Gregory Robinson: Becoming Unbreakable #62

Warwick Fairfax

April 6, 2021

Gregory Robinson’s crucibles piled up in his youth: raised without a father, kicked out of the house at 16, eking out a day-to-day existence swiping soap from restaurants to wash up and making ends meet hustling pool while flopping with other boys from hardscrabble backgrounds. But his life began to turn around after a stint in juvenile detention set him on a path to get a job, join the military and build the responsibility and resilience that has led him to help others employ the principles that have made him The Unbreakable Man. The key, he says, is to never let defeat defeat you.

To learn more about Gregory Robinson, visit www.theunbreakableman.live
To explore additional Crucible Leadership resources, visit www.crucibleleadership.com

Highlights

  • His early childhood challenges (3:40)
  • Becoming the surrogate father to his siblings as a teenager (9:04)
  • The healing found in smiling on the other side of even devastating crucibles (10:31)
  • His attempt to bring his parents together years after circumstances kept them apart (13:24)
  • Why he’s thankful for his youthful crucibles (16:04)
  • Being out on his own at 16 (20:46)
  • How getting arrested for stealing a T-shirt changed his life (23:56)
  • The discipline — and camaraderie — the military gave him (30:25)
  • His one bit of advice for getting beyond your crucible (38:59)
  • The mission of The Unbreakable Man (42:54)
  • How he’s passing on the spiritual lessons he’s learned to his daughters (53:02)
  • Key episode takeaways (56:49)

Transcript

Warwick Fairfax:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Gregory Robinson:

I rode the bus home with them. That was my first party ever. So we went to the white section of town that us as kids had heard stories about. That’s just how it was. So we all got off the bus and all my friends disappeared. And so here I am, excuse my jokes, but it’s how I am. I was in no black man’s land.

Gregory Robinson:

So I’m here and pickup trucks and rebel flags and the whole shebang, had no idea how to get home. So I pushed away my panic. And I remembered my landmarks from taking the bus from school to home and vice versa. So I took all the main roads and expressway and I walked home. I was supposed to be home by 6:00. I got home by 6:30. So I look back on it now, so that was a three and a half-hour walk across the City of Tampa.

Gregory Robinson:

So I get home and my aunt’s at the door and she said, “Go back where you come from,” slammed the door in my face and that was the beginning of me being on my own. So I tried to go to school for a while, high school and I kept myself clean through my grandmother’s old house that I still had a key to. So I’d wash up in the sink and things of that nature. We called it a sink bath as kids.

Gregory Robinson:

I’d read by candlelight and still do my schoolwork plus try to maintain myself and tried to forage for food. But then it comes to a point to where you’re trying to survive and go to school. You can’t do both at the same time.

Gary Schneeberger:

Where do you begin moving beyond a crucible like that? 16 years old, homeless, family relationships strained, unable to envision a future for yourself because your circumstances make it difficult to envision dinner or a shower for yourself.

Gary Schneeberger:

Hi. I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show and the communications director for Crucible Leadership. Today’s guest, Gregory Robinson, did find a way to craft a life of significance from the ashes of that experience and other crucibles that knocked him off his feet in the years that followed from juvenile detention to the horrors of war that left him with PTSD.

Gary Schneeberger:

As he tells Warwick, his road back was paved with refusing to let defeat, defeat him and turning to God when there was nowhere else for him to turn. It’s a message and a hope he shares with men today through his podcast, The Unbreakable Man, which he started to help others who have been through pain like he has, find joy.

Warwick Fairfax:

Wow Greg. Thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate it and look forward to hearing about your story. You’re in the Chicago area?

Gregory Robinson:

Yes, sir.

Gary Schneeberger:

Midwest. Midwest rules.

Warwick Fairfax:

My wife has a lot of family in the Chicago area. We actually lived there at one point before we moved to Maryland. So yeah, I just wanted before we get into all of your story, just to hear a little bit about your background and growing up in Tampa. It wasn’t the easiest one. You had some challenges. Talk about some of your early childhood experiences and crucibles and a bit about your parents and just about the early story.

Gregory Robinson:

Early stories. okay. Obviously, as you said before, I’m from Tampa, Florida. That’s my hometown, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the world champions. I just had to get a plug in there.

Warwick Fairfax:

How do you decide who to cheer for, the Buccaneers or the Bears? How do you decide?

Gregory Robinson:

I lived here long enough to where I root for them both. We used to have, my wife and I had a joke. When they were in the same conference and they played together, we would draw an imaginary line down the house. But no, growing up in Tampa was very tough. My hometown, obviously I loved it, in spite of all the things that went on during my life.

Gregory Robinson:

I come from an alcoholic family. My mother and father were very … They grew up in the segregated South and were very old-fashioned the way people did business. The family story goes that my mother became pregnant in high school during her senior year and my father was from the other side of town, the other side of the tracks, but within the black community. My father’s parents already had him slotted to marry someone else who was from his part of town. So they didn’t marry, but the family agreed to pay a stipend to my mother’s family to take care of me.

Gregory Robinson:

That was the agreement. I didn’t learn this until many, many, many years later the whole story, how that all went about. But one of the things that I can say about my story, at least in that aspect, is I was 15 years old, going on 16, two weeks from my 16th birthday and I was at a little corner store not far from my house. And the local beer truck driver walks into the store and he walks up to me and he says, “Are you Greg Robinson?” I’m like, “Yeah. Who are you?” I won’t tell you what I said because I was 16 years old.

Gary Schneeberger:

We can imagine.

Gregory Robinson:

Right. And he says, “I’m your father.” This isn’t a Star Wars tie-in, but I looked at the store owner who was like family, as well, because it was a neighborhood place and I asked him and he said, “Yeah. Yeah, Greg, that’s your dad.” So the realization hit me that this man who I had seen for as long as I can remember, who had a beer route in my neighborhood was my father. And so my first football game that I went to was two weeks later, went to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with my dad. You can’t make this stuff up.

