Archive by Author

Today’s Youth: Our Promise of a Future

That was the title of my 1970 high school graduation speech forty five years ago.  It was  just five years past the 1965 Watts Rebellion. I experienced the worst urban rebellion in our history when I was thirteen. It does not take much to recall the sights, sounds, and high energy in the air. Night skies turned blazing colors of oranges, reds, and yellows– the colors of hot anger billowing up into the dark.

As I watched  the burning of Baltimore, the imperative is the same: today’s youth is our best promise of a future. How will we step up as adults stepped up in 1965 and helped us to organize to improve our community?

Our youth need hope.  They need to dream with courage and faith.  All is not lost. All is not lost when caring adults step up to help, when agencies bring in jobs and activities.  The future of our youth has been compromised.  Yet, all is not lost.

In 1965, I wondered if all was lost after six days of burning and destruction in Watts.  James Baldwin wrote about The Fire Next Time. Are we there yet?

When the Education Community Gets it Right

Tonight I had the honor of speaking to the education community of the W.E.B. DuBois Charter Schools Consortium in Memphis, Tennessee. Headed by Director Ruby Payne, this is a cohort of parents, grandparents, school leaders, and community members with a single focus like a laser: prepare our children for the future.  This community gets it right. They have found the secret sauce to create a collaborative force to build a hedge around students who could have a different future if these adults had not steeped up to the plate.

I spoke about the Effective Use of Self: Focusing on the 4 Cs of Compassion.  Our students, no matter where they live and no matter the socio-economic make-up of the neighborhoods, are all at risk to an uncertain future.  These adults are building citizens–young people who know how live and thrive in a civil society.

They are doing it the old school way: not security guards at the entrance but grandparents. These grandparents, my good friend Lennell Terrell being one of them, meet the students at the door and ensure they are appropriately dressed in full uniforms.  Those out of compliance are soon in compliance after being sent home enough times.  Did parents get angry? Of course, they did. It was an inconvenience for Tyrone or Tonya to come back home for socks or a belt.  They have zero tolerance for sagging pants and skirts too short.

They have reached back into the wisdom of the community and given then significant roles to play because they get it: it takes a village to raise a child.

I look forward to more interaction with the people in Memphis. I am energized by positivity and the W.E.B. DuBois Charter School Consortium has got it going on! Now this should be Breaking News, CNN.

 

Association Training Academy (ATA)

Hearing the Call

A small voice speaks when we rest our minds and let our thoughts marinate. Like the body, the mind needs stillness and rest to refuel, to rejuvenate. While resting my mind on my 63rd birthday, an idea buried under three years of post-retirement activity, was born. I did not want to fall into the trap of mistaking a busy life for a life with deeper meaning. I had to sit a minute and let myself catch up to me. When that happens, a lot happens. This time is the nurturing of an idea that has lived in my heart a long time, just waiting for the time and the opportunity to “pay it forward.” The announcement below is the essence of an idea whose time has finally come.

Association Training Academy

Who We Are

The Association Training Academy (ATA) is a professional network of highly skilled organizational change agents, consultants, facilitators, coaches, and organization development practitioners. The network provides professional development, coaching, and training to associations, nonprofits, unions, school districts, and civic organizations that are grappling with tough issues related, but not limited, to:

  • Leadership and Personal Mastery
  • Executive, Presidential, and Management Onboarding
  • Staff Engagement and Morale
  • Executive and Managerial Transition
  • Retirement Coaching: What’s Next?
  • Strategic Planning for Organizers
  • Managing Time and Priorities
  • New Staff Development
  • Difficult Conversations
  • Communication Skills
  • Career Development
  • Agenda Driving
  • Project Management
  • Leadership and Well Being

ATA Network Associates hold extensive certifications in organization development, facilitation skills, leadership development, project management, management training, board development, and executive coaching.

ATA prides itself on having a team of professionals with academic preparation and experience on the front lines of working with associations and advocacy groups facing unprecedented challenges.

