Black History Month – How did you celebrate?

Black History Month

‘The greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.’

(Bob Marley)

Today marks the end of Black History and is a good day to reflect on why we have this month and ways we can keep the celebration going.

Black History Month started on a much smaller scale.  It was originally designated as Negro History Week in 1926 and created by Carter G. Woodson.  The month-long celebration of Black History began in 1976.  The month of February was selected to incorporate the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass.

So, as you can see the celebration of Black History grew from a week-long process to a full month where we get to recognize and celebrate the amazing contributions of black folks to this country.  You don’t have to wait for February to learn or explore Black History—it should be taught daily in our schools, family gatherings, churches and anywhere else people get together to discuss important things.

There are times when Black History ‘may’ seem like an afterthought but that shouldn’t be the case.

Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen program was established at Tuskegee Air Field, Alabama to train black crew members to fly and fight in World War II.  The term Tuskegee Airmen has been used to describe the pilots, navigators, crew chiefs and others who trained at Tuskegee Air Field.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black aviators to serve in the U. S. Armed forces.  They were able to accomplish a lot of good while also still fighting discrimination from within the Armed services and the nation due to the climate of race relations in the country.

The Tuskegee Airmen trained and prepared for war but because blacks were considered inferior, they were not viewed as deployable for overseas duty.

This all changed due to an unlikely allay for the Tuskegee Airman program.  The first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt visited Tuskegee in 1941 to inspect the program and talk with candidates.  She embarked on a flight with a black instructor and her response once she landed was instrumental in changing the perception of black aviators within the War Department and around the country.  A picture of the first lady and pilot still in the plane after their flight was on the front page of every newspaper in America.  This publicity provided a springboard for the Tuskegee Airmen and helped pave their way to see combat and help end World War II.

I had the honor to attend a traveling exhibit to help educate the nation on the Tuskegee Airmen and their contributions during World War II.  This was an amazing experience for me to get a first-hand account (in their recorded words) from Tuskegee Airmen who are still alive.  They describe in detail the challenges they faced and how they mustered the courage to keep moving forward even though the odds were against them.

The Tuskegee Airmen flew the P-51 Mustang air frame in combat.  Their planes were painted with a distinct ‘Red Tail’ to identify the flying unit.  Other units in World War II had similar distinct tail markings to signify friendly aircraft—especially needed in air-to-air dog fights.

A P-51 has been restored to include the Red Tail and travels around the country to help bring additional attention to the Tuskegee Airmen program.

Attending the ‘Red Tails’ exhibit was a great experience and I’m happy the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is still being told.

Learn more here:  https://www.redtail.org/

My Black History Month tradition:

I’m an avid reader and decided years ago to read a specific book every February as my personal Black History Month tradition.

My book of choice is:  The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

It is easy to forget the importance Malcolm X. had from a cultural standpoint.  You can follow his continual growth as he developed a better understanding of how to lead people and adjust his original thoughts.  He died still trying to formulate a new platform towards race relations in America.  Note:  his views were dramatically changed after traveling to Mecca and learning true brotherhood.

We should celebrate Black History every day!  February provides a full month to re-engage with Black History, but we don’t have to limit our celebration just to February.

How did you celebrate Black History month?  What traditions do you have to make the month stand out for you?  Thanks!

Success

“I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

(Thomas Jefferson)

Success2

What does success look like?  How would you define success?  How did you gain success in your life?

These were a few questions a branch on my tree asked me a few weeks back.  To be fair, I asked several branches on my tree for topics they have interest in to see if I can develop into a blog article that would benefit them in their Walk into The Future.

It took be awhile to wrap my mind around the concept of success—I view myself as enjoying my Walk into the Future, but success must be on display in some format for me to be able to control this walk.  So, I thought back to some advice I received as a young Air Force instructor that was gifted to me:

‘Be where you’re supposed to be;

Doing what you’re supposed to be doing;

When you’re supposed to be doing it.’ (U.S. Air Force Mentor, 1997)

Thinking about the topic of success allowed me to reflect on this advice and it follows me into every activity I pursue.

This advice on face valuable is simple.  But reflecting on the concept of success allowed me to see how the advice I received years ago has allowed me to find successful outcomes in most endeavors I tackle.  I’ve used this advice over the years but now realize it has been the foundation of my daily interactions—every day and every project!

This foundation has allowed me to form outstanding working relationships with direct reports and peers because I’m always focused on “where, what, when”.  This provides my interactions with a level of consistency to ensure successful outcomes.  Some may say they give 110% percent effort when facing a task or challenge.  I’ve never attributed the phase ‘110% effort’ to myself when taking on a task.  I view each task or challenge with a focus to get things done with maximum effort within a minimum amount of time.  The advice I was gifted years ago provided me with a formula to get things down with an eye towards the integrity of the process.

I talk with students I work with on how they can become visible and viable when seeking employment.  The concept of “where, what, when” is used in my conversations to give them a simple formula to work with when engaging with recruiters in their search for employment.  This concept is relatable for students and provides them with guidance towards a successful outcome when engaged in the recruitment process.

So, to come back to the questions I was asked on success:

What does success look like?  How would you define success?  How did you gain success in your life?

Success varies from person to person.  My view on success is having the ability to navigate a situation or task where the outcome exceeds the level of expectations.  Success is defined as having the mental capacity to adapt, think and build on past experiences to navigate the situation or task.