Warwick Fairfax:

Right. That must have been surreal. You’re 16 years old and you find out who your father was, even though you’d seen him around the neighborhood. Do you ever have a conversation with him because when you’re young, you don’t get a lot of stuff. What’s up with somehow your family felt like my mom wasn’t good enough for you? It’s hard to get your head around. I can’t think of a diplomatic way to say this. He is driving a beer truck. It’s not like okay, so what makes you better than my mom’s side? All those thoughts, as a 16-year-old must be going, “I don’t get this.”

Gregory Robinson:

You’re right. It was surreal, but I learned a lot about my dad over time. He was a Vietnam vet. So not long after I was born, he got drafted. He left college to go to the Army. He was Army Airborne. He came back home, had a lot of issues from PTSD. At that time, they called it battle fatigue and combat stress, all the different names they’d come up with over the decades.

Gregory Robinson:

And I had met him once or twice, but I was too young to remember what he looked like. So as the family story goes, they told me much later, when he came back from Vietnam and he was married obviously, he took a job with Budweiser and purposely took a route that was in my neighborhood so he could watch me grow up. So with that said, I learned to have a lot of respect for him because he to me, in my eyes, in spite of all the bad things that happened, he was a man of great integrity and he was honorable in what he did.

Gregory Robinson:

He later ended up divorcing the first wife, but he and my mother never got together. The drinking got the better of her and so what I developed over time in my late 20s/early 30s was compassion for them both because then I understood why my mother was the way she was when I was younger. But when you’re growing up in a hard situation, for lack of better words, you know all the hole-in-the-walls. You guys know what a hole-in-the-wall is, …joints little side hustle stand that people would sell liquor out of their garages as a makeshift bar and that becomes your normal.

Gregory Robinson:

Then you have brothers and sisters like I did. I was the oldest, so I took up the mantle of being a surrogate father and my mother wasn’t around and then defending them against, “Mr. So-and-so” or Mr. This, boyfriends and things of that nature. So I was the one who took my brothers and sisters to school, taught them how to fight, fend off the bullies and who cooked and made sure they were clean and all those things for many years.

Gregory Robinson:

And then as I went on, I was given over to my grandmother as my guardian when I was about 8 or 9 years old roughly I think it was and my mother asked my grandmother to keep me until she came back. Well she never came back, but I would see her on and off. So yeah, life was tough.

Gregory Robinson:

But I made it. I did fairly well in school. I was very artistic, a very good illustrator. My escape was books. I was an avid reader, loved science fantasy, science fiction and nonfiction and history and learning about cultures and different places. And so what that allowed for me, looking back in hindsight is to develop a broad mind in spite of my situation and where I was at. So you had to deal with all the other stuff.

Gary Schneeberger:

I know that Warwick’s going to ask some more detailed questions about much of what you’ve just described because you’ve sketched in broad brush strokes what you went through. But one thing I always like to do and it doesn’t happen all the time on the show, but when it does, I want to point it out for listeners, especially listeners who aren’t viewing it on video, as we’re seeing it right now as we’re talking to you.

Gary Schneeberger:

But those things that you just described, Greg, so many times as you were describing very traumatic things that happened to you, you smiled. You have the perspective now as an adult who’s processed those things. You smiled. And I just point that out to the listeners so that they can know.

Gary Schneeberger:

We talked at the outset about we are at Beyond the Crucible, we try to be in the hope business and offering hope to people. And as people are struggling right now listening to this in their own crucibles which probably are wildly different than yours and wildly different than Warwick’s, there’s something beautiful about the fact that as you tell those stories, there’s a smile on your face because you’re on the other side of them and that smile is available to all of us if we process the lessons of our crucibles and we do the things that you’ve done like forgive and learn and move on.

Gary Schneeberger:

So I just wanted to point that out in case listeners didn’t hear it in his voice. Greg right now, he is smiling. He’s got a beautiful smile. He is smiling right now even as he talks about those things. I know there’s more to talk about as we unpack more of those details, but I wanted to get that point across because that’s what we’re hoping for, to encourage people there is hope on the other side of your crucible.

Warwick Fairfax:

That’s well-said, I just, to your point Gary, as Greg is talking, you sense this sense of peace, sense of calm, sense of forgiveness. I’m sure we’ll get into more later the phrase the peace the passes understanding comes to mind. So just to flesh a bit more of this out. Obviously, I’ve got to imagine it was very tough for your mother being rejected by your dad’s family and it probably contributed to some of her challenges. Did you feel like maybe this is an obvious question, but she was never the same after that, after feeling rejected? That might have been not the sole cause of her issues, but was that a big part of it?

Gregory Robinson:

I would definitely say so. But at the time, like I said, I was young and it took me many years to come to grips and get past my own anger and other things that I had developed over time by feeling rejected myself. But I will tell you this story. I’m going to jump for probably about 15 years or so, but I think it’s really relevant. I left and went into the military after I went to Job Corps at around 18 or so. So I was gone for more or less about eight years.

Gregory Robinson:

I had developed on my own. I was always my own man. There was no one to tell me what I could and couldn’t do, besides the military, of course. But there was no mom or dad to say no, you should go here son or do this. And I was visiting home one particular time right before my dad had passed away. I was probably about 31, I think, at the time. And we were talking, he and I and my uncle. I should point this out. I come from a family of veterans.

Gregory Robinson:

So my dad was Army Airborne in Vietnam. My uncle Johnny, my dad’s brother, was Airborne Ranger, who was the younger of the two and he followed my dad to Vietnam. And then there’s me who is another veteran and a combat veteran who was in the Navy, a corpsman and attached to the Marine Corps infantry. So we’re all together and we’re talking and I’m about to go away again for the weekend. I’d visit every other weekend during the month.

