Surround Yourself w/ Purposeful People

It’s around 11 p.m. and I’m on my laptop wrapping up some work.  In the mist of completing my tasks, I reflect on my day… It was a GREAT day.  Like, I’m still smiling type of day….  Like, I  KNOW I need to get ready for bed because I have long day tomorrow but can’t because I have so much energy day.  No, my stock didn’t spike at the right time, nor did I find a bag of money or hit the lottery, but the interactions I’ve had with people (my peers) really felt like a million bucks.

This normally doesn’t call for an extraordinary message post; I interact with people all the time (I’m an extrovert, this is what I do)…  Today, however, was different because I’m not thinking solely on my interactions with the public, but am recognizing HOW I have people in my life; remembering where I was (and how I met them), knowing where I am currently (and how I can retain such great people), and planning on where I want to me in the future (and having the appropriate people mold me).

I had several observations in my interactions with people who positively influence me:

  •  They are from backgrounds that are FAR DIFFERENT than mine:  I want to make this point because normally I’d like to go and find comfort in an environment that I have similar connections with…  However, the more I expose myself to not only different people, but different places, cultures, ideas, etc., the more I see and appreciate things that are “not traditionally” my source of comfort.   This is not always the case, but I’ve learned to open-my eyes to see the similarities we have w/ people instead of the differences.
  • They had something that I can help them with:  The assistance was a two-way street.  I didn’t feel like I was wrongfully indebted, nor did they treat me like a charity case because they were able to help me, and I was able to help them.
  • Their mission and goals involved improving society in one way or another:  Though not the exact goal, most of the people I interacted with today wanted to help other people or systems.

I had at least a dozen interactions with people like this today.  I’m so blessed to be in a position where I can learn from people that can positively motivate and inspire me.  The moral of the story is to surround yourself with purposeful people.  There will be plenty of people who wan to drain your energy, goals, and aspirations like a leech.  They exist in your family, amongst your friends, and in strangers who haven’t met yet.  Try to avoid paralysis at all cost; you don’t need to avoid them per se (we are in this world to influence others), but avoid their attempts to drag you down, and don’t stay in a prolonged period of time with them in their poisonous state.

Just as there are bad people, there are also good people who just need a good word or attitude to turn their attitude around.  A constant interaction with people with a plan, goal, or aspiration will result in you improving your life. If you hang with purposeful people, influence them, allow them to inspire you, and evangelize to all people to become great, then we will make this a better place.

A New Day in Dallas Leadership: Let’s Make The Most of It!

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Yesterday morning, I was honored to attend the City of Dallas Council Inauguration ceremony at the Meyerson Symphony Center.  Yes, it was a grandiose occasion where dignitaries, civic leaders, role models, even our future (shout out to the Parks and Rec Department for sending a couple of summer camps to witness this event) were in attendance, but that’s not why I was excited.  Yes, it’s believed to be one of the youngest councils in Dallas’ history, speaking volumes based on the historical decision makers of the city and how this affects young intellectuals views of Dallas proper, but THAT didn’t even excite me, either.  For the first time, I had several friends (and one former teacher-she taught me AP Government) who were starting their career as a city policy maker, and I felt very proud of them.  I’m witnessing people who I’ve learned from and worked with in “the movement” achieve one of their goals, and  I’m extremely happy for them.  They have all worked hard the last several months (and years) to get to this point, and they deserve to enjoy this time….

This entry isn’t designed to be a very long message, I just want to thank the 15 people who will be doing the work of the people of Dallas; from enduring hours long of council meetings, becoming target practice at town hall meetings, not feeling appreciated for the daily decisions made to better the city, and sacrificing their time, energy, and talents from their families to help the greater good.  You are true leaders who will be admired, acknowledged, and appreciated for the work you will do to help your constituents.

With that, I trust you all are doing this for the right reason; to make ALL of Dallas a better city.  You all are the city’s highest ranking officials; the realization that, if different people from different backgrounds can work together and create a solution for the greater good, then ALL of the city will benefit.  Do you notice I’m emphasizing ALL, lol.

