Excerpt from J.K. Rowling’s speech to Harvard University graduates: A Lesson in Failure

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On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These may seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension. I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil, now.

So they hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all the subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.

So given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Never Felt This Way

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I wasn’t born to be hateful

I was raised to be grateful

Not grateful, but greatful

So for my greatness, I’m thankful

Innovating and capable

Thanks to my angels

Attacking the goals from different angles

I’m Abraham seeking God’s mission

Bringing every one of my dreams to fruition

This is soul food for thought no need for dishes

With my own blood I bleed to paint this image

Frame this vision, hang it in your household

Guaranteed to raise the property value of your cozy subdivision

Bread is nothing to humans, but everything to pigeons

But that’s dependent on your intellectual independence

Be accountable for your physical sinning

Ask for spiritual repentence

That forgiveness is your admission

To a better universe

Be thankful I didn’t mention you in a verse

Cause these lyrics and delivery coexist as my gift and my curse

Cause I could utilize this talent for good or evil

Don’t ever let anybody know that honestly they don’t need you

Cause good relationships make us better people

And you know God sees you

So before every action, choose a wise decision

I rise often, I ain’t use to sitting

If I was a part of the Civil Rights, guaranteed there would not be a sit-in

I’d have a bible and a gun; watching my brothers picket

Burning Jim Crow signs and tearing police tickets

Quoting Malcolm X speeches at my own place of business

Defying limits, pin stripped suited on

With the iron in it… 

 

 

Don’t Sit In, Stand Up

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Student’s all over the world today are standing up for their rights and fighting for their rights, but here in America, the so-called Negro students have allowed themselves to be maneuvered under a tag of “sit-in”. The word sit itself is not an honorable tag, anybody can sit, and old woman can sit, a coward can sit, a baby can sit, anything can sit, but it takes a man to stand…. Rather than to force our way into someone else’s restaurant or public place that they have established, we should get our own. Once we have our own, we’re respected for the fact that we can create our own. That’s equality right there.

 

- Malcolm X

Richard Sherman: A Positive Example of Commitment

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“I thought society had moved past that.” – Richard Sherman

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Racism in America is alive and well. As we have surpassed important dates of MLK Day and Dr. King’s birthday, his “dream” continues to be unfulfilled. The ugliness of racism and racial prejudice broke out in hives via Twitter following Richard Sherman’s (of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks) post-game rant. Sherman was called a thug, nigger, monkey, and more insults following the interview. Gary Parrish, a CBS Sports writer, reported that Richard Sherman’s name and the words “Stanford graduate” were mentioned 11 times in mass media. Richard Sherman is a Stanford University graduate. The words “thug” and Sherman’s name were mentioned 625 times. Richard Sherman is not a thug. Thugs don’t go to college. 

Rather than debating whether Sherman is a thug or criticizing the racism prevalent in America, I would like to reference several articles that do so effectively. Here is a list:

In only two full seasons, Sherman has become one of the best cornerbacks and defensive backs in the NFL. Two full seasons. That’s like a novice teacher graduating from a teacher education program, teaching for two full academic years and winning a teacher of the year award. It’s unlikely. It’s unlikely, unless that individual is committed to their profession, skills, and potential. Ryan Clark, a NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, recalls meeting Sherman for the first time “He said he would be a pro bowler. It wasn’t arrogant to me. It was definitely self-assured…It was letting me know that he had a goal of being one of the best in the game…I knew then that he had the confidence.”

Commitment. 

Sherman learned it from his parents. Kevin Sherman, Richard Sherman’s father, rises daily at 4:00 A.M. to drive a garbage truck. He continues working despite the fact that his son signed a four-year contract worth $2.2 million. Sherman’s mother, Beverly, works with children with special needs in the inner city. She is committed to providing education to all children.

Richard Sherman knows all about commitment. At Dominquez High School—in a dangerous Compton community—he epitomized scholar-athlete. Sherman states “It’s really a negative-energy based society…I excelled on the field and off the field. Nobody is going to sit here and tell one of the top athletes at the school, ‘you’re a geek.’” He won a Division III football title, earned All-American honors in the triple jump, and ranked second in his high school class with a 4.2 cumulative grade point average (a result of successfully passing several rigorous advanced placement courses).

