Olaolu Ogunyemi is a loving husband, father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer with a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the "life of the party" because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he became intimately familiar with the bond forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children's stories to help create loving and memorable family moments. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling children's book, "Crow From the Shadow," "Horace the Horsefly," and "Billy Dipper's Time to Shine."
Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language and with an entertaining style that keeps families and listeners hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, writing, and spending time with his family.
Connect with him at
I’m excited to announce that my book, “Crow From the Shadow,” won the 2023 Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal award in the Children – Picture Book genre!
The Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries, ranging from new independent authors to NYT best-sellers and celebrities.
Readers’ Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.
I’m honored to have received this award! Here are a few professional reviews Crow From the Shadow has received.
Crow From the Shadow Professional Reviews
A crow learns to reject destructive self-criticism in this debut picture book from a pair of siblings.
Crow, who frequently wears a hoodie to obscure his features, is connected to “The Shadow”—which could be a person, place, or thing. Crow explains: “The Shadow tells me who to be, how to go, and where to stay” and keeps the bird from doing the things he loves. Crow wears black because The Shadow says blue, the bird’s favorite color, isn’t appropriate. Crow could succeed in school, but The Shadow requires failure. While Crow loves books, The Shadow says reading is boring.
Over and over, The Shadow sucks happiness out of Crow’s life—until the bird eventually asks, “Why should I listen to The Shadow?” Finally, Crow is free, enjoys success, and even finds a spouse. While getting out from under a depressive Shadow is not as simple as author Olaolu Ogunyemi makes it sound, the idea of rejecting the lies of self-criticism is an important one.
Illustrator Joshua Ogunyemi delivers a cartoon depiction of each concept. Crow’s possible happiness is portrayed in bright colors, with the bird wearing blue. In the images where The Shadow holds sway, Crow wears black and is surrounded by dimmer hues. But the marriage plot point seems to come out of nowhere, and more time spent on Crow’s triumphs would have better balanced The Shadow’s dominance in the book’s first half. Still, the enjoyable story’s inspiring message comes through clearly.
An engaging and encouraging tale about countering negativity.
Emma Megan for Readers’ Favorite
Crow From the Shadow by Olaolu Ogunyemi is a must-read picture book for every child. It contains valuable and inspiring life lessons and will empower children to believe in themselves, identify, and overcome their negative thoughts. It tells the story of Crow, a bright bird whose life is controlled by The Shadow. Crow doesn’t like that The Shadow tells him who to be and what to do, but he can’t do anything about it. Every time Crow wants to do something, The Shadow stops him. Unfortunately, Crow doesn’t dare to stand up to him, so he keeps dreaming of the life he could have. Will Crow stop listening to The Shadow and regain control over his fate?
I adored this well-illustrated story with an important and influential message. I firmly believe that many children will resonate with Crow’s struggles. What children tell themselves impacts their self-confidence. Their inner voice matters as it’s one of the most significant influences that shape their journeys.
Crow From the Shadow by Olaolu Ogunyemi introduces children to their negative thinking and inner critic. It encourages them to overcome self-doubt, become all they can be, and determine their future. It’s a perfect addition to every home and school. It can help parents, teachers, and mentors to start conversations with children, at home and in the classroom, about self-doubt and how to deal with it. This easy-to-read story will make a huge difference in the hearts and minds of children who are afraid to follow their dreams.
Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers’ Favorite
Crow From the Shadow, written by Olaolu Ogunyemi and illustrated by Joshua Ogunyemi, is the first book in the Parent-Child-Connect (P2C) picture book series. The book begins by introducing the reader to Crow, a young narrator who says he’s from The Shadow, following this by stating that The Shadow could be anything. It controls every aspect of Crow’s life and sets restrictive parameters of what he can and cannot do.
Crow tells us what his own preference is with what he wears, how he performs at school, and the places he likes to visit. Each is pushed aside by The Shadow’s instruction that Crow feels obliged to follow. As the story progresses, Crow describes isolation and the destruction of motivation, dreams, and all other positives in his life. It is only when Crow comes out from under The Shadow that we see what life is like in the sunlight.
Here comes my favorite part of this review…
Woah! Crow From the Shadow is nothing at all like the other children’s books I’ve been reading for a while, and completely realigned my barometer on what a fantastic piece of kid-lit truly is. And what is it? It’s this and whatever else Olaolu Ogunyemi creates like this. The first thing that leaps out from the start is that this book is cool. Really cool. Not a word that can be associated with most children’s picture books but decidedly appropriate here.
