In your journey to self-discovery: Understand that "being fierce is being tenacious, not vicious or ferocious; being fierce is being relentless, not ruthless."
Sarah Udoh-Grossfurthner interviews: Paul Redwood (American): an "I am a believer in Jesus. I am a proud father and a husband. I am an Engineer. I am a leader. I am a problem solver. I am a community contributor."
Sarah: Paul, thank you for agreeing to share your thoughts with my readers and me today. Before we begin, let me summarize the purpose behind my interviews. First of all, the project is an offshoot of an upcoming book, From Fearful to Fierce — a memoir about overcoming debilitating fears through the power of self-knowing — and its purpose is to share tips and life lessons on how to become the best version of our self through and by so doing change the world around us for the better. Let's dive right in with the first question.
Paul: Your project is relevant for the times we live in, Sarah. And the topic, From Fearful to Fierce — is thought-provoking and hard to forget. Well done.
Sarah: Thank you, Paul. Now, do you sometimes stand in front of a mirror and wonder, who is that person staring right back at me?
Sarah: What's your answer, usually?
Paul: I know who you are, but who is that other person behind you, the one fighting to be seen? (chuckle).
Sarah: Interesting answer. Why do you perceive another person behind your reflection?
Paul: Simple. Because I know it is a season of two Paul's in my life. There's an old Paul whom I call Secular Paul and a new Paul who is appropriately named Peculiar Paul. Secular Paul keeps shaking his head because he looks in the mirror and sees his same self, but when he looks at the actions of the new Paul, he wonders what has gotten inside of his heart.
Sarah: Are we talking about a split personality here?
Paul: Secular Paul is not talking about a split personality because he a recognized changed personality.
Sarah: Sorry, but I don't think I understand that phrase — he is a recognized changed personality. What are you trying to convey here?
Paul: A split personality exists in the person where their Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde can pop up at any moment in a 24-hour cycle. These personalities could cycle between a pessimistic or an optimistic outlook — depending on the troubles surrounding them. A Changed personality is also an inner working that results in a dominant change. However, he moves from being an introvert to an extrovert. In my case, the changed Paul, Peculiar Paul, still has the base foundation of an introvert. Still, that foundation is now slowly interwoven by an extrovert's personality — and that new intertwine is fueled by the spirit of God. And so, for that reason, he's able to operate as an extrovert as and when needed by God. Is it making sense to you now?
Sarah: I think it is. Go on, please.
Paul: Secular Paul is all about minding his own business and keeping trouble at a safe distance, whereas Peculiar Paul is all about minding God's business — and is mindful of the role of trouble in the process. One occupies fearful space; the other stands on a fearless platform.
Sarah: Beautifully put! So, what you are saying, as it relates to my topic, is that there is a Paul who is not afraid of knowing himself — the good, the bad and the ugly included — and the Paul who is so fearful that the idea of knowing himself — or looking at the reflection of himself in a mirror — fills him with trepidation? But should these two be allowed to co-exist together? If not, which of the Pauls do you give space to in your life?
Paul: Once you are a new believer or Born Again in Christ, the Bible says old things have passed away, and all things have become new. Before Christ, I gave the old Paul more space because I was spiritually dead. But now that I'm spiritually alive in Christ, my entire space belongs to the new Paul. The new Paul should pay rent if he wants a part of it (chuckle).
Paul: That was meant as a joke. But what I am trying to say is that the old Paul's body is wrapped around his new inner spirit-filled being, and as such, they are constantly at war with each other. I am not afraid of this war because the victory is not mine but God's to master.
Sarah: What step (or steps) do you take daily to kick out Secular Paul — that is, the Paul you would like to see less of?
