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Maximize potential by destroying complacency.: How a “C-” changed my perspective.

I want to begin with a couple of disclaimers.: Firstly, this is neither an endorsement for nor a bash on the letter grading system that exists in many public schools. Additionally, I never had a teacher actually tell me that I received a “C-” for “complacency.” In fact, that would have likely been counterproductive if they have approached me in such a manner. This is simply a reflection on how two specific educators in my life influenced me to live up to my potential.

Of course highlighting these two educators is not to take away from the extraordinary contributions that all my teachers had over the years. There is just one commonality between the two that is worth discussing. The first is my eighth grade English teacher, Ms. Arthur. The second is my advanced composition professor at Grambling State University, Dr. Clawson. Both of these educators gave me a grade I was not accustomed to–a “C-.”

My reaction

Though I remained tactful, I marched into the both of their rooms with a fairly arrogant attitude. “I think you made a mistake,” I said. “I’ve seen everybody else’s paper, and mine is by far the best!” Although these two occurrences were approximately five years apart, both of them gave me the same calm look and responded, “you can do better than this.”

I was floored! “Ok Yoda!” I thought. “Save your motivational speech for someone else.” Believe it or not, I didn’t have a response. I walked out of the room disappointed and slightly angry that this happened to me twice! Once my initial frustration subsided during the latter interaction, a new revelation began to set in. I had once again become so comfortable doing the bare minimum, that it was beginning to show in my work. In other words, my complacency was limiting my potential.

Complacency

We use the word “complacency” fairly often in the Marine Corps. Quotes like “complacency kills” are plastered all over posters in an effort to remind marines to remain sharp and prepared for uncertainty. So what does “complacency” mean? Merriam Webster defines “complacency” as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” There’s no wonder why military organizations condemn complacency because the results can be fatal, but let’s consider other environments where the consequences aren’t as dire. Does it matter whether you are complacent or not? Were the educators I mentioned above just overreacting?

I will offer this to answer those questions: if you show me an environment where complacency is rampant, I will show you an environment of mediocrity.

Numerous people and organizations have limited their upward potential as they have settled with “good enough.” Usually, complacency is driven by pride in one’s achievements–especially in comparison to others. For example, I have always enjoyed writing, and because I have enjoyed and practiced writing, I improved over time. Over the years, my parents, mentors, and educators have encouraged me to continue to hone in on this skill. So much so that I managed to become extremely proud of my work and ability to effortlessly write thousands of words while others struggled to write hundreds.

My mistakes that led to complacency.

My first big mistake was taking too much time to praise my own work and abilities. I call this the “always A+ mentality.” With this mindset, I believed that everything I wrote deserved an A+. It was like I somehow thought I was the “King Midas” of composition. Of course this mindset was reaffirmed by the grades I received throughout elementary, high school, and college. With this arrogant attitude, I neither practiced writing nor studied to improve my writing abilities. I even began to procrastinate on projects that had a substantial impact on my overall grade. In my mind, I was becoming a better writer without prioritizing writing.

As I continued to bask in my own pride and boast (to myself) how great I was becoming, I began to compare myself to my peers. In fact, my peers began to bring me their work to edit–further affirming how “great” I was at writing. It wasn’t until I received that second “C-” from one of my many respected educators that I began to understand how my writing skills had stagnated. My vocabulary hadn’t truly expanded since high school, my ideas were recycled, and my research-backed evidence presented in my writing was shallow. I had spent so much time celebrating my accomplishments in an echo chamber that I hadn’t noticed that I had peaked and began a gradual decline.

My educators made me aware of my gradual decline and complacency.

In retrospect, I could’ve been much further along in my writing endeavors if I would’ve remained focused on improvement instead of just meeting the bare minimum. These two educators–and many others–recognized my potential, and took action to ensure that my arrogance did not allow me to unnecessarily peak. Rather, they encouraged me to be a continual learner who actively seeks out complacent habits in my life. From a overall grade perspective, the “C-” was inconsequential. However, it was critical to my personal development.

How to maximize an individual’s potential while preventing complacency.

1. Recognize the signs of complacency.

Don’t become so enamored with raw talent and skill that you miss obvious signs of complacency. For example, I heard a basketball coach discussing one of his players, “Man, he’s gotten good! I don’t even know how to coach him anymore!” At that moment, I knew the player’s upward potential would stall if someone didn’t intervene. The player had phenomenal stats, but he was simply going through the motion on offense, giving lackluster effort on defense, distracted by the crowd, and missing obvious ways to engage his teammates. As leaders, we must remain purpose-driven and focused on improving those we lead. Don’t get distracted by the stats!

2. Identify purpose.

Help those you lead find their purpose. I’ve talked quite a bit about purpose in “Chasing purpose is better than chasing success” Part 1 and Part 2. Two of my favorite quotes from these articles are: 1.) Your purpose is the wind beneath your wings during thriving times and the force that drives you during low times. 2.) Chasing success leads to disappointment. Chasing purpose leads to fulfillment. I believe your purpose aligns with what inspires you. As I stated in “How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!,” there are three quick questions to ask yourself to find what inspires you. The intersection of these answers will reveal your purpose.:

  1. What activities, thoughts, or passions energize me?
  2. What value do I bring to those around me (hint: we all bring value to those around us)?
  3. What are my greatest strengths?

3. Develop individualized goals.

Immediate and long-term goals are critical to overcoming complacency and increasing potential. Goals trigger new behaviors and habits while helping you gain and maintain momentum. If you know me, you know I love cheesy acronyms. With that in mind, teach those you lead that developing and achieving goals is “DOPE!”

