Sunday, October 2, 2016

Finding Life's Road to Realization

March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.

Kahil Gibran

            “Life is difficult.” In Dr. M. Scott Peck’s well known book, The Road Less Traveled, this is the first sentence. Startling at first glance, but when we think about these words, it’s very true.  Dr. Peck goes on to say that once we accept this fact, life becomes less difficult because this fact no longer matters.

            Keep going ISO (In Spite of).

            We then focus on the many roads ahead, knowing as we proceed on our odyssey that some truths will become evident. One such truth is that we ourselves sometimes get in our own way and create difficulty. Other times we show out brilliantly, handling our business. Hard stuff happens and none of us are immune. Wonderful times roll around and we all get to celebrate.

            Most of life actualizes somewhere in the middle and that is where we learn—traveling on what appears to be a ‘long and winding’ road.

             I’ve (literally) broken down on the road yet found inspiration in the words of a gospel song that relates, “Nobody told me the road would be easy; I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me.”  These words help me to recognize and use my IPS (Internal Positioning System) more.

            What I’ve come to terms with on this journey we call life is that I have experienced a lot and will experience much more. This range of events has presented many emotions for me, reflective of things I’ve missed and things I’ve cherished. I’m sometimes lonely for a mate, yet proud of what God has allowed me to accomplish. I lament relationships that fell into dysfunction, yet relish those that remain in alignment. I revel in joy over family rites of passage and sometimes sink in sorrow over those who’ve transitioned to be with the Lord. I’ve learned that you can’t always count on those closest to you, but strangers of immense kindness will pass along your way.

            At either end of this spectrum, coping is what we do. We learn how to wipe out and negotiate and handle what’s thrown our way—it’s the Navigator’s mission. Facing the fact that no one roadway will put us exactly where we would like to be, we internalize this tough lesson. With no guarantees for happiness, we reach for it where we can find it. Oftentimes we’ve heard others say (or have thought to ourselves), "If I get this or that then I'll be happy." Trying to keep up with others in current lifestyle trends usually leads to temporary satisfaction, but an ultimate return to dissatisfaction. The important thing is to keep our focus and be optimistic even in the most challenging of times. Where we are is where we are. 

            Understand that the roads of life are best paved with managed expectations.

Excerpted from my motivational autobiography, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey in print and Kindle eBook

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

True Wealth: Your Skills, Assets, Liabilities, and Limitations

“I am what time, circumstance, and history have made of me, certainly, but I am also much more than that. So are we all.”
~ James Baldwin, Writer and Activist

            Who are you at the core?
            Each of us has an eternal spring that keeps us pressing on through adversities. Do you know how to draw from that well? It is that ancestral reserve of perseverance and endurance, the nature of your past applied to your current environment, the source to nurture your family circumstances and attend to the challenges and opportunities of the present day. What does this well of abundance look like for you?
            Your journey to your current place in time is unique here, and you are accompanied and your story is enriched by the baggage you hoist.
            Now, it is totally and measurably about you. So what makes you stand out?  Do you also recognize your less-desirable personality quirks that could sabotage your success? Can you identify how to stay out of your own way?

            Self-awareness and knowledge are critical in this shifting landscape. Knowing the ‘good, the bad, and the ugly’ of your personality will afford you the realism needed to fuel your drive down your individual path. This information about ourselves is a valuable tool for negotiating new territory and exploring unrealized opportunities, both professionally and personally. Referred to today as “emotional intelligence,” this knowledge supports us as we navigate a variety of interpersonal situations. In addition to enhanced relationships, this information will help you to “Respect yourself,” as crooned by the 1970s R&B group, The Staple Singers.  We have the knowledge, the know-how to establish a bank of our unique offerings to the world.

