By Sara Vos | Photos by Joni Strickfaden
Chris Forte is a Birmingham-based yogi, author, spiritual fitness coach, former Division I athlete, and creator of The Humble Warrior podcast and memoir. On Christmas Day, 2014, in the midst of his marriage dissolving, Chris hit his knees on the floor and heard, “Book, blog, podcast.” He spent two years doing yoga and meditation every day, attending Hay House writing and speaking conferences, and getting certified as a yoga teacher. His book, “The Humble Warrior: Spiritual tools for living a purposeful life” came out in June 2017. From the cover:
The Humble Warrior describes the journey of a man who had it all, lost it all, and discovered a path to happiness and success that far outweighs any external circumstances. Chris Forte had what many dream of – the long-term marriage, a 60-million-dollar company that he sold by age 36, the house on the lake – and it all dissolved, bringing the young entrepreneur to his knees. With nowhere to turn except inside, Chris discovered that the riches in life lie beyond our physical reality. Chris developed a personal spiritual practice that restored his spirit and strengthened him so that, no matter what life threw at him, he could handle it.
We caught up in August of 2017 to hear about what the journey has been like since the book came out, as well as Chris’s plans for continued service in southeastern Michigan.
Sara Vos: Your book came out in June. What is life like now, and how is your relationship to yourself, to life, and to God shifting?
Chris Forte: It’s one of these things that is just grassroots and organic, and just about getting the message out there. It’s about being an instrument for God and continuing to serve God, and seeing where the message goes. The important part is that this isn’t Chris’s plan, it is part of a master plan, and to keep trusting in that. God is using me to connect with men. Part of that was writing this book, and the story… and hopefully what people will get out of it, men and women both, is that God is in our hearts.
The hard work continues, but the reward is there… trust in a higher power is the reward. It’s just trusting in that. All of this, this entire Humble Warrior journey, has really been instructions from God and following them. Human nature is like, “I have to keep working around the clock to promote the podcast and the book.” But really what I’m learning is to trust, and to be ready, and to be open.
The next step in my evolution is to live a life free of worry, without stress, to have that balance — to keep looking within my heart. Time is a myth and an illusion for mankind to measure, so I understand that I’m working on God’s timeline. God’s timeline has no mistakes, is precise, and has you arriving right on time. Some might call this Divine perfection. It’s kind of like being in the right place at the right time —and it’s that, if someone is serving God, it’s really not about their plan.
He is still grooming me. As much as I’d like to be out there doing cool stuff, teaching… there’s a lot for me to continue to learn. A lot has been through humility, patience, and trust — that God’s plan is actually perfect, and that it’s God’s timeline, not my timeline. The awareness of that has been part of the journey.
He knows my circumstances, he knows everything I’m going through. To let go and surrender is tough, but it’s also being free. Besides patience and trust, there’s a lot of things that go into this… to really learn balance without stress. In addition to that, it’s “Have I completely given my ego and my will over to God?” When one has worry in their heart and soul, one is not in accordance with God’s law.
So that’s what I’m working on, and that’s The Humble Warrior… going through all the process of writing the book was the first step in learning this lesson. My part in this was the spiritual fitness and putting the tools in it, which was great. I put in aspects of being a coach, about spiritual fitness… thinking, “Can I make a living doing this?” But really, when you break down The Humble Warrior, it is about my relationship with God, and that is truly what I want to teach. It was a process to come to this realization. I had to take all these steps, to arrive at the conclusion that these steps I’ve taken were meant for me.
Sara Vos: Is that a different way at engaging in the world, prior to how you were living before the December 2014 wake-up moment on Christmas?
Chris Forte: Yes. These steps I’ve called “spiritual fitness” are what keeps me grounded in my relationship with God as a priority. I truly believe that if I, or someone, is to be used as an instrument, then there is an aspect of communicating to others what works for us. So the seven spiritual fitness principles I use and teach were developed so that I can have a relationship with God.
Part of what I’m learning is that I need to learn to listen. I need to get to that quiet place. If God speaks in the heart, I need to get to the place of listening — not hearing what I want. There is a distinction. If you’re truly listening, you know you’re well taken care of. If you’re truly listening, you will let a plan unfold the way it needs to. It’s not about sitting back and doing nothing — you still need to take action steps, but you need to have awareness about what action step you’re taking, and why you’re taking it.
So that is what is continuing to unfold in my daily spiritual practice. “Doing the work for God” is about doing whatever “your work” is to the best of your ability. I get to teach my girls — it’s about realizing this is where you are at this point in time. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be here forever, but just what you’re having to do now.
I’m a different person at 47 than I was at 42, or 32… so my relationship (with God and with myself) is continuing to grow exponentially. I’m looking forward to getting to a place where I’m loving and serving every day.
SV: How does this show up in your coaching with clients?
CF: This week I was speaking with a young man I was coaching who was having a hard time, and it turns out that he had let go of his practices when life and work had gotten stressful for a few days. I told him, spiritual fitness and creating a daily practice is about going through the motions so that when stuff isn’t going well you have something to lean on. The spiritual fitness daily practices bring you back into, “Everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay.”