The way Crow talks and the way he describes what is going down in his world is profoundly honest, and Crow looks like the kind of bird you want to be friends with. He’s in a hoodie. He speaks like he’s straight out of an indie film and sort of resembles Spy from the 80s comic strip, if Spy was cool. Joshua Ogunyemi is the artist who breathes life into Olaolu’s words, sticking to a dark palette initially but slowly moving toward color as Crow starts making decisions for himself. I love this book and would give it a whole bucket of stars if I could.
There is no shortage of decision-making processes and concepts. From decision trees to flow charts, many have searched far and wide for practical advice on how to make better decisions. In fact, we discussed this topic a bit during a professional military education session. We used an article titled, “Destruction and Creation” by former United States Air Force fighter pilot, John R. Boyd. Boyd is well known in the U.S. Marine Corps due to his military theories. Specifically, Marines have studied, learned about, and applied Boyd’s observe, orient, decide, act (OODA) “loop” decision-making process.
I’m actually not really a fan of Boyd’s work. In fact, I jokingly refer to myself as anti-Boyd, because (in my opinion) he tended to overcomplicate simple concepts. (Download and read the “Destruction and Creation” article I provided above for an example of this). Whereas theologians and business professionals use metaphors and analogies to explain their concepts, Boyd backed his concepts using science and math. Even so, I wholeheartedly agree with the OODA process. Using this construct as a baseline, I will quickly describe how we can make better and more well-informed daily decisions!
Let’s begin by discussing the four categories that make up the OODA process.
Boyd’s OODA “loop” decision-making process.
I like to break things down into simple concepts. Some may even argue I oversimplified complex concepts, but I’ll do it anyway. Below is my graphical depiction of Boyd’s OODA loop.
Observe: Gather information using your five senses.
Orient: Develop perception–use your prior experiences and knowledge to process the information you absorbed.
Decide: Choose the option you feel will produce the outcome you desire.
Act: Implement the option you chose. Note: Whether positive or negative, your action’s consequences will serve as feedback or “information” that your five senses will absorb, thus restarting the OODA decision-making process.
How can you refine this process?
Research shows that we consciously and subconsciously make thousands of decisions a day! That means that we constantly repeat the above process whether we know it or not.
Quick example: I caught myself subconsciously going through this process while I was typing this section. 1. I felt slightly annoyed by something on my body (observe). 2. I recognized it was my nose itching (orient)! 3. I quickly determined that I should use my hand to stop the itching (decide). 4. Before I knew it, my hand was scratching my nose (act). I repeated the process once I realized I was scratching my nose with my bare hand (gross) which triggered the decision and subsequent action to wash my hands. See how it works?!
As demonstrated in the quick example above, these steps require minimal cognitive engagement. Here is another oversimplified graphical depiction of what I’m describing.
The million dollar question: If most of our decisions are made with minimal cognitive engagement, how can we refine this process?
I’m glad you asked! As we saw in the above example, we often do not recognize the OODA loop process until immediately before, during, or after the “act” phase. As such, the implied understanding is that there is little we can do to affect our decision making cycle since the vast majority of the process is done unknowingly. Of course that understanding does not align with one of my core beliefs: I determine my own destiny. With that in mind, I’ve sought to identify areas within the OODA loop cycle that I can control. What I found was that those areas resided in the “orientation” phase.
In figure one, I highlighted that you develop your perception during the “orientation” phase. That perception is based upon two things we can impact: knowledge and experience.
Knowledge and Experience
Knowledge and experience combine to deepen our understanding of the world around us, challenge our unconscious biases and preconceived notions, and refine our critical thinking skills. Throughout this discussion, I will equate “knowledge” to “education,” and I will use the term “experience” in its most practical form–a firsthand encounter with facts or events.
Knowledge is a structured framework to learn about various subjects and explore different perspectives. It equips us with the necessary tools to analyze information, evaluate evidence, and form rational opinions.
Knowledge exposes us to diverse ideas, cultures, and philosophies. This exposure allows us to engage with a wide range of perspectives, enabling us to develop a more nuanced understanding of the world. Knowledge encourages us to question assumptions, challenge biases, and consider alternative viewpoints. It fosters empathy and a deeper appreciation for the complexities and diversity of human experiences.
How to increase knowledge.
Attend formalized training.
There are numerous free and paid courses available online and in person. Never allow your formalized training to stagnate.