I gained success by using the “where, what, when” concept daily in all interactions.

  • Examples: supervision, mentoring, speaking engagements, volunteering.

In each of these examples, being where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, when I’m supposed to be doing it has led to successful outcomes.

My last view on ‘my’ success is tied to the people (branches) I work with.  I feel successful when I watch and hear how well others are doing in their professional and personal lives.  My success is a direct reflection of their success—the more successful they are the more successful I will become.  Kind of a large circle of success!

So, what does success look like for you the reader?  Curious for your thoughts—thanks!

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”.

(Maya Angelou)

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Change–Make it work for you!

Change2

‘In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.’

 (Abraham Maslow)

Let’s go ahead and acknowledge a simple concept, change happens daily.  It can be in your personal or professional life but either way, change has a place in your life.  How you respond is completely up to you.

There have been times when the concept of change (personal or professional) was frightening.  I can’t say change is my favorite aspect in life, but it can be leveraged to help Walk Into the Future.

Maslow’s quote above provides two options to utilize when faced with change.  Stepping forward into the change process can provide a level of growth needed to accomplish the task at hand. Trusting yourself and understanding you have the tools to handle change will provide the foundation needed for growth.  Adopting the change mindset can be a good thing and is an excellent way to overcome the potential fears normally associated with change.  Look to leverage the positives when confronted with a change opportunity.  There may be times when the prospect of a change can be viewed as a gift.  Remember, Maslow identifies the possibility to grow with change.    This growth mindset is the foundation needed to see the benefits change can bring.

Maslow provides an alternative to embracing change and it is to step back info safety.  Playing it safe and not engaging the change opportunity can feel like the easier of the two options.  Please note, this level of retreat may feel good now, but it will hinder growth (personal, professional, etc.).  There are times human nature will make you hesitate when faced with change.  You may want to retreat and not face the steps needed to implement change.  This may appear to put off the prospect of a change action, but it does not. Change happens especially in the workplace, so why not look at the full change prospect and leveraging the positive (growth) aspects available.

I am an avid reader and a book recommended to me years ago was ‘Who Moved My Cheese’.  Very interesting and quick read but the lessons extracted from this book can help generate a plan for growth when faced with change:

  • Change happens
  • Anticipate Change
  • Monitor Change
  • Adapt to Change Quickly
  • Change (simple enough)
  • Enjoy Change
  • Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again

Change Cheese section

‘Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.’ (Carol Burnett)

I embraced the concept of change before embarking on my current Walk into The Future.  There were times I talked myself out of ‘Moving my Cheese’ but embraced the growth aspects of change and started a new journey.  I make daily adjustments on my walk but embraced the positives—no safety mindset for me!

‘Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right.’ (Tony Robbins)

How do you view change?  What steps can you take to embrace change and leverage it for growth?

References

Johnson, Spencer. (© 2002; 1998) Who moved my cheese? : An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life New York : Putnam.

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What Inspires Me?

‘Don’t chase the paper (money), chase the dream.’

(The Notorious BIG)

I conducted a leadership and goal-setting workshop with staff from the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Center for Student Success and Services (CSSS) in January.  Extremely engaged group of professionals who were very aware of their goals and vision for success.  My work allowed them to fine tune their organizational efforts towards creating empowered leaders who lead from the front.

During my time with the group we touched on the concept of inspiration and who they inspire through daily interactions.  This was a very good way to get staff to engage and identify how they impact the organization in a positive way.  While listening to their responses it was easy to see the passion they have for what they do and the clients (students, parents, leaders, peers) they interact with daily.

I formulated a question for myself on my drive back from conducting the workshop for CSSS staff members:  What Inspires Me?  Please note, this concept is something I have already identified but wanted to expand as part of my continued Walk into The Future.

Why

Months ago, a friend asked me ‘what’s your why?’.  My response was:  to impact people in a positive way to leave them better than when I found them.  Simple enough, right?  But to look deeper, my why and interactions with others is what inspires me daily.  This process seems to generate a complete circle because the more I help others the more inspired I become.  Understanding your ‘why’ can provide the blueprint for what you should be doing.

Inspiration with Why

Who

I work with multiple people I’ve met over the years; some from my time in the Air Force, others from my work at multiple university Career Centers.  My speaking engagements have allowed me to reach a larger audience from diverse work environments and backgrounds.

My interactions with branches on my tree drive my desire to help them succeed in their professional and personal lives.  My branches determine the level of interaction needed during our check-in sessions.  Some just need a little ‘encouragement’ while others need a full session to energize their efforts on their Walk into Future.  Either way, my work with branches on my tree inspires me probably more than it does them.  The stronger the branches grow, the stronger the tree becomes.  Let’s inject the complete circle metaphor here again for visual impact. 😊

Inspiration Circle

When

Spend time with me and I will probably have some level of advice for you.  It comes naturally for me since I have a background in Psychology and Career Services arenas.  I never force information on anyone but when asked I will give an honest answer.  There will be times my responses require a branch to conduct homework (research, reflection, goal formation, etc.) and then we can get to work on mapping out a path for success.  I agree to partner and help find the success needed to move forward.  The ownership remains with the branch to finalize the process.

So, what truly inspires me?  Having a formulated ‘why’ and interactions with branches (who) as determined by their needs (when).  Simple enough, huh?

Thanks to my branches for inspiring me daily!  Well done!

What inspires you daily?  Who inspires you?  Curious, thanks!