Walking and being black in America!

Candles

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage”.

(James Baldwin)

“I’m a black man in America so I always feel there’s a target on me”.

(Wale)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with a creative outlet where I can share my thoughts, leadership philosophy and life adventures.  It puts a smile on my face when I look back at this journey and see the quality of my writing and content improve daily.  Never thought an electronic journal would become such a huge part of my daily life.  I smile every time someone follows the blog or sends me a comment.

Well, I did not smile so much today!

The battle we fight daily as black men in America has been playing out on every major TV network first with Ahmaud Arbery (killed jogging), then Breonna Taylor (killed sleeping) and now George Floyd (killed while handcuffed).  Think about that last sentence for a minute!

I know there are others out there who have faced the wrath of America but there was not video evidence of what happened to them.  Black America has been hoping and praying these incidents would stop and we can fully engage in the American dream—good thing I am not holding my breath—this never seems to end!  Why not?  I know this is not a simple question to answer but it needs to get answered soon.

Got several text messages from my friends to check on me to see how I am doing with all of this.  Thank you for thinking of me and reaching out!

Think it hits closer to home with my friends because they know how much I am out and about with my running program.  Seeing a black man get killed while out for a run highlighted our plight to my friends—yes, that could have been me.  I have had to reassure my mom, brothers, and friends that I am doing everything I can to stay safe when I am out for a run.  Sad to say I must think about being able to make it home safely when I go out for a run.  How many who read my blog have these thoughts when you go for a run?  Life is weird, huh?

My running outfits are selected to provide me with the most visibility as possible.  The extreme bright, loud, and sometimes fluorescent colors are used so everyone will know I am not hiding anything or trying to blend in.  I want to be visible and remembered by everyone who sees me running through their neighborhood.  I also make a point to speak, wave, and smile at everyone I encounter because I do not want them to feel threatened.  Surprisingly, most do not wave back but that is not the point of my actions.  I smile and wave whenever I see a police car drive by too.  Cannot be seen as a threat while exercising!

(Do I look like a runner?)

I also make a point to carry my retired Air Force identification card when I am on my runs in case I encounter police.  I have found police are less threatened when they realize they are talking with someone who has served the country.

When driving I always show my military identification if I get pulled over for any reason first, then I provide whatever identification is requested.  Please know both hands remain on the steering wheel and then I explain in a clear, distinct voice what I am doing if ordered to produce anything else.  I am sure most black people follow this same process to avoid misunderstandings that leads to…you know!

Being a black man in America is exhausting!  I have a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a Master’s degree in Counseling/Human Relations, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Air Force retiree identification and recognized nationally for authentic leadership development.

Now, imagine what black men without my credentials must do to survive in America.  The insanity must stop!

NOTE:  I will get back to my normal tone next week—thanks for allowing me to vent.

 

“I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color”.

(Malcolm X.)

“Usually, when people are sad, they don’t do anything.  They just cry over their condition.  But when they are angry, they bring about change”.

(Malcolm X.)

Time for change—let’s get out and vote, remain vigilant and demand change—we must do better!

How can you help?

Great article:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/05/29/george-floyd-ahmaud-arbery-killings-make-hard-blacks-breathe-column/5278108002/

Daily flowers—send them now!

Purple Rose

(Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay)

“Don’t wait for people to die to send them flowers”.

(Reverend Simmons, New Bethel AME Church)

It is amazing the things we retain from our childhood.  I attended weekly Sunday school and church services at New Bethel AME church while growing up in Jasper, FL.  I am sure Reverend Simmons said some other amazing things but the quote above always stuck with me.  Never understood it as a kid so maybe that is why it stuck with me all these years.

Thought it was a weird saying until I fully understood his meaning.  It can be interpreted multiple ways, but he was reminding us to cherish/celebrate the people in our lives while we have them.  Waiting for a tragic incident is a bit late to let people know what you think about them.

I decided to write this post 3 days after Kobe Bryant, his daughter and friends died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.  I am not much of an NBA fan but watched Kobe during his Hall of Fame NBA career and more intently after he retired.  He ventured into business, screen writing, venture capital investments and his sports academy as part of his life after basketball.  He became successful in these endeavors because he displayed a thirst for knowledge and sought out mentors to learn new things.  He continued to look for ways to get better and make a difference in the world.  Believe he was on the verge of expanding his portfolio in the entertainment world but never got a chance to complete this portion of his legacy.