Our Purpose

  • To provide a high level of learning experiences for leaders, managers, and staff who work for associations and advocacy organizations, specifically unions.
  • To design and deliver board training to help associations meet their governance goals
  • To provide executive coaching based on desired goals and outcomes

Our Mission

To positively impact leadership and human systems in associations by helping people to master competencies in adaptive leadership, strategic communication, organizing, relationship management (team building), conflict resolution, and aligned thinking.

Our Core Values

  • To focus on excellence in consultation, design, execution, and assessment of experiential training engagements
  • To maintain open lines of communication to ensure association needs are fulfilled at the highest level of service and commitment
  • To understand the association’s current reality and desired future
  • To perform professional duties with respect for confidentiality
  • To design interventions customized for each unique environment
  • To be knowledgeable of best practices in association effectiveness and leadership development

My closing thought: never underestimate the power of the small voice.  We never know what treasures are locked inside of us until we pause to settle our minds and listen from within.

Happiness

A college friend called me tonight to share her happiness. She had attended a workshop I created called “Balancing Boulders:  Strategies for Managing the Stressors in Your Life.” At the time of the class, not quite eighteen months ago, her business was challenging.  She reminded me tonight as she held two signed real estate offers — one in excess of $1.6 million.

A few months ago she applied advice from the class to manage her boulders, those entities ( people, circumstances, finances, relationships–any thing that blocks energy to move forward, to live her dreams).  Operating from her personal power zone, now  she can just think about the profile  the profile of the clients she wants, they appear. Her reputation at work is getting a makeover. Offers for partnering are frequent. Life is on high.

What is different?

My friend changed her point of view. She decided to remove her boulders and step into her business life with a positive attitude. She expected success. She let her energy flow in the direction of her dreams. She could the ride the waves of the real estate market  with an attitude of fun and adventure.

Her happiness was contagious. I had tears of joy in my eyes and in my voice.  I kept saying her name and shaking my head from side to side. Her happiness was the medicine I needed. I did not need to tell her of my recent good fortune of standing in the middle of a miracle–being affirmed that living on purpose is a gift from God. I needed to feel the best kind of happiness, the kind when you know that with a little support, someone else had tapped into her invisible power and felt the rush–the audacious rush of empowerment.

Happiness is a healing balm. It just feels so good.

 

 

Holding On to Self

We need to be intentional about holding on to Self. It is so easy to have an emotional hijacking where someone, intent on stealing your joy, can walk into your office, your classroom, your work space, your life–and tries to just walk off with all of your energy.  When we work hard to be positive, to see the glass as half full always, we have to protect our hearts–build a hedge around it to keep the bad stuff at bay.

I am surprised sometimes when I talk to someone and hear the victim’s voice: “I can’t believe she said that to me.”  “I can’t control what happens to me.” I don’t know what to do, how to respond.”

I offer this piece of advice.

  • First, take three deep breaths.
  • Count your blessings one by one more than twice.
  • Look inside to find your strength.
  • Lean on a power much greater than yourself.
  • Realize that you are unique and wonderfully made.
  • Smile so big on the inside until your body feels empowered.
  • Park your emotional baggage in the corner.
  • Frame your words carefully and with grace.
  • Speak from your heart and not from your emotions.
  • Seek clarity: “Are you understanding what I am saying?”
  • Pause.
  • Listen.
  • Commend yourself for standing up for yourself.

It’s important to hold on to your Self. It connects you to your Source.

Are You Awake Inside of Your Life?

I can’t act like this is a heavy question I have been pondering for weeks. It just jumped inside my head and demanded to be the blog post today as I resume/or start to really explore my thinking out loud on paper. The better question is more personal: “Am I Awake Inside of My Own Life?” Focusing on the laser-driven question reminds me to check  inside before going out into the world.  It matters that I am awake and fully present inside of my life.