Network with experts.
Share ideas and learn from professionals inside and outside of your organization/industry. Remember: innovation is applying old ideas and concepts in new ways.
Observe and record the world around you.
Diversify your knowledge by exploring new concepts or ideas that are unrelated to your profession. For example, I have recently indulged myself in growing plants and fruit. Not only can I adopt concepts like identifying the proper nutrients to enrich the soil for optimal growth, satisfying my curiosity enhances my ability to learn. (Here is a good reference to support my latter claim. The psychology and neuroscience of curiosity)
In addition to knowledge, experiences play a crucial role in shaping our perspective and opinions.
Experiences provide us with firsthand knowledge and insights that cannot be acquired through books or lectures alone. Whether through travel, work, or personal interactions, experiences expose us to different environments, people, and circumstances. They challenge our existing beliefs and expose us to new ideas and ways of thinking.
Experiences also allow us to put theory into practice, providing a tangible context for our learning. By engaging in real-world situations, we learn to adapt, problem-solve, and make informed decisions. These experiences, whether positive or negative, contribute to the evolution of our perspectives and opinions. They provide us with a deeper understanding of the complexities of life and foster personal growth.
How to diversify experiences.
Do new things.
Change up your routine. For example, you could try eating foods normally associated with breakfast for dinner and vice versa for a few days. Believe it or not, sometimes your mind needs these kind of drastic changes for stimulation and growth.
Read new things.
Millions of authors have shared their philosophies, beliefs, and ideas with you through articles and books. Take time to learn about the world through others’ perspective–especially if they contradict your own.
Watch new things.
I’ve always enjoyed watching slapstick humor, action, and shows about earth science and biology. As such, my daily actions and decisions reflect what I watch. Watching new things exposes you to new perspectives you would not have otherwise had.
Knowledge and experience work hand in hand to shape our perspective and opinions. Knowledge provides a foundation of usable information and critical thinking skills, while experiences add real-world context and personal insights. By continuously learning and engaging with new ideas and experiences, we have the opportunity to broaden our horizons, challenge our assumptions, and develop more informed and well-rounded perspectives. Ultimately, by focusing on these key concepts, we can positively impact the orientation phase of our respective decision making cycles and train ourselves to make better decisions.
Bedtime is probably my favorite time of day! Nothing like plopping down and allowing my body to sink into the mattress after a long day’s work. Before I do, there’s one more thing we have to do in my home—STORY TIME! Our story times are fun, engaging, and slightly silly. 😜
I want to share these moments with you and your children. As such, I created audio versions of the three books in my Parent-Child-Connect (P2C) Book Series just for you! Each video was created with you and your children in mind as I read it with the same energy and enthusiasm that has entertained hundreds of children across the world. This selection is perfect for ages 2-9!
Grab your favorite YouTube-compatible device, relax, and enjoy tonight’s bedtime stories on me! Let’s create memorable and teachable moments together!
BREAKING NEWS: Screen time is at an all-time high! Some of you would skip right past that headline. Others would say, “I knew it! Those darn millennials ruined everything!” Some would immediately have a reflective moment. Regardless of your reaction to the above headline, we must agree that we are living in the digital age. In a time where screens and gadgets dominate children’s attention, fostering a love for reading has become more crucial than ever!
We all know that reading enhances literacy, but it’s important to note that reading also builds confidence, sparks imagination, cultivates empathy, and opens the portal to knowledge which helps us develop our perspective and opinions. As parents, teachers, mentors, and caregivers, one of the most impactful ways to instill this love for reading is by engaging children in fun and memorable reading experiences. Creating these experiences allow us to unlock the magic of reading and pave the way for a lifelong passion for books.
When should I start reading to my child?
Before we discuss how to create these magical experiences, I’d like to quickly answer one of the most frequently asked questions I receive: When should I start reading to my child?
My recommendation is you start reading as soon as the child is conceived. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out! There are numerous studies and articles that support reading to your baby while in the womb. Many assert that reading to your baby as early as the third trimester is great for bonding and developing your child’s brain–both admirable goals! I’d like to add more practical benefits: practice and habit creation. If you recall, in my previous article, “How to use books to create teachable and memorable moments,” I offered lessons I learned from reading aloud to children. It’s simple: the earlier you start practicing those fundamentals, the more skilled you’ll become. You are truly bringing the story to life for your child from conception to reading age, so bring on the inflection, excitement, energy, and rhythmic stories!
Start early and sustain the habit!