  • Dream. Develop a clear vision of what achieving your purpose looks like. What actionable steps do you need to take?
  • Offload. Write down your clear vision statement and the actionable steps you thought of in the first step.
  • Plan. Develop a deliberate plan to achieve your actionable steps. That means you should break down how you will achieve each step in detail. Start assigning specific dates, times, and deadlines to your steps. This is where your goals transform from conceptual to actionable.
  • Execute. In the words of one of my college professors Dr. Matthew, “do the job!” In other words, start executing the above steps while adhering to the deadlines. Record your progress and repeat this cycle as required to refine your goals and actionable steps. Remain focused on ensuring your goals align with your purpose!

4. Co-develop individualized standards.

Sometimes, people’s personal standards align with the bare minimum universal standards. You will have to invest additional time helping to develop standards if that is one of the people you lead. Universal standards exist to establish a baseline understanding of societal expectations. However, our personal standards are layered on top of universal standards to help us consistently pursue our lifelong purpose. In other words, the metrics we use to measure our success (standards) shouldn’t simply equal the universal standard; instead, our standard should track and measure how effective our unique goals are at helping us achieve our purpose.

5. Time and effort.

As I alluded to above, developing and achieving goals requires you to adhere to specific dates, times, and deadlines. As such, you must teach those you lead how to budget their time and apply effort to the things that help them achieve their immediate and long-term goals. I have a sticky note on my work computer that reads, “Remember: Don’t dedicate energy and effort to things that don’t matter.” I offer that same advice to you and those you lead. First, write down every activity that consumes your time and effort over a 72 hour period. Next, circle the things that help you achieve your purpose (purposeful). Then, highlight the things that may not necessarily contribute to your purpose but they are necessary for your daily routine (essential). Lastly, cross out the things that are neither purposeful nor essential (worthless). Continue this exercise over time until you develop a list of purely purposeful and essential tasks. After all that is done, determine how much time you need to accomplish each item on your refined task list. Prioritize these tasks in order of importance, and use this document to drive your daily actions and activities.

Conclusion.

Many people live their entire lives without reaching their true potential. That is why it’s critical for us to apply these fundamentals to help others maximize their potential. It will be a challenge, but it is achievable as long as we remain focused. I’m extremely proud of you for joining us on this journey. Keep up the great work, and let’s demolish complacency together!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

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Here’s why my teen believes limitations help us make wise decisions.

Brea and I have always encouraged our children to read a variety of books. On one hand, Brea was a huge reader growing up–choosing to spend time in the book mobile from the time it arrived until it departed. On the other hand, I enjoyed reading until I decided I wanted to rebel against my parents’ “reading time.” Although we had an entire library of interesting books to choose from in my home, I transformed my perspective on reading from “fun” to “forced.” That was just one of the many weird things I decided to rebel against during my preteen and early teen years. Thankfully, I matured (a little) and regained my love for reading by junior year of high school.

Our reading strategy.

As parents, we decided that reading would be one of our main priorities. Even so, we do our best not to order our children to read; instead, we create opportunities for them to enjoy quiet recreational time before bed. They usually write, color, read, or play with their toys quietly in their separate rooms during this “wind down” time. We found that each of them are more inclined to enjoy reading when they didn’t feel forced to read. With that in mind, we always try to strategically purchase books that align their interests with the values we teach in our home. Recently, I slightly deviated from this plan after I found and began reading the book, “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.

Honestly, I found this book on accident while looking for another book with a similar title. However, I knew this book was a great read for both me and my oldest daughter (recently turned 13) after I read the first four chapters! The irony is not lost on me that I–the prior rebellious teen–have handed my daughter a book about becoming a “rebellious teen.” Of course as the title reveals, the kind of rebellion I’m encouraging is against low expectations and harmful stereotypes. I encouraged my daughter to reflect on what she’s learning and how she can apply what she reads.

The elephant analogy.

Alex and Brett lead in with an “elephant” analogy I have heard and read several times. Similar to the “grasshopper in a jar” analogy, Alex and Brett explain that trained elephants are often restrained using only a small rope. As with every other time I’ve heard this analogy, I interpreted that I should not allow artificial or superficial constraints to limit my potential. I handed my daughter the book thinking that was the same message she’d receive. To my surprise, here’s what she wrote.:

Some people are like elephants; they are strong, smart, and hold potential, but sometimes they have to be held down by a rope. Elephants can escape from a small rope, but they have to be trusted to do what’s right.

Brilee (13)

Constraints vs Tethers.

My brand new teen daughter taught me a valuable lesson on perspective. Some of us view the proverbial rope as a constraint. This rope can and will stop us from achieving greatness. It makes us think less of ourselves and keeps us from achieving our true potential. Others, like my thirteen year-old daughter, view the rope as a tether.

I use the specific word “tether,” because it has multiple definitions. One definition in Merriam-Webster states, “a line (as of rope or chain) by which an animal is fastened so as to restrict its range of movement.” People like Brilee use the second definition: “a line to which someone or something is attached (as for security).” The easily recognizable difference between the two definitions is the connection’s purpose. One is used to restrict while the other is used to secure. To “secure” is to, “fix or attach (something) firmly so that it cannot be moved or lost.”

Bringing it all together

I’m so proud that I was able to learn a valuable lesson from my teen’s perspective of a well-known analogy! Many of us view the proverbial rope as a limitation. Even so, Brilee reminded us that it can be a firm connection to our values. Life presents so many obstacles that at times, we choose to take the easiest path. Unfortunately, the easiest path isn’t always the one that aligns with our values.