He continued his commitment at Stanford University—the fifth best university according to U.S. News. After excelling as a wide receiver for two seasons, Sherman injured his knee. Upon returning the next season, he willingly helped his team by moving to cornerback (a difficult task). He was committed towards serving his team. In 2010, he lead a strong secondary as Stanford’s football team only lost one regular season game (a record-setting season). As a member of Phi Beta Sigma and the Stanford Cardinal football team, Sherman earned a Bachelors of Arts degree (3.90 cumulative  GPA) in Communication (that included a statistics class at one of the most rigorous universities in the country). Additionally, Sherman is enrolled in a master’s degree program at Stanford, thus proving his academic astuteness.

Think about that for a moment: an African American boy (who doesn’t come from financial wealth) graduates second in his high school graduating class, and is accepted into one of the most academically challenging universities in the United States of America. Not only did he attend at elite University, he excelled.

He continued his commitment into the pros. Projected as the 24th best cornerback in 2011 out of 182 cornerbacks, Sherman was picked in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft. Nobody is expected to become good or excellent coming out of the fifth round. Based on his draft position, Sherman was predicted to possibly be a rotational player—not a starter or a future Hall of Famer. Furthermore, there were at least 19 cornerbacks chosen before Sherman. He was projected to be scouted in the sixth round. Out of obscurity, Sherman has risen to the top of defensive backs in the National Football League.

Think about that for a moment: a fifth-round draft pick transforms into an elite defensive back. A scholar-athlete that graduated from a University known for it’s academics with a 3.9 GPA was drafted into the NFL. While a majority of his peers focused on excelling in football and just getting along in academics, Sherman focused on both. Sherman excelled in both areas.

He continued his commitment into life. In 2013, Sherman launched Blanket Coverage, an official charity designed to help students acquire school supplies and clothes. Like his mother Beverly, Sherman is committed to education. Like his father Kevin, Sherman is committed to hard work. His commitments have empowered Sherman to overcome the odds stacked against him.

As the negative media attention and racist comments continue, I recognize Sherman’s excellence as a human being, scholar, African American, man, and spirit. Hopefully, you feel the same.

Please share this article with someone who cares about excellence and respects people of all ethnicities, races, and backgrounds. Thank you. Follow me on Twitter: @BlackScholarONL

Think Different by Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs flips off his competition.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Why I Treat Negativity Like a Plague

Negativity

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I’m not sure how many of you read Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s a great book about creativity and productivity. The lessons taught in this book can be applied to any discipline, industry, or skill. It’s been one of my favorite books since 2012—when I first read it. Like most readers of good work or good art, you find yourself wanting to connect with the creator of the good work. I tried. I followed Austin Kleon on Twitter. I have also listened to several interviews featuring Mr. Kleon. In summary, I came away unimpressed and confused each time.

Today, I un-followed Mr. Kleon. Why? Well, the easiest way to explain why is to say that he’s a jerk. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but as a honest opinion based on numerous observations. He didn’t say anything negative to me, but it felt like every fourth tweet was negative or condescending.

I loathe negativity. It saps my energy. I don’t like being angry. We have enough “angry Black men” in America, right? As I pondered why his tweets were so negative, I recalled a specific section in his book. Kleon writes the following:

“You’re going to see a lot of stupid stuff out there and you’re going to feel like you need to correct it. One time I was up late on my laptop and my wife yelled at me, ‘Quit picking fights on Twitter and go make something!’ She was right. But anger is one of my favorite create resources.”

Ahhhh. It all makes sense now. He purposefully tweets negative things and comes off as a jack ass, because 1) He probably is a jack ass jerk, 2) He uses the negativity as fuel for his creativity. I respect the latter. I can relate. But there’s something in my spirit, something that tells me that’s not right—that’s not the way to do things. Even in Kleon’s own book, in chapter 8, it says “BE NICE. (The world is a small town). So why isn’t this guy taking his own advice?

My problem is that I know the connection or correlation between having a successful business and connecting with people. I saw it firsthand with my grandfather. He woke up bright and early every morning. He came to pick his eldest grandson up—myself. I hopped in his jeep or his Volvo and we drove to Sam’s Club, almost every morning. We grabbed donuts, big boxes of candy, coffee, water, chips, soda, and a copy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Most of these items were for the vending machines. Grandpa would later remind me that the customers wouldn’t get comfortable in a place of business without having access to some luxuries—such as snacks and beverages. The donuts and coffee were for the staff. He believed in keeping his barbers and beauticians fed. He made connections with his people in subtle ways. Additionally, grandpa helped his employees with their taxes, legal situations, and lives. He frequently met with his young staff to offer life advice. Despite his success, he never took any employee, vendor, or customer for granted.