How do I get my child interested in reading?
This is another frequently asked question I received that is usually accompanied by embarrassment, guilt, and a feeling of inadequacy. Allow me to encourage you: There was a time I felt reading was a chore for numerous reasons! I’m sure my parents chuckle at my “anti-reading” stint when they see how involved I’ve become with writing and increasing literacy, but it was a phase. Reading didn’t fit well with my schedule, I didn’t like the books that were chosen for me, and TV was much more entertaining. These may not have been facts, but they were true to me.
Whether your child is revolting like young Olaolu or they’re extremely interested in reading, let’s discuss my ten principles for creating magical reading experiences to increase literacy.
1. The Foundational Principle: Creating magical reading experiences begins with books relationships.
I admit, this is strange. My foundational principle about reading and increasing literacy is not about books. Allow me to explain. My goal when reading to children is not to simply tell them what words are on the page. My goal is to bring the story to life in a way that resonates with the children. It’s about establishing shared moments or connections with the children that will last beyond the story time. If successful, they can and will carry memories and lessons they learn for the rest of their lives.
Using story time as an opportunity to build relationships gives us the flexibility and scalability we need to engage our children at a level that they understand so they continue this habit throughout their lives. What I’m suggesting is you are the star of this magical experience, and the book is your script. Everyone knows that many successful stars tend to ad-lib quite a bit. It’s what makes the show or movie unique and keeps the fans engaged. Be enthusiastic, athirst, and excited for story time! It’s your time to shine and build a lasting relationship.
The 5 P’s (2-6)
2. Priority: Shared reading must be a priority in the home or classroom.
Why would you want to read when you got the television set sitting right in front of you? There’s nothing you can get from a book that you can’t get from a television faster.
Harry Wormwood in Matilda
Ok, I get it Mr. Wormwood. Children can learn a lot from watching TV. In fact, Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrissett –founders of Sesame Street–disproved the theory that TV doesn’t require the interaction needed to enhance literacy. However, prioritizing regularly shared reading experiences creates a safe and productive environment where parents, teachers, caregivers, and mentors can help children explore their unique talents, life experiences, and needs. Ultimately, along with increasing literacy, prioritizing shared reading experiences can help the child grow and develop into a more confident individual capable of developing meaningful connections with others.
3. Patience: To accept delay without becoming frustrated.
The flexibility associated with our foundational principle can be a double-edged sword. Since reading provides countless opportunities for learning beyond the words on the page, imaginations can sometimes seem to completely derail what you seek to accomplish during a particular story time. This requires patience. Do your best to gently refocus the child on the topic. It won’t be perfect, and some days will seem more productive than others. Remain consistent and patient. The memorable and teachable moments are worth it.
4. Perspective: Evaluate your motives. Understand the child’s perspective.
Remember your why and the child’s why when patience begins to wear thin. I have to reframe the situation when I feel frustration or impatience creeping in. Most times, my frustration/impatience is driven by this thought: “I know what’s best for you!” Though this may be true, our intentions, motives, and attitude must remain aligned to our goal to increase literacy and memorable experiences. In other words, I may intend to establish a magical reading experience with my children with a great motive, but if their distracted behavior or disruptions cause me to become frustrated or impatient, my attitude is distorting the connection. There are numerous factors that may influence the child’s behavior. Take a deep breath, reframe the situation to account for the child’s perspective, and re-attack from a different angle.
5. Passion: No passion, no magical reading experience.
Books have the power to evoke emotions and create lasting memories. I love seeing children’s reactions when I’m reading. For example, in my book “Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine,” there is a scene where Billy Dipper hits his rock bottom moment. I do my best to sell that moment to children so they can empathize with Billy. Then, I like to pause both for dramatic effect and to encourage children to empathize with the characters and discuss their feelings about the story. Explore themes of friendship, kindness, perseverance, and diversity to foster empathy and understanding. Encourage them to share their favorite parts of the story or relate it to their personal experiences. These emotional connections make reading a deeply personal and enriching experience.
6. Positivity: Maintain a great attitude and remember: Your positive reinforcement goes a long way.
Reading should never feel like a chore or a task. Instead, it should be a delightful adventure that sparks curiosity and captivates young minds. Therefore, you have to be supportive and maintain a positive attitude towards reading. Bring stories to life by using expressive voices, incorporating gestures, and even acting out certain scenes. Encourage children to participate by asking questions, predicting what might happen next, or even creating their own alternate endings. By infusing playfulness and positivity into reading sessions, we create an environment where children eagerly look forward to the next chapter. Moreover, it shows that you support their creativity and opinion, and your positive reinforcement will help build their self-esteem.
