My name is Chris Irwin. I'm a retired Navy SEAL, entrepreneur, musician, and athlete among other things. After my time in the military, I co-founded the first CrossFit gym in the Virgin Islands, served as President of Kill Cliff (a start-up beverage company) for five years, and now work in nonprofit as the Communications Director for the Navy SEAL Foundation. My music includes the soundtrack for the documentary Murph: The Protector which made the short list for the Academy Awards in 2013. I've also been to over 40 countries. So I like to think I have a unique perspective on things.
Generally speaking, I tend to be an outlier. I was the only person in a decade from my high school to attend the Naval Academy. I then went on to receive a Masters in International Relations from the University of Cambridge in England; a fairly unusual move for most service academy graduates. And despite making the Navy a career, I’ve always been at least somewhat liberal (in the classical sense) amongst a sea of mostly conservatives. Although I don't subscribe to any political party.
I'm also someone who has suffered from severe anxiety, OCD, PTSD, as well as a devastating chronic illness for a very long time. I spent years trying to figure out how to heal myself from these conditions. This was without a doubt the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life, and in many ways the most rewarding and impactful.
In my mid-40's I decided to start publicly sharing my thoughts on a myriad of topics for four specific reasons:
We are being plagued by increasing numbers of mental health problems and chronic illness, especially among veterans like me. Solutions to these epidemics need to come from the afflicted, in addition to the accredited. We must set the example by shamelessly disclosing our struggles and lessons learned in real time.
We are trading our commitment to what's right for profit. Rational, honor-bound people must speak up and inspire others to do the same or public discourse will be dominated by liars and sycophants. We must reaffirm the championing of values like honor, courage, humility, and charity and do so loudly.
We are getting dumber; increasingly prone to believing anything our smartphones and our 24-hour news channel of choice pitch at us. These mediums of media understand our proclivities better than we do and are purely interested in appealing to our emotions instead of our intellect. We must be smarter than this.
We are being driven farther apart by physical isolation and ideological tribalism. We cannot be historically akin to those that stood at the precipice of the fall of the Roman Empire as western democracy collapses around us. We must find some semblance of radical common ground in support of the common good.
It’s been extremely difficult for me to come up with a concise way to present my thoughts on these topics. I don’t really dig personal branding but This Chris Irwin has been largely a matter of necessity. I needed a digital signature of sorts, so you know it’s me. However, Chris Irwin alone is too common of a name to use as a social media handle or URL. I share it with a famous racecar driver, a famous horse trainer and other musicians (like me) to name a few. But I don't want to be someone who uses a pseudonym. Nor will I stoop to the moral cowardice of publishing things anonymously. Adding This to the front of my name solves the problem. It also offers me the pleasure of throwing a lexical jab at people who brand themselves as The XYZ or The Real XYZ which always struck me as such a strangely self-absorbed way of saying, “I’m the most important person that happened to be given this name.” So, This Chris Irwin is essentially a personal brand that’s making fun of personal branding. Plus, it rhymes…
To be clear, it's the ideas I’m putting forth that matter, not me. We are far too concerned with our own recognition these days instead of advancing what we believe is right and useful. While credibility does matter, good or bad advice can truly come from anyone. Which means the person saying the words is largely irrelevant in most cases. Any concept should stand or fall on its inherent merits (or lack thereof), regardless of who expresses it. To that point, the main concept that I'm promoting is something I call RARE SENSE.
During my journey with chronic mental and physical illness, I saw dozens of practitioners, ingested hundreds of different supplements, racked up nearly 400 pages of lab results, read countless books, tried all sorts of unorthodox treatments, and spent tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. It was an experience that taught me one critical lesson - the extent to which many of the solutions to my problems were within the power of my own mind. RARE SENSE represents the application of that key learning into a comprehensive mind fitness philosophy and method, based upon the best practices I’ve found.
I'm also available to speak with companies, teams, and other groups about this concept. If that's of interest to you please contact me. Just note that one of the things I don’t discuss is specifics from my time in the military. I’m grateful and honored to have served as a member of the SEAL community and I have a profound respect for the ethos upon which it stands. Which is why I’m not willing to tell war stories. If you want to hear cool guy tales of spent brass and grenade pins, please go elsewhere. I find such behavior dishonorable and contrary to the principles I am trying to espouse.
Lastly, please feel free to check out my original music. I tend to write about veteran themes including loyalty, the loss of teammates, mental health struggles, and other topics. My songs are not as mainstream as others that deal with similar topics, but I like to think they are derived from a place of authenticity that isn't always present in popular media.
Ultimately everything I do traces back to the below personal mission statement that I wrote in 2021. Doing so proved to be far more difficult than I had anticipated, but also one of the most transformative and clarifying exercises of my entire life. It helped me realize what I truly value, and make it actionable.
Through this content, my hope is that I can provoke some important conversations and help people along the way. Thanks for stopping by and listening to what I have to say.