Brilee’s perspective is a gentle reminder that we must identify and commit to the principles that drive our daily decisions. We have to remember our purpose and allow our moral compass to direct our judgement. This is what will inform our decisions when we have the opportunity to cut corners or cheat.

Brilee, thank you for encouraging me to remain committed to my guiding principles regardless of how hard it may be!

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents. (Part 2)

Ten quotes came to mind when I decided to share inspirational quotes from my parents that inspired me in Part 1 of this series. My siblings responded by sending me some of their favorite quotes from our parents, and some of you were shocked that I was able to draw inspiration or anything profound from a couple of the “meaningless” quotes. With that in mind, I will begin with something I wrote at the very end of Part 1. No matter if you’re leading children in a classroom, troops on the battlefield, a small project team, or any other person or group of people, you never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead.

You never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead.

Use that to your advantage! I challenge you to be intentional in your daily interactions. Also, remember that when you mess up, your response, intentions, and commitment to leading with love will make the difference in how those you lead perceive your mistakes.

With that, let’s dive into Part 2 of “How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents.”

Inspirational Quote #6:

Olaolu, I know you are a marine, but don’t drive your family, because you might drive them away. Lead your family.

Dad

This is obviously one of the more recent quotes in this list. I was a brand new officer in the Marine Corps who had learned a new type of leadership from the sergeant instructors at Officer Candidates School. Yeah of course I loved my family, but I wanted to train them to be timely, organized, and prepared for the real world. I was determined to be empathetic and understanding, but firm, consistent, and I’d hold them accountable.

My dad patiently listened to me as I explained all the great things I had learned as a new marine officer and how I’d use those lessons to lead my family. He interjected every once in a while as I laid out examples of how I would implement my new leadership philosophy. Of course I had a response for each interjection, because I had it all figured out. When I finally finished, he responded with the above quote.

Lesson learned.

This was another quote that I did not immediately receive, but it began to make more sense as time progressed. My dad explained that though I had great intentions, my militant tone, disposition, and philosophy was bordering autocracy. He intentionally used the word “drive” to emphasize his point. “Drive” has several definitions, but the first three are to “operate and control the direction [of],”propel or carry along by force,” and “urge or force (animals or people) to move in a specified direction.” He taught me one of the most valuable lessons about leadership that afternoon.: If you attempt to control those you lead by force (coercion, manipulation, etc.), you will force (push) them in the opposite direction.

Instead, he encouraged me to lead them. That means I must empathetically understand and meet each of their unique needs to make them better contributors to the team’s (or in this case, family’s) overall goals. Each person becomes better because of my example, words, and actions. That is the ultimate goal!

Inspirational Quote #7:

Do it right the first time.

Mom

I, like most people, always just wanted to quickly finish whatever task list I had so I can do my own thing. Whether it was cleaning my room, folding and ironing my clothes, washing dishes, or anything else, I would rush through so I could do whatever recreational activity I had planned that day. I would inform my mom when I finished, and she would inspect. Without fail, she would find that my clothes were in a ball and stuffed in the drawer. She would find my khakis were somehow triple or quadruple creased. My mom would even find entire pieces of food still stuck to the dishes I “washed.”

Somehow, I was always shocked that she’d make me do it again. Didn’t she know she was stopping me from getting to my recreation time?! To make matters worse, it would usually be a school night, so my recreational time was already limited! Regardless, she would always leave me with the above quote.

Lesson learned.

My mom was teaching me to create and maintain priorities. I initially thought she just wanted to keep me from having fun. Contrarily, she was teaching me to allocate the appropriate amount of time, resources, and effort to each priority so I can have time to do the things I want! This lesson has not only helped me in my professional life, but it has helped me to ensure I make time to build and maintain my personal spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental strength.

Inspirational Quote #8:

“Your mouth is moving faster than your brain! Think before you speak!”

Dad

Have you ever heard someone just ramble? You know, the person who just says a lot of meaningless words, spews empty rhetoric, and makes hollow promises. It’s even worse when those people are in a leadership position. That’s when this character flaw is costly. Well, my dad recognized how costly this would be and sought to teach us the “think first” philosophy at an early age. I’ve heard people in the Marine Corps say, “‘PTT stands for ‘push to talk,’ not ‘push to think!'” (It’s radio jargon.)

Lesson learned.

My dad was teaching us one of life’s most valuable lessons that quite honestly many leaders and politicians need to learn. I learned a few things from this.:

  • Be a man of your word. Don’t promise something you cannot or will not deliver.
  • Don’t be reactionary. Sometimes, saying the first thing that comes to your mind can be costly, because you cannot take it back. Think… then respond.
  • Never pass up a good opportunity to shut up and listen. You learn more about people and understand their needs when you listen to understand instead of listening to respond. This ties in well with the other lesson about empathetic listening.

Inspirational Quote #9:

You should never look back on a day and see that you accomplished nothing.

Mom

I remember my mom would come home from a long weekend day of running errands to find us just lounging around. None of our chores were complete. Our teeth may or may not have been brushed. We hadn’t showered or changed clothes. And when she asked what we had been doing, the frustrating but accurate answer she would receive is, “I don’t know.” We couldn’t even say that we rested, because we were still tired! The obvious truth was that we hadn’t accomplished anything that day. That’s when my mom would say the above quote.

Lesson learned.