Everyone on that stage motivated me.  I was able to see the bigger picture, and want to make sure I’m able to do what I need in order to make your job effective at the horseshoe.  We need both policy makers and the citizens to pull their weight in order make this work, and I’m willing to do just that.

Let’s make Dallas Great!

It’s the First of the Month!!! A GREAT Time to Build a New Habit!

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”

-Aristotle

I woke up this morning refreshed (mainly because there have been no nightly NBA Playoff games in the past couple of days, lol); I had a restful weekend, was able to do some yard work, admired the long-awaited sun after the weeks of rain, was comforted my mother arrived home from her travels, effectively planned/prepared for the following week, but most importantly, realized the next day was the 1st of the month!  No, not because I was picking up a check to chill (90’s rap humor), but because it gives me a chance to build a positive habit!  A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (thanks http://www.dictionary.com).  Habits can be both beneficial or detrimental to your way of life. Habits also are always formed, whether you like it or not; you determine if you want to have a positive or negative routine.

habits-wordle1

Again, I really appreciate the first of the month falling on a Monday because it helps my mind establish a goal and track my progress; with most people’s work week starting on a Monday, it’s natural for us to get the shenanigans out of our system during our personal time and start fresh when it’s time to perform at the beginning of the work week.

Studying this word cloud above, I notice the words that are most associated with habits: life, control, positive, habitual, free. Theses terms are synonymous with my future aspirations, but in order to add or enhance these traits, habits must be formed to create consistency, which builds character, which in effect creates/perpectuates a positive reputation.

I’m challenging myself (and would like to challenge my friends and the world) to build on my brand by creating one more positive habit this month.  There are numerous aspects of your life where you can create positive habits; your health and well-being, professional, social, intellectual, technological, relational, etc.  You must put in the work to appreciate your value (this is your personal investment-hmmmm… sounds like another blog topic).  Studies show that habits are formed between 21-30 days, so use the month of June to kick-start your perfomance for the 2nd half of the year!

HAVE A GREAT MONTH!

TCU Commercial of EMBA Program

A special thanks to the Neely School of Business Executive MBA Program for highlighting me on one of their promotional commercials!

I really learned A LOT from the program and suggest any Transformational Leader to participate!

I’m Back!!

Hello blogosphere… It’s been nearly a year since my last post and a lot has happened in my life.  I won’t bore you with the details in this message, but in later entries I will attempt to articulate emotions, reflections, frustrations, and possible lessons this season in my life.  I’m realizing the importance of communicating not only verbally, but emotionally, and tangibly; it’s time for me to evolve so I can help impact the world!

I’ve owned this site for over 4 years and have not been consistent with my entries.  There are a few reasons for this:

1.  Apathy:  I just don’t care to write sometimes.  I’m more comfortable talking or showing you my feelings or intentions for change.  This is how I naturally grew up; I wasn’t strong in English/Language Arts, and as a young boy, I was groomed not to express my feelings/articulate through words, but through actions.  As I mature, I realize the importance of the written word and how writing helps you free your mind of apathy.

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2.  Lack of Time Management:  To write effectively really takes a discipline and talent (which I don’t really have).  So to compensate, I must be intentional with my entries; I have completed/drafts of journal topics accumulated from the past year that’s ready to be seen, but I have to be committed to consistently communicating (which I also struggle with in real life-yet another journal topic, lol)

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3.  Paralysis by Analysis:  People get judged by their work; with social media, I have to be careful with what I put out in this space so it won’t come back and bite me.

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4.  (And most importantly) My insecurity:  I’ve let fear control me, my thoughts, and my actions.  Whether it’s insecurity to complete tasks in school, to the fear of rejection, to the fear of losing someone else in my life, I’ve let that spirit dictate my actions.  That leads to apathy, being unorganized, thinking too hard, preventing me to do God’s Will for me; to be a walking testimony so I can influence.

