What inspired you to become a public/motivational speaker?
I had no plans on being an inspirational speaker following the life-altering accident that I endured. Though I didn’t know exactly what my professional career was going to involve, I knew as I was in the hospital bed after undergoing multiple surgeries to be upgraded from critical to stable that God was keeping me alive for a reason that was bigger than me. As I started to recover, both physically and emotionally, I realized that I was facing some very challenging odds to get my life back together after such a significant setback. As I was starting to get myself together, I found people coming to me wanting to learn more about my story and experience of trying to recover. About eight months after the accident, I was asked by a good friend to speak at a life insurance conference and to share my story of what it was like having to deal with the loss and being uncertain about how I was going to move forward. After giving my story and seeing how emotionally connecting it was to people and impacted them, I realized that those trying to overcome their situations benefited from it. I was asked again by someone in that audience to consider speaking in front of another group. Before I knew it, it became something that drove me. It became more evident to me that it was God’s plan for me to use my story of pain, overcoming adversity, and finding a purpose to inspire others.
What encourages you to move forward with life after your accident?
After the accident, there were many times where I found myself in excruciating pain, heartbroken, mentally and emotionally fragile, and uncertain about what my future was going to look like. I was fighting depression based on the loss of my previous wife, my change in physical condition, and the belief that there would never be joy and happiness in my life again. I struggled to get through the rehab, even to strengthen myself to one day walk again and mentally keep focus on what was ahead of me without thinking negatively. Multiple times, I thought about throwing in the towel and giving up…
But I found myself reflecting on a conversation that Maleka and I had about a year before the accident. We talked about the hypothetical situation of what I would do if something ever happened to her. And in that conversation, she shared with me that she didn’t want me to grieve for too long, that she would want me to go out and find happiness again. But she left me with this; she said that no matter what I do, that I had better do all that I can to take care of the only part of her that would still be here on earth, our son Cameron. She told me that if I did move on and find someone else, that she had better treat him and love him like he was her own. And she made it clear that raising him to be a young man that she would be proud of would be her wish.
And that was it. That was the motivation that I needed to have the will to push myself to keep moving forward. Forward with addressing my mental health. Forward with my emotional recovery. Forward with the physical rehabilitation needed for me to be able to walk and be there for him. Forward with being the father that I needed to be for him.
Tell us about the most challenging aspect of your recovery.
The most challenging aspect for me was clearly the battles with my mental and emotional health. It took a long time for me to accept that the life that I knew before was gone. I felt alone after losing the person I was closest to for over 15 years. I was in denial of the fact that Maleka was no longer here. I struggled with trying not to be depressed when I thought about how helpless that I was. The challenge of looking in the mirror and seeing that I was no longer physically the same, but missing a leg truly crippled me, not only physically but also my confidence. I was overly concerned with others’ opinions when they saw me. It took a long time for me to become emotionally strong enough to deal with interacting with people again because all I could think about was how pathetic I felt about myself. The PTSD from waking up on the surface of that burning boat, unaware of what happened, haunted me for a long time as well.
How have you handled raising your son without his mom?
It has been a journey trying to raise my son as a single father after what happened. He was 12 years old when it happened, so he was already on the verge of this awkward period heading into his teenage years and was becoming more private about how he felt and his emotions about what was happening in his life. She was the woman that was the closest to him, and they had an extremely tight bond. He had lost his nurturer, his comforter, and the one who would show him love in a way like no other and without getting a chance to say goodbye. I had to try and be protective of his emotions because his loss was different than mine. As he was still developing, it was hard for me to see him hurt and his pain as he grieved for the loss of his mom. He was in denial for a long time and didn’t want to believe that it was true, even though he knew it was. I felt as though I had to try and make up for that nurturing aspect, even though I wasn’t the best at it. I had to learn how to provide for him in ways that his mom would have, which meant being more involved at his school and other activities and developing my cooking skills to where they were better for the both of us. I had to broaden my perspective on parenting to more than just being a father but had to try and incorporate some of the areas where she comforted him into my being. I had to learn when to be softer and when to be more of a disciplinarian, all as the same person. I’ve had to know when and how to pull out what is profoundly eating away at him in a way that would keep him from trying to hide his true feelings. But overall, going through this together strengthened our already tight bond and has allowed us to learn to love each other as father and son in ways most would never share.
How did you find love again?
Finding love for me was something that I didn’t plan on, but like many things, my recovery made it possible for me to get to that point. As I was going through my regular grief counseling, one of the things that came along with the acceptance of Maleka’s passing was the realization that I still had a lot of life ahead and that I would be doing myself a disservice by not being open to the idea of moving forward. As I continued with the therapy, I began to learn more about myself and my true passions, desires, and hopes for life and to be honest and true to who I was. In doing so, I learned how to love myself and who I was more than I had before the accident. In transitioning away from aspects of my past life that Maleka and I had and moving towards exploring the elements of my life that I valued most, it prepared me for what was to come in my life. I was healing emotionally during that period and learned more about myself, friendships, and relationships with others. My heart was finally becoming capable of becoming whole once again and capable of allowing me to love another one and accept that love from another for me.
