Book Review: The Stuff: Unlock Your Power to Overcome Challenges, Soar, and Succeed, by Sharlee Jeter and Sampson Davis - More2Read

The Stuff: Unlock Your Power to Overcome Challenges, Soar, and Succeed, by Sharlee Jeter and Sampson Davis


Everyone has difficult moments in life. But everyone also has the Stuff to overcome hardships, to survive and thrive.

Learn how to better access and hone the eleven core elements of the Stuff and be inspired by the real-world stories of triumph in this practical book by New York Times bestselling author Dr. Sampson Davis (The Pact, Living and Dying in Brick City) and Sharlee Jeter (Turn 2 Foundation).

Everyone has those moments in life when they’re truly tested, when they wonder if they have the strength to overcome the challenges before them. We’ve all heard stories of people who have risen up in the face of the unimaginable. But not everyone believes that they have what it takes to do the same.

However, what we need to realize our own potential—to fight for what we want our lives to be—already resides within each of us. You already have the Stuff. Learning how to develop and harness it is the key.

Survivors themselves, Dr. Sampson Davis and Sharlee Jeter have created The Stuff Movement, interviewing dozens of people to find the common threads that enabled them to triumph over their challenges. Through the powerful stories of people who overcame cancer, poverty, toxic relationships, racism, violence, career roadblocks, and other obstacles big and small—The Stuff highlights eleven core elements that will help you not only survive but thrive in spite of life’s difficulties. These elements are as easy to understand as they are to enact—presented in plain talk, without judgment, and with compassion for the everyday challenges people face.

As Dr. Davis and Sharlee share stories of the amazing people who’ve shown their Stuff, you’ll find that unearthing the same Stuff within yourself is a process as rewarding as it is important—and you’ll never say you can’t do it again.

Read the book, and join the conversation at

Featuring stories about John O’Leary (On Fire), Mercy Alexander, Rich Ruffalo, Mindee Hardin, Glenn and Cara O’Neill, Sean Swarner, Traci Micheline, Wess Stafford (Too Small to Ignore), Austin Hatch, Debra Peppers, Christine Magnus Moore, Martha Hawkins, Ali Stroker (Glee), Susan Scott Krabacher, Deval Patrick, and more.


The Stuff teaches its lessons of survival and success through the poignant, inspiring stories of everyday heroes and heroines. Sampson and Sharlee’s message of the power of positivity, hard work, and resilience is one that we need to hear right now.”   
—  Chris Gardner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Pursuit of Happyness

“One of the most inspiring and motivating books of our time. Sampson and Sharlee solidify their contribution to our society by writing something that is lasting, important, and impactful—a must-read for employers and employees, athletes, parents, and students everywhere.” 
—  Wes Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore

“Dr. Sampson Davis and Sharlee Jeter find inspiration in adversity, life lessons in travail. They draw upon their own dire experiences, and those of others, to deliver a resonant message: Everyone has the Stuff. And everyone should read this book.”   James S. Hirsch, New York Times bestselling author of Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend

“When faced with tragedy, everyone needs help getting back to a place where they can survive, thrive, and live again. The way Sharlee and Sampson discuss the inspiring stories of people who have done just that makes The Stuff an especially powerful book for those needing guidance.”  Jackie Hance, New York Times bestselling author of I’ll See You Again

“Choosing to hope is the first step in overcoming any difficulty, large or small. With The Stuff, Sampson and Sharlee show you how that power feeds into the whole process of success. What a wonderful handbook for hope.” John O’Leary, #1 national bestselling author of On Fire


The Stuff
Pushing Limits
Raising the bar
Paying Forward

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Third-degree burns
Askin’s Sarcoma

All these keywords incorporate the empowering needed stories of The Stuff, vital humans, hearts at battle with themselves with all the terrible things thrown their ways, obstacles overcome, trauma endured and moving forward with greatness, the stuff, the greatness of souls, the stuff of real super heroes, giving back and paying forward all clearly layered out in essential human truth work.

One story of courage and greatness was of Sean Swarner, he had beaten cancer twice and along with his brother he established a non-profit organisation called The Cancer Climber Association. He bravely climbs the world’s highest mountains raising money for cancer research. On May 16 2002, with just one lung and odds stacked against him, he climbed with his brother successfully to summit of Mount Everest with a tribute flag inscribed with the names of cancer sufferers.

In the Foreward Derek Jeter says :
“The individuals profiled in this book are incredible, and how they overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, stayed so hopeful, kept charge of their lives, and remained resilient in the face of trauma and tragedy can provide all of us with tremendous insight. Stories of triumph energize us to become better people.”

I do agree with this. these are memorable stories, memorable characters , ones of which the reader shall have engraved upon their hearts and minds. Word of caution these narratives may evoke a reality check upon ones ruminations on life and humanity.


“Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Three Doctors Foundation: “Our children cannot aspire to be what they cannot see.”

“Take One Step Forward—Right Now, Today” Sharlee and Sampson

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do. “— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Years have passed since my cancer scare and Sampson’s brush with the law. I beat cancer, finished my degree, and eventually became president of the Turn 2 Foundation, which promotes healthy lifestyles, leadership development, and community service among thousands of young people nationwide. Many of the people we help live below the poverty line and often in challenging environments. I’m the proud mother of an energetic four-year-old boy. Life has not become perfect for me, but in many ways I’m living my dreams.
Sampson powered his way out of the drug-and crime-infested area of Newark, New Jersey, where he had been raised, and went on to become one of the top emergency room physicians in the state. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author, an in-demand pubic speaker, a  frequent television and radio guest, and a cofounder of the Three Doctors Foundation, an organization that promotes health, education, and community leadership. He’s an amazing father of two boys. Life isn’t perfect for Sampson, either, but in many ways he’s living his maximized life, too.”

