Inspiration at RecruitDC: “Overcoming the Bumps in the Road of Life”

By Ian Jones

The recruitDC community was honored to have Justin Constantine speak at the May 2013 conference. Justin relayed a personal and inspiring speech to a captive audience. Click Here to view Justin’s speech. Ian Jones reflects back for us.

Ian Jones

I still remember the poster.  Bart Simpson dressed in cleats, holding an oddly shaped ball.   It was a recruiting announcement designed to attract new players for James Madison University’s rugby team. Rugby is a brutal sport and JMU was a high powered club, only two years removed from a heart breaking overtime loss in the Quarterfinals of the National Championship.    We were the toughest group on campus – at times bordering on insane – both on and off the field.   Within our protected bubble of over-privileged academia, we were pretty badass.  But we were also very naïve, having no idea yet what true strength and toughness really looked like.

Among the eclectic band of misfits that made up our rugby team, Justin Constantine seemed to stand out.   Strong, confident and naturally athletic, Justin was our starting Flyhalf and on-field leader.   To no one’s surprise, he went on to become a successful Marine and a Lawyer.   While Justin could have chosen to limit his service to the court room, he instead volunteered to lead a field unit on the ground in Iraq.

Just weeks into his tour, Justin was shot by a sniper’s bullet and spent months fighting for his life.   The strength he has shown throughout his recovery is stunning.   His character and toughness is unquestionable.   With all Justin has been through, he could choose to focus all his energies inward, spending his days healing and trying to repress the past.  No one could ever fault him for that.  He’s got nothing left to prove to anyone – ever.

But that’s not his style.  Rather than focusing internally, Justin chooses to share the story of his traumatic injury and recovery as a high impact motivational speaker.  Despite an ongoing battle with Post-Traumatic Stress, Justin shares – with an amazing level of humbleness and humor – the full story of his injury and recovery.

I was fortunate enough to hear Justin speak professionally for the first time at last month’s RecruitDC event.  Sitting in the audience, I tried to imagine the level of courage and toughness it must take to relive those events in front of thousands of eyes, over and over again.    But I don’t know that an ordinary person like myself can fully grasp the type courage.  It’s a humbling experience that showcases the extraordinary strength, courage, and toughness Justin has found within himself.

Justin’s story reminded the RecruitDC crowd to be grateful for today and generous with our time and compassion.   He reminded the audience that no matter what obstacles are in your way, professionally and personally, that they can be overcome.    But most of all, he showed that each of life’s setbacks are an opportunity to find your true strength, true toughness and push farther than you ever thought you could.

Ian Jones is President of Fluidhire, a recruiting services company dedicated to supporting DC’s emerging commercial technology and start up communities. Follow Ian at @fluidhire.