I am committed to have my personal and professional missions be aligned.  This needs my alert and ready attention. I want to enjoy the riches from my life and career.  This means holding a sacred space for my husband, family and friends. Only I can orchestrate that the things I enjoy most on the professional side are congruent with what I enjoy most on the personal side. I don’t want to snooze through that song. At this stage of my life, I am really hearing the music of my soul.

I do feel awake inside of my own life. But I also know I can drift into cruise control: waking up each day without a plan or commitment to finishing something started. It doesn’t matter if it is knitting a scarf or finishing another chapter on my memoir.  What I know for sure is that being fully awake, accounted for my own dreams requires the energy to will it so and the power to believe.  I have energy to unleash to make my dreams come true. I have stories to tell that will help and heal. I have songs to write to rock the melody of my own life. Yeah! I am awake.

I am here now.

Investing in You

When is the last time you took a class, listened to a podcast, watched a You Tube video to learn something new.  Time passes quickly and before you know it, your career in on the down swing with dreams left on the table. Like crumbs, those dreams get swept away–along with your energy, your confidence, and your courage. Langston Hughes told us to hold fast to dreams.  Invest in yourself: hire a coach, seek a mentor, enroll in a class, start as Mastermind Group. Do something to invest in you because you are worth it.

Beginning Again

It seems I am always at the beginning…and that’s a good thing. Have you ever thought about how good it can feel to not know the answer, to not know what is ahead? For me, that is a feeling of anticipation, exhilaration, and mystery. This morning I thumbed through some of the journals I have kept over the years. In my coaching journal (yes! There are two from the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program). This journal captures me in development, in the midst of being a beginner. The very first day of class, the professor instructed us to write in very big letters on the front pages of our journal: “I AM A GREAT COACH.” He then instructed us to turn the page and to also write in big letters: “IN THE DOMAIN OF COACHING, I AM A BEGINNER.”

I had not visited this journal in awhile. But now that I have engaged a writing coach, I honor beginning this part of my journey as a true beginner.

“September 13, 2009: At this stage of my development, I enter with a beginner’s mind and am open to the possibilities waiting for me. The Universe has opened a door to a new world of learning and developing. I am filled with grace and gratitude.”

I feel alive this morning for many reasons. Honoring the guidance of my writing coach, I woke up early–5:46 to be exact. I quietly went to my creative space that overlooks the backyard and set the timer for twenty minutes–five minutes more than the last instruction from last week. I responded to the prompt: “This life matters.” When the timer went off I set it for ten additional minutes twice. At the end, even I was surprised where my thoughts landed. In one minute I was in the present and soon transported under the Alabama house on stilts, laying on red clay at three years old. I now marvel at the power of memory when we really believe that our lives matter. Something happened under that house. Memory may serve me well if I trust the process of mining my thoughts and embrace the courage to go deeper.

The joy of beginning again. It helps the heart embrace us warts, roses and life that matters.

Dream Plan: Write the Vision!

Dreams are funny. Some of us spend time building the bridge to our dream. Some of us can see our dreams coming true. When we do, it is a feeling of exhilaration, of goosebumps, of satisfaction. Sadly, some of us have our dreams in lay-away. Those dreams are tucked so far inside the lay-away lanes of our hearts, that we feel as if we have lost the ticket to redeem the dream. Redemption is possible. Here are eleven ways to redeem your dreams, to dust them off, and give yourself a fresh start in the next chapter of your life’s journey:

  1. Write down your dreams
  2. Post them where you can see them
  3. Put a “time certain” for fruition
  4. Make a dream plan
  5. Assess your resources for making them come true
  6. Find a trusted guide to help you be accountable to you
  7. Carve out time for your dream building just as you carve out time for business appointments or doing for others
  8. Commit to making your dream fruition you number one priority
  9. Document your steps and milestones, even the setbacks
  10. Begin each day checking in with yourself and your dream plan
  11. Expect the blessing.