates a desire for Greenwood to inspire people by manifesting hope. The second meaning is the letter "a" is due to an initial mispelling on his cellphone, but Greenwood continued to use it because it is unique and he felt it defined him as someone special. The rest of the book deals with the "Anatomy of a fighter" in which he distills five core values that define his success and his own life.

Greenwood begins with the first core value that stands up against oppression and suppression: Courage. One must remain vigilant against desires to quit. Courage brings commitment, self-belief, and faith. He tells of how he lets courage help him to carve out his own path toward music and his career. The second core value is perseverance which always squeezes out a determination that says: "one more try." Recognizing that life is never devoid of problems, he also realizes that the awareness of problems is by itself a sign of life. His own music career would have never taken off if he had not persevered. Believing that there is no such thing as "failure" in music, he climbs above his teacher's negative feedback, and to press on toward the road less traveled. His first tour is an example of perseverance through a journey despite getting lost and even spending a night in the car on a secluded highway! The third core value is about developing a Fighter's Mindset. This is especially important for people doing creative arts and new ventures. This change of perspective can make or break any great ideas or anybody. It is easy to hear criticisms coming from all over. It is also easy to be bogged down by statistics that paint an unrosy side of what we are doing. Fight negative thoughts with God's Word. Be affirmed by people who trust us. Let our thoughts by guided by faith and belief. For Greenwood, the Bible forms the fundamental beliefs in his life. The fourth core value is Discipline which is more nurture than nature. One needs to beware of falling into complacency and laziness. With discipline, one seeks not just to maintain one's desire to excel, exercises and self-discipline enable one to be ready for the next level. The fifth core value is Willpower, which to Greenwood is that "internal force that pushes you to give it a little more." For him, it is that little difference between success and failure. Without willpower, one can easily be tempted to give up on a venture that is 99.9% complete. It is also about choosing not to give up.

So What?

This book is both a mini biography as well as an inspirational work. As a mini-biography, we read about how an ordinary boy grows up to become one of the most popular music sensations. We read about the tough beginnings and the challenges Manafest encounters through life. As an inspirational work, we learn of what it takes to engage life as a fighter, and to come forth victoriously. Filled with personal stories and anecdotes from well-known political leaders like Abraham Lincoln, preachers like Jonathan Swift and Norman Vincent Peale, bloggers like Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt, spiritualists like Marianne Williamson, philosophers like Plato and Lao Tzu, fellow entertainers like Johnny Cash and Sylvester Stallone, and many others, Manafest also contributes several wise quips of his own, such as:

  • "90 percent of the people in the crowd would never do it. They would love to do it but they're too scared. It's true. If you can do something that the majority of people cannot do - what are you waiting for? Get up and just do it." (28)
  • "I thought about my father, who had committed suicide; when things got tough, he didn't know how to handle it. I can't say I've never thought about it, because the truth is when I was younger the idea ran through my mind a lot. At one point, I even saw a psychiatrist to help me talk out some of my problems. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There will always be problems, no matter what stage of life you're at." (45)
  • "When I heard the comment, 'How do you beat a man that doesn't stop?' it rang true in my heart and did something to me. Whenever I think I can't go on anymore, God whispers in my ear, 'Keep going, boy. I'm with you.' And I get up and go again." (55)
  • "Another big definition change was when I came to realize that I'm a leader - but I'm not Superman. I can'e be everything to everyone, and no matter how much I want to, I can't please everybody. But when I started hiring band members, putting music out there, and stepping out in front of larger and larger crowds, I had to admit it: I'm a leader. Truthfully though, it still freaks me out sometimes. Leadership comes with a lot of responsibility." (74)
  • "Get control of your thoughts and you'll get control of your life." (75)
  • "There are three coaches I can think of in my life who have inspired me to keep fighting: my spiritual coach, my business coach, and the 'Head Coach,' aka God." (129)

Readers will find this book an inspirational read. For some of us who are down and discouraged, there are many reasons to pick up this book and fight like a man. Do not be waylaid by criticisms that threaten to derail one's journey to achieving one's dream. Be courageous against challenges both expected and unexpected. Persevere on even when people or circumstances seem to work against us. develop a mindset that never says "give up." Be disciplined. Be filled with willpower. Appreciate and listen well to our personal coaches, for they are there to help us succeed and to be the best we can be. As I was reading this, I cannot help but think of another Canadian superstar who currently struggles with negative publicity, which is not helped by his own erratic behaviours and wild partying. Justin Bieber may very well benefit from the reading of this book, especially the part on discipline.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Manafest Productions and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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