I will not dive much further into Kobe’s life, but his unexpected passing brought me back to what Reverend Simmons reminded us EVERY Sunday—Do not wait for people to die to send them flowers. 

I use a lot of quotes in my daily Walk into the Future, but I am sure my tree branches have never heard me use this quote with them.  May seem weird to share so much with them but not this one aspect of my background.  Allow me to provide a bit of clarity and how I leverage the quote in all my interactions.

I take my role as a tree seriously and believe I should model positive things for my tree branches.  I also want to continue to make a difference daily.  So, I provide theoretical flowers every day to my people!

I make a point to text, call, email, LinkedIn, visit or carrier pigeon (LOL) someone daily to provide them their flowers.  May look like:

  • Happy Monday!
  • Happy Friday!
  • Go (insert name)!
  • How are you?
  • How are your students doing?
  • How’s the family?

I could add more to the list but believe you get the message.  It may be small things but once I understood what Reverend Simmons was telling us I discovered a ton of ways to provide flowers daily.  Some of you may prefer real flowers but I cannot afford the daily costs so guess you will have to be happy with my texts, calls, emails, LinkedIn, visits and hopefully those dang pigeons arrive soon! 😊

So, do me a favor, look around and identify who you need to send flowers to and get busy!  Thank you!

“It’s the one thing you can control.  You are responsible for how people remember you—or don’t.  So, don’t take it lightly”.

(Kobe Bryant)

“Live for yourself and you live in vain; live for others and you will live again”.

(Bob Marley)

 Happy Mother’s Day!!!

 

The mirror can lie! Blaze your own trail

round leaning mirror with white frame
Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

(Audre Lorde)

Really love the words presented by Audre Lorde.  The concept of creating your own definition of self is vitality important to truly progress in life.  There are people who look in the mirror and automatically see bad examples staring back at them.  Please know, the mirror can lie and the bad examples from the past do not have to hinder the present and/or future.

Bad examples can manifest in multiple locations.  I will focus on two specific areas to help highlight how bad examples can and should be used to fuel a positive Walk into the Future.  The two areas I focus on are leadership and personal development. I’m sure everyone has a story on bad examples in these areas as well.  My attempt will be to show how these bad experiences can be leveraged for a positive tomorrow.

Leadership

Would like to say everyone I’ve worked for has been an outstanding leader but that would not be true.  It may not even be realistic to expect EVERY leader to possess the capability to be outstanding.  Turns out the leaders who were not the best provided me with enough tough lessons to sharpen my leadership skills.  Please note, I’ve had some great leaders/mentors in my life who I lean on even today.  Their lessons are with me daily, but the few bad leaders impact my leadership style and methods as well.

I gravitated towards the Authentic Leadership style because I’ve seen organizations destroyed because the so-called leader wasn’t authentic.  They profess being a genuine and transparent leader but then their true self comes out and it is the opposite of authentic.  Seeing these type leaders in action reinforces why the concepts of authenticity, self-awareness, having a moral compass and relational transparency are so important in my leadership style.

I’ve seen leaders who walk by their direct reports’ multiple times in a day and never say hello.  Seems like a small thing but how can you say you care about your people and can’t acknowledge them?  Not saying a leader must stop and talk every time they see someone but it’s a lot easier leading people when you are relatable and engaged. Also, only talking with direct reports when something is needed or due signals the leader only cares about the bottom line.  Staff will do more within a positive and nurturing work environment.

These are two leadership examples I leverage to help build my authentic leadership platform.  I proactively do the opposite of these leadership examples because I’ve seen them in action and how they deflate staff and organizational morale.

That’s my approach, things I don’t like or disagree with from a bad leader, I simply don’t repeat—not rocket science but it works.  No need to subject others to these habits—create positive energy and blaze your leadership trail to enhance the work environment.

Personal development

There are instances where environment can hinder personal development but many more where great outcomes occur almost against all odds.  Life is impacted by choices (good or bad) and we have the capability to choose not to mirror bad examples but learn from them.