“Sampson explains: Fairly early on, we came up with a name for this common thread: the Stuff. Like, That person really has the Stuff.
Defined in practical terms, the Stuff is the necessary mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual outlook and actions that any one of us can use to face and overcome difficulty, adversity, temptation, and even lethal danger. Think of the Stuff as true grit, resilience, an unshakable inner strength. It’s that “invincible summer” within you that Camus talked about in the quote at the top of this chapter.
We quickly discovered the encouraging foundation of research that kept propelling us forward: that fortitude is a shared human quality. We’ve all got the Stuff. We just need to know how to turn it on.”

I hope.
I choose to fight.
When we were researching this book, this hopefulness, even the specific action of choosing to hope, was something we saw in every person we interviewed. The participants articulated their decisions in different ways, and it came at different times in their stories, but all of them said that somewhere along the line they deliberately chose to go forward. They made a calculated decision that their obstacle wouldn’t get the better of them. Yes, hope wasn’t the final remedy. Yes, action needed to follow the hope. But hope was the starting place. Hope was the point from which their journey forward began.”

“You contribute to your team, and your team contributes to you. My cancer feels larger than just me. My dad and mom are affected by it. Derek has bad days because of it. My friends give and give and give and keep giving because of it. The cancer is mine, but we’re all going through this together.”

“Sean creates a motivation statement, “This is the best day ever,” then repeats the statement day after day after day. It’s a reminder to him that today is all he’ll ever have. This moment matters. Happiness is a choice, and it is a choice he can make right here, right now. This moment is the only thing he’s guaranteed.
He knows that the odds of climbing Everest are stacked against him. He’s not supposed to be climbing tall mountains. Doctors tell him it can’t be done—no one’s ever climbed Everest with only one functioning lung. But he wants to test the conventional wisdom. He wants to challenge limits.
He wants to redefine what’s possible.”

“When most people climb Everest, they arrive at the mountain with a team of thirty to forty people: porters, cooks, Sherpas, and other climbers. But Sean and his brother don’t have enough funds for a team that size. Their team consists of one cook, who stays at base camp, and two Sherpas, who climb with Sean. Seth helps organize the base camp but doesn’t plan to climb to the top.”

“On May 16, 2002, Sean Swarner stands on top of the world—29,035 feet above sea level. He is the first cancer survivor to summit Everest and finds out later that thanks to the lousy weather he’s one of only three people to reach the top that entire season.”

“He’s come a long way from that day as a thirteen-year-old when he was told he had only three months to live, from the day as a fifteen-year-old he was given only two weeks to live. He’s living proof that no challenge is too great, no peak is too high.”

“Over the next few years, he summits the highest peaks on all seven continents—Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Aconcagua in South America, Kosciuszko in Australia, Vinson in Antarctica, and Denali in North America—completing the famed “Seven Summits” mountain-climbing tour. He plants a tribute flag with names of cancer victims at the top of each peak, and he develops a second motto along the way: “Keep climbing. Never give up.”
He returns to the United States and continues to visit hospitals to encourage other cancer patients. He speaks about his trip at universities and business campuses. His message is that the conventions of human limitations can be challenged. Odds can be defied, endurance can be tested, and people can overcome, heal, and triumph no matter what the obstacle. He tells people that they, too, can climb their own Everest—no matter what their particular Everest may be.”

“I’m an emergency room physician and cover several hospitals in New Jersey, and George is an assistant professor of dentistry at Columbia University and works directly with dental students and residents. Together, the three of us run our own nonprofit organization, the Three Doctors Foundation. We’ve appeared on major TV shows, been featured in major newspapers, and given speeches all over the country. At times we can’t quite believe the amazing opportunities coming our way, and it all started when we challenged the limits society had placed on us, raised the bar for ourselves, and never let anyone lower it for us.”

“Susie and Joe draw no salaries for their work with HaitiChildren, and they’ve contributed more than $1 million of their own money to the organization. They don’t consider it a charity. It’s an organization that empowers people. Some two hundred Haitian nationals work for HaitiChildren, and Susie and Joe want to see the nation become 100 percent independent and sustainable. They know it’s possible someday because they see hope and action in the people they meet.
And Susie’s life has become rich because she knows she’s not only helping others, she’s helping herself. She’s gripped by these children in pain because she knows firsthand what childhood pain feels like, and she wants it to stop—for one, then another, then another. In helping others, she describes how she’s found what she never found by living the high life. Her emptiness is now filled. She’s finally helping the little girl from Alabama who was once so deeply hurt herself.”

“The ability to give is something dear to both Sampson and me, and it’s brought another level of fulfillment to our lives as well as to the lives of the students we help in our foundations.”

“As we work with our students, we help them develop a sense of responsibility to themselves, their families, their schools, and their communities—in great part by giving back. Among other things, they give back through mentoring, role modeling, peer-to-peer counseling, and community service programs.”


Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 15 May 2018