Excerpted from my book, For People of Strength, Soul, and Spirit: Seven Guidelines for Life & Career Success,

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Success Street: Find Your Unique Position

Every day of your life is a page of your history.
 Arabic proverb

            Success is……I am successful because…I will achieve success when….
            How do you spell success?  “Setbacks Uncovered, Ceasing Control, Excelling Serious Superstar” Sounds good, doesn’t it?
            We’ve all had a win.
            A turn down a new street made some pursuit easy. The right is ours to define what achievements are most measureable and memorable for us.
            Everyone was not meant to have the perfect family, career, finances or material things. Nor do we all want them.  But for each of us there is a unique formula that adds up to a meaningful, productive and constructive journey. In some way we’ve overcome a challenge, let go of a ‘bad trip’ or found a right way.
            In someone’s view, we’re the best ……
            Fill in, keep driving and seeking to form your success.

            As we view the film of our lives, let’s claim every win a blockbuster. Visit your Broadway!

Excerpted from my motivational autobiography, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey in print and Kindle eBook

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Navigation Power: Steer Toward Success

“I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”
~ Langston Hughes, Poet and Activist

Thoughts For Moving Forward

  • Be determined to move strong, in spite of uncertainty and storms (whatever they look like for you: slow economy, job market, relationship challenges).
  • Rudder at the right signs. Stay anchored in your values, visions, and interests. (Revisit your lists.)
  • Open all lanes for learning. Detours and potholes are there for a reason. (If you fall in or go the wrong way, so what? Find a way out or around.)

  • Explore the right realms, your major motivators. What’s the gas in your engine? (passion, giving back, your expertise, challenge, taking care of your family)

  • Acknowledge fellow travelers. We don’t journey alone (Get support from friends, mentors, and networks.)

  • Plot a route to success that’s realistic. Be confident in who you are and pace your journey to your style. Do you!

  • Rejuvenate. Stop and rest. Take a break, vacation, or staycation (Have a special way to fuel you.)

  • Boldly remain a believer in your own success. See it to the right, left, front, and rear as you check your mirrors. (Engage!)

  • Claim victory at critical times. Segment your successes for each leg of your journey (Small wins are good).

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Line Up: Decide To Be and Lead

There is nothing impossible to him who will try.
Alexander the Great

To confront the challenges, emergencies, and problems of a dynamic and fluid society, good problem-solving and decision-making skills are critical. Sometimes new methodologies and insights are required, inspired by pioneers, those who are willing to chart a new path to reach organizational and individual objectives. Leaders of today and tomorrow are being asked to do just that—to engage in creative thinking and paradigm shifting in approaching problems to come up with new efficiencies.
            For that reason, the word “change” is constantly used today. Restructuring and reinventing have also brought about new processes, procedures, and policies that make for a challenging the workday. However difficult these changes and challenges may seem, they can also be tremendous learning opportunities. Our power comes from deciding to be in line with this learning.
            But first we must report in and decide to be. Then get busy. 
            Leadership, for personal or professional reasons —must remain consistent and in line.
            When one takes this type of firm stance, it can be a challenge to deal with those who don’t. Making up one’s mind should be simple enough. How many times have we all heard or said this? It’s such a powerful statement regarding decision and change. In one of my conversations with my late Uncle Horace about family members and who, among them, could be depended on to call or act, particularly in a crisis, we agreed that folks use the excuse, “That’s just the way I am.” He came back with, “But it’s time for them to be something else.”
            Yes, there are times to follow that popular athletic shoe tag line and ‘just do it’, to move away from what’s comfortable, and stop making excuses. We are who we are, but it’s okay to try a different way of being, chart new territory, and be purposeful. 
As a leader, each time we walk into a new situation, we have some choices: to be. This new landscape is ours to work and fill. With daring determination, we can choose to move through what was barren to create bounty: poor morale to empowered team, unwilling students to motivated learners, and unsure children to confident next generationer. Decide to change the course by helping others in their quest to be better, starting in the current moment.
            Important also is for leaders to ensure complex situations get the right amount of attention. Too often they dust off really serious issues as trivial. Instead, these problems have layers of stuff that need to be waded through. This era of tweets, microwaves, or solving a crime in sixty minutes of television has led to impatience with the processes that are often necessary to find enduring solutions. Instead, the issues continue to surface. How do we put them under and out of the way?
Once we decide to be, we get our mojo to create a different outcome!
Are you open to creating a new and personal frontier?  If so there are ways to ensure positive change and enduring solutions by enacting the following points.
  • Stake your claim! Define your leadership drop zone.
  • Move fearlessly onward. And explore new territories.
  • Gather your strength. Then focus on priorities.
  • Be curious and open to new frontiers. Create anew.
  • Test the limits. By taking risks.
  • Have a pioneer mindset. Go with your force of belief in all that might be possible. That’s your ultimate power!

