About our Guest
Ray Ray McElrathbey whose life story was made into the Disney film, “Safety,” returns this week on the Leading Virtuously Podcast to conclude his segment. Ray is a motivational speaker and founder of the Ray Ray Safety Net Foundation, a non-profit that provides children that deal with trauma with a ray of hope through education and mentorship accountability programs.
In today’s episode, Ray and Chris discuss how finding the root of your issues with the aid of others is necessary to become a better individual. It took a village to raise Ray Ray, so he strives to make the world a better place by always being of service to others.
Ray’s many accolades include being named ABC News’ Person of the Week, featured on the Oprah Show, ESPN’s Keith Jackson Excellence Award, College Football Writers Association Courage Award, and earning numerous ‘Father of the Year’ awards.
Through his personal and work experiences, he was motivated to establish the Ray Ray Safety Net Foundation. The Foundation seeks to provide children who are dealing with trauma with a ray of hope through education and mentorship accountability programs.
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Chris: The million dollar question for this podcast is where does business and virtue intersect for you Ray Ray?
Ray Ray: I think that they’re not mutually exclusive. But there is in order for you to run a successful program no matter what your business is you need both.
In order last you need individuals of high moral standards high moral character in order to grow a business to a point where is something that other people will gravitate towards because people move towards movements. And if you can create a movement within your organization or within your business, I think that’s always the important thing to do.
And that’s what I inspire to do.
Chris: Amen and I think, your story clearly encapsulates that. So clearly it’s so yeah, you nailing it on the head. The other thing that I wanted to talk to you about Ray is that like you’ve had to deal with, as you mentioned with drug addictions that, that was just a part of your upbringing.
As you continue to progress in as an executive in operations. The amount of accountability and stress can only continue to rise. And sometimes we try to find ways to cope with that stress. And some of us are a lot more successful in finding more productive outlets for that. Whether that’d be, prayer, dieting and exercising, family life, et cetera.
But some people unfortunately get trapped and ensnared in drugs and alcohol. That only continues to really harm their careers. So having to live in that lifestyle, what have you learned about living in a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol that, that can, I guess really like help lift up other people from your own story,
Ray Ray: As far as.
Drugs and lifestyle. How can one cope with it? Understand that….
Chris: Let me just, yeah. So it’s like you had to grow up, like that was a lifestyle that you grew up in. So this is something that you’re very familiar with at this point. Now people may find themselves in. Business executives, et cetera.
If you’re in the working world and you’re coping with the stress and all of a sudden you find yourself like living now in that lifestyle, and this is not something that you’re comfortable with because as you also think about the pandemic, there’s been more mental health cases that have been spiking up during this time.
And then I would imagine that a lot of people may not like they find themselves in this, but this is not something that. That they’re used to. And so I’m just saying you having almost like expert level now having dealt with a life of this. And, I just curious, like what coaching that you could give to other people that may find themselves living in that situation presently,
Ray Ray: Living in the situation and on the business side or addiction side?
Chris: On the addiction side, I’ve just analogy to other business professionals that, that may be dealing with that, that didn’t grow up again. And like the upbringing that you brought, you came up in. But now because they’ve been coping with all this stress of the pandemic or success, et cetera, and now they find themselves whether, in some form of addiction.
Ray Ray: When dealing with individuals, going through addiction and dealing with addiction in general you need to first make the decision that you want to change because, and until you make that decision that you want something different my anyone’s effort or anyone’s time will be, not spent doing the better things that they could be done, because a lot of it is part of that person has to make that decision.
You have to make that decision to want to do better. You want to live better. A lot of times people don’t get there till they hit rock bottom. And that’s what I would say. I will come in as far as safety net, but even still I’ve learned that you need to understand people think about it from their perspective.
What gets them to the point where they’re at. And if you’re thinking about yourself, what got you to this point, there was a couple of different events that led up to this, and it could go far as back as your childhood. Cause for me my issues were for adverse childhood experiences, similar to my mother.
A lot of the times with addiction, we’re running from something. We’re trying to ease the pain of something. We’re trying to ease the pain of this situation, the stress of the situation we’re running from something. And that’s not typically how you want to handle your problems. Most people will tell you to handle them head on some problems you can’t handle head on, but understand where’s it coming from.
You gotta leave find the root of your issues. Cause what makes you, you typically is the reason why you do the things that you do. In my mother’s case, she had been through a lot of things as a child. She had been verbally abused, physically abused, molested, all that kind of stuff until that was pain that she was dealing with and seen me and my life and the things that I’ve been through.
