CHRISTOPHER ROBBINS - founder
I am most at ease and alive when connecting with people on a deep, soulful level. I find this particularly awesome when these experiences occur at the intersection of physically demanding 'adventures' in naturally beautiful settings.
I am uniquely qualified to be leading Soul Degree not because I have a long list of accredited credentials, but because of who I am. I'm a mindful listener with leadership skills relevant to these types of excursions. I have a dynamic professional background beginning in corporate Europe then in America and culminating in ten years of being an entrepreneur - launching a handful of ventures in real estate, food, media and technology. Inside of this 25 year run, I have succeeded and failed. I have battled depression and tackled addiction. I have coached and been coached. And with family and friends, I have loved and been loved. But perhaps most importantly, I'm starting to embrace this journey with a sense of awareness. This has lead me to the question of what really matters, how do we distinguish between success and satisfaction, and ultimately, who are we and why are we here.
The rumors are true. I’m a happy fellow when starting fires, even metaphorical ones, especially under a star-filled sky. The primitive flame. Soothing warmth. Occasional toasting of arm hairs. The smell of hardwood in the evening air.
I’m one of those combination thinker-and-doer people: equally excited by Emerson's essays while I renovate a house with sawdust in my butt crack. Like some other thinker-doers out there, I'm rated ENTJ on the Myers-Briggs assessment. On the DiSC profile, I’m plotted on the line between D and C, with a large swathe of shading across the i and S quadrants. I don’t live by these assessments, but it’s a place to start if you’re looking for a reference point as you’re contemplating your ‘fit’ with us. If you’re unfamiliar with these assessments, think of me as “able to hear and willing to push through a mountain of shit to reach a long term objective”.
I love to learn. I love to listen, observe, read, and question. I’m one of those nerds who typically answers the “what interests you?” question with “everything.” It’s an honest, soulful answer. But from this point forward, I’m resolved to answer more specifically as “overcoming challenges, including my own.”
You can test me on this new answer when you join us. You’ll find me by the fire.
I tend to overuse the term “Journey”… it’s a bit of a problem…I hope you’ll forgive me for that up front.
But it’s a word that bears weight and meaning and resonance for me. It calls to mind the mythical and anthropological narrative laid out in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. The fellowship we share with Ulysses and his odyssey. The human experience of leaving home, encountering new obstacles, demons and the unknown, the meaning-making that happens when we re-discover or re-interpret who we are, and the wayfinding back to a home of sorts with new insight and purpose. That shit speaks to me. Maybe it does to you too.
The term Journey calls to mind moments when I’ve shepherded others through places and conversations that opened hearts or revealed truths or challenged assumptions. It’s a word that represents some of the most poignant and proud moments of my professional life. Moments such as driving the byways of the Mississippi Delta at dusk in a 15 passenger van filled with educators, exploring the connections between the blues, civil rights and storytelling and their current day commitment to opportunity for all kids in our public schools. That moment in time in rural Mississippi – and others like it – made me feel alive and blessed and called to purpose. I’ll bet you’ve had some of those moments too.
Other moments remind me of my need for community and humility and perspective on the Journey.. sitting on a worn down porch in Appalachia, being deeply listened to while sharing my sense of incompetence, doubt and frustration as a guide of a wilderness trip for teens. Or the many times my sister has compassionately supported me through the shadows of a depression and stuck up for me when I was incapable of sticking up for myself. Sometimes, more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve felt a bit lost and my Journey has been f’ing lonely. Maybe yours has too.
The Journey theme I realize is obvious and maybe even trite as it relates to Soul Degree. I get that. Yet for me, and maybe for you, I enter this experience with awareness that our respective Journeys contain precious moments in time – to build community, to engage deeply, to have a few laughs, to perhaps see more clearly. These moments are almost like a way station - a chance to encounter other folks who can enliven our path and who may help us re-orient and fuel up for what lies ahead. I look forward to learning more about where you are and where you want to go, sharing more about where I am and where I want to go, and discovering how we might be able to help each other head back out with renewed energy, purpose and fellowship.
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