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So for the next few weeks I will pour my life out to you; you will hear my opinions of some current events, the frustrations of society as an African-American Young Professional who wants to teach and reach others, my viewpoint on how millennials can (and will) change society, some of the lessons learned from my experiences, and how to become influential in your personal, civic, and professional lives.

Until next entry…

My South Africa Experience, Part 1

Project Zoom! Staff and Students in Soweto
Project Zoom! Staff and Students in Soweto

For the past several days, dozens of people asked me about my chip to South Africa. Usually, my response consists of words like “amazing”, “you must go”, or “transformational” without much explanation. My apologies for that. Honestly, I was not ready to effectively articulate the effects of this trip on my personal, emotional, and professional life. I will, however, take a stab at it right now. This week, I pondered on how I can organize my thought process of the trip. I’ve come up with four separate categories. They are:

1.  The Beginnings:  Making the Dream a Reality
2.  It takes Teamwork to make the Dream Work
3.  The roller-coaster of Leadership
4.  The benefits of Perserverence:  The benefits of being patient w/ students

Though they are not direct headliners that describes my experience in South Africa, they are crucial to the process of me going on the trip. These are the “how’s” that allowed me to experience the Motherland. In each of these blogs, I will not only describe the professional steps that were made for this trip to happen, but also how I felt personally, emotionally, and how I dealt with outside factors that could’ve been an obstacle for me (prior commitments, doubt, fear, etc.).

Throughout this “blog mini-series”, feel free to ask questions, comments, or your perspective of what I am writing. I am more than happy to clarify, as I am not a perfect writer, and, quite frankly, have a lot going on in my life.

Happy Reading…

He Needs More Seasoning…

As I watch the race for the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustee seat in District 9, I am enthralled (and disappointed) at the race between incumbent Bernadette Nuttal and her opponent, Damarcus Offord.

I’m drawn to this race in particular because Mr. Offord is taking a stance for what he believes in (something that I love to see in Young African American men).  Damarcus is a man (not a boy) who wants to make an impact in his community and make a name for him.  He has a goal, a mission, direction to do something positive in South Dallas and does not mind illuminating that to the mainstream; something that needs to be done to show that not all black men are negative contributors to society.  This excites me because these are the precursors to a great leader, not just in his South Dallas community, but potentially in America.

His energy and enthusiasm, however, is over shattered by his naiveté.  He lacks preparation in debates, knowledge in district matters (inside and out of District 9), and the ability to clearly articulate his ideas (an area where I feel WE failed him).  It’s one thing to be a voice of an unheard population, but once you have the microphone, you need to be able to say something.  That’s when prior proper studying, preparation, review, and counsel from mentors are very important.

I remember times in high school and college when my parents would either attend a performance or hear me speak at a function, my father (greatest critic) would say, “Matt, you need more seasoning.”  This would frustrate me and irritate me until I realized of what he meant years later.  He didn’t tell me to quit because I was no good, he just noticed I wasn’t at a point of proficiency and instructed me to increase my ceiling of learning so I can study more, refine, and improve on a product so it can be the best.

I like Damarcus Offord’s energy and enthusiasm to make an impact in his community.  Those are characteristics that are needed to serve people.  However, I feel that he needs more time to sharpen some skills in order to be a more effective leader.  He needs people in his camp to push him academically as well as politically and civically.  Like me after a performance in high school or college, Damarcus is doing the right things, he just needs to get better, and be willing to work on those skills.  I’m willing to assist him with what he needs.

Global Diversity Leadership Exchange vLog

Intangible Solutions For A Tangible Problem

http://www.groupexcellence.org

Recently, the state of education in America has been a hot topic (and rightfully so).  With growing competition abroad, the reauthorization of education policy, and the state of the economy, people all over the country are panicking for solutions.  Though there are large, policy-changing answers we can find to improve the system, there are also small, intangible solutions every day Americans can do in order to enhance the education of our young people.