And the times I have had struggles with addiction is because of the pain that I was trying to numb myself to. And. There’s, this is necessary to go through it. You got to feel that pain in order to work through it. You got to first identify. And know what it is. And then for a lot of people, this for me give you an example, ACE.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of ACE scores, adverse childhood experiences. There’s a study done back in the late nineties, early two thousands by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC. What they rate you from one to 10 on your trauma score in a number of different traumas that you’ve been through to life, verbal abuse.
You get a score and you get a point altercations with officers before this is all before the age of 18, you get a point separation from parents. You get a point. One of your, like someone else in your home was being verbally abused or physically abused. You get another point. And then there’s just various different things that basically they rate you from one to 10 and after three, all your, it can have correctly, not correctly, but it directly correlates with health outcomes.
So after a four, your life expectancy drops down 20 years. Oh, wow. Yeah. And after four, your chances of suicide goes up 10. And so is these various different things that traumas that you experienced in your early childhood that shaped you into the person that you become. Because a lot of the things that we went through during these times, if your childhood, you wouldn’t even fall in develop, so you might’ve missed a developmental point in your life because you were dealing with the trauma in your body, didn’t fully develop in a particular region in your mind, or in your physical.
Cause kids who have higher ACE scores have low impulse control. And for me, one of the things that I used to do that directly correlate with my score is that I created crisis when there was none, because that was the lifestyle in which I was used to living. I wasn’t used to living in a manner where, everything wasn’t fast and quick to go.
So I procrastinate a lot of time to create a situation where I feel comfortable. And so where I’m brushing while I’m doing this, because that’s how my life was, where it wasn’t a situation where I was living. It was more so a situation where I was surviving and So I would say as far as addiction is concerned, the first find out the root of your issue.
Because most of the time, if you’re addicted to something you’re hiding from something else. So you need to go figure out what that is and for a lot of people. And so one of the things that also that I found out based on my ACE score and because I’m, wasn’t used to looking after myself. So I was always.
I was always the first, last person that I would look to take care of. And I’m still that way now. And I told people coming up, that’s just the way I am. And that’s not true. It was part because the way I was raised, my parents taught me not to worry about me, but to worry about them. Because my mom’s addiction.
So I had to worry about what she was doing. So I didn’t, as a kid, you supposed to be looking out for self and only have that to do, but because I was looking to take care of my mom and to take care of situations in my household now in life as an older gentlemen, that’s how I still operate. So there’s times where people that are close to me and tell me you need to take time for you.
You need to do something for you because you’re stressing yourself thin. And for me, it was how I told people. That’s how I was. This is how I, that’s, how I do things with, in all honesty, it was how I was raised. And so is these various different things to get all the way back to addiction that you might want to delve into.
And it’s unfortunate because a lot of people don’t have time for this type of introspective, I guess, What’s the word I’m looking for reflection. Is I’ve been lucky to have this opportunity to reflect. And then I get to talk about my life every day. Other people don’t get to do that.
And it wasn’t until I was always wanting to be vulnerable because I realized to self-disclosure people become close and I want to be close to people. I wanted to find friendship with others did. That was just been my approach to things and understand that addiction is a disease. And as we tell addicts, don’t go into your mind by yourself.
So it takes somebody with you. So if you’re, if you know that you don’t always make the best decisions, take somebody with you. If you there’s a person that you know is a little bit smarter and it makes better decisions asking them the same question you ask yourself, should I do that? And then if you were encouraged by those people that maybe you might need to change who you hang around with, if they encouraged you to do things that you don’t necessarily need to do, but it is in a sense.
That was very long-winded.
Chris: No, I think you nailed it and offered a ton of helpful and tangible advice for people that are in that situation. Because to your point you can go to all the alcoholics anonymous or adult children of alcoholics or Alanon meetings that you want.
But until you admit the fact that you’ve got a problem, That there’s not much help. That can be. And then also, growing up myself as an adult child of an alcoholic, I really. Ray. You’re like a man after my own heart. In that definitely recognize like those same patterns in myself of wanting to, basically play Jesus to other people in your life when you’re not, you’re so focused on other people.
That you’re not focused on yourself. So I appreciate your willingness to to share in that regard too. So now Ray Ray and then the last thing that I wanted to comment on that just you, as you were sharing your story about and your insights around addiction, It was like, just tying it back to what you had previously said, which is your suffering is not your identity but it’s like, the other thing is I guarantee there’s no way that when you were a kid growing up in that environment, that you would have ever thought.
