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Surround yourself with positive influences, Chad Lewis says

SALT LAKE CITY — Chad Lewis will tell you that he has led a somewhat charmed and extraordinary life.

He was raised by wonderful, caring parents; served a mission for his church in Taiwan; started four years at tight end for BYU under legendary coach LaVell Edwards; and had a stellar career in the National Football League, including playing in the Super Bowl.

He would also say that those events and circumstances were made possible because he put himself in the presence of people who offered constructive criticism and sage advice that would help him become successful throughout his life.

"As people, we have to surround ourselves with great influences (such as) family, friends, music, movies," he told the Deseret News. "We've got to take a conscious approach to who we surround ourselves with."

Lewis, a three-time Pro Bowler and recently published author, was the featured speaker at the February meeting of the Salt Lake City chapter of the BYU Management Society. The monthly gathering is a networking opportunity for local business professionals and BYU alums.

In speaking of the many positive influences in his life over the years, Lewis spoke emotionally about his father, whom he called "his hero."

He recalled the determination his dad displayed following a debilitating stroke in 1990. Despite doctors telling him that he would never walk again, his father worked diligently and was eventually able to regain function of his legs and today accompanies Lewis and other relatives on family hikes.

It is that kind of resolve and belief in one's self that has helped Lewis overcome challenges in his own life, he told the audience of about 150 people in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

He also mentioned the impact that all-time BYU great and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young had on him while Young was preparing to play in the Super Bowl during Lewis' sophomore year in Provo.

On a visit to BYU, Young asked Lewis to train with him, a gesture for which Lewis said he has been eternally grateful. He told the audience that it was a lesson they could take with them in their own lives — both personally and professionally.

"There are people in your life that you can reach out to right now," Lewis said. "You can have a great effect on people, maybe (just) one or maybe more."

He cautioned against taking shortcuts in personal or professional matters even when life is most challenging, such as in today's historically difficult economy. He added that taking the most ethical and positive approach would garner the most beneficial results over the long haul in business and in life.

"Be the best you can (and) place yourselves in an atmosphere where great things can happen," Lewis said.

e-mail: jlee@desnews.com