The Energy Bus—team building program!

(Image by Marek Studzinski from Pixabay)

“Thoughts are magnetic. What you think you attract”.

(John Gordon)

Dictionary.com defines teambuilding as the action or process of causing a group of people to work together effectively as a team, especially by means of activities and events designed to increase motivation and promote cooperation.

I have always been a fan of conducting teambuilding activities throughout the years to keep teams focused and pulling in the same direction.  I have been fortunate to create teambuilding platforms at UCF and FSU to enhance our team dynamics and set us up to accomplish our work goals.  Teambuilding is a critical component to organizational success and is necessary to remind each team member how interconnected we are daily.

I have leveraged the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) at every stop I have made since I left the Air Force.  I find the MBTI an excellent way to understand team members’ communication style and allows us to adjust to how individuals prefer to communicate internally and externally.

My MBTI is ISTJ (Introverted/Sensing/Thinking/Judging) and is displayed on my desk to remind my team of my preferred communication style. Each team member gets a desk placard highlighting their MBTI to help them communicate with others and serves as a reminder we all have different preferences and work styles.  One is not better than the other, simply different.

I was introduced to Clifton Strengths while at UCF.  I was charged with building a teambuilding program for Career Center staff and Clifton Strengths provided us with a platform to build on the strengths of everyone on the team.  We reached out and hired a certified consultant to come in and work with us to learn how to maximize team strengths so we could grow the organization.  This was an eye-opening teambuilding experience for the group and has remained an integral tool for me when working to build my respective team dynamics.

Ice breaker activities are another great way to bring teams together and enhance socialization.  The ice breakers used do not have to be elaborate but should have an element of fun while the team learns more about each other.  The platform should enhance communication and help the team find ways to discover new things about teammates.

My latest teambuilding adventure was introduced to me by one of my new team members.  She found out I am a huge reader and shared a leadership book from her library with me.  I had never heard of the book but was intrigued by the concept after she explained the premise of the book.  The full title, The Energy Bus:  10 Rules to Fuel your Life, Work and Team is an international best seller and the author, Jon Gordon is sought by organizations to share his Energy Bus knowledge and help people continue to grow.  I watched several of his talks on YouTube to get a better understanding of his concept to determine if this was something I could utilize.  He has a ton of stuff on YouTube so recommend taking some time to explore his work to see how it can help you and your team move forward.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jon+gordon++

The book is an extremely easy read and reminds me of the classic, Who Moved My Cheese but in an actual work environment.  I was impressed with how his concepts could be applied to my current work situation as I had to find new and inventive ways to conduct teambuilding while maintaining physical distancing due to COVID-19.  Never imagined 6 months ago I would be able to implement teambuilding activities with team members in 8 different locations via virtual platforms.  I chose the Energy Bus because the 10 rules identified are easy to follow and fit where I wanted to take the team.  We must get creative with our work products now and needed them to understand we must pull in the same direction.

Leveraging the https://www.theenergybus.com/ site, I was able to send each team member a bus ticket to invite them onto my bus.  It felt funny generating the ticket, but it seemed to excite people when they received the invitation.  Most of the team reached out to ask if they needed to present their ticket at our scheduled teambuilding session.  It was not required but a lot of them had their ticket ready just in case.  😊

10 Rules for the Ride of Your Life

  1. You are the driver of the Bus
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction
  3. Fuel your ride with positive energy
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead
  5. Do not waste energy on those who do not get on your bus
  6. Post a sign that says “No Energy Vampires Allowed” on your bus
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride
  8. Love your passengers
  9. Drive with purpose
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride

We were able to go through the 10 Rules and discuss the impact each had on our new team adventures.  I gave the team my view of the 10 Rules and how I planned to leverage each of them.  We went around the virtual room and had each team member provide their feedback on each rule and how they would incorporate the rule daily.  I was pleasantly surprised when one of my teammates asked if she could give a full rundown for ALL the rules.  She did a fantastic job summarizing each rule and how it would be incorporated in her daily interactions.  This set the tone for the rest of the teambuilding session and let me know we are heading in the right direction.

I am always looking for ways to get the team to the next level.  Will continue to research teambuilding activities but highly recommend The Energy Bus if you are looking for ways to bring a team together.

What teambuilding activities does your organization use?  How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your team’s ability to gel?