Feeding upon the previous lessons on establishing and maintaining priorities, my mom was teaching us how to establish and achieve daily goals. These daily achievements are cumulative and they create what Dave Ramsey calls the “snowball” effect in finance and what Jim Collins refers to as the “flywheel” effect in businesses that went from “good to great.” Those small personal and professional daily achievements build upon each other over time and create momentum. That momentum builds you into a successful leader, team, family, or organization.

As such, my mom was teaching us how to establish winning habits to build successful personal and professional lives and healthy families of our own. Check out my post “Establishing Winning Habits” if you want to learn more about habit creation. Check out “Chasing Purpose is Better than Chasing Success” if you want to learn more about living a purposeful life.

Inspirational Quote #10:

He’s your brother! He’s all you got. You should always have each other’s back.

Mom

My siblings and I have a great relationship; we literally talk and enjoy each other’s company every day. If one of us is unaccounted for, you can expect to receive an individual text or call! We weren’t always like that though. Because we were ultra-competitive, there were times people would call our parents thinking we were going to kill each other. Soon after, our parents would find us laughing and playing as if nothing ever happened. Even so, that childlike short-term memory began to wane over time. My parents could tell that there were some issues that would linger from day to day, and if they didn’t intervene, envy, animosity, and hatred would soon reveal itself.

Lesson learned.

Joining the Marine Corps was a very natural move for me, because the lessons that my parents taught us transitioned perfectly. They taught us that no matter what happens in life, you will always have each other. There is always someone you can turn to even if you feel like the world was against you. Therefore, I must love and cherish my family. I should treat them with honor, dignity, and respect while ensuring I prioritize their needs above my own. I should be their biggest fan, supporter, and reliable accountability partner, and I should give my time and efforts freely without expecting anything in return. And when the time comes, I should be prepared to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them to physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fight!

If I somehow managed to forget every other lesson I have ever learned, this is the lesson I will not forget. So I will end with this encouragement for you. Fight WITH (not against) and for your love ones! Never give up on fighting for healthy relationships and fighting to keep everyone engaged on your team. You have everything you need within you to inspire the next generation, so keep fighting and lead well!

Honorable mention Inspirational Quotes

As I said before, my siblings bombarded me with quotes from my parents. However, I had to narrow them down to keep this series from extending through the new year. So here are just four more “honorable mention” inspirational quotes not in any particular order.

Honorable Mention Inspirational Quote #1.

There’s a right time for everything.

Dad

This is pretty self-explanatory; read the room and know when it’s time for certain actions and words.

Honorable Mention Inspirational Quote #2

If everyone else was jumping off of a cliff, would you?

Mom

A lot of parents used to say this one, but the message isn’t missed.: Educate yourself and have a purpose for everything you do. Never just blindly follow the masses.

Honorable Mention Quote #3

Sell your shares!

Dad

I didn’t even know what this meant when my dad would walk around turning off all the lights and stopping us from running water while brushing our teeth. Lol. He was jokingly telling us to “sell our shares” of the electric and water companies we were allegedly making rich. In reality, he was teaching us to be mindful of how we use our limited resources.

Honorable Mention Quote #4

Learn something new every day.

Mom

My parents taught us to be continual learners, and to never be content with your current knowledge. Whether it be reading, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, attending formal education/training in our professional careers, or obtaining advance degrees, they always wanted us to maintain a sharp mind. Come to think of it, I don’t think there has been a period of time where one of the six of us has not been attending some form of formal educational program beyond high school since 1994. These lessons work!

That’s all I have for today. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

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How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents. (Part 1)

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “How to inspire your child for life.: Inspirational quotes from my parents. (Part 1)!”

My parents have had a huge impact on my life! It’s easy to Monday morning armchair quarterback my parents’ mistakes. However, after considering how my siblings and I have achieved success in education and in our professions across the industries, I am determined to analyze how our upbringing influenced our successes. There are numerous contributing factors that I have outlined in several “Parenting Tips” articles like “Talk is Cheap: 8 ways healthy couples set the example for their children.You can peruse https://parent-child-connect.com/blog or checkout my “Parent Tips” Pinterest board for more information on these articles. Today, I want to reminisce on and share how just a few of my parents’ inspirational quotes inspired me for life!

Some of theses inspirational quotes are more profound. Others seemed meaningless at the time. Either way, they have inspired me and influenced my behavior. Let’s get started!:

Inspirational Quote #1:

If you let people know what buttons to push to make you mad, they will push them every time.

Mom

“Mommy, Clement and Joshua are messing with me again!” I probably cried and yelled this over one hundred times when I was younger, and Mommy would come to the rescue! That’s right! I would call in reinforcements any time my brothers did something I didn’t like…Until one day, it didn’t work. Instead, my mom left me with the above quote.

Lesson learned.

Of course I didn’t immediately receive this advice. I just wanted “the enforcer” to come lay down the law! However, I’ve embraced this advice over the years. My mom was telling me two things. Firstly, never allow someone to control your emotions. You have the power to choose your response regardless of what they say or do. Secondly, whether good or bad, people will always have an opinion. You cannot allow others’ opinions to discourage you from pursuing your dreams.

Inspirational Quote #2:

Don’t try to stop it son!

Dad

This story is actually a bit comical. One day, my dad, my brother (Josh), and I took a routine trip to the dumpsters down the street from our house. There’s no trash pickup in the country. You have to transport your own trash to the nearest dumpster. While at the dumpster, my dad parked and we proceeded to unload the trash. There was only one problem; somehow, the stick in our standard truck was knocked out of park into neutral. The truck started rolling! My first instinct was to jump behind the truck to stop it from rolling. (Maybe I watched too many superhero movies growing up.) Of course my dad was not thrilled with that idea, and he quickly commanded me to stop.