Unsurprisingly, the thesis of Welcome to Black Excellence is connections. In order for the Black community in America to improve, we have to support one another. Ask any psychologist or sociologist, society is based on relationships and connections. There are no self-made millionaires or billionaires. Every human being needs someone. As an introvert, I  can credibly say that even introverts or “home bodies” need people. If you create art for a living like Austin Kleon, you need people to want to read, view, appreciate, share, and buy that art. That requires you to be likable.

In this social media dominant era, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, entertainers, athletes, and professionals need to be mindful of what we say and do online. I encourage everyone to be genuine. “Be yourself.” By being yourself, you will be unmistakable and possibly remarkable. But regardless of your gifts and talents, your personality and how you interact with others determines your success. Your attitude determines your altitude. Now I personally recognize that some people didn’t like the content of  My Flexibility Manifesto: Following Your Passion 2 Success. I used positive psychology and spirituality to advise readers how to find meaningful, purposeful work and their life’s purpose. Anytime you talk about politics, religion, or spirituality, you are going to turn some people off. I was well aware. Thus, my approach for Welcome to Black Excellence is different.

As an African American intellect and creative, here’s my conundrum. There are 4.6 million African Americans with bachelor’s degrees. A quick Google or Twitter search with the words “Black Scholar” will result in many results that include myself. In creating Black Scholars LLC in December 2010, I have seen two sides of the coin. One side of Black scholarship is harsh, extremely political, anti-White, anti-Anglo Saxon, anti-European or Western influence. The rhetoric is unforgiving of this nation’s ugly past. This type of Black scholarship borrows from Nat Turner’s rebellion and Marcus Garvey’s teachings. A clear example of this type of scholarship can be found on Tavis Smiley’s and Cornel West’s Facebook group based on their collaborative efforts against poverty (which is strange, because neither Tavis Smiley or Cornel West subscribe to this scholarship).

The other side of Black scholarship is positive, uplifting, and future-focused (I even started my own Facebook group that depicts that). This half of the dichotomy is cognizant of America’s past and present, but it is not engulfed or handicapped by it. Although, I don’t write much about slavery, America’s true discovery, or African empiricism, I know that history well. I believe that history. I respect that history. But I didn’t study African American cultural studies in college (independently I did examine many issues from the African American perspective). I studied psychology. I studied education. And now I’m studying professional and technical writing/communications. Combine all three, and you have me. A gifted writer that believes in the power of education and positive psychology. I recognize that our history books are inaccurate and mainly one-sided. But I can’t change that bias. What I can change is the perspective that I write from and the perspective that some African Americans operate from. We can operate from a place of affluence, togetherness, and hope. Does that make me the ultimate scholar? No. But I’m learning.

Regardless of what side of Black scholarship I picked, inevitably I would piss some people off.

By being true to myself, I am creating the best art possible. I am focused on those that resonate with the future-focused paradigm of change in our communities. I am still being remarkable. I won’t participate in racist antics or discriminatory practices against people who look different than myself. What’s the purpose of the art if you delete the potential fans and viewers of the art? It’s not about ME. It’s about the people—all people—not just a small portion of the whole. Once we truly understand this, we will be successful as a society. Right now, we are not successful.

Consequently, teachers aren’t teaching effectively in our nation’s classrooms, because they still think it’s about them. It’s not! It’s about the children. Businesses are failing one after another, because they think it’s about them, their board of directors, their website, or their marketing plans. It’s not! It’s about the people, the consumers, the users, and the audience.

The reason why Apple and Oprah Winfrey are so successful  is caused by their authentic focus on the people. 

The goal for any creator, artist, entrepreneur, or professional is to SERVE the people. It’s about enhancing and increasing the lives of your tribe. That’s why I encourage Facebook users to comment on statuses and interact versus simply liking posts and pages. If Facebook is truly a social platform, then people should be socializing.

Think about it from this perspective, would you rather sell a million books and no one talks about how that book changed their lives for the better? Or would you rather sell 10 books and it dramatically impacts the lives of the readers to the point that they start opening their own businesses, falling in love, believing in God, and volunteering for non-profit organizations? For most of us, we want the gray area. We want to be commercially successful while impacting lives. And we can have both. But it starts with YOU focusing on your PEOPLE. It’s not about you. It’s about them. If you approach your art, your work, and your business, from a perspective of how you can add value to your audience’s lives, you will not be able to hold the abundance of blessings that will come your way.