 “Your positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity.  Your certainty must be greater than everyone’s doubt”.

(John Gordon)

Walking with a face mask

“Wear a mask, it saves lives”!

(Calvin Williams)

Decided to tackle the concept of people not wearing face masks or coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Hoped the concept of Americans doing the right thing to help minimize the pandemic would eventually kick in but it appears to be hopeless.

I searched for a clever quote I could use to start this post but did not find what I was looking for.  Thought about it for a bit and then just created my own quote to signify my thoughts on this subject.  Wear a mask, it saves lives!!!

It is beyond weird to hear and see Americans on TV exclaim how it is their right to not comply with a health initiative during a PANDEMIC.  They seem to think wearing a mask to protect themselves and others is an infringement on their freedom.  I do not get this mindset and honestly think the world is doomed with adults saying these things out loud.  Even worse, these folks are not joking when they state it is their right to not wear a face mask. Not wearing a mask to protect themselves and people around them is the right they are demanding!  What a great country!

Fairly sure most of the people saying these things have NEVER served in the armed forces to fight for the rights they want to hide behind—just venting, thanks!

We are seeing a trend where younger people are diagnosed with COVID-19 at a faster pace than some experts expected.  This appears to be because people in the 20 – 35-year-old range do not have a fear of the virus.  They are more likely to continue to hang out in large groups without physical distancing and of course, no masks.  I will not disparage everyone in this group because I know my tree branches are following proper protocols.  My point for this group is they are getting each other sick and then bringing the virus home to parents, grandparents, and roommates.

This cycle ensures the virus continues to spread and endangers more lives.  Wearing a mask may not save everyone from contracting the virus but it can help slow the spread.  I watch Dr. Fauci on TV almost beg people to follow the CDC guidelines because he knows this thing is getting out of control fast.  Hopefully, we will come to our senses as a nation and get back to basics to eliminate the spread of COVID-19.  Oh yeah, masks can help with this! A simple two-week period of masks and physical distancing may save thousands of lives.  Never imagined this pandemic would be worse in September than it was in April when I was terrified to move to Fort Pierce.  It is almost like the virus is just a normal part of life now—sad!

I am doing my part to keep the face mask industry growing.  I visit ETSY.com on a regular basis looking for new face mask styles to add to my growing collection.  Never thought of face masks as an accessory but I keep finding new and fun ways to express myself with face coverings.  This process feels like dressing up to me and I have joked about having a bandito look when I have my face masks on.  Maybe we should tell the people who get upset when asked to wear a face mask to visit ETSY.com and find a mask to express their frustration WHILE wearing a mask.  I am sure they can find a way to express themselves and still comply by wearing a mask.  Guess I do not understand why wearing a mask is such a hassle for these people.  Masks are light weight, easy to wear and can be worn to accessorize your daily outfits.  😊

Help me spread the word—masks can save lives and get us back closer to normal!

“If you do not like wearing a face mask, you are really not going to like a ventilator”.

(Anonymous work colleague)

Track Florida’s daily numbers here:  https://fdoh.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/8d0de33f260d444c852a615dc7837c86

Rock the 2020 vote

(Image by amberzen from Pixabay

“Bad officials are elected by citizens who do not vote”

(George Jean Nathan)

November 3, 2020 is coming! 

There is no stopping the calendar from flipping to this monumental date in our nation’s history.  11/3/2020 will be here sooner than you imagine. Not trying to scare you but this is a date you must be ready for.  I will not tell you who and how to vote but vote you must. 

With as much turmoil we have lived through in 2020, voting should seem like a regular activity.  Not downplaying the risks involved with going to a polling location during a pandemic but voting must become a priority for all Americans.  There is still time to request a mail in ballot if needed but make sure you plan to get out and vote.

58.1% of the voting-eligible population voted in 2016.  You can see some citizens took the night off in November 2016 and simply did not vote.

Not here to condemn anyone but I never imagined the results from the 2016 presidential election would go the way they did.  Shocked would be an understatement of how I felt the next morning when I woke up and discovered a reality PERSON (not star) was the new president.  The disappointment I felt was numbing on that fateful day.