Gregory Robinson:

My dad, he says, “Hey son?” I said, “Yes sir, Pops.” He says, “I love you, son.” And I turned around and I looked at him because he was very old-fashioned. I’m sure you guys know what I mean. I went up to him and I hugged him and my uncle hugged us, too. And I said, “I love you, too, Dad.” And so I stopped, I said, “Dad, you know what?” I said, “You know I’ve got a place up in Northern Florida and how about I get you to come on up for Christmas this year?” It would have been our first Christmas together.

Gregory Robinson:

And I said, “By the way, I could bring Mom up, too.” And so he just looked at me. He smiled and he giggled because he knew exactly what I was up to. But it was worthwhile to see the smile on his face and the understanding because she was his long lost love and vice versa. So I was hoping to make some mending in the process, but he passed away before it could all transpire.

Warwick Fairfax:

That’s so sad. As you’re talking, there’s a lot of things you could be bitter about, about what happened to your mother after that, your dad’s family. When you’re a young guy like your dad, it’s tough to buck your whole family and they’re telling you what to do. It’s not easy as a young person, but it’s just so sad. You can’t help but think what might have been if people had left him alone. Maybe they wouldn’t have made it, but maybe they would have made it. Do you find yourself in the what ifs? What would have happened if people kept messing around?

Gregory Robinson:

Actually not anymore. Despite how hard it may have been, I’m very thankful, as odd as it may sound, that I went through all the things that I went through because I believe it helped to mold me into making me the man that I am today, to have the strength to be able before you and Gary and talk about things like this and to be able to look back introspectively and say, “Well hey, you know, despite everything that has happened in my life, I’m still here.”

Gregory Robinson:

And I’m happy and I say that genuinely. I’m pretty much at peace. We all still have our things that we go through, but overall, I’m happy. I’ve got a great wife. I’ve got great kids. I absolutely love what I do and despite me being reticent about even writing a book initially and the only reason I wrote the book is people had talked to me about it for years, I was actually inspired by God to write the book.

Gregory Robinson:

He said, “Here. You need to write this, son.” And I was like, “Well …” And He said, “No. You need to write it.” So what do the scriptures say? Obedience is better than sacrifice. So I did…

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s like … I haven’t been in the military, but I imagine when your superior in the military says, “Greg, you need to do this,” you go, “Yes, sir,” or “Yes ma’am.” Not a whole lot of debate, right? Well it’s similar with God right? If God tells you to do something else, it’s yes, sir. Let’s go. Right?

Warwick Fairfax:

But just before we get to what you’re doing now and some of your experience as a Navy Corpsman, I want to understand after things weren’t working too well at home with your mom, you spent some time with your grandmother. But at age 16, it sounds like there was a time where …

Gregory Robinson:

Approximately about 8 or 9 until I was right at 16 years old and this goes into talking about racism to a point and how the Old South was because I had got invited to … Because I was the first one in my family to go to integrated schools. So my grandmothers on both sides were just like in the movie that made a few years ago that came out. That was my grandmothers on both sides.

Gregory Robinson:

And I think a side note that’s very important in regard to that, remember my grandmother and my father on my mother’s side worked for an old Jewish family on the other side of town around Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa. That’s just how it was. And when she would work when I was younger, she would take me to another house sometimes during the summertime when I was out of school and I’d play with their son, who became a friend of mine.

Gregory Robinson:

I got to be about 10 years old or so and started learning some things and understanding because you’ve got to remember, I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s. And so this was at the end point somewhat of the civil rights movement. And my grandmother stopped, I think it was Christmas Eve or a couple of days before Christmas and we picked up all these toys and these clothes and they were all hand-me-downs. And I was at the age where I had a little knowledge.

Gregory Robinson:

And I looked at everything and I told my grandmother, I said, “I don’t want these little white boys’ hand-me-down things.” And she turned around and she looked at me and she slapped me across the face. And she had tears in her eyes and she said, “Don’t you ever say anything like that again because you have no idea.” And that’s just how she left it.

Gregory Robinson:

And as I got much older, I really understood where she was coming from because she was like, “These people have a good heart. They’re doing something for me or for you because they love me and vice versa. And here you have the audacity to be ungrateful.” I’m using my own words in that sentence. But that’s really what it come down to and we had the nerve to be arrogant when you don’t understand the full concept of what’s going on here. And so I took that as a big lesson and I never forgot it. That’s the kind of woman that she was.

Gregory Robinson:

So the whole family was blue collar. My other uncle was a high school dropout. He started working construction at the age of 15 and built his own business and was a contractor by the age of 30. So yeah, a lot of hard times, but a lot of hard lessons, too, at the same time.

Warwick Fairfax:

The couple years before you get into the Job Corps and Navy maybe somewhere around 18, from 16-18, those were some of the toughest years.

Gregory Robinson:

Yeah. I would say 16-18 were the toughest. It was like building a pyramid. You start with a very strong foundation, just horrid things and you pinnacle out to a point. During that time, I was on my own. I dropped out of school because I got kicked out of the house. I’m going back to my previous story. Some friends of mine from school, I rode the bus home with them. That was my first party ever. So we went to the white section of town that us as kids had heard stories about… That’s just how it was.

Gregory Robinson:

So we all got off the bus and all my friends disappeared. And so here I am and excuse my jokes, but it’s how I am. I was in no black man’s land.

Gregory Robinson:

So I’m here and a pickup truck, rebel flags and the whole shebang, had no idea how to get home. So I pushed away my panic. And I remembered my landmarks from taking the bus from school to home and vice versa. So I took all the main roads and expressway and I walked home. I was supposed to be home by 6:00. I got home by 6:30. So I look back on it now, so that was a three and a half-hour walk across the City of Tampa.

Gregory Robinson:

So I get home and my aunt’s at the door and she said, “Go back where you come from,” slammed the door in my face and that was the beginning of me being on my own. So I tried to go to school for a while, high school and I kept myself clean through my grandmother’s old house that I still had a key to. So I’d wash up in the sink and things of that nature. We called it a sink bath as kids.

