Posts tagged #Leadership

Do What The Great Ones Do

As a speaker and writer, I do my best to learn what makes the “great ones”—orators and authors of the world renown—great. I study their speaking and writing styles, their word choices and use of language, their presentation skills and means of grabbing and maintaining the attention of their audiences. More than anything else, however, I study their lives, specifically the obstacles and trials these men and women had to overcome on their paths to success. What I glean from my examinations I integrate into my own life because, if there is one common thread of human character that links the past, present, and future, it is our ability to persevere.

JK Rowling's most famous book series.

JK Rowling's most famous book series.

As evidence of this, consider the example of a poor, single mother who once lived on welfare. Divorced and jobless, she had been diagnosed with depression and had even contemplated suicide. Then, while taking a train trip one day, she had an idea for a novel. She worked on her book in local cafes while her baby took naps in the stroller. Once her manuscript was finished, she submitted it for publication; it was rejected countless of times before a publishing house finally accepted it. This woman’s birth name was Joanne Murray, but today people the world over know her as JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

In a commencement speech at Harvard, Rowling mentioned something about failure that I believe is very relevant for us to truly understand and grasp what perseverance means.

She said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Rowling did not allow her difficulties to keep her mired in poverty, but rather endured them and, as a result, became the world’s first female billionaire author. She is literally living the “rags to riches” fairy tale, all because she chose to persevere rather than surrender.

Struggles in life are unavoidable. As surely as the sun will rise, they will come. Some may batter us so badly that we will want to give up on everything we have planned, but that does not mean we must allow them to steal our hope. We can instead choose to see our trials simply as steps we must take along the path to greatness.

Remember this: You always have a choice; persevere or surrender? The great ones; leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, artists, etc. know that greatness comes because they choose not to give up on their mission. 

What will you choose today?

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Keep Standing!

Challenges exist for a reason...
and that reason is not to keep you from what you want to achieve. They exist to reveal how much you want something, to determine whether or not you want it badly enough to endure whatever it takes to earn it.

I understand that this will not be easy. I have certainly had days when I woke up and, even though the sun had risen and shone through my window, I could not see it because the shadow cast by the difficulties I was facing loomed far too largely.

In those moments, life seemed bleak, and my vision for the future was blurred.  Amidst those temporary lapses, however, my belief that the grandest things lay just on the other side of my tribulations, urged me to hold on...to stand by my purpose.

What great things will you accomplish if you just hold on tight to your dreams?
Whose life will you impact today if you truly grasp the great opportunity that is in front of you?
How will you impact those around you knowing that you are here for a greater purpose? 

Don't let your mission in life be derailed by failure, criticism or discouragement.
Stand by your purpose.

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Stand In The Gap

Two Mondays ago on a flight to San Francisco, I started a conversation with a lady sitting next to me.  We small talked at first, but then the conversation transitioned to what we both did for a living. To my surprise, she told me that she was the financial account manager for a couple of music groups that ranged from Def Leppard to Digital Underground, which is a reason I was in awe because I grew up listening to those two artists. Even now, I may get into an 80’s rock mood and blast “Pour Some Sugar on Me” through my car’s stereo.

She was also surprised when I told her what I did for a living: keynote speaker and college professor.  I am guessing it was due to the fact that I do not fit the stereotypical look of a college professor and probably not one of a keynote speaker either: Cubs World Series snapback, jeans, a Notorious B.I.G. t-shirt, and Air Jordans. Regardless of the reason of why she was surprised, one thing has stayed with me from our conversation and it is this:

“We need more people like you to speak to our youth,” she said emphatically after wondering why in the world I was going to Concord, California and not staying in San Francisco for business. Little did she know, the youth are my business, and as I continued telling her how the event was organized, how the high school activities director found me on YouTube, and how this is more than a job for me, she could immediately tell: empowering youth is my purpose.

I have thought a lot about what she said. “We need more people like you to speak to our youth.” The reason is because her statement is absolutely true. Our young people are going through difficult times, dealing with a wide range of issues from racism, to worries about the recent presidential election, to the cost of higher education. Additionally, they are facing personal troubles that range from self-esteem concerns, to family drama, to peer pressure, bullying, and to even wondering:

“Is my life even worth living?”
“Is my life worth the challenges I am facing?”
“Is my life worth the pain and loneliness that I feel and that no one else may have no idea about?”

The answer to those questions is: Absolutely, it is! Young people may not see their life is worth living because a majority of them have tunnel vision, meaning they cannot see past tomorrow due to their limited point of view.

The challenges they face. The pain and loneliness they experience. They think these temporary feelings and situations are here to stay, and that they are the only ones who have ever experienced struggles, which we know is not the case. However, if they continue with this train of thought, it can lead them to make decisions that five to ten years from now, they may regret. So, how will our young people know that they CAN press forward in life and that their life has worth?

“You can made a difference.”

We all have a story, and I firmly believe that everyone, including you, is in a position to impact the lives of those around us. Students, co-workers, siblings, peers, you can make a difference in their lives. How? By sharing your story of how you overcame your challenges.

One of the greatest treasures we all have is our life story. There is reassurance when you reveal to others that life may not always turn out the way we plan it to. Yet, that fact does not mean that our lives are not capable of accomplishing great things. And it sure does not mean that our lives are not worth living.

Our young people need us. Maybe, you won’t fly to another city to share your story. Truth be told, you don’t have to. Right where you are today, you can be a beacon of hope to a young person. You can be the bridge that takes them from failure to success. You can stand in the gap for them. You can make a difference.

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Posted on December 12, 2016 and filed under Blogs, Education, Leadership.

Success Journey Continues in Guatemala!

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I'm back! Both to Guatemala and on my blog! It's been months since I have blogged, and in the upcoming weeks I will be sharing the reasons why I took a writing sabbatical.

However, I am glad to say that I am currently in Guatemala right now. In a few hours, I will begin conducting a two day leadership workshop for police officers from Guatemala and other Central American countries.  

It's truly an honor for me to be here because my dad is from Guatemala, so this country is my roots. I arrived yesterday and one of the first things I wanted to do was eat a Guatemalan tamale. 

And you better believe I got one! There's no shame to my game...I love food. If you are ever in Guatemala City, you have to check out Kacao. Not only do they have tamales, but they also have Guatemalan enchiladas, which are totally different from Mexican enchiladas.

Day 1 here in Guatemala was my preparation day. I watched a little NFL football with Spanish announcers, which added to the excitement of the games. I met with the training staff, and then I had some school work to do, as I am currently working on attaining a Doctoral degree!

Today, the real fun starts. Today, I get to impart my wisdom and knowledge to leaders committed to working with young people and making a difference in their community. Who would have thought that I would be here? I sure didn't, but I am glad to say, I am here!

Here's my nugget of wisdom to you: Don't EVER let anyone tell you that you can't fulfill your dream. Ever.

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