Now the pain I feel is a nation crumbling without credible leadership to help us get out of the pandemic, improve race relations, or become a world leader again.  Maybe the new slogan should be:  Make America a World Leader Again!  That would be a fantastic start to getting this country back on a path where we are not being laughed at by other countries.

I digress a bit—forgive me! 

There are 54 days left before the national election.  There is still time for you to register to vote and while you are at it, please get your family and friends to register too.  This would be an outstanding time to start a voting drive in your city or town.  This can be done while maintaining physical distancing.  We need people to get out and vote during this election cycle.  Will not say who you should vote for but vote you must.  Too many people have been beaten, threaten, bullied, and killed for the right to vote.  This is our time to exercise our rights and vote for candidates to represent us all. 

No more wishing for change in America, we must demand it.  Voting provides an opportunity for your voice to be heard—do not be silenced this November.  I do not want to be surprised again this cycle—thanks! 😊

Have you registered to vote yet?  Who can you help with the registration process?  What are you waiting on?  Let’s rock the 2020 vote!

https://registertovoteflorida.gov/eligibilityreactive

https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

(Get out and vote! Help your friends and family register–there’s still time!)

“The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violet tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it”.

                                                                    (John Lewis)

https://guides.libraries.psu.edu/post-election-2016/voter-turnout

Black Wall Street

hostility-sculpture-in-tulsa-3910356_1920

Hostility Sculpture in Tulsa, Oklahoma

(Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

(Dr. Martin Luther King)

My first introduction to Black Wall Street came when I served as a panelist for a Florida State University (FSU) Black Student Union (BSU) program.  The students invited me to enhance their professional development program, but I got a history lesson I did not expect or know I needed.

I love working with college students because they bring a passion for subjects they are interested in and that passion keeps them curious and intent on growing daily. My role on the panel was to help BSU students understand how to present themselves when networking for future career opportunities.  We got that process going and had a good question and answer session with lots of input from the students in attendance.

One of the students present asked the moderator why the activities for the week was labeled Black Wall Street?  The response is where my education on the subject began.

The BSU leaders saw Black History Month as the perfect time to educate its members and guests on important periods, i.e., The Harlem Renaissance, Black Wall Street, Black Excellence and Black Power.  I was familiar with each of the periods identified for the month except Black Wall Street.  I assumed this was BSU’s way to show members how to build financial freedom and eventually make their way to Wall Street (NYC).  I was wrong and totally missed the boat on the meaning of Black Wall Street.

The BSU leadership wanted to show members how financial freedom could be gained by following the blueprint laid out by the founders of the true Black Wall Street in Greenwood, Oklahoma (Tulsa).  I had never heard of Black Wall Street, Greenwood, Oklahoma or the massacre that happened there in the early 1920’s.  My students were more than happy to fill me in on another history lesson I never received during my formal education programs—this seems to be a common theme with American history.

The concept a black town in Oklahoma was self-sufficient in the 1920’s seemed unreal at first but decided to learn more after talking with students.  I consider myself a lifelong learner and this was another educational journey I needed to fully see the great things that happened on Black Wall Street prior to the massacre.

O.W. Gurley was a prominent figure who relocated to the Greenwood district and purchased land which then could only be sold to people of color.  This was Gurley’s vision to establish a place for the black population.  Most of his businesses were frequented by black migrants fleeing the oppression of the Mississippi delta.  Gurley worked with others to pool their financial resources and support the thriving businesses being developed in Greenwood.  The residents of Black Wall Street were doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. The success of the black residents of Greenwood played a role in the 1921 massacre because of the jealousy of their white neighbors in nearby Tulsa.

My Black Wall Street education increased my knowledge of this important period of Black History and led me to dig deeper on the actual massacre.  The news program, 60 Minutes did a report on Black Wall Street and the massacre a few years ago.  This led to additional investigations and a team has been formed to find and excavate hidden graves to bring closure for descendants of the massacre victims.  This painful piece of American history continues to garner interest and my hope is we never experience something like this again.

Learn more about what happened in Greenwood here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/antoinegara/2020/06/18/the-bezos-of-black-wall-street-tulsa-race-riots-1921/#65183f08f321

60 Minutes program on Greenwood, Oklahoma:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA8t8PW-OkA

“History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own”.

(Michelle Obama)

 

Hire character, train skill

Hire Character

(Image by Ziglar.com)

“Good character improves every aspect of a person’s life”.