Paul: Simple. All I have to do is decrease — become less of myself — so that God can increase. When God increases, the actual Paul I want to experience more of — the Peculiar Paul — also increases. How do I know this? Because God is perfect in all his ways, He injected His perfect spirit into the imperfect body of the believer. Because He is perfect, the body into which God injects His spirit also slowly evolves — goes from imperfect to perfect. The other step I take to kick out Secular Paul is giving the first fruit of my day to God in the form of early morning prayers. By the way, my prayer community is called the New Hope prayer line, and it begins daily at 5:30 AM ET M — F @ +1 (520)453–8815.
Sarah: Noted. Thank you, Paul; I will check it out.
One of the most impactful books I have read in recent times is former First Lady Michelle Obama's BECOMING. What does it say (or mean) to you when you think about the word' BECOMING'?
Paul: The word becoming rings like a victorious homecoming to me — living life, overcoming your shortcomings; it is getting crowned in favour…of the Lord, becoming who we are called to be. Becoming also means having the proper plumbing in place so you can flow without limits into your future. It is a process of disrupting the unbecoming part of you to make way for the part that allows you to become.
Sarah: A lot of valuable takeaways there, but before we unpack the list of becomings, let's talk about something I have noticed a lot about you: your spirituality. Are you a pastor or a priest of some sort?
Paul: You are very perceptive, Sarah, to pick up the fact that I'm very spiritual. Yes, to both your questions. About ten years ago, I was called to become a minister of Christ, and subsequently, I became a chaplain and a pastor.
Sarah: Have you always been spiritual? Has spirituality always occupied such a prominent place in your life?
Paul: Not really. My spiritual journey began in October of 2004. This was a time where I was earnestly seeking the meaning of life — even though I was living what most people would say was the American dream: a home on two prime acres of land, a beautiful wife, two wonderful daughters, nice cars…you name it. Despite all the affluence, there was a deep void in my soul. And this void was even more pronounced at a time in my life when I'd just returned home from a victorious trip to Germany. While there, I'd led a team to conquer all the troubles that surfaced, and we returned as heroes, having saved the launch of a major new product. The happiness from that material success was not sustainable. I had a yearning for more. Something much more than the resulting material wealth could provide. I took a few days off from work and just pondered, wondering what was wrong with me and why I was feeling so empty. I couldn't come up with any solution or reason, so I went to church that Sunday. And God spoke through the preacher. Suddenly all my questions were answered. When the altar call was made, I went forward to be prayed for. And that day, I received Jesus Christ — as my Lord and Saviour. Since then, God has led me on an adventure of twists & turns with mountain highs & valley lows. Sometimes the low valley was well and truly low. But I would have it no other way but His way. I am grateful.
Sarah: That is poignant!
Let's go back up to your list of becomings…I did say we would come back to that, didn't I? You said something exciting. It (becoming) is a process of disrupting the unbecoming part of you to make way for the better part of you. That's an exciting way of looking at self-knowing. Usually, one connotes 'disrupting' with negativity. But you seem to see it here as a vital (and possibly positive) step towards self-knowing. Care to explain that?
Paul: Yes indeed. In the manufacturing sector of industry, we have now come to embrace disruption as good. In this case, disrupt doesn't mean creating chaos but facilitating change to spearhead growth. Many companies found unity in disrupting what they used to do to adopt transformational change & remain competitive. The same applies to our personal lives, for we have some corrupt habits we need to disrupt and kick to the curb before becoming better.
Sarah: I ought to have asked the one question I always begin my interviews with, Paul. And that is, who are you? Who is Paul Redwood?
Paul: Besides being a proud father and a husband, I like to say that I am a problem solver.
Sarah: Problem solver…in what way?
Paul: You already know that I am an engineer. Let's just say that I put the LID or cap on problems: LID is an acronym for Leader Integrator and Developer. I've led teams to over a dozen chairmanship awards in three different companies as a leader. As an integrator, I bring together & harmonize systems, suppliers, and people. As a team builder, I've developed people who have risen to the level of directors & senior vice presidents. I've also been involved in developing and launching over 12 new products in the last 20 years.