This young man has a 30-minute drive to work, and because he was overwhelmed, he turned on the radio instead of doing the rosaries. So I coached him to just get back on track today, and that’s the beauty of all the processes — that you can just get back on track. That’s the beauty of it. You just get back on track. It’s about being connected with God, Source, Spirit, or whatever that word is for you — it’s just about getting back on track in that relationship when you temporarily fall off. People like me can remind you to do that.
SV: If someone wants to work with you, how does that look?
CF: Anyone local, within a half hour of Birmingham, we get together face to face. Depending on their situation or where they’re at, we generally meet every 2-4 weeks. With out of state folks, we generally do a phone call, Skype, or Zoom so we’re connecting live. Our sessions are a place where folks can talk about anything they want to talk about. We bring in routines — a.k.a. Spiritual Fitness — which folks can begin at work and home to improve all areas of their life. Spiritual Fitness routines can be implemented to make immediate, positive changes.
This isn’t like a 2, 4, 6, 8, 10-week program — it’s about building increments for a lifetime practice. It’s not that you’ll need me as a coach for a lifetime, but we are building a lifetime practice — for you. The individual person is the ultimate creator.
A lot of people want to be more connected to God. A lot of people were taught that we connect with God on Sundays, but that’s not what works daily, right? So I just provide some tools that have worked for me, but ultimately you - anyone, inside of them — has the power to connect with God within.
It’s not about making major, drastic changes. It’s about, “What little, incremental changes can you start to make, to grow?” That’s the beauty of my self-discovery — asking those questions late in my 20’s, “What’s my purpose? What’s my relationship with God? What is spirituality?” and now I have this simple platform that I can teach, that someone can start implementing right away in their life, with certain tools.
The Humble Warrior book gives a platform and I share my story. We each have our story that’s unique to us, and a lot of the stories are about overcoming obstacles. The Spiritual Fitness tools are about overcoming obstacles, and also about building that bridge and connection to God, and with our inner self. It’s about being a little more compassionate, a little more loving, a little more kind with ourselves so that we can be that way for others.
For every tool that I say is about connecting with God, it’s also about connecting with yourself. These are solo practices. We are giving ourselves a “time out” so we can have time to look within. These practices are really just a healthy time out for our self. With all the technologies and social media moving so quickly, it’s really about cultivating and crafting time and space in the day to have that time with yourself.
In the book, I give a sample template about how to create that space for yourself using the seven spiritual fitness steps. Between yoga, working out, reading, meditation, I’m up to a couple of hours per day, but in the beginning I wasn’t like that. You can start with ten minutes a day, fifteen minutes a day, twenty minutes a day — your prayer could be the anchor that gives you the start. It could just be waking up and saying, “I am grateful to be alive today.” A lot of people just kind of get out of bed, hop in the shower, and start the day, and the Spiritual Fitness tools help you shift the way you start your day. One of my clients now spends 15-45 seconds being grateful for his life when he wakes up, then he makes his bed, then he gets in the shower. So we are just changing little things, and we build upon those.
SV: Would the practices also help with parenting?
CF: Absolutely! Absolutely. That might actually be the next book, to be honest with you. Parenting can be a lot less stressful with tools like these — you stop putting your unresolved stuff on your kids. You’re a little bit more at ease and balanced, and the only thing you can control in life is how you respond. When something happens, instead of going on the offensive, maybe you can take a breath, maybe you can listen to the whole story, and maybe you can realize that it’s a little thing, in the whole scheme of life.
Speaking of parenting, the divorce rate is still fifty percent in our country and may continue to rise. Divorce is just a part of life. To realize that a failure in a marriage is sometimes in the highest good of all for all parties, and to be grateful for that time you had with that person… it doesn’t have to be so bitter. Divorce can actually be a grateful experience in realizing that it was just a point in time that you were with that person, and to wish that person many blessings in their journey.
I think the book could help a lot of people heal from past divorce, or who are going through divorce right now. It’s not about pointing blame at the partner. It’s about taking the opportunity to look within and take responsibility for your part in everything. It’s not to say they don’t have faults or anything like that, but if you can start to own your side, you can realize, “Wow, maybe this person is going through a lot of their own pain,” and it has nothing to do with you, and you were just caught in the crossfire. Anyone who reads the book will have the opportunity to learn more about my own journey in this realm.
So again, building connection with God, becoming more kind, loving, and compassionate with yourself, allows you to do that with others — including, and maybe especially, the ones who have hurt, betrayed, or otherwise harmed you. So if there is anyone going through a divorce, I’m sure I can be a very helpful resource for them.
SV: How can people stay in touch or buy the book, Chris?
CF: People can buy the book on my website ChrisForte.com or e-mail me
Chris@ChrisForte.com. Our podcast may end up as a new inspirational, empowering radio show! A new show is coming, but it may not be called “The Humble Warrior Podcast.” That’s the next evolution... Stay tuned!