(John C. Maxwell)

Inspirations for Walk into the Future articles come to me from multiple sources.  I generate most of the topics based on things I am doing or interested in.  I continually ask my friends and tree branches to send me suggestions then work to develop their input into an article for others to learn from.

This post is unique because it has taken years to get to a place where I can develop this topic.  My extra inspiration came from one of my closet friends when she texted me a picture that said Hire character, train skill.  Believe it or not but I have been saying and using these words over the years when I need to hire someone to join my team.  Just never developed it out to highlight the importance of this concept.

The hiring processing is an ongoing concept for me.  I learned a long time ago to anticipate future openings and have adequate bench players (basketball term) available.  My first action is to create a professional development program to enhance current team members’ knowledge, so they are promotion ready.  A lot of organizations state they hire from within, but this is impossible if you are not actively training your staff.  My goal has always been to prepare staff to take over for me if I am not there.  This has led to staff being attractive to other organizations and I am thrilled to serve as a professional reference for my folks if they need it.  Happy to report 5 out of 11 members from my Florida State University Employer Relations team held Director or Associate Director titles for the 2019 – 2020 academic year.  Immensely proud of my crew and the great things they are getting done.  They are all high character people and wanted to learn daily.  They were also quick to apply their new knowledge within the work environment.

My second action is to build relationships with people in my industry through networking and conference attendance.  This allows me to identify people who will fit within my team structure if I have an opening.  I offer direct mentorship to these folks to help them grow their careers at their current locations.  I make a point to let a select few know I would like them to work on my team if an opening exists.  Please note, some of these people may not be looking or interested in the current location but it helps to put out feelers before there is a need to hire someone. Again, character is a major part of this outreach effort.

My third action is to never eliminate someone simply because their background and experiences may not line up perfectly with the job description.  Nothing I have done professionally is rocket science and someone with the right character can be trained for the work I perform.  The character of the hire should enhance the overall performance of the team and bring some unique talents to make us better.  It helps to bring in someone who has diverse thoughts, background, and experiences so we can learn from them as well.  Maintaining a solid organizational training program provides the foundation needed to bring someone in with less on paper experience and gets them up to speed on the operational pace needed for success.  I would rather invest the time to train someone with the character needed for success than bring in someone with paper skills, no integrity, teamwork, or ability to make the team better.  I have seen these folks destroy the team dynamic and it takes a long time to recover. Energy vampires!

I cannot say I have gotten this process right 100% of the time but I have more successful character hires than not.  I continue to learn and evolve my hiring practices but hire for character, train for skill remains the foundation for me.

Look at the current national leadership model to understand the importance of character in the work environment!  The lack of character can destroy organizations from within.

What is your hiring philosophy?  How has it evolved over the years?  Thanks!

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow.  The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing”.

(Abraham Lincoln)

Walking into the Future with no backup plan

Make Things Happen

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“There’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A”.

(Will Smith)

I routinely listen to the Fox Sports 1 (FS1) daily show, The Herd with Colin Cowherd to get caught up on sports commentary and for a few laughs.  Dude can be hilarious with some of his takes on sporting events, teams, and individual players.  Some people do not like him because he has a dry sense of humor, but he does a good job researching topics before introducing them on his show.

He recently started discussing the concept of successful people not having a plan B which routinely led them to success.  He leverages examples of athletes, business people, and sports personalities who took a risk on themselves without having an escape clause (plan B).  He asks in his high pitch voice:  you think Bill Gates had a plan B?  What about Steve Jobs?  You think I (Colin Cowherd) had a plan B before I picked up and moved from New York to Los Angeles?  No, no and no!

His point being is creating a plan B allows for less than max efforts towards plan A.  Never thought of this process in a similar way but believe my Walk into the Future mirrors his words in several ways.

One of my overarching goals on this walk was to never compromise my principles when it comes to work.  There were times I could have gone to a plan B and took another role that did not fit where I wanted to be, but I created the Walk into the Future mindset for a reason.  Some people could not understand why I would not rush back into the traditional world of work but had to stick to the plan–find things so I could make a difference in life daily.

I kept my focus on areas where I knew I could thrive, make a difference, and enjoy the process daily.  Discovered additional talents I had because of the focus on plan A only.  Research, writing blog articles, mentoring, and conducting speaking engagements served as my professional development incubator over the past two years.