Sarah: Impressive. Still on becoming. What (or who) would you say YOU are becoming?
Paul: I'm becoming less of what I was before — being bogged down with being known as good while concealing my baggage of bad. I'm becoming a bit more authentic, which means when I look at God's words in the Bible, I can see what God sees and then be courageous in dealing with it. That means taking the uncomfortable steps of being vulnerable by sharing my thoughts and faults. I'm becoming a brother who manages his mistakes so they do not inhibit his growth.
Sarah: In order words, you say the so-called 'good' Paul was not authentic or living his truth in the past?
Paul: You summed that up nicely.
Sarah: What is the most altruistic thing you've ever done and why?
Paul: I would love for God to answer that question since I'm more interested in hearing from Him — and not from me. Remember what I said about decreasing so He might increase?
Sarah: Fair enough.
Paul: Besides, the Bible tells us that the heart can be very deceitful. It also says…let another man praise you.
Sarah: Paul, I can be a bit tenacious with the answers I seek in my interviews, so I would still love to hear you tell us the selfless things you've ever done (chuckle).
Paul: Well, I remember grocery shopping on three different occasions for three families and how it seemed to impact them because they were greatly effusive in their thanks. I remember the Pastor thanking me for going to New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina to help them rebuild. I remember people thanking me for jumping into the deep end of the pool, fully dressed, for rescuing a girl who was drowning. I remember a police captain calling me to say thanks for helping them get a man safely off a bridge who was threatening to jump. I remember people saying thanks for sharing the good news of Jesus as they accepted him and became born-again believers.
Sarah: Those are at all no small feats, Paul. Thank you.
Paul: I love the promise of God that whatever you do in secret for him will be rewarded. What is enlightening to me is that four out of the five or 80% of these examples of benevolence is about Peculiar Paul. It is also fascinating that the only one where my life or limb was threatened was when Secular Paul jumped into the pool to save that girl. It is ironic that Paul, who worries more about physical things, puts his life and limb on the line. It is profoundly astonishing to me that God was protecting and preserving me for the day I would receive his love in my heart & be transformed into Peculiar Paul.
Sarah: And now, tell us the most un-altruistic thing you've ever done and why? Life is about balance — to appreciate the good, we also have to know the bad.
Paul: Once again, God is my judge on this one. There are many shameful and embarrassing things in my past. Infidelity is not kind, and it does no good to anyone. It is selfish, arrogant and truly wayward passion without compassion for your loved ones. It is despicable and can bring irreparable damage even to the most enduring relations.
Sarah: Thank you very much for your honesty there, Paul. Now, I am almost afraid to, but I must ask the follow-up question. The person you betrayed…I am assuming it was your spouse. Did you ever beg for forgiveness, and if yes, did she forgive you?
Paul: new- Yes, yes, and yes. If I got $1000 for each time, I begged, I would be a rich beggar. I also felt like I served a full prison sentence — with no early release for good behaviour — because of the time she needed to heal & forgive me.
Sarah: My late grandmother used to say that the hero isn't the man who hasn't sinned, but the one who has humbled himself enough to own up to his sins.
Now, let's walk away from that and touch on a lighter topic. Have you ever felt excited about a book only to buy it and discovered it wasn't worth the fancy cover and the heart-thumping reviews?
Paul: Yes, there are some books that you can't put down and some that put down your spirit.
Sarah: Haha! Oh, my goodness, Paul! Some books that put down your spirit. As an author, I am sitting here thinking…gosh! I hope none of my books has put down anyone's spirit?
Paul. Yes, I have read books that go straight from titillate to irritate because of the hype.
Sarah: Again, my palms are sweating (chuckle).
Paul: Your palms are sweating. On the other hand, I am looking forward to diving into your upcoming book, From Fearful to Fierce.
Sarah: Thank you, Paul. I pray it will not put down your spirit (chuckle).
Paul: I am sure it will be a literary treat if the ingenuity you are showing in your interviews is anything to go by.