Gregory Robinson:

I’d read by candlelight and still do my schoolwork plus try to maintain myself and tried to forage for food. But then it comes to a point to where you’re trying to survive and go to school. You can’t do both at the same time, at least during my timeframe. It’s not like now where you have all sorts of programs and agencies that’ll reach out to help. You’re just a young kid and you’re just out there.

Gregory Robinson:

So I got involved with a family of con men who took me in, so at least I had a semi roof over my head. And I hustled pool and just all sorts of things I did just to make ends meet. So what I learned in my salvation about things like that, you have to meet a person at their need. You can’t just come to them with a bible and talk about Jesus loves you and everything will be fine, when he’s like, “Right now, I’m hungry,” or “right now, I need a warm bed,” or “right now, I need a drink of water,” or “right now, I need three bucks to get downtown so I can get to the food pantry, so can catch the bus.”

Gregory Robinson:

And so that’s where I was at. So my saving grace during that timeframe after being on the streets for almost two years is I got arrested by a store detective in a store called Zayre’s that doesn’t even exist anymore.

Gary Schneeberger:

I remember Zayre’s. Yeah.

Gregory Robinson:

Yeah. I stole a half T-shirt of the Cincinnati Reds sports team. Don’t even like the Cincinnati Reds, but I needed a clean shirt. So the detective arrested me and I had some social security card that I found on the street someplace that I would use as my alias. That’s just how it was. So he pulls up the guy’s records and he had a rap sheet as long as both of my arms combined. He says, “Are you sure you’re this guy?” “No. No. No.”

Gregory Robinson:

So they actually sent me, put me in juvenile detention. I went back to school while I was in juvey and mind you at that time because the situation was I had a warm place to sleep, roof over my head, I had three square meals a day and I was going to school for free. So when I talk about meeting the need of people, those are the kind of things that I like to talk about.

Gregory Robinson:

So while I was in juvey from that point, I heard about Job Corps on the radio and once I got out, they let me out because they found my mother, I took a bike that I had acquired and I found a local Job Corps office.

Gary Schneeberger:

For those who aren’t watching on YouTube, Greg just did the air quotes with his hands when he said acquired. Just so you know.

Warwick Fairfax:

Yes.

Gregory Robinson:

And I rode the bike down to the Job Corps office, through the phone book, which I know kids nowadays couldn’t do that. And so I went and filled out an application by hand. I had to have it signed by one of my parents, so I took it to my mother. She refused to sign it, so I forged her signature and I dropped my application in the mail. So about a month later or so I think it was, I got a one-way ticket on Trailways, which doesn’t exist anymore either. I’m telling my age. I don’t care. I left for Job Corps five days before my 18th birthday.

Warwick Fairfax:

Wow. So from what I understand, Greg, that then led you to joining the military to be a Navy Medical Corpsman.

Gregory Robinson:

Yes, sir. It’s actually a hospital corpsman. Veterans will forgive you because they understand that you don’t know.

Warwick Fairfax:

Sorry. It sounds like that began a change in the direction of your life it seems, just being in the military. So just talk about that. It wasn’t easy. You were deployed in some pretty dangerous places from what I understand.

Gregory Robinson:

Oh, yes sir.

Warwick Fairfax:

So just talk about that experience. But it sounds like that was the beginning of a turning point.

Gregory Robinson:

It was very much so. Basically, it was really easy in a sense for me because you had already been out on your own for years and for lack of better words, no offense to anyone, but you weren’t a momma’s boy. You weren’t coming from home. But my first tour overseas was actually in a little small country on the West Coast of Africa, funded by ex-patriot American slaves and then their sister country is Senegal, which is their British counterpart.

Warwick Fairfax:

The first was Liberia?

Gregory Robinson:

Liberia, yes sir.

Warwick Fairfax:

Okay. Yeah.

Gregory Robinson:

And so we were there from August 1990 until New Year’s Day 1991 and we were actually relieved. The Marine Corps anti-terrorist team called out and the acronym for it is called FAST Company and so I was attached to a mechanized infantry unit at the time, where I had some really great friends, actually to this day. So it was a very odd situation.

Gregory Robinson:

One of the things I vividly remember when we were flying in from the ship to the helipad at the embassy compound was as we were looking from the doorway of the helo, we saw these Seabees, if you know what Naval Seabees are. They had these huge green camouflaged bulldozers and they were pushing lumber on a beach or so we thought. And it looked like the consistency, what I remember, of Raggedy Ann dolls. There we go telling my age again. And as we got closer, we realized that they weren’t Raggedy Ann dolls, they were bodies.

Gregory Robinson:

And they had ran out of space in the hospitals and the cemeteries and the other places that were used for makeshift graves. So they were bringing the people as far in from the beach as they could so they wouldn’t be swept out in the sea from the high tide, when the high tide came up because the embassy compound was on a cliff face and went straight up. That was my first experience and I was 22, maybe 23 years old at the time. I think I had my 23rd birthday … Yeah. I was 22 years old at the time. And I had been in a few years already at that time. So that was my first experience.

Warwick Fairfax:

Seeing that, it must make you think how can this kind of thing happen? All these questions are probably flooding in your mind. What could lead to such horrific scenes? You probably saw some really difficult things in your tours of duty. That probably wasn’t the last.

Gregory Robinson:

It does, but speaking again as a veteran, all those things about politics and your ideas and what you look like and you don’t look like and where you’re from and all those things, they all go out the window because it all comes down to you’re looking out for this guy that’s beside you and the other guy that’s beside you and vice versa and so everybody just wants to go back home to their own dysfunctional backgrounds and families when it’s all said and done. So you’re just, you’re friends and family. And that’s what makes especially combat veterans so close.