I love working with college students from South Florida.  They routinely tell me they’re the first person in their family to attend college and they want a different outcome for themselves.  They don’t want to forget the struggles from home but use them to continue to grow.  They also strive not to repeat some of the bad neighborhood examples others succumbed to.

They tell me of proactive actions they took to avoid running with the wrong neighborhood friends.  These people may have been well intentioned but set bad examples of how to truly progress in life.  They experienced family and community situations that potentially could hinder growth, but they didn’t let these things stop them.  These things were used as inspiration to overcome obstacles.

Environment is an important element in personal development but can be overcome—I’ve seen it done.  Mentors and positive examples can help with personal development.  Self-awareness and learning from bad examples can increase the ability to blaze a personal development trail.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How do you define yourself for you?  What does your personal or professional mirror reflect? How can you leverage bad examples to enhance your Walk into the Future?

Stop limiting your progress—remove personal roadblocks

Road Block image

(Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay)

“Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning”.

(Carol Dweck)

What is holding you back from accomplishing what you want out of life?

This question and subsequent answers can be applied to your personal and professional life.  I’m a huge advocate for positive energy helping us meet or exceed our life goals so, begin the process to remove anything that would limit your progress today!

Dictionary.com defines progress as forward or onward movement toward a destination.

Let your daily thoughts, actions and words lead you toward the progress your desire in all areas of your life.

I’m a firm believer we can talk ourselves into or out of anything in life.  I’ve started answering the question how’s your day? with the response fantastic.  I use this response to trigger the destination I’m seeking and ensure my thoughts match the destination.  I know this is a simple explanation but how many people have you heard say the following:

  • I’m not a morning person…
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
  • Working on this project is going to suck…

They have just created a negative thought pattern for the highlighted activities.  Not saying simply putting a positive spin would make everything work better BUT it can’t hurt.  Why create these roadblocks for yourself?  Positive self-talk can be used here to get better outcomes.  It takes time to adjust your mindset but should be worth the attempt.

“There is no elevator to success.  You must take the stairs”.

(Unknown)

Next, put the necessary actions in place to match your positive thoughts.  Identify the things needed to reverse the identified roadblocks.  Using the same thoughts listed above can help highlight how actions can help with your thoughts:

  • I’m not a morning person…
    • (Action: establish an earlier and consistent bedtime)
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
    • (Action: start small, walk during lunch or after dinner; work out at home)
  • Working on this project is going to suck…
    • (Action: research the project, look for ways to influence positive outcomes)

Finally, put the appropriate words in place to ensure your thoughts and actions move you towards the progress you seek.  I leverage reggae and specifically Bob Marley songs to get me in an Irie state of mind prior to speaking engagements.  This may seem like a small factor, but I’ve found sustained success when I do this.  Playing reggae also enhances the mood and mindset of my audience.

I routinely write the following words in my notes prior to speaking:  eye contact, speak clearly, move the crowd and have fun.

These words are consistent with the outcomes I want from every presentation.  I mentioned in an earlier post I still get nervous prior to speaking even with my experience level.  Writing these words prior to an engagement give me the focus needed to ensure a successful presentation.  My words in this example influence my thoughts and lead to positive actions.  Simple, huh?

This is not an overnight process!  It takes time and self-awareness to fully understand how your thoughts, words and actions impact your daily interactions.

What roadblocks have you created that limit your progress?  What thoughts, actions and words can you leverage to remove these roadblocks? Thanks!

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right”.

(Henry Ford)

Open Road

(Image by Rohan S from Pixabay)

My favorite thing about me!

Mirror

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay)

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom”.

(Michel de Montaigne)

My efforts to create content for the Walk into the Future blog finds me conducting research in multiple locations.  I’m an avid reader so of course books, online articles and other blogs catch my attention daily.  The goal is to generate fresh content others would be willing to read and share with their network.  Always seeking additional content ideas as I Walk into the Future.

Came across an interesting guide during my research phase called 365 Days of Writing Prompts which was created by the Word Press editors to prompt bloggers with inspiration to write every day.  Some of the prompts are an attempt to give bloggers a vault of topics which hopefully leads to finished articles.

I incorporate daily thoughts, conversations and events into Walk into the Future blog posts so most of the Word Press prompts are just things for me to view—not looking to write without a real purpose since this would not help promote my why on the blog.