For the record, I admire Austin Kleon’s work. I was only using him as an example to make my point. His book inspired my writing and creativity, but I don’t like his personality.

If you liked this editorial, please comment below and share it with someone you love. Subscribe at the top (click the “Follow” button). Email me at Leonard.Wilson.Jr@gmail.com. Follow me at Twitter: @BlackScholaronl. And thank you for reading! I appreciate YOU.

The Bad B*tch Syndrome: Time for a Change

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“Bitch bad, woman good
Lady better, they misunderstood
(Im killin these bitches)
Uh, tell em
Bitch bad, woman good
Lady better, they misunderstood
They misunderstood
(Im killin these bitches)”

Lupe Fiasco brought to light an interesting African American propensity—the infamous “bad bitch.” If you are wondering what a “bad bitch” is, I will explain it to you. But before I do, recognize that reality t.v. stars like Erica Mena from Love & Hip-Hop and Draya Michelle from Basketball Wives are considered “bad bitches.” I wrote about Draya previously.Honestly, I hate investigating why people are ignorant. And make no mistakes about it, this term is ignorant. However, I must dig into why Black women themselves refer to one another as “bad bitches.” Beyonce is a world-class singer, actress, and performer, yet she is notoriously called a “bad bitch.” As a 30-something, wife and mother, does Mrs. Knowles-Carter want to be known as a “bad bitch.” I doubt it. She may play that role for the cameras and the public, but she has enough sense and intelligence to recognize the power of those words. Yes, “bad bitch” is a powerful phrase.

Admittedly, I do favor the term “bad.” Not “bad” in a negative connotation, rather “bad” like how Michael Jackson implied in hit single. “Bad.”

Because I’m Bad, I’m Bad-
Come On
(Bad Bad-Really, Really Bad)
You Know I’m Bad, I’m Bad-
You Know It
(Bad Bad-Really, Really Bad)
You Know I’m Bad, I’m Bad-
Come On, You Know
(Bad Bad-Really, Really Bad)
And The Whole World Has To
Answer Right Now
Just To Tell You Once Again,
Who’s Bad . . .

If you want a clear example of a bad chick, read about Letitia James—the first African American woman to be elected to citywide office in New York City. As a Howard University Law school graduate, she epitomizes a “bad chick.”

Here’s my opinion of what bad should mean. A woman that’s “bad “is a woman that recognizes her self-worth. Not only does she recognize her worth, but she demands that everyone else does too.

Furthermore, a woman that’s “bad” is about her business—whatever that business may be. Although she may be about her business, she recognizes that she needs God, family, and love. She lives to love. Practically-speaking, she is consistent in her efforts. She consistently keeps the house clean. She consistently keeps the clothes clean and pressed. She consistently keeps food in the refrigerator and cabinets. She knows how to cook and doesn’t mind cooking for her loved ones. She works hard in every aspect of her life. And if she doesn’t know something, she is willing to learn. She’s fully aware of the stereotypes about women of color particularly Black women, and she purposefully ignores them all.

A bad woman is never complacent. She’s always looking for new opportunities to improve. She is seeking to serve others. Her servitude is one of her greatest gifts. Her servitude may vary, but it’s obvious. She’s giving advice to those in need. She’s volunteering to wash the dishes. She’s buying clothes for children in need. She’s has a giving heart. She is a spitting image of her creator.

Regardless of her occupation, she is bad. She is working towards becoming an expert in her field. She’s never content with a single source of income. She’s reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending conferences. She is adding certifications and degrees to her credentials. She takes notes during church sermons. She takes time to reflect on her goals, vision, and purpose. If she’s an accountant, she’s helping her friends and relatives understand complicated tax laws that could save them thousands of dollars. If she’s an attorney, she’s doing pro bono work to help the homeless and elderly. If she’s a teacher, she’s connecting with problematic children at a level unseen and supporting these students in various ways.

What society gets wrong about bad women is that they are not bitches. The word “bitch” is not a term of endearment. I acknowledge the cool thing to do in modern society is to take a negative, hurtful word and use it to mitigate the word’s former power. It doesn’t work. “Nigger” or “nigga” will always be derogatory, and so will the term “bitch.” Adding bad as a modifier to it doesn’t change it’s true meaning.