Warwick Fairfax:

It sounds like you found a real sense of camaraderie in the military. So somewhere along the lines, as we get to Unbreakable Man, it sounds like there was a turning point where you were maybe at one of the lowest points in your life and you could have gone one direction, but you went towards faith. Let’s talk about that pivotal moment where you chose faith, chose God if you will and not perhaps an alternative.

Gregory Robinson:

Well there are so many moments, but I’ll go to a funny one. This is after I had actually contemplated suicide at one time. I had just gotten …

Gary Schneeberger:

Now normally, someone doesn’t say I’m going to a funny one after talking about contemplating suicide. So our listeners are dying to hear this story.

Gregory Robinson:

Well, I’ll go back to the first one, the suicide portion. I just really got into a very bad point in my life between the PTSD that I had that I didn’t even know that I had at the time because I just assumed because of the type of people that I came up around in the military, was always normal.

Gregory Robinson:

And what I mean by that, it’s the best way I know how to describe it is when you have let’s say 100 individuals who came up together in an insane asylum for 10 years, just as an example. For them, that’s their normal. But then one day you unlock the door and you tell those 100, “Okay, go out and be with the rest of the world.” And they’re like, “But this is our world.” And so when they go out with the normal population, they’re like, “Who are all these strange people?” They say, “We’re not the strange ones, you’re the strange ones.”

Gregory Robinson:

And that’s what it’s like in my eyes is being a combat vet with PTSD because once you are discharged, especially combat vets, there is no turn-off switch. You just don’t go back to just being Greg Robinson the homeless kid who used to be out in the street. You’ve now had training and you’ve had education and indoctrination into a totally different culture and lifestyle. So whether it be four years or if it’s 20 or 30 years, you’ve still been indoctrinated. And that’s much what it was like being around the Marine Corps.

Gregory Robinson:

But now pushing forward, moving to the funny story. How I came into salvation was actually this lady had come to work for me on the job and she was a sanctified woman. And so every now and then, she’d talk about God. And I really didn’t want to hear it because I had seen almost everything as far as I was concerned. I had dealt with Hare Krishnas, I had dealt with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I had dealt with Methodists, I had dealt with Baptists and Muslims and so on and so on. So to me, it was all just one big melting pot in my eyes.

Gregory Robinson:

And I had grown up seeing hypocrites, these guys that call themselves preachers in the church and they’re hanging out at the same bar that I’m at on Saturday night until about 1 o’clock in the morning because they’ve got to go home early because they’ve got church in the morning. And there was one particular day, just kind of like what I’m doing, I kept people laughing and I was notorious for telling jokes. That particular day, I was telling a dirty joke.

Gregory Robinson:

And so as I was telling my dirty joke, she kept interrupting me, so I got irritated because I couldn’t get to my punchline. I said, “Just let me get to my punchline, say whatever you want.” So I went to go finish again and she says, “When you coming to church?” So I got so irritated that I said, “You know, fine. I’ll come to church, just let me finish my joke.” And she looked at me because she knew I was old-fashioned and she says, “I got you.”

Gregory Robinson:

So now I knew because I gave my word, I had to go to church. So I said, “Well, I know what I will do.” In my mind, I said, “I’m going to go to church to fulfill my obligation and I’m never going to come back.” So lo and behold, I go to church, I get convicted, I went two other times and on the third time, I brought my wife with me. I didn’t know why I brought her with me. I know now why.

Gregory Robinson:

And then we went to church and the pastor at the time made an altar call. And I really don’t remember going up, but I went up to the altar. He made an altar call the second time and my wife went up and our daughter who is now 19, will be 20 this year, she was 9 months old sitting in a car seat, as the assistant in my church watched over her while my wife and I were giving our lives to God. That’s my story in a long-winded, shortest version as I can get it how I came to know and understand God.

Gregory Robinson:

So from that day, actually when I got home that evening, I remember I was taking my daughter upstairs to put her in the crib. And something came over me and I told God, I said, “You know, God. I want to make a deal with you.” And I said, “I’ll tell you what. If you keep my daughter and then allow her to go through the things that I went through as a child and teach me how to be a father and how to be a husband because I didn’t have any examples, that I promise you I will serve you until the day that I die.”

Gregory Robinson:

I’ve got a great kid. She’s in college. She’s beautiful. She takes her brains from her mother and a little bit of her father’s attitude, but she’s still here. I’ve been in the church. I mark my time in the church by her. So I’ve been in the church almost 19 years.

Warwick Fairfax:

It sounds like that experience changed your whole life, led to Unbreakable Man. You charted a journey that was different than the one that you grew up with. Your daughter grew up radically different than you did.

Gregory Robinson:

Yes, sir.

Warwick Fairfax:

The Bible talks about sin can go to seven generations, which basically means forever. It’s just a biblical way of saying forever. I think sometimes virtue or faith can go to generations. So you’ve charted a new course. Without getting too much on a side track, as listeners know, I grew up in a very different background, a very wealthy background in Australia, large family business, but it was founded by a man of great faith. He was an elder at his church, a wonderful husband, great father. He treated his employees well. He did everything that a man of God, a man of Christ should do.

Warwick Fairfax:

That faith, it got a little watered down a bit over the generations as money and power crept in and money and power tends to erode faith, but that legacy of faith lasted in some fashion for generations. And so the legacy you’re leading, I don’t know how many generations that would last, two, three, four, five, 10. I don’t know. But you’ll have kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, great-great-great-grandkids that you’ll never meet unless you live to Biblical 175 or something. Who knows? But let’s assume it may not happen.

Warwick Fairfax:

You have a legacy that’s going to change from what you grew up with. So that’s something to I don’t know, if the words are to be proud of at least to be filled with joy about, right, to seeing what will happen with your daughter and generations.