For the past five years, I’ve worked in an organization that supports and supplements the instruction of the teacher.  In doing so, I’ve been able to experience the problems faced by the teacher.  I realize teachers have a lot of things they need to do in order to educate kids.  With overcrowded classrooms, lack of supplies, and long processes, it’s very difficult for teachers to educate students alone.  What my company is able to do is provide assistance, bringing in people to confirm everything the teacher just instructed.  By doing this, students start making connections; they realize teachers are not instructing for their own health, and when the same thing is said from another person who has “swag” or they can relate to the student, then a connection is made.  The education system is starting to improve.

I wonder, is there a connection with establishing a positive relationship with America’s future and the improvement of education?  Is our society built on nourishing tomorrow or is it worried about what we can get today?  We love to talk about our posterity and how we need to invest in the future today, but do we practice what we preach?  It is evident that we are lacking in compassion for our youth (automatic rejection of their music, ignoring their viewpoint, disengagement of their actions).  THIS IS STUPID ON OUR PART!!!!

One thing these young people have that we didn’t is the instant access to information.  They can Google on their phone and broadcast whatever they find to the whole world in seconds.  As adults, our responsibility is to:

  • Develop a good report/relationship with our children
  • Listen to their ideas/thoughts
  • Advise/Teach/Discipline them the appropriate plans of actions (based from experience)
  • Developing an environment for nurturing, learning and loving

Is this easy: no.   The hardest stage in any process is implementation.  It takes energy, effort, and patience.  There are some stupid brats who don’t want to listen.  We can’t save everyone.  Our job is to make ourselves available so we can be in a position to teach/help someone who wants to improve.  It takes a village to raise a child.  Let’s not leave our children behind.

How My Family Made An Impact On My Life: Dad’s Domino Games…

“Families are the compass that guide us.  They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”
-Brad Henry
I want to continue on my conversation on how my family impacted my life.  Please understand, my family is not exclusive to people I am related to by blood.  They are childhood friends, teachers, and mentors who accept me for who I am and teach me a great deal about life (directly and indirectly).
In the next few blogs I will talk about people my family exposed me to who influenced me.  I will not specify names because there are SO many people who I admire, and if I forget some names I will regret it.  I do want to speak generally and provide thematic messages on the importance of surrounding yourself with high quality people.
One thing I forgot to mention when discussing my immediate family was their talent for exposing me to great people.  My father, mother, brother, and sister had a network of people around me to teach me mostly good, exposed me occasionally to bad, but definitely entertained me to the fullest.
Walk with Kings, but don’t lose the common touch
One of my father’s favorite pastime was playing dominoes.  I remember him playing at least twice a week for hours each meeting with the same 3 men.  These men were diplomats, nor politicians, they were people he trust.  Initially, it didn’t make sense for my dad to “associate” with these blue collar workers.  My father was a banker, entrepreneur, and leader of the largest black chamber in the country.  Why would he spend most of his recreational time with people “below him”.  Watching them play dominoes and occasionally running an errand for them, I was able to socialize and learn from everyone at the table.  I started getting tips on how I maintain my car, and the best method in keeping a great lawn.  Most importantly, witnessed how 4 different types of black men can interact and work as a team.  Even though they had different education levels, different professions, even different socioeconomic statuses, they had one thing in common:  They are black men that was surviving a world I had not experienced yet.  As I grow older, I began to realize a very important lesson he was teaching me: give all people the same respect.  Every person can teach you a lesson, the question is will you learn and apply it.
It takes a group of diverse people to make a society thrive, and it takes a functioning community to prosper.  In order to fulfill many of my goals, it requires me to talk, relate, and understand different types of people.  It would be total suicide if I believed I was better than someone because of what little resources I have.
People are people are people.  No person is better or worse than the other:  we are just different.  Let’s appreciate our diversity and learn from one another so we can be the best we can be.