While some people thought I was hanging out I was working on my craft to find additional ways to make a difference.  No limitations were present because I was free to create what Walk into the Future meant to me.  I look back at my first blog articles and can see the progression I have made over the past two years.  My research and writing process have improved and continue to get better daily

I put unlimited time, effort and thoughts into this plan and refused to get distracted.  I understand everyone cannot just walk away from their professional lives but being an Air Force retiree provides me with income to continue to do things like being a running tourist.

Please note I am not comparing myself to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Colin Cowherd—they all have a lot more money than me, but the no plan B mindset is similar.

Saw an opportunity in Fort Pierce, Florida and decided to go all in—no plan B.  The excitement and potential for the new role was vetted without an emotional approach and launched me forward.  Never looked back or sideways once committed to this new chapter.  My plan A continues to work for me!

Moving forward and Walking into the Future! 😊

What is your plan A?  How do you ensure your focus remains on plan A?

“There is no plan B for passion”.

(Chris Gardner)

 Great article from Jeff Haden:  https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/why-remarkably-successful-people-dont-make-backup-plans.html

Irie vibes–control the controllable

Control

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them”.

(Maya Angelou)

Control the controllable is one of my favorite sayings.  Do not remember where I heard it first, but it has been a way of thinking for many years.  Try to leverage this saying when things appear difficult and I need to remind myself to trust the process.

I shared the saying in a LinkedIn post back in April and was pleasantly surprised with the number of views (900+), reactions (20+) and comments the post garnered.  The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we view normal and it can be easy to get overwhelmed with everything happening around us.

Dictionary.com defines control as the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

Control the controllable can serve as a positive mantra to help tackle difficult times and situations.

Take care of yourself

Taking care of yourself can be done in many ways.  For some this may mean ensuring you make time to exercise.  For others this can be done by eating a healthier diet.  This combination is a critical aspect of controlling how you function daily.  A key component some of us may have forgotten until now is the mental and emotional elements in your life.  COVID-19 has made us view life differently and reveals the importance of mental health.  The ability to seek and find clarity should be at the forefront of taking care of yourself.

Take care of others

Who are YOUR tree branches?  Make sure you reach out to them to help them navigate this new way of life.  Most people will tell you they are doing okay but keep checking on them.  They will appreciate the effort and it helps you keep your tree growing.  You can also reach out to people who are not tree branches; make someone’s day and become a mentor to help move them forward and provide some guidance.

Continue to practice physical distancing

The government and news agencies penned the term social distancing.  Believe this connotation has been a problem from day 1.  Most people had never heard of this term prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and it may have confused some.  I like the term physical distancing because it says right in the title to stay away from others.  We have got enamored with social media and everything that comes with it—think a lot of people could not understand what was really being asked of them when told to practice social distancing.  Regardless how you address the term, physical distancing is something we have some level of control.

Create personal outlets

Look for personal and creative outlets to leverage the things you can control.  The Walk into the Future blog has become a major way for me to express a creative side I really did not know existed.  I get excited researching topics and then challenging myself to create an article someone else may want to read.  Have no idea if anyone is really reading this stuff but I keep plugging away because it is something I control.

Running and weightlifting are other outlets I utilized to control the controllable for myself.  Journaling outside of my work on the Walk into the Future blog has a calming effect for me.  Most times when writing in my journal I can generate work and life ideas to implement later.  Handwriting content in the journal also makes me slow done a bit and really think through what I want to write down.  Always recommend journaling to anyone who will listen to me because it is an excellent outlet to express thoughts—try it! 😊

Reggae and the beach are other outlets I have available to me daily.

Open your eyes and your mind to see your outlets!

The control center of your life is your attitude”.

(Anonymous)

Live, love and laugh

Life can be a compilation of good and bad. Let’s focus on the good and leverage the positive energy this mindset brings.  Live daily, love often and laugh always!  (I just made that up). 😊

What daily things are within your control?  How do you maintain this control? Thanks!

“The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win.”

(Kobe Bryant)

 

Zoom into the Future

zoom

(Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay)

“When in doubt, zoom out”.