Gregory Robinson:

Yes. I’m extremely thankful that God gave me an opportunity to be more than that because I know for a fact that I should have been dead at least a decade ago, if not 20 years ago from all the things that I went through. But for whatever reason, God had his hand of mercy upon me and as the scripture says, God is the father of the fatherless.

Gary Schneeberger:

This is a perfect time to bring up because of what Warwick said about your stories being so different, right? You laughed when he said that, Greg. When he said, “Yeah, my background was much different than yours.” And it’s true and yet, your crucibles and the things that you’ve gone through and the impact that has had on you. We discover this all the time on this show.

Gary Schneeberger:

No, not everyone has grown up with a 150-year-old family media company that they lost in a failed takeover bid to the tune of, as I like to tease Warwick about now, $2.25 billion nor has everyone listening to this show, Greg, gone through what you’ve gone through from being on your own at 16. You told me that you would take soap out of restaurants so that you could wash yourself and then your war experiences.

Gary Schneeberger:

But one of the things you said, Greg, that cements how the emotions of your crucible, Warwick’s crucible, I’m not giving the details of mine at this moment, but my crucible, everybody’s crucible tends to have certain emotional touch points. Getting beyond them, you said … We ask all guests what’s one bit of advice you would give someone to get beyond your crucible? And this is what you said.

Gary Schneeberger:

And I say this because that’s the advice that you follow, that’s the advice Warwick followed and that’s the advice that you’re encouraging the listeners to follow and that advice is this and I love the way you phrase it. Don’t let defeat, defeat you. How can people do that if you’re counseling, coaching, meeting someone where they’re at and they feel defeated, how do you tell them what’s the first step they can take?

Gary Schneeberger:

Warwick talks a lot about what’s one small step you can take to move towards your goal? What’s your advice to how do you not let defeat, defeat you?

Gregory Robinson:

To be frank, I think I’m kind of a hard man in some ways. So my best piece of advice is to be flawed, meaning to … And sometimes it’s really hard when you’re in a bad situation, but you need to be able to take a look in the mirror and say, “Why am I in this situation? What is a thing that I could do to improve? What are my resources that I can maybe get for help.” Humble yourself. Allow yourself to take advice. It doesn’t mean all the advice is going to be the best advice, but nonetheless, it’s going to be advice and it’s going to help you to get to the point where you need to be if you allow it.

Gregory Robinson:

Because one of the things that I teach on, you mentioned in my bio about I call myself the caretaker of the 12 principles of resolve and this is something that God had given me not even a year ago now and it’s an acronym based off the word father. The first principle is to be flawed. The second is to be faithful. The third is to be accountable. The fourth is to be authoritative. The fifth is to be honest. The sixth is to be humble. The seventh is to be earnest. The eighth is to be an executor. Oh, I forgot my T. Yeah, T is to be trustworthy and the second T is to be tenacious. I’m going to skip down to R because I know I did the others already, is to be respectful and to be a rewarder.

Gregory Robinson:

And it’s actually broken down in three tiers, the first four, the second four and the last four. But the most important I think out of all of them is the very first one, to be flawed. Because you’ve got to recognize your issues, idiosyncrasies, whatever word you want to use, to look at yourself first and address those things and then figure out what you need for help. And of course, all three of us know being men of faith, the most important place you can go for help is to go to the king first because if you don’t go to the king first, then you can’t get to God.

Warwick Fairfax:

Amen. I love that phrase that you use. I think also you mentioned be flawed and ask for help. We all have flaws and we all have our own experiences. You’ve obviously gone through tough upbringing, PTSD in the military. Mine … You can’t compare crucibles. Mine feels like it’s trivial compared to what you’ve gone through. But losing a 150-year-old family media business that was founded by a person of faith and being a person of faith in my naïvety and poor theology, I felt like God had a plan to resurrect the family company in the image of the founder and I blew God’s plan. Obviously, if God had wanted it to happen, it would have happened.

Warwick Fairfax:

But aged my late 20s at about 30, I was just devastated. So we all have our crucibles. But yeah, it’s so true to just admit that you’re hurting, that it’s not easy. Get help from wise folks. So just link that for me. You mentioned the 12 principles and you have a ministry, Unbreakable Man. Tell me about this mission. What is that mission about? What is your passion? Where do you feel like God is calling you today? What’s his mission for you in life would you say?

Gregory Robinson:

My mission is to help other men. That’s putting it very simply, but when I talk about my job is to equip, enrich and to empower men to be better versions of themselves according to God’s base design in character because if you do that, then everything else will fall into place. What I mean by that, I’ll use a Biblical description. We all know that God created the man first and then he created Eve from the rib of the man to be his helpmate.

Gregory Robinson:

And Adam was the head of his household. He was the high priest. We know that’s how things were done at the time. And if Adam had to did what God instructed him to do and he had to chastise his wife and say, “Hey, you know what God said.” But instead, he allowed his wife to do what all of our wives do to us. They come up to us and they say, “Honey please.” And they bat their eyes and maybe they rub you on the back and bring you your favorite meal. And so he was cursed.

Gregory Robinson:

And so he went along with his wife. And when God came into the garden, he says, “Adam, where are you?” And then Adam didn’t answer. And he called him again and he didn’t answer. And he finally called him a third time if I remember right. He said, “Well, I’m over her.” He said, “Well come see me.” He said, “I can’t because I’m naked.” He said, “Well how do you know you’re naked?” So right there, he gave himself away and then of course, you know the rest of the story.

Warwick Fairfax:

Sure. How does this link with what you’re trying to teach? All of us sin. Men and women, we all fall. As scripture says, we all fall short of the glory of God.

Gregory Robinson:

Really what I’m teaching is, when I talk about the principles and then I tie in with this, this is about teaching men how to be real men, again according to God based character and design. And for so long, men haven’t been taught that. And as society pushes forward, we get further and further and further away from that, where we have women who don’t understand their places in the household. I know it’s old-fashioned, but it’s the truth. You get men who don’t understand their places in the household.