Sitting in the seat that you’re seeing right now. So again, so unless you are willing to go through that and just keep on persevering, which is another virtue perseverance that there, that you wouldn’t be in the position that you’re in today. So thank you for persevering because your story is going to inspire and change so many people’s lives as well.
So Ray, at the end of your career, what do you want to be known for?
I’m sorry, Ray. You’re on. You’re on mute.
Ray Ray: I’m sorry. How I will want to be know when at the end of the day is for the people I help. I want to be known for Ray has always set out to, to make the world a better place, not just himself, but for everybody who’s in it and who we encountered and things like that.
If I want that to be my legacy that I, I had been told that I don’t imagine big enough. We, there is a crisis of imagination as far as I’m concerned. Because I didn’t think about how much of a, a factor for change I could become as one individual. And I’m finding now knowing more now than I could, I need to think bigger than ever before, because ’cause, I didn’t think this big, I didn’t think they would become this.
And, but if I think big as I think I want to think I want to be known for changing the world and not just in the sense of a beauty pageant. I want to make the world a better place. No, but actually I don’t know with data like quantitative like you can something that you could also that you can see all the.
The things that I’ve accomplished and I don’t want to accomplish them just because I want to be special in that way, but I know that the things that I want to accomplish a lot of people would be helped. The world would be affected and it will be a better place in general. So if anything, I would want that to be my legacy that I’ve always looked to help.
I’ve always looked to be of service and to try to change someone else’s situation from the, from good to bad to good.
Chris: My brother my, my own children have to deal battle with the addictions through a divorce. And so I would just tell you, Ray, that you just us watching the movie.
That’s where I was saying that you had us in tears. That’s really that I think it opened their eyes to being able to see like the two different lifestyles that they live in. I know that’s impacted them. And so you’re doing it, like helping people to be able to take, even take away the, just the knowledge around what people have to go through as well.
So brother, you are such an inspiration and just was so excited to be able to. Be able to spend this time with you and get to know you. So Ray, how can people get ahold of you or find out the projects that you’re working on.
Ray Ray: For all the individuals who felt inspired by the things that you saw in the movie and the things that you heard about my story, I would like for you all to join me.
And as a, almost like a village, you all guys on my village and for everybody who can, that will see this to hear my voice I want you all to join me and the way in which one can do that I have a foundation Ray Ray safety net foundation is www.rayraysafteynet I’m on Instagram as Ray, Mick bay, R a Y M C B E Y.
@McElrathbey on Twitter and Facebook at Ray Ray McElrathbey feel free to contact me. And like I said, I’ll try to be of service to anyone I can help. And I would want you to join my team and to be part of the movement that I’m trying to build, to change the world, to make everything a better place. It’s unfortunate that we’re so divided in the world that we live in today and I just want to put things back together.
Chris: I love it. We’ll also share this information as well. When we post out the episode and Ray again so honored to be able to have you on the show. Thank you for being with us today.
Ray Ray: No, I appreciate you having me is it’s been a process, because for our tell people two years ago, I wasn’t in the position I’m in today.
Yesterday, I wasn’t in a position I’m in today. So understand that. And in time, like if time is one thing we know will continue to go on, like you, you, if you persevere that one of your virtues, if you can persevere, if you can strive to be different in time you’ll be recognized for all the things that you went through.
It might not be, immediately because for me it’s. It’s to have this recognition at this point, it’s been a long road and I’ve been many nights I’ve cried in the dark and, ask God for guidance and ask God to bless me and just ask for forgiveness for some of the things that I’ve done in my life.
And so just know you don’t have to be perfect in order to make it, and you don’t have. Make it in order to be perfect. So just continue to strive to be the best you, and that’s what I continue to say. And you can take this quote in order for me to be free. I have to be me and you can only be the best version of yourself and nobody can do it better than you.
So just try to do that. And that’s if you live in right. Hopefully.
Chris: Okay. Very good. I love it Ray, and thank you again. Such an inspiration. Thank you.
Ray Ray: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I look forward to being in contact with you and hopefully we can change the world together. Thank you, sir.
Chris: Hey, Chris here. Hope you enjoyed the episode where we discussed all things going bald, just joking, the leading virtuously podcast. If you enjoyed the episode of the podcast, will you please subscribe on YouTube or apple podcasts or Spotify, or you can also share it with a friend that would be tubular. I hope you have an awesome day.