            Charge! Be ready to be first! Decide to solve and resolve!

Parts excerpted from my book, Hardcore Leadership: 11 Master Lessons from My Airborne Ranger Uncle’s “Final Jump”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Gift in Your DNA

On site at one of my leadership workshops, using my gift to help others...


Below is a sermon I preached on using our gifts and talents that God gave us!
2 Timothy 1:5-7New International Version (NIV)

5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Today we sometimes face situations in our lives where we’re told what we can and can’t do, swaying us from our capabilities and purpose. Limited opportunities in the job market might cause us feel as though our hands are tied or we’re boxed in from changing our circumstances. Terms such as furloughs, budget cuts and discrimination can bring about fear and discouragement. Even in the church we can get disappointed in service when we can’t see if our work makes a difference. But in this text we are reminded that we must remain faithful because God has gifted us with what we need to move forward in spite of any challenges.

 Because as His creation we’re wired to ‘be all we can be.’ He constructed our human makeup with what is known in science as DNA or Deoxyribonucleic acid, which we learned about in our high school biology classes. the Psalmist tells us that He formed our inward parts; he knitted us together in our mother's womb, fearfully and wonderfully made. Our DNA is also passed down through our ancestral lineage. There is even a test available to find out more about our biological origins.

            And here’s another take, I view the term DNA as Delivered Natural Ability, a gift, a source our omniscient God supplied us with for purpose. Then what can we learn from this text the life of the Apostle Paul about these DNA resources, this man formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, a Christian persecutor who experienced Divine deliverance on a road to Damascus? In the scripture Paul was in a Roman prison and knew his life would soon be over, because he would not be set free this time and more than likely be executed by the authorities. Why? Due to his mission to extend the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even the conditions of Paul’s imprisonment were different this time; he was chained in a cold cell and had been abandoned by those he thought would co labor with him in the name of Christ.

But Paul did what he could do even in those difficult circumstances. He wrote fearlessly! His talent of having written over 1/2 of the New Testament galvanized the Gospel. In this scriptural letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, he writes to inspire him in the midst of the trials faced by these early Christians. But you know we still face some challenges in the church with even later Christians…and we can get discouraged in service, because church work is not easy…Amen! But now Paul is encouraging Timothy to use what he’s got…even in the toughest of times. In his writing Paul made this prison a pulpit to spread a message of hope because he sensed a low moment in Timothy’s faith. But yet according to Paul’s assessment, Timothy had what he needed from his Delivered Natural Ability. Because Paul and the elders had laid their hands on him, delivered power from the Holy Spirit. And even for us somebody prayed for us, had us on their mind, and said let me lay some hands on that child’ to have better…

So here are three points to further relate how this scripture speak to us today? First we have to recognize our gifts and talents. Romans 12 tells us We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. These gifts can show up as our talents. Either someone remarked that we were born with it, or noted them at a point in our lives. Paul has notices Timothy’s gift for service when they met in Lystra according to Acts 16. Our talents might be in arts, culinary, mechanical, scientific, athletic, musical, educational fields or plain common sense perspectives; the range of what we possess is vast. And like Paul tells Timothy, at times we have to fan into flame or as in other translations it reads kindle afresh, keep ablaze or stir up our gift. Let me pause right here and look at this phrases, especially kindle afresh. For some of us that grew up with wood heaters, you remember how you had to have a piece of kindling wood to get the fire started or when it died down.  We do this now even with fireplaces. Those embers have to be stoked, to strengthen the fire, and the same is true for our mind’s resolve to use our DNA.  Sometimes when we get discouraged we have to strengthen our spark by praising and worshipping God. And as President Obama said in his campaigns, be Fired Up and Ready to Go!