Sarah: Thank you, Paul. Can you name some of the books you have read?
Paul: 7 habits of highly successful people by Stephen Covey; I believe in miracles: The remarkable life of Sonia A. Allen; Forgiveness from the Heart: Healing for a wounded world by Dr Philip Bonaparte & Dr Wayne Solomon; Wellspring of words by Dr Denise Williams; Dig Deep by Philip Bonaparte II; Tabernacle Outer Court Wanderings by Steve Smith; Men Living With Enlarged Prostate by Michael Stewart; Experiencing God by Blackaby; Purpose driven life by Rick Warren; The five love languages by Gary Chapman; The hardy boys; Nancy Drew stories; One flew over the Cuckoo's nest; To kill a Mockingbird; The speed of favour by Tim Hill; and of course The Bible.
Sarah: Paul, I won't ask your impression of each of them because it would not be fair on any of the authors (smile).
Paul: Thanks for that (chuckle). I'm a treasure hunter when it comes to books, so invariably instead of displeasure, I always come away with some kind of treasure.
Sarah: If you were a book, Paul, which of the books you've read would you be and why?
Paul: — I would choose to be the Bible. Before reality TV shows, and soap operas, there was the Bible — and there's no human drama greater than what is in the Bible. It is still the world's most popular and best-selling book every year. Besides, it is an instruction manual to navigate the terrain of life, endure the rain, & outlast the storms.
Sarah: What would you say makes a satisfying life and why?
Paul: Some would say anything that looks close to the American dream: a house with a white picket fence, a lovely family and some money in your 401(k). Others would say anything close to what the Founding Fathers said in the US Declaration of Independence — an existence where we all have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While those are not wrong, satisfying life is a fulfilled life lacking any tremendous void.
Sarah: That was powerful! A satisfying life is one lacking any tremendous void! In essence, you are saying that no life is utterly devoid of void; therefore, a lack of 'extreme' or 'tremendous' void in any person's life is worth celebrating.
Paul: Yes. You can have things that externally look satisfying but internally don't give you any enduring satisfaction. This was my case back in October 2004. And then my heart became full with Jesus, and satisfaction found new heights & levels I never dreamed of. People are not perfectly reliable, so I'm glad there is something greater than people — or even myself — to lead and guide me into an enduring, satisfying life.
Sarah: From all I read about you, it's apparent you are a pretty successful person. Tell my readers and me of all your achievements; which would you say is the one you are most proud of and why?
Paul: I've been involved in launching some of the most popular consumer brands globally & have received many awards. I have even been chosen as Chairman to lead a global technical standards organization called OMAC: Organization for Machine Automation & Control. However, I'm most proud of being a Dad. I'm thankful to God for my two miracle babies. Both endured distress and required emergency C-section's since their umbilical cords were wrapped around their necks. My daughters are engineers like I am, but they have outperformed their parents. They have four degrees compared to our four, and they have walked the halls of Cornell, Stanford, the University of Cincinnati & the University of New Haven. Much credits to my wife Rosemary, a speech pathologist who thinks like an Engineer, acts like an engineer and should've been an engineer. She played a significant role in influencing our daughters Racquel & Roxanne to seek this pathway.
Sarah: You said you had been involved in launching some of the most popular consumer brands in the world. Can you mention some of those here?
Paul: Well, Axe body spray for men; Dove, Suave, Caress body wash; Oxiclean stain remover; Slimfast drinks; Bertoli frozen meals; Vita fusion gummy vitamins; Batiste dry shampoo; Hellmans Mayonnaise cage-free; Replens moisturizer — and many more.
Sarah: Impressive, indeed.
What was your childhood like? Has it had an impact on the kind of life you live now? If yes, why?
Paul: I grew up in Jamaica as the son of a Jamaican dad and a Cuban mother. My childhood was fun, simple and rich with memorable experiences: we were wealthy in my mind's eye. It wasn't until I was nine or ten years old that I realized that we were considered poor by society's standards.
