Tuff Harris

Tuff Harris, who grew up in St. Xavier and played football at Montana before his NFL career, speaks to the crowd Friday night at the Montana Football Hall of Fame unveiling.

Age: 34

Hometown: St. Xavier, Lodge Grass, Colstrip

Tuff Harris believes if you're going to change the world, you have to do it one person at a time. And, changing a person isn't about changing just one thing about them. It's truly about changing the entire person -- physically, spiritually and emotionally.

How did you first become involved with ministering to the Crow nation?

I feel like it is a responsibility and a calling to serve the community that I was raised in. The moment I felt like I was becoming influential I also felt a sense of responsibility. I started by speaking to kids about the path of success and what it takes to overcome the difficulties of the reservation. Eventually, I felt the call to serve full-time.

What are the biggest challenges facing the Crow nation?

Helping people overcome some of the destructive patterns in their thinking. Native people have a lot of beautiful things to offer the rest of the world but if they allow themselves and their families to fall into some of the harmful patterns it is difficult to get out. It is not impossible but it is a great challenge to bring positive change to a hurting community.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I’ve always been easily inspired, whether it’s a movie, a story or just a good quote. I get inspired to stand up and help in any way I can. Also, the women in my family have shown me how resilient people can be. They have made it through some of the toughest situations and are still smiling and loving people. They inspire me!

How did you develop a ministry program that focused on more than just the spiritual needs of the Crow?

I compiled all the things that have helped me and packaged it in a program for people who desire to change their situation and eventually help people form a healthier place in life. I believe that there are five key areas of life that require a lot of development; physical, spiritual, mental, relational, and financial. Our program develops all five levels at the same time.

Do you ever get discouraged in your work?

I can get frustrated if my focus is on the wrong thing. If I focus on the outcome it can seem very difficult and can lead to discouragement but if I focus on input goals then as long as I’m doing what I’m suppose to be, the outcome doesn’t matter. The team supporting me helps me keep the right perspective when things are getting difficult. I could not make it without good people in my life.

In your work, you give a lot emotionally and spiritually. How do you recharge?

I have a few untouchables in my life to help me recharge; quality time with my wife and children, working out, grilling some meat, and an occasional physical challenge. As long as I keep a healthy balance of hard work and good rest I will avoid burnout and thrive in my calling.

What was the best piece of professional advice you received?

There are people who talk and people who do. Be a doer.

Tell us about the failure in which you learned the most?

When I was a child some of our neighborhood children who were older than me challenged me to a bike race. My name is Tuff so I had to accept. We lined up and the race was on. Half way through I hit a patch of gravel and lost control of the bike and flipped the bike on my head. I only remember flashes of what happened next but I do remember a random stranger helping me pick the embedded gravel out of my face and head then taking me home. I thought my parents would be mad at me but they only loved me through the pain. I learned that no matter what you get yourself into you will always have people around you to help you up and love you through the pain. I am more careful today but I still feel the confidence to take on challenges knowing I have people in my life that will pick me up if I fall.

If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?

I would take a run at being a professional golfer. I have never been as challenged in any sport as I have been in golf. I love to do things that are near impossible and golf is something that is near impossible to master. No matter how perfect you play there is always room for improvement.

What is one piece of advice you give to others and why?

On the path of life there will be many forks in the road. I tell people to choose the harder path. Most people don’t know what to do so they choose the path of least resistance. It is safe, but safe never got to the top of anything. It’s going to take a lot of courage to get to the top. Have courage and choose the harder path.