The three I’s (7-9)
7. Inspiration: Develop success from failures.
Consistency is key when it comes to cultivating a love for reading. Even so, children may struggle to comprehend, sound words out, or pay attention. Establish a reading routine, whether at bedtime or a designated hour during the day. Make it a special time, free from distractions, where you can fully immerse yourselves in the world of books together. Allow children to choose books that pique their interest and let them take turns reading aloud. Again, some story times may feel more productive than others, but continue to maintain a consistent reading ritual. Your children’s anticipation of the next story time and inspiration to read will overcome any obstacles they previously encountered.
8. Improvisation: “Situational family engagements”
Create teachable moments. Pause during the story to discuss new vocabulary, encourage critical thinking, and ask open-ended questions. Relate the story to real-life experiences or connect it to other subjects like science, history, or art. Integrate activities, such as crafts, games, or cooking, that align with the story’s theme to enhance comprehension and make the experience more memorable.
9. Influence: There are many influences out there. Will you combat them or collaborate with them?
Choose engaging and age-appropriate books. Selecting the right books is key to capturing children’s interest and keeping them engaged. Vibrant illustrations, relatable characters, and captivating storylines can work wonders in capturing their imagination. Explore various genres and introduce diverse authors and cultures to broaden their horizons. Children are constantly observing the world around them and learning. Create a sense of wonder and excitement about the world of books by relating the things they observe to the things that have the greatest influence on their lives.
10. Carpe Diem: Opportunities & moments are prevalent in our daily affairs. Seize the moment!
Reading to children goes far beyond simply teaching them how to read. It creates a bridge to a world of imagination, knowledge, and discovery. Seize every opportunity to infuse fun, teachable moments, and emotional connections into your reading experiences. By doing so, you’ll nurture a lifelong love for books. Let’s embrace the magic of reading and embark on a journey where children’s hearts and minds are forever transformed through the power of words!
I really love reading! Though I do not have a particular “favorite” genre, I enjoy reading about leadership, biology, and relationships. The latter topic is often the most useful as I navigate my daily life as a husband, father, Marine, and mentor. As such, I have read numerous relationship books and attended several relationship classes. Therein, I found one reoccurring metaphor: the emotional bank account. I first learned about this concept from one of my favorite authors–Dr. Stephen R. Covey– in an effort to learn more about building healthy relationships! But before we dive too deep, let’s quickly define the “emotional bank account” for those who don’t know.
Have you had a chance to read “Culturing success (Part 1): The Leadership Fundamentals?” If not, click here to check it out!
What is the emotional bank account?
I’m glad you asked! Dr. Covey, the author of several great books to include The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, creates a beautiful metaphor that aligns an emotional bank account to our relationship with others. He explains it like this: “By proactively doing things that build trust in a relationship, one makes ‘deposits.’ Conversely, by reactively doing things that decrease trust, one makes ‘withdrawals.’ The current ‘balance’ in the emotional bank account, will determine how well two people can communicate and problem-solve together.”
I absolutely love that metaphor because there is so much we can learn from it. With that in mind, let’s build upon that definition. Let’s learn how we can make deposits into others’ emotional bank account and why it is so important.
Applying the “emotional bank account” metaphor to our relationships
As a community of parents, teachers, and mentors, we are [voluntarily or involuntarily] put into leadership positions. Whether we are leading a tumbling toddler, a superstar athlete, a company of Marines, a church, or any other person or group of people, we all share one common imperative: the need to build healthy relationships. I submit to you that the way to build those healthy relationships is to liberally deposit into the emotional bank account of those you lead. I’m going to break that account down into seven categories: love, compassion, peace, patience, knowledge, values, and redemption & restoration.
Let’s start with “why.”
Why are we making these deposits? Simply put, by overfilling the emotional bank account of those we lead, we give them an abundance to share with others. These liberal deposits create a ripple affect; one healthy relationship begets another which begets another (and so on).
Now, let’s break down those categories.
“Love” is such a broad yet sublime virtue. It is also the root of the other six categories. Even so, love is often hard to define. In fact, Oxford languages defines love as, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” But what does that really mean? In my humble opinion, that definition does not truly encapsulate the powerful meaning of love. Since love often invokes a strong physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual response, I believe we need a more thorough definition.