Lesson learned.

Quite honestly, I thought he overreacted that day, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that stepping behind a 2,800 pound pickup truck as it gains momentum down a gentle slope is a terrible idea! Moreover, I learned a couple of things that day. First, immediately springing into action is only good if the action that you spring into produces the desired results. As time permits, observe the situation, and make your decisions based upon logic and fact… Not emotions.

I also learned that some things are out of your control. In the “rolling truck” scenario, I was about to turn a quickly-rectifiable situation into a disaster, because I wanted to control a situation that was not mine to control. Recognize when and where you’re needed before taking action.

Inspirational Quote #3:

Don’t just step over that trash like you didn’t see it. Pick it up!

Mom

I would be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time my mom said some variation of this quote! It was almost like we just didn’t get the simple concept of picking up after ourselves and cleaning up when we were younger. Ironically, none of us like a junky or disorganized house now. In fact, I remember my high school basketball coach calling me out for having pride in the school because I didn’t pass by a piece of trash without picking it up. Likewise, my 8 year old son recently received a “Positive Referral” to the office for doing the same at his school. It’s amazing to see how these lessons transcend generations.

Lesson learned.

Of course taking pride in my surroundings was the biggest lesson I learned. It helped me to understand that “making the world a better place” begins with positively impacting (or in this case, cleaning up) what is immediately around you. Accordingly, we should take pride in doing the “little” positive things, because those little things add up to make a gigantic impact.

I also learned that organization is one of the key factors to being an effective leader. When you physically organize your personal and work belongings, you are training your mind to recognize that everything has a proper place. This allows your mind to more easily establish and maintain priorities, create an accurate schedule by allocating the appropriate time to things that matter, budget, and more! Ultimately, being organized increases your personal and professional productivity, and it all begins with picking that little piece of trash.

Inspirational Quote #4:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Do they look like that?

Dad

I actually told this story in a previous post as I encouraged leaders to remain persistent and consistent. Although I couldn’t see it at the time, I had an ugly mohawk in high school. I laugh every time I think about it. I even had the audacity to spike it to make matters worse. Meanwhile, my dad and the assistant principal (Coach Johnson) absolutely hated it! I’m pretty sure it was out of my school’s uniform regulations, but I had probably found some ridiculous loophole. Either way, my dad and Coach Johnson tried to convince me to get rid of it numerous times to no avail; until one day, my dad asked me the above questions.

Lesson learned.

I admit that at the time, I think I cut my hair because I felt he finally beat me. I usually had some witty response to his lectures that sounded something like, “so are you saying I have to cut it?” He won that time with those two rhetorical questions! More importantly, he inspired me to think about my future and to examine what and who I wanted to be. That’s when I began to internalize the fact that regardless of my current circumstance, I should look, behave, and speak like the person I aspire to be. He wasn’t persuading me to change who I am, he was encouraging me to hone in on and develop the internal and external characteristics of the person I want to be in the future. That lesson made me a life-long learner and a man who is constantly seeking self-improvement.

Inspirational Quote #5

You’re bored? There’s always something to be done!

Mom

Man, I committed what my siblings and I nicknamed “a cardinal sin” in my childhood home. I walked up to my mom and said, “Mommy, I’m bored!” At first, my mom seemed surprised by my statement. Then a more sadistic look entered her eyes–almost like a real life Major Payne. Uh oh… I messed up! She proceeded to show me all the chores that I somehow looked over to audaciously tell her that she needs to find something to entertain me. Let’s just say, I spent the rest of that day catching up on chores I neglected for the week.

Lesson learned.

I learned not to tell my mom I’m bored anymore… At least not when I have a pile of work to do. 😂 According to “Oxford Languages,” being “bored” is “feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.” My mom was teaching me that you should not be “unoccupied” when there is work to do. We should always work to be part of the solution. If we don’t, our inaction makes us an inevitable contributor to the problem.

She was also teaching me that we shouldn’t just nonchalantly slop through our responsibilities. Instead, we should have a vested interest in our team’s success. That means we should be self-motivated to do our part for the betterment of the team as a whole.

I will end Part 1 on that note. Many of us claim we want to make a change, but remember: change begins with one small action. So I encourage you to take a small step today to inspire those you lead. As you can see by the above quotes (and you will continue to see in Part 2), you never know how what you say or do will impact those you lead. Continue to learn and lead well!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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A tribute to my grandma and a message for all grandparents: thank you!

A lot of exciting and challenging things has happened over these last few years. Amongst the most notable events for me is the loss of my grandparents. With that in mind, I want to pause to give tribute to my grandma and reflect on my grandparents. But before I do that, I want to begin with a clear message for all the wonderful grandparents: Thank you!

Thank you grandparents!

Thank you for your stories, love, support, delicious meals, and spoiling us even when our parents say “no,” (😂). We appreciate the laughs, the stern corrections, the sacrifices, and the lessons in perseverance!

Many of our grandparents were born into the Great Depression, fought in wars and conflicts, battled segregation and overt acts of racism, and may not have had the same educational opportunities as we do. Yet, they persevered and worked tirelessly to ensure their families had everything they needed to survive. They taught and teach us the foundational values of hard work, family, and sacrifice.

Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet either of my grandfathers; however, I have heard wonderful stories about them! I can see their influence through even their great, great grandchildren! Although I lost my paternal grandmother in 2018, my great uncle who acted as my grandfather last year, and my maternal grandmother last week, I am grateful for them. There are no words to truly describe how much our grandparents have done to create a better society for us. Thus, the only words I can think to say are: Thank you!

Mary E. Burse-Wright

We are celebrating my maternal grandmother’s life today! She is by far one of the strongest and most resilient people I have ever known. Quite honestly, I always felt she was invincible and could live forever. Of course life always has a way of bringing you back to reality. She may have died this past week, but her legacy lives on through the doctors, musicians, singers, professional athletes, writers, entrepreneurs, corporate professionals, veterans, journalists, and more! I am in awe as I visit with my extended family this weekend. I’m proud to say that my grandma has left behind a phenomenal and talented group of people.

Rest in honor Grandma, our matriarch. Thank you and I love you forever!

Grandma’s Obituary

Mary Ella Burse-Wright was born to the Reverend John Albert Jones, Sr., and Fannie Mae (Mason) Jones on July 18, 1931, in Greenwood, Mississippi. She was the seventh child of nine children. From a family of believers, her foundation was laid in the Church of God in Christ where she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior at a young age.

On June 13, 1948, Mary was united in holy matrimony to J.D. Burse, Sr. J.D. and Mary lived happily for 37 years until the Lord called him home in 1985. To their union were born eight children, Murion Charles (Jeanette, deceased), J.D., Jr. (Marion), William Errol, Debria Cornelia, Michelle Ynette (Don, deceased), Lawana Lynn, Stephan Curtis, Sr. (Viola), and Arnita Renee (Ronald). Her love of children and heart for service led to her fostering hundreds of children and adding the last three children, Shenerey, Terrance, and Ernest permanently to their family. She also had a beloved goddaughter, Minetta Davison, whom she loved dearly.

Mary was an advocate for education which inspired a legacy of excellence in higher education among her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who have multiple degrees and successful careers. Mary received an Associate in Business and became an Executive Assistant and later a small business owner of several businesses. 

In 1991, Mary was remarried to Sidney Wright until the Lord called him home. From their union, she gained a bonus family.

Grandma was dedicated to the church and charity.

Mary served in the Church of God in Christ on the local, district, state, and international levels in “Women’s Work,” as she would say. Being a champion for youth ministries, Mary desired to have children of her own but had some difficulties. She went to God, with faith, and in prayer, asking for children and told him, “If you give me children, I will give them back to you to serve you.”  Because she was an avid supporter of the Church and worked diligently and fervently in service, her children, and their offspring faithfully serve in some capacity in their home churches. She also served her local community in aging and disability services, leadership and politics, and youth mentorship. Mary was a talented and gifted woman. She was a charismatic orator and historian, whose chronicles captivated audiences for hours. As a clothes designer and seamstress, she created original wardrobe pieces for dignitaries and families.  She was also an excellent caterer. Mary openly shared her gifts, often creating volunteer programs and job opportunities for members of the community.

Grandma’s legacy lives on.

Mary was called home to be with the Lord on October 30, 2022. Grandma transitioned peacefully at age 91.

She was preceded in death by her mother, father, and siblings: Lawrence, Sr. Rosia, Arthur, Nathaniel, Lettie, John, Jr., Hervin, and James Lloyd; and her two beloved children William and Lawana. She leaves to cherish her memories and uphold her legacy, nine children, 39 grandchildren, 59 great-grandchildren, ten great-great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, family, and friends.

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Happy National Author’s Day! Find out how I became an author in my interview on “R.E.S.E.T. with J” on the Mogul TV Global Network!

Happy National Author’s Day to my fellow authors!! I’m excited to join the TV show “R.E.S.E.T. with J” on the Mogul TV Global Network to celebrate with a 4-day Author Showcase! This 4-day event will air at 7:00 p.m. nightly, and you can download the app on Roku TV or Amazon Firestick, or watch it on themoguls.tv.

I had the pleasure of kicking off this 4-day event where I discussed why I write, what inspires me, and more with J (my 11th grade Chemistry teacher 😁). I included a link below so you can watch the full show!

You will have a chance to win a daily prize on this National Author’s Day! 🏆

Send in a quote from an author to their email address (resetwithj@gmail.com). You will be entered in a drawing. J is giving away t-shirts, books, and a cash prizes! Don’t miss your chance to win!

Find out more about me, my books, my blog, and my FREE resources at my website https://parent-child-connect.com!

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Brea’s encouraging epiphanies (Part 2): Hanging wall paper.

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “Brea’s encouraging epiphanies (Part 2): Hanging wall paper!”

After I posted Brea’s encouraging epiphanies: Repainting a wall, Brea told me, “I actually jotted down a few notes when we were hanging that wall paper in the bathroom.” My eye immediately started twitching, because similar to the Madrigal family, there is something we don’t talk about in our home: self-adhesive wall paper! It’s a simple project (at least on YouTube) that shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes, but it takes us hours to complete. Regardless, these encouraging epiphanies are too important not to share, and since some of you called my phenomenal dad puns “cringy” in the last post, I will stick to the point!

Without further ado (or any additional phenomenal dad puns), I present part two of Brea’s encouraging epiphanies!

The story:

Today, I tackled a home project alone. Contrary to popular beliefs, I do not like doing home projects (or any projects really) alone. I know how I want something to look, and I stand back as I instruct others (usually my husband) on how to do the job.

