Posts filed under Leadership

You Have The Power!

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Poverty stricken homes.
Violent neighborhoods
Teenage pregnancies.
High dropout rates.
A community without hope.

Do any of the above descriptors resonate with you in relation to the students you teach? As educators embark, or in some cases, continue with the first weeks of a new school year, two types of emotions are usually invoked. One is of excitement, while the other is that of indifference.

Excitement because a brand-new school year brings new opportunities for teachers to make a difference in the lives of students. Additionally, for some, there’s the thrill of implementing that new classroom decorating theme found on Pinterest. You know who you are!

However, for others, there’s indifference. A lack of interest and concern. Simply, an “I don’t care” attitude. There are myriad reasons for this feeling, some of which may include; heavy workloads and demands that seem to increase each academic year, lack of parent involvement, and challenging student behavior.

I don’t know where you stand. My guess because you are reading this is that you want what’s best for students, and although you know the school year will have its shares of ups and downs, you are committed to a cause that’s bigger than you. For you, the statement, “It’s about doing what’s best for the kids,” really is genuine.

Recently, I watched a video which highlighted the impact made by Dr. Tiffany Anderson in the Jennings School District. You can watch the 6-minute clip below. I want to emphasize on this statement from Dr. Anderson:

“Zip code should not determine the quality of education.”

Your students may not be raised in safe and loving homes that assert the importance of education, both inside and outside of school. Their reality could be going home to grim and dreary neighborhoods. Therefore, some of them will enter your schools with anxiety, anger, and apathy. You can’t control that.

What you can control is the quality of education that you provide them during the hours of the day that they are with you.

What you can do is exalt their minds and open them up to endless opportunities.

What you can take charge of is raising the expectations you have for them.  

Their social class, parents’ level of education, or race/ethnicity should not determine the level of expectations you have for them.

All students are capable of excelling in life. Some students just need that person who is willing to help them discover their hidden potential and show them the strength that lies within them.

You have the power to make a positive impact. Regardless of trials and challenges that you will face this school year, you can make a difference!

Believing in you,
A.C.

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Be Extraordinary!

I’m thinking of doing this…

I’m planning to do that…

Tomorrow, I will…

Next month, I might…

Ordinary people think about taking action and claiming brighter futures but go no further; extraordinary people go the extra mile and actually act upon those thoughts. Which type of person are you?

Do you have things you want to accomplish in your life? Do you have aspirations you know will take time and energy to see fulfilled? Do you have dreams you long to see come true? None of these things will happen on their own.

A new month is upon us. The average person will waste the hours and minutes they will be given. They’ll be content being ordinary. However, you were not destined to be average or ordinary. You were created to be extraordinary.

If you have desires that still remain unrealized, you cannot allow fear, doubt, or laziness to steal even one more second from you. Instead, set your goals, determine the steps you will need to take in order to reach them, and get to work.

Time is the only thing of value that we really own.
Treat it like the gift that it is.

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The Biggest Failure

            January 31, 2017 marked exactly three years since I took one of the biggest leaps of faith ever in my life. With that one decision, I let go of stability, comfort, and the only career path I had known for thirteen years. I chose to walk away when many people and even myself knew that there were many more years left for me to impact the lives of students, lead teachers, and move up the educational ladder. However, in my heart, I knew there was more for me.

            Some say ambition can be lethal because it causes people to dream big, take risks, and be different from the status quo. I can agree with that assessment, but for me, ambition is more.

            Ambition is tied to a person’s passion.

            You know that desire that wakes you up in the morning ready to take on the world. Passion; that fire that can’t be quenched by mediocrity and simply living life going through the motions.

            There are many people who live life simply going through the motions, and it’s a shame, because is that truly living? Many people entered the New Year a month ago with the expectation that 2017 would be better. Why? Was it simply because we ushered in a new year and closed the book on 2016?

            A new year means nothing if you enter it with the same mentality. What is a new year going to do for you if you still think the same way and in turn act the same way? Our beliefs determine our actions. Therefore,

            If you believe your life can’t get better, it won’t.

            If you believe you can’t make a difference, you won’t.

            If you believe your students can’t learn, they won’t…and it’s not because they are incapable of doing so. Rather, it is because your negative belief in them keeps you from giving your best. You can’t control them, but you can control you. But, again, why would we give our best when nothing good is going to come out of it, right?

            I don’t want to fail, so why try?

            I don’t want to look stupid, so why give it a shot?

            I don’t want to be laughed at, so why risk?

            I must admit that I have wrestled with the same thoughts. It hasn’t been easy for me going from getting a steady paycheck to making sure I close a deal to make certain I have the necessary means to provide for my family. I don’t say that for you to feel sorry for me. I say that because I know what it is to enter a new year thinking that a new year itself is going to make things different. It doesn’t. You make things different.

            As I finished 2016, I finished it with the mindset that I will get continue to get better. I will continue to risk, dream big, work hard, and try. Why? Because my ambition, my passion drives me to make a difference. Therefore, I will continue committed to that path.

Some of the Plano Senior High School students.

Some of the Plano Senior High School students.

            See, if I had given up and not tried, I would have never had the fortune to serve the youth and youth leaders of the Western Shoshone tribe in Nevada.

            I would have never had the chance to serve the educators of Pearsall ISD and challenge them to see the greatness not only in their students, but also in themselves, because they truly matter.

            I would have never had the opportunity to serve 200 plus students at Plano High School by sharing my heart, and hearing their cries and needs for hope in a future that sometimes seems uncertain to them.

            You can make a difference today right where you are at in your job, your community, and family. Stop worrying about whether it's going to fail or not.

Do the best you with what you are given and share the light inside of you.

            If you fail, you get back up. Some would say that I’ve failed since I left my position as a school administrator because I don’t have the leadership title anymore, the income I used to have, I’m not on T.V., and social media doesn’t really know who I am yet. But that’s far from the truth because the biggest failure in life is knowing there is a longing inside of you, but never having the courage to pursue it.

The biggest failure in life is simply not trying.

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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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