Regardless of our theological belief, the Holy Bible provides one of the most universally accepted definitions of love.:
The foundation of “love” as described above highlights one’s willingness to sacrifice his or her life (time, service, ego, and emotional responses) for another. A continual, selfless sacrifice (love) for another is the most important daily deposit we can make as leaders! It is the foundational virtue from which all other categories stem.
I shared my thoughts on compassion in another great blog post “The Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition.” Here’s what I said: Compassion requires you to validate and value others’ thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Do not fall into the trap of saying, “it’s really not that big a deal.” Instead, allow others to share their feelings with you, so you become empathetic enough to have a strong desire to help. Don’t try to be “Mr. (or Mrs.) Fix It,” but at least express the desire to help! For example, someone once stole a very rare unicorn from my oldest daughter in an online game that she enjoyed playing. It seemed silly at first, but I realized this really hurt her feelings. So first, I had to verbally validate her feelings and emotions. Then, I shared the moment with her until she felt better. Simple but effective!
Liberally depositing compassion instills confidence and a sense of loyalty in those you lead.
Albert Einstein said it best, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” The “understanding” that Einstein is referring to is driven by the empathetic listening (compassion) that I mentioned above. Hopefully, you are starting to see how all of these deposits intertwine. Without compassion, we are unable to maintain a peaceful environment. But a peaceful environment usually leads to a productive environment. This productivity leads to loyalty, confidence, and positive mental attitudes. Ultimately, a peaceful environment is one of the major keys to developing the synergy we require for relationships to thrive.
I won’t continue to dwell on why maintaining peace is important, because I believe most of us already understand. Instead, I’d like to answer what is peace and how do we deposit peace into others’ lives?
I personally view peace as harmonious living. (Now Ebony and Ivory is stuck in my head 🥴.) Anyway, back to the topic.
Some view “harmonious living” as the absence of arguments and violence. With that in mind, we can deposit peace by simply avoiding the other person, right?! 👍🏾 Wrong! 👎🏾👎🏾 This passive method will only appear to work until you cross paths. Then the “peace” you thought you had will quickly disappear.
Depositing peace into your relationships requires action. Your overall objective is to create a culture of mutual respect and dignity. Here are a few tips:
You must actively listen to understand, not to respond.
You must become genuinely intrigued with the other person’s thoughts, interests, emotions, and hobbies.
You must eliminate judgement while extending grace (undeserved kindness).
You must be forgiving (seriously, let it go).
You must learn to enjoy the other person’s company and find a common ground (common interests).
You must identify the value the other person brings to the table and create a safe/secure environment for them to grow, develop, and thrive.
Here’s a little known fact about me and my brothers (and our close friends growing up): we all wanted to be music producers from Middle School through High School. We would go into our computer room, hop on the music studio software that came with the Windows 98 and XP Operating Systems, and record our own albums. I have been searching for some of our old work. It would be great blackmail material 😂.
In one of the most infamous/hilarious songs that our buddies AJ and Nick created, they said, “Patience is a virtue. What you can’t wait on may hurt you.” At the time, they thought they created a hit… We thought they created a comical jingle. I never knew that little jingle would give me a profound revelation almost 20 years later. I subconsciously learned a lesson about the importance of patience. That lesson greatly contributes to my own philosophy.
I discussed that philosophy a bit in a previous great blog post “How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!” Therein I asserted patience requires action and we build our capacity to accept delay/troubles without frustration (patience) by hoping and anticipating that life’s situations will turn out just fine. That’s great for life in general, but how do we develop patience with others?
First, we must internalize this fact: we are all flawed human beings. We all make mistakes. Once we digest that, we must realize patience requires practice.
Patience requires practice.
Practice being attentive and eliminating judgement.
Practice waiting on others without getting frustrated.
Practice relaxation and breathing exercises when you feel like you are growing impatient.
Practice being more optimistic in any given circumstance. I.e. identify the opportunities and progress instead of focusing on the “failures” and regression (although the latter may appear more blatant).
AJ and Nick had it right! Failure to deposit patience into our relationships can be detrimental or hurtful. Contrarily, patience deposits will help grow the healthy relationships we all want and need.
I love the word “knowledge” because it is information we gain from both experience and education. Thereby, our job as leaders is to create an environment where those we lead have an opportunity to gain relevant experience and continued education.