Anyways, today I was determined to apply adhesive wallpaper to our half bath. This job can be a little tricky. You have to make sure the wallpaper lines up with the edges of the wall; otherwise, you have wallpaper that slants down your wall. 🥴 You also have to rub out all of the bubbles in the wallpaper as you go, which can be very time consuming. Let’s just say, I thought (and maybe even mumbled) a few choice words during this process and wanted to give up more than a few times. I literally had a conversation/debate with my inner self. It was crazy!

The conversation.

After struggling a bit, I told myself, “You should just give up!” I entertained this thought momentarily, and even started thinking about all the things I could be doing instead. But after contemplating this for a little while, I finally told myself, “This is bigger than you just quitting this one project! If you quit this project, soon you’ll find yourself quitting the next project, job, relationship, etc. It’s a slippery slope!”

You see, I’ve allowed myself to start believing that I’m a quitter. I’ve begrudgingly accepted the identity of one of whom can never finish what she’s started. I almost allowed that identity to dictate how I would proceed throughout the day, and more importantly, how I would abruptly end this project.

Then something happened. I heard a new voice from God. He told me to slow down and trust the process. Then, He told me to look up. When I looked up, I noticed how much I’d accomplished. Seeing how far I’d come and how well I had done was the encouragement I needed to keep going! Throughout the remainder of the project, I begin to jot down a few thoughts on what I learned. Here are those notes.:

Encouraging epiphany #1: It’s okay to take a break…just don’t quit!

Listen, I get it. My arms and shoulders got tired first. Then, my back started stiffening. I’m pretty sure I even started seeing double at some point. Initially I thought, “yep, this is a sign that it’s time to quit!” In reality, my body was just asking for a break. I was so focused on completing the project, I hadn’t eaten or had any water for several hours. We do the same thing in life.

We get so focused on the “what” that not only do we lose sight of the “why,” but we forget to take care of ourselves. Rest, eat well, stretch, hydrate, meditate, and recover. This is an essential part of completing any project or pursuing any goal in life.

Encouraging epiphany #2: Sometimes you have to start back from the top and try again.

This one was a tough pill to swallow. Once I finally got the wallpaper to smoothen without bubbles, I realized it was slanted! 😤 So I had to take it off and reapply it. Though this process was frustrating because it felt like I was losing progress, I had to change my perspective. Instead of saying, “Dang it! I’m restarting again!” I told myself, “let’s shake it out and figure out how we can make it straighter this time. It’s going to look great when you finish!” This change in attitude shifted my focus from what is going wrong to why I’m doing this project in the first place. We should always pursue our “why.”

Encouraging epiphany #3: It’s okay to accept help.

I started this project determined to finish on my own. Why? I wanted to prove to myself that I can finish what I started! This is an awesome and encouraging “why.” I had to ask myself an important question when it started getting really rough and frustrating: Can I ask my husband for help? Admittedly, I initially said, “No! I have to do this project myself.” Then I finally realized that I could accomplish my “why” more efficiently if I invited him to share this journey with me.

Doing things on your own makes a success story sound great! However, it is exhausting, painful, and makes what could be an exciting journey completely unbearable. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, incompetent, or less of a woman. I encourage you to disconnect from anyone who would tell you otherwise. Reach out and connect with people who can encourage you and make you better along your journey!

Reflection

Now, this job isn’t perfect by a looong shot! Lol…but that’s life. We aren’t perfect. There will be bumps along the way (just like my wallpaper 🤣), but if we hold firm to God’s truths about our identity, progress, and accomplishments while blocking out the negative thoughts, we will be encouraged and strengthened to finish the journey.

The journey may get rough, but keep pushing and pursuing your goals! You’re not a quitter. You’re a winner!

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week!

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Getting to school safely: A FREE Downloadable Resource

Hey folks! Parent-child-connect.com is all about providing much needed resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to create memorable and teachable moments with their children. That’s why I’m excited to share a great resource provided by Stein Law! The school year is well underway; however, our children still face an inherent danger while traveling to and from school. “Getting to school safely” is a guide with several tips to help mitigate the risks associated with that travel. Take some time to share this with your children!

Getting to School safely

Here’s what you should expect to read and review with your children.:

  • Walking to school.
    • Identifying safe routes to school.
    • Walking Distance.
    • Your child’s readiness.
    • Safety checkpoints.
    • Instill safe habits.
    • Crosswalks.
    • Strength in numbers.
    • Stranger Danger.
      • What is a stranger?
  • Biking to school.
    • How to ride your bike safely.
  • School Bus Safety.
    • What makes school buses safer than cars?
    • Bus stop safety.
    • Behavior on the bus.
  • Riding in the car to school.
    • Car seats.
    • Ages four to seven.
    • Ages eight to twelve.
    • Tips for Adult Drivers.

This is an all-encompasing safety guide.

As you can see by the above topics, Stein Law did an excellent job of providing some in-depth tips on getting to school safely! Guess what? Halloween is in just a few days! These safety tips definitely apply. So download and share today. Let’s make the world a little safer for our children!

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Benjamin’s Journal Series: Using consistency and discipline to grow stronger through my weaknesses.

Journal entry–5:00 a.m. 10/19/2022

I’ve been meaning to come back around to this. I have continued to write daily; not necessarily in the form of journaling per se, but in the form of calculated and random to do’s, thoughts, or memories needing someplace else to live rather than just my brain. They tend to find new residences in my notes folder on my phone or the little black notebook I keep close. I do this because I realized that if I am to become the writer I aspire to be, I must demonstrate consistency and discipline.