Gregory Robinson:

I’ll give you a good example. You gentlemen may or may not have seen it. There’s a commercial that comes on TV about Tide. I think it’s Tide. And it’s these two dads who are washing clothes, a black dad and a white dad, both men and the kids are playing around them. And they’re talking about detergent and what gets the clothes cleaner better. And one of, I think, the wives walks out of the house with a briefcase. There’s nothing wrong with women working, but what I’m saying is that the roles that God has designed for men and women is now completely reversed.

Gregory Robinson:

And the scripture even talks about it. It says how in the last days where the children shall be your oppressors and the women shall have rule over you. And so because we’re out of order, then everything is upside-down and it’s topsy-turvy. So if the husbands know how to be real husbands. For those who are married because you know how the world is today, that they’ve totally destroyed the institution of marriage.

Gregory Robinson:

And it used to be a term of shame if you came home and you were pregnant and you weren’t married. They would send the daughters off to a place with an aunt or an uncle or an old family member someplace in the country. And that’s not to say that my situation was any better because it wasn’t. But the point is that I’m on this side now serving God and I know better now and I understand.

Gregory Robinson:

And if we could teach men these things based upon these principles and understand who they are, what it means to be flawed, what it means to be faithful, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, then we could get them back on track. And I think a lot of the problems that we have in society would be remedied and it would start from that base foundation.

Warwick Fairfax:

Is there an element of servant leadership in which you try to teach men? Because I know the whole role of men and women is a complex subject to discuss in our day and age, but scripture talks about a man should love his husband as Christ loves the church, basically lay his life down. So there’s the sense of leadership. The scripture talks about servant leadership, but not … I know that you are not talking this, about not so much domineering, but more of a servant’s heart. You try to teach men just that husbands are meant to have a servant’s heart as they love their wives.

Gregory Robinson:

Yes. The scripture you’re talking about, it says how men should love their wives as Christ loves the church. So when I speak of leadership, I don’t mean the old-fashioned, domineering, beat your chest, drag the woman by the hair. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about leadership based upon scripture and biblical principles, meaning the scripture says that as a man who wants a wife, he needs to understand her.

Gregory Robinson:

So we know that women are emotional. Men are not so emotional and each one has a specific design by God in their roles. So your job is to teach your wife and children according to God’s ways. But if no one ever teaches you that and you don’t understand that, then there’s no way for you to know. And that’s why you have so many men that are so far from the church and so distant in relationships because now what they have is they have their mothers trying to raise men when you need a father to raise it. But how can a father learn how to be a man unless his father is in his life? When I say father I mean as in marriage.

Warwick Fairfax:

And so many young guys don’t have role models or what it means to be a man of God or even a man of character to not abandon families, to be around to love their kids, not yell and scream, but resolve things peacefully as partners. You try and teach young guys what it really means to be a real man, which is not to dominate. It’s not to abuse or to hit or strike, but just to love, be a servant leader. Leadership can take many forms and often what we think of leadership is not what young folks think leadership is.

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s not my way or the highway. It’s more of a servant leadership, loving your wife as God loves us. So that’s got to be a tall order to try and teach in Unbreakable Man. That’s a real cultural shift. How do you get this through to young guys? It’s you’re speaking a foreign language. What the heck are you saying, Greg?

Gregory Robinson:

I start off with the book and then you engage them in conversation. Because once they get past what you look like on the outside, meaning usually where I work, I’m usually in a shirt and a tie and a jacket, clean-cut is just how I am. And then when they start really talking to you, they’re like, “Wow, you do understand.” So now you’ve met them at their level and so now you can talk to them because you’re not a foreigner so to speak. You’re not someone who hasn’t been in their shoes or worse.

Gregory Robinson:

And they can tell when they talk to you whether you’re sincere or genuine or not. So the authenticity comes out and then I’m able to say, “Hey, this is what you need to do.” “Wow. I never thought about it like that.” And then you’re able to engage more and more and more. And then what I find is they just start absorbing like sponges because they’ve never had anyone to sit down, another man, and to tell them these things. Not all kids or not all young men, but a lot of them.

Gregory Robinson:

And then most young women want to be married, so when they hear it, they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” It’s like, “Well wait a minute. Before you say yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s some stuff in here for you, too.” It’s not really for you per se, but …

Warwick Fairfax:

Well you have a daughter, right? So you’re obviously saying be very careful that the man that you fall in love with, you want to make sure you pick the right one.

Gregory Robinson:

Yes, sir. And I take it very seriously because I told you earlier in my story about being a father. I asked God to teach me because I had no idea. Because what I did when I got married the first time and don’t laugh at me too hard when I say this, but I took what I saw as a kid, friends who had fathers because when I was a kid, the ones who did have fathers, we were kind of jealous. You’ve got a dad and I don’t have a dad to go home to. I can’t say, “Hey Dad, can you throw the ball with me? Can you do this with me?”

Gregory Robinson:

Between the TV shows and everything else that you saw like the Huxtables, Father Knows Best and et cetera, et cetera. I’m really showing age there, Father Knows Best. But I just hodgepodged it in my mind and used that as my reference point on what I should do as a husband and as a father. And the majority of stuff that I did was absolutely wrong because none of it was God centered.

Gregory Robinson:

So when I got married the second time and I had my daughter and she was a baby still before my second child was born. I told you guys my story, how I asked God to teach me how to be a father and a husband. Because I was horrible at both and didn’t even realize it. So what God did for me is because I humble myself and just like the scripture says, the king says, “Take my yoke and learn of me.” We talk about yoke and the kids say, “You mean like an egg?” No. It’s not an egg.

Warwick Fairfax:

Not that kind of yoke.

Gregory Robinson:

It was an old fashioned device that they put around a horse or a beast of burden’s neck to control them.

Warwick Fairfax:

Oxen, that kind of thing.