Finally, a bad woman recognizes her beauty—intrinsically and extrinsically. She works hard to keep her weight down and to live healthy. She’s responsible for her past, present, and future. She’s working on her relationship with God. She’s working on her career choices and vocation. She’s working on her spirit of generosity by volunteering and giving back to the community. She saves and invests money. She aims for excellence in her life. That doesn’t make her perfect. She’s knows she’s not perfect, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.

That’s a bad chick—a bad woman. By being bad, she’s good. By being bad, she’s great. She’s a reflection of the excellence that she derived from—heaven. I invite everyone to embrace this woman. I invite everyone to address this woman by her true name—queen. Instead of conforming to the ignorance of society, let’s refute these terms that we allow our queens to be mislabeled as.

Follow me on Twitter: @Blackscholaronl or email me at Leonard.Wilson.Jr@gmail.com.

Remove Those Glasses: A Lesson in Faith

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I woke up planning to go to the gym. I tend to work out in my contacts, but I discovered they were ripped. So I had to wear my glasses. One of the coolest aspects about wearing glasses is that if I take them off, I can’t see a thing. For various reasons, I don’t want to see anything especially in the gym.

Women wearing too tight clothing. Strange-looking people staring at me. The ominous reflection in the wall-sized mirror depicting me in full workout mode. I don’t want to see these things. So when I get on the treadmill or elliptical, I take off my glasses. Why? I just want to run. I don’t want to be distracted by my environment. I don’t want to be distracted by overly exposed cleavages or jiggling bellies. I just want to focus. The greatest inventions of our time came from concentrated periods of extreme focus (e.g. Apple Inc.).

One my favorite books of all-time is Ron Suskind’s A Hope in the Unseen. The main character is Cedric. Cedric goes to a predominately Black public high school in a rough Washington D.C. neighborhood. Cedric is ahead of his peers, but he quickly recognizes that his high school accomplishments mean nothing. Why? Because Cedric knows who he’s really competing against, despite his academic excellence, the rigor of the curriculum he has learned is not congruent to the education that the wealthier students across town receive. With his eyes set on M.I.T., Cedric has a lot of mathematical and science basics to learn. During a summer program hosted by M.I.T., he realizes just how far he is behind.

Throughout the book, his mother encourages him to maintain hope. She quotes Hebrews 11:1, which, reads as “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” The psychology behind why I take my glasses off is because I want to build the confidence in what I hope for. What do I hope for? I hope for self-actualization and for becoming the type of husband, father, Christian, writer, and teacher that I have potential to be. I don’t want to die without leaving behind a legacy. I don’t want to die without becoming everything that I could have and should have become.

I argue that too many of us lack the faith necessary to reach our apex. Having faith is having a deep inner belief that what you belief exists. Your dreams can be realized. But because you and I are easily distracted by the social networks, news, reality television programs, irresponsible messages contained in music, the American Dream, and more that we may never realized our true purpose.

I challenge you to turn off the television for five hours. Disconnect from the Internet for a day. Talk a long walk. Go for a run. Pray. Meditate. Get your mind clear. Get your mind focused. Write down your true goals. Dig into them. What do they look like? How are you going to reach them? Who is going to hold you accountable to reach them? How will you track your progress? Why did you choose these particular goals?

If you want to be a (fill in the blank), what are you doing today to become that? What are you going to do tomorrow? What about the next day? And the day after that? Take yourself, your present, and your future seriously. But don’t be distracted by your environment, take off those glasses. You can see better without them. Trust me.

Follow me on Twitter: @BlackScholarONL. Email me at Leonard.Wilson.Jr@gmail.com.

A Litany of Good Bloggers and Writers That Everyone Should Follow With One Exception

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  • Jeff Goins
  • Chris Guillebeau
  • Michael Hyatt
  • Dan Miller
  • Dave Ramsey
  • Seth Godin
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Jenny Lawson
  • Mark Gurman
  • Todd Henry
  • Danielle LaPorte
  • Andy Traub
  • Jason Kottke
  • Adam Baker
  • Arianna Huffington
  • Farnoosh Brock
  • Jeff Goins
  • Tim Ferriss
  • Ramit Sethi
  • Marie Forleo

These aforementioned bloggers, thinkers, podcasters, writers, and online gurus are very successful. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of additional names I could add to that list. I admire the work that these great minds have contributed to my own growth. However, there is a problem. What’s the problem? None of these successful bloggers, thinkers, writers, podcasters, and online gurus are African American. Thus, leaving a huge void in the online community. Black views deserve representation, consideration, and a platform. That’s where I step in. Let the hunger games begin.

Follow me @blackscholaronl.