Consistency and Discipline

Consistency and discipline are two very interesting concepts that take on their own identity depending on the task at hand. The human mind subconsciously prioritizes actions according to importance, interest, and the situation. That is why actively reminding ourselves of the following is the utmost necessity.:

  1. What is important to you?
  2. Our interests are ever evolving. What are you currently interested in?
  3. What is your current situation or life circumstance?

Keeping these things at the top of your mind help deflect the inevitable woes of procrastination that come naturally in moments of busyness, transition, and perfectionism. Here is yet another reason why understanding a wide array of perspectives can be beneficial to how you approach daily obstacles.

Perspective is key.

On one hand, you can accept that you’re not being as productive as you intended to be, which can result in frustration. On the other hand, you can examine why you’re operating the way you are based upon your current season, which can result in a better understanding. I try to focus on the latter, and honestly, it’s what gives me the most peace.

I’m reminded of Paul in 2 Corinthians pleading with God to remove the thorn from his flesh, and God replying with:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

That “thorn” can be in the form of anything.

Transparently, my “thorn” often shows itself in my time management, overextension, and focus. However, it’s a refreshing feeling to know that based on my intentions and faith, even my weaknesses can serve as a reminder of how strong my God is. On the days I feel like I lacked consistency and discipline, I remember His grace. That empowers me to give myself grace and to continue to pursue my purpose. God’s grace enables my consistency and discipline, and it makes my “thorn” or weakness my greatest asset.

Why? Because it turns my errors into educational moments. It allows me to understand who I am and where I am in life, and it allows me to refocus and grow into a better me. Thereby, I become stronger through my weaknesses.

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We rebranded the crow!

On the go? Listen to the audio version of “We rebranded the crow!

There are many audacious claims out there! Some of them really make you scratch your head and wonder how people come up with this stuff. Well, I have my own that I’d like to share with you: we have rebranded the crow! I have made this claim in a couple of podcasts and live interviews and usually people ask, “wait, what does that even mean?” Allow me to explain.

Here’s what I used to think about the crow.:

I will never forget watching the movie “The Seventh Sign” when I was younger. That movie definitely spooked me! Here’s a link to the trailer if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I have never forgotten the quote, “Will you die for him?” I get chills just thinking about it. Another part of the movie that has persisted in my mind is the part where the main character (played by Demi Moore) dreamed of a crow while pregnant. This ominous sign, along with the rest of the plot, was enough to scare me away from crows! I didn’t want to see them, dream about them, or hear them! There was only one problem, the American Crow is one of the top ten most common birds in Louisiana. There are literally thousands of them! Even so, I did my best to avoid them.

My thoughts about the crow obviously changed.

You’re probably wondering, “How did the crow become the main character for your Amazon best-seller and the image for your brand?” That would be a logical question. In fact, Josh (the illustrator for Crow From the Shadow) asked the same question when I pitched him this crazy idea. I told him there were three reasons why I chose the crow.:

1. I wanted to make a winner out of a character who was unlikely to ever be the focal point or hero.

There are millions of children’s books out there, and I have probably read a thousand of them. From what I can recall, I have only seen the crow portrayed as a dark, ominous creature–primarily used in young adult literature to give an eerie feeling to the book. Josh did a phenomenal job of giving a similar, but age appropriate, aura in the beginning of Crow From the Shadow. The pages are dark, and is Crow almost consumed by “the Shadow.”

Where my story differs is Crow slowly begins to come out of that shadow, and “the Shadow” completely fades away by the end of the story as Crow learns that he had the power within to defeat “the Shadow” all along! The story begins dark and gloomy and ends with Crow being thrust into the light as he is enlightened!

The message is that all of us face “the Shadow,” no matter who, what, or where that may be for you. “The Shadow” always tells us what we can and cannot do, and it predetermines whether we will succeed or fail. But just like Crow who began in complete darkness, we have the power to defeat “the Shadow” once we identify its control over us and determine we will overcome the odds.

2. Many people prejudge a crow and predetermine its destiny.

I don’t know about you, but I had never even considered what a baby crow looks like. Have you ever seen a baby crow? It could be the most adorable bird in the world, but most of us would never know unless we actually intentionally researched it.

Here’s a picture of a baby crow in case you were wondering! Source: Pinterest “25 Animals You Never Knew Could Be Cute”

Many of us would agree that crows knock our trash over, drop road kill in our yard, damage crops, and make a lot of noise near our windows while we’re resting. For those reasons, we consider them annoyances or pests, and they will always be written off as such.

Ironically, that sounds like a lot of us depending on where we’re from, what we’ve done in the past, what people have told us, our disabilities, etc. My goal is to break that norm and give you the greatest power there is–the power of choice. No matter who says what, my goal is to empower you to choose to determine your own future! Which leads to my final point.

3. (The completion of my rebranding efforts.) The crow is now a common reminder that YOU control your own destiny!

I hope that you think of the encouraging message every time you see or hear a crow. No matter who you are, where you are from, or what people have told you, you can be and do whatever you put your mind to. So dream BIG and pursue your purpose! Just like Crow, you have the power to #defeattheshadow!

Check out this playlist to see ALL of my books (including Crow From the Shadow) read aloud on different story times!

Interested in buying Crow From the Shadow?

Go to https://parent-child-connect.com/store to find out how to buy my books! My books are sold on my website and all the major retailers!

Me enjoying story time with the wonderful children at Kidz N Harmony Daycare in Ruston, LA. I’m wearing my favorite P2C brand “I determine my own future” shirt!