Examples: For a parent, this may look like showing your child how to maintain a car while systematically teaching them the mechanics of a car. For a corporate leader, this may look like appointing a worker as “team lead” and sending him or her to certification training that will make them better at their job.
Creating this environment will pay dividends in the long run because it encourages critical thinking and problem solving, instills confidence to take action, and promotes continual growth and development. This all leads to a positive culture and an overall successful household, classroom, or organization.
Shared values are some of the most valuable currency we can deposit. See what I did there? Values are defined as, “a person’s principles or standards of behavior.” I believe our values guide our moral compass (i.e. a person’s determination of and subsequent action on what they deem right and wrong). Some questions to think about:
What are your values? What do you stand for and/or believe in?
How do you decipher between right and wrong?
What values do you clearly and concisely teach?
What values do you consistently demonstrate?
How do you incorporate and enforce a shared value system?
Answering these questions and–more importantly–applying what you learn will help you develop shared values with those you lead which creates a collaborative spirit and informs daily decisions.
Redemption & Restoration.
One day, I was so disappointed. My oldest daughter did something (can’t remember what she did) that utterly frustrated and disappointed me. Accordingly, I administered the punishment I felt her wrongful act deserved. I believe I grounded her and restricted her electronic time for two weeks! She was heartbroken yet unapologetic, but I immediately mumbled to myself, “well, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time!” Then I probably beat on my chest and celebrated being a firm dad/leader.
Of course that celebratory moment was cut short. My dad/leader, who has an uncanny way of sensing when I have made or will make a mistake, contacted me. I gave him my version of what happened. He responded with a calmness that did not match my high emotions in that moment. He simply told me, “Ok. Make sure you give her an opportunity to redeem herself.”
My “aha” moment.
I initially neither comprehended nor appreciated how profound his advice was. As time progressed and my emotions waned, my dad’s words began to sink in. I went back to my daughter and gave her an opportunity to correct her mistake. She was immediately remorseful and understood why what she did was wrong. That’s when it hit me. She learned more from her restoration than my condemnation of her.
I’m proud to admit she’s always been a “daddy’s girl,” but that’s when I feel our relationship (and my relationship with my other two children) became even closer. I learned a much-needed lesson as a father and leader, and all of the other categories began to make more sense. This realization required me to sacrifice my previous beliefs, ego, and judgement to truly understand my daughter and provide her the leadership she needed in that moment. I accepted that she (and people in general) will make mistakes, and my dad helped me adjust my perspective to view each mistake as a learning opportunity and an opportunity to make decisions based upon a shared value system.
As a result, my patience has grown, and I have made a concerted effort to create an environment of respect that allows those I lead to constantly grow and develop. I truly learned that liberal deposits produce healthy relationships.
Though it may seem like a daunting task at times, we have an obligation to invest in the emotional accounts of those we lead. Those investments will pay dividends as those we lead become leaders themselves and develop their own healthy relationships. Ultimately, our emotional deposits will create a lasting legacy for generations to come! Start depositing today!
Father’s Day is coming soon! As such, Military Families Magazine lent me its platform to discuss one of the many challenges that military fathers (and other service members) face while deployed. As the title, “4 Lessons from a Deployed Father” suggests, I wrote this article during a recent deployment, so you’ll quickly gain first hand insight on my personal feelings and the feelings of others who I either deployed with or met overseas.
Many of us shared a similar internal conflict that admittedly seems melodramatic. Oftentimes it is a search for purpose at home that can lead to one simple question, “Have I been replaced?” It’s a harsh reality created by a skewed perspective. However, if left unchecked, those feelings can become consuming and lead to isolation, depression, and other dangerous side effects.
I felt it was imperative to provide four lessons I have learned to apply over the years to overcome my own feelings that arise when I’m away from home for days, weeks, or months at a time. Click the button below to read the entire digital June 2023 edition of the Military Families Magazine. My article is on Page 15. Share with your deployed father, husband, or service member!
I have always been taught that leaders should strive to influence their respective organization’s “culture.” Forbes defines workplace culture (noun) as, “The shared values, belief systems, attitudes, and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share.” Its importance transcends industries as even the most prolific football coaches adopt excellent leadership quotes like the following:
Even so, “influencing culture” is an abstract, seemingly mythical, and often elusive concept. It leaves us with the most basic question: “How?” To answer, I first consulted my friends in the biology profession who define “culture” (verb) differently. In biology, to “culture” is to “maintain in conditions suitable for growth.” With that in mind, I determined that a leader’s journey to influence culture involves establishing shared beliefs, values, and ideals to create an environment for individual and team growth. Our ability to create such an environment begins with an introspective look at some key leadership fundamentals.