Found a few of the Word Press prompts interesting enough to put aside to see if I could develop a future blog post.  The following prompt is my first post using the Word Press guide:

  • Toot your horn: Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

Perseverance is defined as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success (Dictionary.com).

I’ve talked about superpowers and leveraging my why to make a positive difference in the world.  My favorite thing about myself at this point in my Walk into the Future is my perseverance.

My goal is to tackle each day with positive energy as I continue to move forward in the world.  Would like to say things always go my way but that’s not true or a realistic outcome.  I continue to persevere even when things don’t follow the plan; my positive energy mantra allows me to quickly regroup, make new plans (pivot) and then move forward.

The Walk into the Future title was selected for the blog because it gives me purpose and enhances how I interact with others daily.

Perseverance in my daily Walk into the Future allows me to continue to focus on how my words, thoughts, actions and why lead to small wins daily.  The win could simply be a comment from one of my tree branches, family or blog followers, but it provides the positive energy to strive to do more in this world.

So, there it is, perseverance is my favorite thing about myself!  Will continue to work on projects and topics to incorporate my why to see where this journey leads.  Always striving for positive energy and outcomes in everything I touch—Irie mindset daily!

What is your favorite thing about yourself?  How do you display your favorite thing to others?  Thanks for walking with me!

“A true genius admits he/she knows nothing”.

(Albert Einstein)

2020 Winter Park 10k and a podcast on the side

Podcast March 2020

(Image by Florante Valdez from Pixabay)

“Life is a blank canvas and you need to throw all the paint on it you can”.

(Danny Kaye)

Ventured back down to the Orlando area for the 2020 Winter Park 10k.  This race has been on my running calendar the past two years because it allows me to hang out with great friends and family while running a unique course in Winter Park.

Track Shack promotes this race as a fantastic course to run a 10k personal best (PB) and it does not disappoint.  There were several runners ringing the PB Bell strategically placed in the runner’s village after the race.  Always exciting to see the joy a PB time brings to runners.

Mastering College to Career podcast

Coordinated with an Orlando tree branch to stop on the way down for the race to catch up a bit and record another episode on his Mastering College to Career podcast.

The podcast is Daniel Botero’s way to Walk into the Future and he has added on-line courses, videos and workbooks to go along with the weekly podcast episode.  Very proud of his efforts and the difference he’s making with college students transitioning into the workplace.

Daniel provides me with the topic of discussion prior to the podcast and then we get to work.  I’ve known Daniel since 2011 so we have a great working relationship and energize each other when we are in the same room.  He wanted his students to understand the behind the scenes interactions between on-campus recruiters and career centers.  The goal was to provide students with a better understanding how/why employers recruit on their campuses and the work involved to get them there.  Was very happy to share my career center and employer relations knowledge with Daniel for the podcast and helping his students.

Found out I’m the first person on Daniel’s podcast to return for a third time.  This put a smile on my face, but the smile got bigger because Daniel asked me to cut another podcast episode before I left his recording studio.  So, it turns out I’m the only four-time guest on the podcast now.  The additional podcast episode was to highlight the recruiting calendar employers utilize when deciding which campuses to visit.  What a great way to start my race weekend!  Got a chance to catch up with Daniel and cut two podcast episodes to help his students continue to move forward in life.  (Both episodes should be live in April 2020).

Left Daniel’s recording studio and headed straight to Track Shack to pick up my race packet.  Always exciting to see the Track Shack staff engaging with runners buying new gear.  Love they host a spring sale the entire week of the Winter Park 10k race.  Always can find some new gear and the sale prices are fantastic.  Got a chance to chat with one of the Track Shack owners who I met one morning while running in Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee.  Turns out her daughter lives in Tallahassee and works at FSU—small world!

Carb loading

Headed to my favorite Italian restaurant, Café Panuzzo’s with Jayla to carb load and catch up.  We normally dine at Café Panuzzo’s or Buffalo Wild Wings prior to my races and Italian dining won this round.  Café Panuzzo’s never disappoints when we visit.  I stuck to my normal selection of chicken parmesan with pasta and Jayla got adventurous with the calzone.  Got a double order of bread since my goal was to get as many carbs as possible prior to the 10k.  Most got burned off the next morning, so no harm and their bread is fantastic!