But remember Paul was chained in a cold cell. Then how was he able to write while chained? Evidently his hands were free enough at times or he dictated to visitors or guards who were willing to assist, some rams in the bush.Amen! But think about it, when we don’t use our gifts we can get chained to the wrong thing, be imprisoned by other’s perceptions of us and create our own shackling and not pursue opportunities to use our DNA cells.  Or we may not exercise our gift for fear of being rejected or others thinking ‘ we’re all that.’  Instead let us be on purpose for Him who formed us. And yes we may be abandoned in the process. But remember there is all sufficiency in the Lord, in His grace. And what a constant friend we have in Jesus, who is always by our side!

Secondly we also have Delivered Natural Ability as the result of how parents, caregivers, teachers and our culture have instructed and nurtured us. Back in v. 5 of the scripture Paul notes the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother and how strong it dwelled in them. The mention of their faith is designed as an incentive for Timothy. We too have some ancestral reserve of faith and pressing through difficult times, even persecuted for who we are. We’re the product of folks who also operated by their wits. This is a critical part of our DNA and we too should be encouraged by this. I also mentioned that our scientific DNA is hereditary and there’s a biological test to determine our origins. As they say ‘some things do run in the family, or it’s in the genes.” So back in 2009 an uncle and I took this test administered through a company called African Ancestry which specializes in this research.  The female side or matriarchal test I took came back Nigerian of the Yoruba Fulani groups and my uncle’s male or patriarchal test also came back Nigerian of the Ibo group.  Our results matched 100% with current day people living in those areas.  I did a bit more research and discovered that the main staples of those groups is the yam and now know why we love some baked sweet potatoes, candied yams and sweet potato pie! Amen for the yams! Maya Angelou in her poem And Still I Rise reminded us that we come bringing the gifts the ancestors gave; we are the hope and dream of the slave. The skills they brought from the motherland were put to use to survive in this new hostile land.

Our goal is to find these talents and not let others keep us from this treasure. We may not face things of the magnitude in which Paul did, or even our ancestors, but these attributes shelter us in the turmoil of today, becoming our fallback in challenging times. Because we can’t deny that we’ve come this far by faith. God’s Providence is always at work, for progress and for His people. From Selma to Soweto there’ve been faith walks. The old folks, our ancestors learned to make a way out of no way with God.

And thirdly, what do we do with our DNA gifts?  1 Peter 4:10 gives a clear answer here, stating As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.

And ultimately, the message here is this: Find and flame this wellspring of gifts. Showcase them for God’s glory! Build on that ancestral reserve of DNA, to not be afraid of the terrors by night or anything that’s trying to block us from our purpose. V. 7 assures us that God has not given us the spirit of fear or timidity But has given us.... power. I was at the airport months ago and saw one of the receptacle stations for charging technology that said, Power, Just When You Need it. That’s what the Holy Spirit is, given to us by an omnipotent God. God gave us His son Jesus as a gift. Delivered in a manager away in Bethlehem, who lived in service, yet was beaten and put in a cell, died on a cross, was buried but rose with all Power.  He loved and loves us that much.

A song that inspires me is Stir Up the Gift!, taken from the words of Paul in our text used in the King James version done  by Joe Pace and the Colorado Mass Choir...

Stir up the gift, Lay your hands on me, Touch me Lord Revive my joy
Make Me, Mold Me, Renew my spirit, Restore my soul
His joy and peace has given us a sound mind
Never should we be afraid Because we have the gift of DNA