(Reggie Watts)

I like starting Walk into the Future articles with a quote to inspire my thought process and get me going.  Well, the quote above is the best I could find with zoom in it but has nothing really to do with this article.  Forgive me but thought it was funny and had the appropriate word (zoom) I needed to move forward.

The last several months have been productive, exciting, and frustrating (COVID-19) but progress has been made daily.  The Zoom application has become a popular way for the workforce to keep making positive things happen considering the COVID-19 pandemic.  More people are using this platform to ensure daily operations and tasks are completed in this new way to go to work.

Zoom interview

My first foray using the Zoom application came back in February when I was introduced to it for a first-round interview.  I have used Skype to interview for past positions and to interview candidates for openings on my team.  Did not know much about Zoom but found the process a lot more seamless than the Skype application.  Simply receive an email with a link, click on the link at the appropriate time and you are meeting with the folks on the distant end.  Zoom provides the capability to host multiple people in multiple locations so this appears to make getting a team together to interview candidates a bit easier than Skype.  I am sure there are still uses for the Skype platform but thought Zoom took pressure off me as the candidates since I did not have to test my computer/software as in the past.

Zoom team meeting

Leveraged my newfound appreciation for Zoom by hosting my first team meeting with my new team at Indian River State College prior to starting work.  Again, COVID-19 has most organizations working remotely to avoid large meetings and practicing physical distancing.  I wanted to get a head start on teambuilding prior to moving to Fort Pierce and Zoom was the perfect application.  We were able to host 10 people in 5 different locations (physical distancing) and build a team foundation to help us find ways to ensure students, faculty/staff and employers continue to receive world class customer service.  I have talked with tree branches who are using Zoom but found it to be an even better platform than described.

Zoom work process (onboarding, team meetings, teambuilding)

Realize there are several who will read this article who have been using Zoom for a while.  I am just getting my feet wet and see so many useful ways to use this platform even after we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Staff on satellite campuses can continue to participate in meetings, workshops, and teambuilding activities without having to drive to the main campus.  There will be times when they need/want to be present, but Zoom can save time and driving to and from the main campus.  Also, see the benefits of conducting one-on-one sessions with distant students, employers, and staff.  Just getting my thoughts together but I am sure I will leverage Zoom to find ways to ensure our students have the best employment opportunities available.  Zoom appears to be setting the pace for a new world order!  Stay tuned as I will continue to share how I am zooming into the future. 😊

 How does your organization use the Zoom platform?  Do you have tricks of the trade you can share?  Thanks!

NOTE:  Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate are three platforms I am actively using at work.  The three platforms are easy to navigate and provides similar functionality.

Why Black Lives Matter (BLM) matters today!

BLM

(Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay)

“Human rights are something you were born with.  Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights recognized by all nations on earth.  And any time anyone violates your human rights, you can take them to court”.

(Malcolm X.)

Dictionary.com defines human rights as a right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person.

Interesting to hear politicians, everyday Americans and TV news programs talk about the Constitution but most only cite the Amendments that fit a small segment of society.  A lot of folks will scream for their Second Amendment rights even though it was written when the country did not have an Army and militias were needed to defend the country.  These same folks do not make a peep when the Fourteenth Amendment is brought up.

14th Amendment cliff notes version:  No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person in its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Fourteenth amendment seems clearer to me in today’s climate than arming a militia we do not need because we have professional armed services (Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, Guard and Reserves).  Imagine if all Americans were treated equally as described in the Fourteenth amendment.  The world would be a better place right now.

Had a fantastic conversation with an older gentleman last week about all the things (protests, marches, etc.) going on after the death of George Floyd.  The gentleman is a retiree and he drives the customer shuttle part time for a local car dealership.  He was giving me a ride home after I dropped my vehicle off for repairs and wanted to discuss current events.  He let me know he wanted to talk with someone but did not know how to start.  He asked if I would be willing to talk with him so he would have a better understanding of current events.  Guess I made him feel comfortable because I had only been around him 10 minutes before he decided I was the chosen one to enlighten him.

He asked me two questions:

  • Why are people saying Black Lives Matter (BLM), shouldn’t all live matter?
  • Why are the confederate statues coming down so important today?

