Overcome & Transform Adversity: How Hans Hageman Found His Life’s Purpose – Hans Hageman

Join host Wade Thomas as he interviews the resilient and determined Hans Hageman, a man with a diverse upbringing and a burning desire to make a significant impact, as he shares his inspiring journey from Washington, D.C. to the Mississippi Delta, where he faces resistance and challenges while pursuing his goal of empowering the community through education and service.

Who is Hans Hageman?

Meet Hans Hageman, a seasoned lawyer and tireless advocate for the underprivileged. His journey from elite educational institutions such as Princeton and Columbia University Law School to creating opportunities for underserved kids in Harlem is truly remarkable. His life has been driven by a palpable need to serve, a legacy passed on by his visionary parents. His unique story involving navigating diverse social circles, championing the cause of education through the founding of an independent school, and championing therapeutic practices among incarcerated teenagers underscores the lengths to which he’s gone to transform adversity into purposeful action.

Overcoming personal trauma to shape life’s purpose

Life comprises a myriad of experiences, some of which can be deeply traumatic. Yet, from within these dark moments, valuable lessons can be uncovered and growth extracted. While it isn’t an easy process to transcend such experiences, the transformation can catalyze personal evolution. By facing and navigating through the trauma, one can extract resilience and strength, finding inspiration to further their life’s purpose and make a positive impact on society. This transformative process, though arduous, can crucially shape the course of one’s life and even assist others on their journey by serving as living evidence of the efficacy of such an approach. 

Hans Hageman provides a visceral example of this. Despite experiencing a deeply traumatic ordeal as a young individual at the hands of a pedophile doctor, he chose to use this incident to fuel his purpose. Hans decided to become a figure of trust for children – an admirable resolve indicative of his strength of character. This incident galvanised within Hans values of trust and service, etching them deep within his ethos and inspiring his commitment to protecting and supporting children. It’s a powerful lesson on using personal trials to articulate one’s purpose in life.

Discovering life’s purpose

Finding one’s purpose manifests as an intersection between passion, proficiency, and societal need. It often comes through exploration and curiosity – by engaging in various experiences, reading broadly, and translating newfound knowledge into actionable steps. This convergence unearths a unique vocation where individuals can leverage their strengths to create a distinctive impact on the world. Without a doubt, understanding personal values can offer a pivotal compass guiding individuals towards their life purpose, especially when caught in a torrent of diverse interests and choices. 

In Hans’ journey, we find a compelling demonstration of this truth. His belief in the synergy among passion, proficiency, and societal need has guided his quest towards his life purpose. Armed with these guiding principles, Hans navigated through multiple roles, always led by his curiosity, underlay by reading, and an inherent desire to create a difference. His journey underscores the importance of curiosity, knowledge and, more crucially, the alignment with personal values in discovering one’s purpose. Resultantly, it provides a roadmap worth emulating for those attempting to find their life’s purpose.

Crafting a personal definition of success

Success is a malleable concept that should be tailored to individual aspirations, desires, and achievements. Seemingly grand visions could become myopic if consumed by comparison and societal expectations. It’s vital to pare down one’s definition of success, focusing on impact and personal growth rather than a lofty, pre-constructed societal vision. This approach keeps imposter syndrome in check and keeps one grounded to their personal purpose and intent. 

Hans provides an anecdotal framework for the idea of personal success. His definition of success – becoming an ancestor worth remembering testifies to his humble and service-orientated ethos. He measures success by the lasting, positive impact he makes in peoples’ lives – not by the breadth of his reach, but its depth. As he shared his narrative about the school he founded, it became clear that influencing the lives of a smaller group of students was enough for him. His story is an eloquent reminder for us all to craft our metrics of success, free from societal trappings, and focused on personal growth and positive impact.

Making a positive societal impact

One potent way of driving social change is to address the pressing needs of communities. By innovating solutions to improve the quality of life or to provide opportunities for youth in underserved communities, individuals can profoundly impact societies. Initiatives like drone pilot programs, community gardens, cultural preservation efforts or educational programs can alleviate societal issues, bring much-needed resources to communities and preserve cultural heritage. Once again, Hans embodies all these values in his work in the Mississippi Delta, an area designated as a food desert by the USDA. 

Hageman has spearheaded initiatives from a drone pilot program for farmers to community vegetable gardens, a robotics program for the youth, and even an initiative to revive the local music program. Through each of these services, Hageman aims to bring innovation, progress, and positive change to the Mississippi Delta, reflecting a commitment to uplift the lives of the underprivileged.

Fuelling one’s path through personal experiences

Personal experiences serve as vital tools for growth and transformation. Drawing strength from these experiences and channeling them towards personal growth and impact, individuals can develop a richly-textured perspective of the world. Each personal journey is unique, and the broader the range of experiences, the more inclusive and empathetic the individual becomes. 

Hans Hageman’s narrative affirms this belief. He has used his traumatic experiences as catalysts for growth and positive change. His diverse experiences have shaped his world view and directed his actions towards making a difference in the lives of others. In sharing his journey, Hans empowers others to reimagine their adversities as stepping stones towards personal growth, and to utilize their experiences as inspiration to contribute positively to society.

The key moments in this episode are:

00:01:08 – Hans’ Background and Inspiration

00:06:20 – Starting a School and Dealing with Drug Gang Threats

00:09:24 – School’s Growth and Impact

00:11:47 – Moving to the Mississippi Delta

00:13:36 – Embracing Post Traumatic Growth

00:15:10 – Medical Care and Betrayal

00:16:30 – Overcoming Challenges in the Mississippi Delta

00:17:51 – Discovering Life Purpose

00:19:36 – Becoming an Ancestor Worth Remembering

00:22:05 – Defining Success and Avoiding Comparison


No matter what you do, be of service. That’s the true measure of success. – Hans Hageman

Take the things that happen to you and come back even stronger. Turn adversity into opportunity. – Hans Hageman

Be the one adult that any child can trust. Make a difference in their lives through trust and support. – Hans Hageman

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