Gregory Robinson:

Yes. Yes. Exactly. So I took God’s yoke and took my time and I learned and God taught me and I listened. I didn’t buck too much and rebel. I think God did a fairly decent job with me, so I try to set myself a better standard for my daughters so when they grow up they know exactly what to look for. This is how my dad was. My dad was always faithful. He loved my mother greatly. He’d do anything for us. We never had to want for anything, but he was a disciplinarian. He guided us. He taught us right from wrong.

Gregory Robinson:

So now they know what to choose. They know what to look for because of the standard their dad set. And then my standard came from my dad, which is our mutual father which in heaven.

Warwick Fairfax:

Amen.

Gary Schneeberger:

That is an excellent point to do what I normally say, Greg. Normally at this point in the show, I say it’s getting about time to land the plane. The captain has turned on that fasten seat belt sign. But in honor of you, as a huge Star Wars fan, I’m going to say we’ve come to the point in the show when Han Solo is going to bring down the Millennium Falcon. It’s time to land that ship, but before we do, I would be remiss if I did not give you the chance to let our listeners know how they can find out more about you, more about the Unbreakable Man and more about your book, Bad, Bandages, Bullets and Beyond. How can they find out more about you?

Gregory Robinson:

You can find me on Amazon. I’m listed. You can find a link for the book. My email or my website, actually I’ll do my website. That’ll be easier. It’s a long one so you’ve got to pay attention.

Gary Schneeberger:

All right. We’ll have it in the show notes, too, but go ahead.

Gregory Robinson:

It’s theunbreakableman.live, all one word, dot live. And then my email is great@theunbreakableman.live. Or you can find me on Instagram, as well. It’s also under theunbreakableman and you can find me on Facebook, as well. I’m not a huge social media fan, but it is what it is. So Instagram, Facebook, website and then via email if you want a hard copy of the book, I’ll send you a signed copy.

Gary Schneeberger:

Fantastic. Warwick, the last question is yours.

Warwick Fairfax:

Well thank you so much, Greg, for being here. You have an inspiring story. You’ve had some tough journeys growing up, as well as in the military, but just your ministry, the Unbreakable Man, just really trying to care for young guys, the 12 principles of resolve. It’s very inspiring because there’s a lot of young guys out there that don’t have a role model of what is it to be a real man? It’s not like in the movies, some tough guy that beats everybody else up. There’s a time and a place for defense and to protect your family and all this, a time and a place for that.

Warwick Fairfax:

Being a real man is a lot more than just being tough. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be tough, but being compassionate, having a servant’s heart, being faithful, honoring your family, honoring God. That’s a mission that there’s not a lot of people doing that and they need a lot more people in the game, a lot more people in that company of troops if you will, right? You need a whole lot more soldiers on that mission trying to help young guys understand what it is to really be a real man and what it means to be an Unbreakable Man. So thank you for your ministry. It’s a tough mission field, but it’s really needed. So thank you.

Gregory Robinson:

Thank you.

Gary Schneeberger:

That sound that you heard, listeners is not the plane landing on the … It’s Chewbacca being excited that the Millennium Falcon has landed. Before we go, let me rewind a bit of our conversation and leave you with some take-aways from this very enlightening, moving conversation with Greg Robinson.

Gary Schneeberger:

Number one and this is so good, don’t let defeat, defeat you. There’s a movie. I can’t remember the name of it now, but this line has stuck with me. There’s a movie I love in which this kind of shyster character says after his get rick quick scheme fails again for the 18th time, he tells his associate, “Remember defeat is always momentary.”

Gregory Robinson:

That’s right.

Gary Schneeberger:

When you say that don’t let defeat, defeat you, that’s what pops into my head. It is not the end of your story if you determine to pick up the pieces and move forward. Greg ran into brick walls at many junctions of his life, but he never let the disappointment, even the devastation of the defeat keep him defeated. He moved beyond his crucibles. He realized he is flawed and found a way to find advice to move beyond that crucible. The second point goes back to you, we, me, everyone.

Gary Schneeberger:

We need to recognize that we are flawed, embrace those flaws and use them to empower yourself to overcome the most damaging ramifications of these flaws. Be humble enough to take coaching to help you overcome your flaws. Be authentic enough not to hide them. Be brave enough to learn from them.

Gary Schneeberger:

And then the third point take-away from our conversation with Greg and this is infused throughout this episode and that is this: Smile. Watch this episode on our YouTube channel. I will include it in the show notes. You’ll see how many times, even when describing terrible tragedies that Greg’s face breaks into a smile. Here’s the key take-away there: Finding joy amid the pain is critical to overcoming your crucible.

Gary Schneeberger:

And speaking of overcoming your crucible, listeners thank you for spending your time with us today talking about how we do that, how we move beyond our crucibles. Warwick and I would ask do us a little favor. If you enjoyed this conversation, click like and subscribe on the podcast app on which you’re listening to this.

Gary Schneeberger:

You can also, if you want to know where you are on your journey to move beyond your crucible, we heard about Greg’s journey and moving beyond his crucibles today, you can discover where you are by going to crucibleleadership.com and taking our life of significance assessment. You can find out exactly what your personality type is as you’re navigating your road back and you can find great next steps for how to do that.

Gary Schneeberger:

So until the next time we’re together, please remember this, that your crucibles are painful, they’re real, they knock you off your feet. But they are not by any stretch of the imagination, they are not the end of your story.

Gregory Robinson:

Amen.

Gary Schneeberger:

I’m smiling right now saying that because Greg smiled so much in this episode. They can be the beginning of a new story, a better story, a more rewarding story and the reason why it happened for Warwick, it’s happened for me and it definitely happened to Greg Robinson our guest today, those lessons that you learned from your crucible can set you up in a new chapter of your story that is so rewarding because at the end of the day, it leads you to where Greg has been led, where Warwick has been led and that is to a life of significance.

 

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