Ep. 225: Michael Arterberry – Shake the Dirt

No one has a perfect life. We each have negative experiences from our past that have helped shape the person we are today. There is a difference, however, in how we respond to those tough challenges. Some people allow those circumstances to define them, and they can never seem to move past them. Others are able to change their perspective and use difficulties to strengthen them and propel them into the future. I’ll let you guess which category best describes today’s guest. 

As a teenager, Michael Arterberry was fortunate to receive guidance from positive adult role models who helped him overcome adversities and set high expectations for his future. Grateful for the role these mentors played in his own development, Michael decided to dedicate his professional life to helping people navigate the difficulties of life and launch their future into motion.

For more than 25 years, he has been helping teens and adults use what they have gone through as a catalyst for success rather than an obstacle for failure.

Michael is the author of Be Encouraged: 250 Days of Motivation and Encouragement, a daily motivational book. Additional information about his struggles as a child and a debilitating spinal cord injury as an adult can be found in his wife's book, God Was Holding My Hand.

**Please be advised that a brief sexual assault/molestation reference occurs in this episode. If you are triggered by this, please check for details about skipping over it as you listen. 

A positive mindset

Is it possible to overcome extreme difficulties and develop a positive mindset? The answer is YES! Despite a horrific childhood, Michael was determined to create a positive mindset. A big part of that was his relationship with God, and in addition, athletic endeavors became his respite. He didn’t think of playing sports as “therapy” at the time, but that’s what took place as he reflects on his years in school. He played basketball, baseball, football, and soccer, and he was able to channel all of his energy from his family challenges to “play like a wild man.” Having a healthy outlet for his frustrations helped fuel his positive mindset, along with his determination and resilience.

TWEET: Having a healthy outlet for frustration helps fuel a positive mindset. #chasingdreams

Getting results

How does Michael’s youth program produce the desired results? As he goes into schools around the country, his two-day program helps young people recognize the land mines in their stories and the damage they didn’t even know they had sustained. He teaches them to revisit those painful places but know that they can’t stay there if they want to move forward. Michael shares examples of kids who were wounded deeply; some go on to have miraculous healing journeys, and some choose to go in other tragic directions. Besides his youth program, Michael created his book of motivation and encouragement to help even more people.

TWEET: You can’t stay in the painful places if you want to move forward. #chasingdreams

Feeling lost

Where do you turn when you feel lost? Michael likens feeling “lost” in life to going through a shipwreck and finding the broken pieces that are left—and holding onto them. He says to take those broken pieces and change your perspective. He warns us to be careful to not “drown in the shallow water,” but to stand up and walk on. The only constant in life is change, so look at 2020’s challenges as a time in which we’ve all felt lost in some way. Again, change your perspective and move forward. 

TWEET: Be careful not to drown in the shallow water. #chasingdreams

Guest Recommendation: ONE action for a dream chaser to take–”Narrow down your dream to what will make you happy, not what will give you the biggest paycheck.”


  • [2:01] What young Michael wanted to be
  • [11:31] How Michael developed a positive mindset
  • [14:40] How Michael started his non-profit
  • [18:40] The results of Michael’s program 
  • [24:36] Why Michael wrote his book
  • [29:41] The importance of self-reflection
  • [33:07] When you’re feeling lost
  • [39:08] The value of listening
  • [41:28] Why we need to live conscious lives
  • [46:41] How you can “check-in” on others
  • [47:44] ONE action for a dream chaser


Michael’s Facebook

Michael’s LinkedIn

Michael’s Website

Shake the Dirt Experience

Youth Voices Center Inc.

Be Encouraged: 250 Days of Motivation and Encouragement by Michael Arterberry 

God Was Holding My Hand by Rachel Arterberry 

Watch the Episode on YouTube


People think that busy=progress, and that’s false.

I realized I had a gift for making young people feel comfortable.

When I work with young people, I disarm them by being transparent from “Hello.”

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