Winter Park 10k

The morning started out cooler than expected but was great once we got started.  Told several tree branches prior my goal was to run fast this year and wanted to record a good time.  Happy to report I ran a 10k PB of 56:41 and felt good during and after the race.

Track Shack does not use the corral format for races so the first mile was crowded with runners of all levels and time expectations.  Decided to patiently work my way through the crowd and then pick up my pace once the runners thinned a bit.  Made up most of my slow start once the course flattened and went about my plan to go faster this year.  Knew my time was going to be good (for me) at the 4-mile mark and got comfortable with my pace and breathing.  Decided to pick up my pace at the 5-mile mark to see how much improvements I’ve made in the past year.  Was able to pass several other runners and get to the finish line with a smile on my face.  Learned to smile crossing the finish line since everyone with a camera is snapping away.

Got my medal, checked my time and rang the PB bell too.  Great race, people and after party! Can’t beat drinking a beer and eating donuts at 9 am in the morning.  Running is the best way to stay in shape and overindulge at the same time.

Will keep this race on my calendar because it’s fun and they will always have beer at the end! 😊

What podcasts do you listen to?  How have the podcasts helped you Walk into the Future?

“Oh, the places you’ll go”.

(Dr. Seuss)

Follow Daniel here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/thedanielbotero/

Follow Track Shack here:  https://www.trackshack.com/

Run Winter Park

Life is short—spend your ENERGY wisely!

Energy

(Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay)

 “The energy of the mind is the essence of life”.

(Aristotle)

 Dictionary.com defines energy as the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.

Have you ever examined how much energy you invest in others?  Are your energy investments being deposited in the correct places?

I ask these questions because I’ve had some interesting conversations with several close tree branches over the past couple weeks.  I view my energy and time invested in others as valuable commodities.  I’m mindful of how and when energy (time, thoughts, actions) will be invested to ensure I have the energy (time, thoughts, actions) for the right people.

Please note, I still envision myself as a People Builder but also understand energy can’t be expended equally to everyone.  Finding the proper balance can be tricky but is necessary to ensure a proper life flow.  This balance also provides the ability to move your energy focus and prioritize how and when you decide to expend energy.

I perform a yearly PURGE to ensure I concentrate my energy investments in the correct places.

So, on December 28, 2019 I went through my phone and LinkedIn contacts to identify contacts without mutual interactions within the past year.  Mutual interactions can be defined as texts, networking requests, phone calls, simple conversations, etc.  I took this action to remove potential clutter and reinforce why I have saved contacts in my phone and LinkedIn.  These are the people who should get the energy investments mentioned earlier.  I’m not on Facebook so no need for a PURGE on that platform.

Removing the miscellaneous (without a better word) contacts allows me to invest energy on the right people moving forward.  Now, I don’t have to scroll through as many people to send out a text or LinkedIn message.  This may seem like a small thing, but it reminds me of the importance of tree branches and why pruning is needed in life.  It seems I always get a random text from someone in the PURGE a couple days after—it never fails.  I don’t automatically add them back—I give them a test phase to see if they add energy to me—if not, they stay purged.

“Become more aware of what’s really worth your energy”.

(Pinterest pin, January 2020)

My example focuses on contacts in my phone and on LinkedIn.  Don’t overlook the importance of the energy you expend on people in real life.  I’m looking for people who display positive energy and are moving forward in life.  Negative energy people can drain the life out of you and should be addressed or removed from your environment.  Life is too short to continue to drag or tolerate negative energy on your Walk into the Future!  Go ahead and have the tough conversations but make sure your time, thoughts and actions are focused on positive outcomes.

Get that #2020 vision you deserve!

How do you ensure your energy is invested in the correct places?  Where can you adjust and ensure your energy is spent wisely?

“It’s a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won’t go”.

(Bertrand Russell)

Please note:  this post was inspired by a conversation I had with one of my mentors who is 80+.  She was able to apply my energy concept to her daily life and move forward in a specific situation where she was spending unnecessary energy.  Life is funny, I’m providing mentorship to my mentors now. 😊  Irie!

Wormhole for Energy

(Image by Genty from Pixabay)