In the dynamic world of sports-based youth development, the art of being in the right places at the right time isn’t just about chance; it’s about strategic intent and purposeful action. For me, it involves vocalizing the spaces I aspire to be in, particularly those dedicated to empowering marginalized Black youth through sports. As an aspiring global thought leader in sports-based youth development, I am driven by the goal of recognition on a broader scale.
Being acknowledged as a thought leader in global sports-based youth development is a goal that drives my efforts. The frustration of missing out on impactful opportunities has taught me valuable lessons, pushing me to realize that sometimes it’s about creating the “right place and right time” for myself and others.
Authenticity, passion, and conviction are my guiding principles when I do show up at these critical junctures. Moving beyond the “fake it until you make it” mantra, my wife Kelli and I have paid the price to be truly heard and felt. Passion, derived from the Latin word for suffering, reflects the transformative experiences of our childhood navigating social and emotional challenges, shaping us into impactful practitioners.
Conviction, as the catalyst for change, is the heartbeat of my presence. The belief that we must be convicted at the heart before collaborating with hands and connecting at the head underscores my approach. I strive to be felt before being heard, recognizing that authenticity often leads to impact even if it means not being invited to certain spaces.
Saying no to invitations and yes to assignments, which I believe are God ordained, further refines my focus. This discernment ensures that I invest my energy where it aligns with my purpose, leading to meaningful contributions in areas like Black youth empowerment, mentorship, educational innovation, athletics, and addressing social issues.
So, the next time you find yourself in a room discussing vital topics like Black youth, mentorship, educational outcomes, sports, crime, poverty, and racism, and I’m not present, don’t hesitate to ask, “Where is C.J. Stewart?” Because, for me, being absent from these conversations is not an option—I’m committed to shaping the narrative and making a lasting impact on a global scale.