Sarah: Love and a loving environment will always really be all a child needs to thrive, will it not?
Paul: It surely will.
Sarah: As a child, what was that one thing you and your family had that made you think to yourself, we are rich?
Paul: The opportunity to drive in a car for the very first time in my life.
I can still visualize my uncle Bountac's hands caressing the steering column of this bright yellow car. The 2nd thing was my education. I remember passing the common entrance exam and the surprise of seeing my name in the newspaper — that I would be attending one of our prestigious schools: St George's College. The Motto of the school was: For The Greater Glory of God. St. George's College has produced great men and leaders worldwide.
Sarah: Who was your childhood hero?
Paul: My childhood hero was Muhammad Ali. I remember listening on a transistor radio with my uncle as Ali fought inside and outside the ring, speaking up as a confident black man about the black struggles in the 1960s.
Sarah: Who is your current hero?
Paul: Although Ali converted to the Muslim faith, he remained my hero. In the late 90s, Tiger Woods and Venus & Serena Williams became my contemporary heroes as they blazed a new trail in the predominantly white sports of golf and tennis. Gymnastics is one of the most challenging, dangerous & demanding sports. My daughters were high-level gymnasts who an Olympics coaches, and my wife coached & I thoroughly enjoyed rooting for them. I have to say, however, that my greatest hero is Jesus. This was a son of the heavenly God, who chose to come down and walk this earth as a son of man. In doing that, he put up with all the nonsense that man did to him. Yet he still loved brave enough to suffer a painful, humiliating death because of the sins of man.
Sarah: If you could redo your life again, what would you do differently? Which aspect(s) of it would you change and why?
Paul: I came to Jesus at the age of 42, and I'm so glad He's a God of second chances. If I could do life all over again, I would love to have come to Christ way before I was 42. Studies have shown that most Christians choose God before they get to 21. I think it would have been amazing to know Christ when I was in my teens.
Sarah: If you had all the money in the world to buy you anything you set your mind on right NOW, what's the one you would buy and why?
Paul: I must admit this is a very difficult question for me to answer. If salvation had a price tag, I would buy salvation for many. I would buy a country with people in it that have not been presented with the gospel of Jesus. And even if they didn't speak my language, English, I would bring along a village of folks to teach them. The greatest gift I would buy for everyone would be salvation — leading them to choose Jesus. Well, we know salvation can't be bought? It is a gift that we access only by grace through faith.
Sarah: If you had the chance to go back and offer your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would that advice be?
In college, a friend named David gave me a Bible for my birthday present. It took over 20 years later for me to find God. Therefore, I would say to my 18-year-old self that an open mind would serve you well, like an open parachute serves others well in an emergency landing. Finally, I would speak to him about this theme from fearful to fierce, and say the following:
• Be fearful of the Lord, as in showing respect and awe and admiration, because of who He is.
• Do not let fear of anything else in this world limit you.
• Finally, being fierce is being tenacious without being vicious or ferocious. Being fierce is being relentless without being ruthless. When the storms of life become fierce, look to God — because He is your Strong Tower.
Sarah: Paul, much as I want to go on and on, I am afraid our time together has come to an end. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with my readers and me. I have learned so much and been truly inspired. And, oh, by the way, thank you so much for that reference to my upcoming book, From Fearful to Fierce.
Paul: You are most welcome.
Sarah: One final question. What most crucial life tip (or gift) would you leave your children as a legacy when your time on earth is through?
Paul: I would leave them The Bible. The Bible says a good man leaves an inheritance for his children and his children's children. My heart will rejoice if they, in turn, leave their children the gift of The Bible, the good news of Christ Jesus: it is an inheritance of goodwill that stretches across family boundaries. God is the greatest legacy any parent can bequeath to his children.
For more on Paul Redwood, click www.linkedIn.com.