Explained to him the BLM movement is needed to highlight the injustices black people continue to face with no end in sight.  No one ever said all lives do not matter but BLM is a way to focus on people who have been marginalized, forgotten, abused, and brutalized since being brought to America.  The BLM movement keeps the continued injustices against black people in America at the forefront and signals we will not be quiet anymore.  Anyone who says All Lives Matter, White Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter have not been subjected to the same level of systemic racism, policing, sentencing, violence, government oversight and oppression as the people who need you to understand Black Live Matter!

https://blacklivesmatter.com/

I let my new friend know the confederate statues were routinely placed as racial dog whistles to a past that honored men who fought to continue slavery.  Most people do not know but a lot of these statues were put in place throughout the 1900’s.  The state of Arizona built a confederate monument in 2010.  Let me repeat that—the state of Arizona commissioned and placed a confederate monument in 2010!!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Confederate_monuments_and_memorials

Placing these monuments in public places is a slap in the face of all Americans but is reprehensible for anyone who was subjected to slavery, cruelty and death at the hands of the men others are trying to honor with a heritage claim.  Does Germany or Japan have statues of American Generals who fought against their countries?  What would they think having to walk by statues of these people daily?

The confederates who are depicted by the statues fought against America!  They would be considered enemies if they were from a different country or race.  They were traitors against the American government and fought to keep black people as slaves, but some people want to hide behind a heritage claim for why these statues should remain.  They are a part of history but should not be given a higher regard than true American heroes who did not become traitors against their country.  Confederate generals, soldiers, sympathizers, and apologists are traitors to the American way of life.  Who would claim being a traitor as a heritage to be proud of?

My new friend and I departed after having a great conversation.  I am happy he felt comfortable enough to want to talk with me.  He let me know he would talk with his grand kids later that day to help them understand everything happening around them and become a better BLM ally.  Smalls steps on this journey!

Who can you help understand the BLM movement?  What support do you need to keep the conversation moving forward?

 “It’s a privilege to educate yourself about racism instead of experiencing it”.

(Sir John)

Congrats to the Class of 2020—Go Jayla!

Grad 2020

(Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay)

“Follow your fear”.

(Tina Fey)

We are halfway through 2020 and the ebb and flows of the year have been tremendous.  Most people I know came into 2020 with major goals, plans, and the right mindset to make positive things happen.  We continue to move forward but the COVID-19 pandemic has adjusted how we Walk into the Future daily.

Looking forward to getting back to things that resemble normal life but do not know if/when that will be possible.  The term new normal is being thrown around and means we must redefine what is considered normal in the future.

One thing that does not require a new normal is how proud I am of my niece, Jayla Williams!  We have been on a special journey for the past 24 years and I am excited to see her next money moves in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped a large portion of planned activities for everyone but one area we had to put on hold was celebrating Jayla’s graduation from the University of Central Florida.  Family and friends have reached out to congratulate her for this phenomenal feat, but we have not been able to gather the crew and throw the blowout party this accomplishment deserves.  No worries Jayla, we will get it in when safe! 😊

My joy for Jayla’s graduation is because we first talked about going to college when she was 5 years old.  Some may think this is a bit young, but my goal was to create a mindset where we knew the direction of the journey.  Please note, all the work, time and effort were put in by Jayla and it was a joy for me to watch her tick off objectives towards this goal.  My role simply was support, reinforcement, someone to bounce ideas off, and a silly uncle joke when needed.

It is amazing to look back on this journey and see the adult she has become.  I am sure this progression is nothing new for parents to view but for the cool uncle this has been an awesome ride!

The University of Central Florida conducted virtual graduation ceremonies for each college.  The College of Business hosted the largest number of graduates which ensured we would be glued to our computers until they got to the great Williams last name. Did not realize how excited I would be sitting on my laptop waiting to officially hear Jayla Williams being declared an Integrated Business graduate from the University of Central Florida College of Business.  Luckily, I had the foresight to get my phone ready for the quick photo opportunity provided while hearing Jayla’s name.  This put a huge smile on my face, and I texted the photo to family so they could share in my joy!

Looking forward to when we can get back together to throw the big blowout party she was expecting and deserves.  That day is coming, and we will celebrate the 24 years and counting for the journey we are on.  Cannot wait to see what the future holds for my class of 2020 graduate—big things I am sure!

Congratulations and Go Jayla! 😊

Uncle Calvin

 “Fall forward.  Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.  You have got to take risks”.

(Denzel Washington)