Ironically, as I was going to Tennessee State’s homecoming in 2019 to give a speech in honor of a scholarship that I worked to have created in Maleka’s name, I met a young lady named Kaye Ellis that changed my life from that moment forward. In developing a friendship with her, I saw that there was someone else out there that I could have an emotional connection with, accept my flaws and the complications that come with me, and show me love in a different way than I had ever experienced. Needless to say, our relationship has truly blossomed, and two years after we first met, I’m happy to say that she is my wife!!
Tell us about your upcoming book project.
I’m nearing completion of my first book, titled ‘Choosing Resilience.’ This book details my story of how tragedy struck in the form of a sudden boating explosion during an excursion while Maleka and I were celebrating our 15th anniversary on vacation in the Bahamas. It covers the life-threatening situation I faced and the bleak outlook in front of me after finding the love of my life taken away from me and leaving me with a broken spirit, heart, mind, body, and soul.
However, while going through medical procedures to salvage my life, it became clear that I would survive. And while the situation did not look good, I found myself in a situation where I made a conscious choice to be resilient, despite how difficult the road was going to be.
As I went through recovery from this ordeal, I faced numerous obstacles in moving on. In doing so, I found my process to overcome adversity and find the strength and resiliency necessary for me to be transformed into an improved version of the man that was. I share a process that can apply to anyone trying to re-discover their path, find their most authentic self, develop a skill-set to better cope with change, learn to be vulnerable, and discover their purpose and how to follow it in their lives. I provide the perspective that there will be times when bad things may happen to us in our lives. We all have the strength and resiliency to overcome and persevere in the midst of these challenges.
Where do you see your career in the next five years?
I see myself on larger platforms, inspiring, mentoring, and teaching others how to heal from the pain they’ve experienced in their lives. I see myself as a coach that can use my story to inspire others to reach their full potential and get the most out of what God has blessed them with. I want to see people realize that even though they may have had setbacks, they can overcome them and their most remarkable comeback, greater than they can even imagine. I aim to delve deeper into the personal development and growth space. I hope that I have a significant enough following to impact as many people facing trauma, tragedy, or any struggles encountered in our lives.
Tiran Jackson has gone through an incredible transformation and journey recently in his life. He grew up in rural Alabama and was a very good student, with a strong STEM background through school, while being a multi-sport athlete. With a strong work-ethic and determination to improve his livelihood, he was able to earn a full academic scholarship to Tennessee State University, earning an engineering degree from Tennessee State University (TSU). As Tiran was graduating from TSU, he met the woman who would become his wife, Maleka, who was a teacher at the time. Upon graduation, they moved to Indianapolis and he began his career as an engineer at Rolls-Royce. While working there in various engineering capacities producing gas turbine engines for 8 years, he earned several accomplishments, including being identified as an Early Career/High Potential (ECHP) leader, led teams to generate over $3MM in engineering cost savings, and was nominated for the ‘Black Engineer of the Year’. He also earned his MBA from the University of Indianapolis and began his family where their son, Cameron, was born. They later moved to Atlanta, where he progressed through his career into numerous positions of leadership with various companies, along with Maleka, where she was a human resources executive, focused on improving diversity and inclusion in numerous Fortune 500 companies.
However, Tiran’s life took a sudden and dramatic turn. In June, 2018, while he and Maleka were on a vacation celebrating their 15 years of marriage, the couple went on a boating excursion. Several minutes into the tour, there was a catastrophic explosion, severely injuring Tiran, but tragically Maleka did not survive the explosion. Since that ill-fated moment, life has not been the same for him, nor would it ever be again.
Since then, Tiran has had to face tremendous challenges as a result of this tragedy. He’s had to face the emotional pain of unexpectedly losing the love of his life and their son losing his mother, the physical challenges associated with being permanently handicapped, losing his left leg and learning how to function in the capacity that he remained, the mental outlook associated with figuring out how to move forward with his new life now that everything that he was used to was going to be different, and spiritual aspects of trying to understand and accept why this had to happen.
Tiran has reached some of his lowest points imaginable, but despite this, found the courage and fortitude to not only withstand what life has thrown at him, but take it and become the epitome of what strength is, while inspiring others to overcome the challenges faced before them. His positive outlook and faith in God has driven his physical and emotional recovery allowing him to be capable of withstanding the other challenges that he never imagined before him.
His perspective on life had to change in order to awaken the inner strength to not only ”keep moving forward”, but to also lead and create a path for others. He has found that his purpose is far greater than he ever imagined. In order to do this, he has had to make major transformations in his life. His story is inspirational, and as he continues to follow the path that is set before him, he hopes to aid others as they overcome the challenges within their journey as well.
Business Instagram: RebornResilient
Personal Instagram: Reborn_resilient
Business Facebook: Reborn Resilient
Personal Facebook: Tiran Jackson
LinkedIN: Tiran Jackson