Leadership Fundamental #1: Exercise self-awareness and self-control.
There has been one common theme when I discuss culture with others: a toxic work environment. Toxicity in the workplace is counterintuitive as it causes distrust, angst, and disengagement. The most alarming thing that I found is that many “toxic” leaders are unaware of the true impact their actions have on those around them. This first fundamental is a reminder that we must be aware of how our actions (or inaction) impact those around us. Be open to others’ opinions and ideas as long as they align with the organization’s overall vision.
Be tempered and tactful when you respond to others. Praise in public and correct in private. These basic ideas pay dividends in the future.
Leadership Fundamental #2: Be respectable before you demand respect.
Society has taught us that we should demand respect from others. “Respect” is an admiration of the skills and qualities one uses to impact the world around them. With that said, my immediate question is, “what are you doing to impact the world around you?”
This topic reminds me of a conversation with a young recruit from Chicago who we were preparing to send home for behavioral issues. I, like many, immediately saw through his “tough guy” charade, but I was determined not to engage. It wasn’t until I directed one of the chief drill instructors to give the young recruit a broom to sweep while he was waiting for us to finish paperwork. That’s when he mumbled under his breath to me as I walked past, “This will set us back 225 years.” I couldn’t resist.
“How dare you feel like you should have a moment of solidarity with me?” I reprimanded. “You’ve done nothing but disrespect your drill instructors and misrepresent your community and family. What have you done to earn any of our respect? How have you positively impacted your community at home? Have you as the self-proclaimed ‘smartest person here’ done anything to help those around you? What makes you think you’ve earned my respect?” The rambunctious and “outspoken” recruit stood quietly with wide eyes. So I walked away as he proceeded to sweep.
I learned from that recruit.
What irritated me was a young man who voluntarily gave his word was now belligerently reneging after less than a week of training. Interestingly, after coming off of my moral high, I began to think about times when I felt I was entitled to respect. That day, I adopted the philosophy that my rank may warrant traditional military customs and courtesies, but my actions and character are the only factors that encourage others to respect me. As the old saying goes, “respect is earned–never given.”
Leadership Fundamental #3: Be firm in your beliefs and values.
A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.
I have read about several prolific leaders like Sam Walton, Jim Mattis, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, and Walt Disney over the years. Though these leaders led in various industries, they had an unwavering dedication to their ideals. Each of these leaders faced significant odds from prison time to public embarrassment to shaming for trying to do the right thing. Yet, each of them have left an indelible legacy in their respective industries. There are two main reasons for their success.
Firstly, people long for a shared ideology so they feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves. A shared ideology is what tells a society what is morally acceptable or unacceptable. It prevents us from imploding while giving us a general direction. This is why we hear reoccurring topics when political debates and discussions occur. It is an attempt for our society to align ideals. The most successful organizations are led by individuals or a team of individuals who create and teach ideals that the vast majority aligns to.
Secondly, people love structure. Have you ever followed a leader that seemed scatterbrained? I have, and it was exhausting. It seemed as if we never made any progress; we simply reacted to whatever challenges the day presented. It left us unsure what or who to believe in. I usually say these leaders have a “napkin in the wind” belief system. They follow whatever seems right that day, and take the entire organization on a wild ride.
Conversely, I have followed more leaders who had a clear belief system that they firmly followed–even when it looked as if it would fail. It made the leader predictable and gave us the freedom to take independent actions that aligned with firm ideals to influence success. These are the organizations that usually trade wild swings (whether positive or negative) for steady progress over time.
Leadership Fundamental #4: Show love and patience.
As such, love and patience allow leaders to prioritize individual growth by providing resources, space, and grace.
Leadership Fundamental #5: Don’t gossip.
Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks.
Shannon L. Alder
As leaders we must be intentional about what we say; especially when we are talking to and/or about those we lead. Nothing is more toxic than a little gossip. Whether we mean to or not, we all can fall victim to gossiping about someone else. Gossip is often the result of insecurities, intimidation, and the need to highlight one’s faults to overshadow your own. The problem is, gossip betrays trust–which is the glue that holds any team together. Thus, when we gossip or allow gossip to occur, trust amongst team members and in the organization deteriorates which lessens productivity.
If you were to ask ten people within an organization how they’d feel if they knew their leader was gossiping about them, the least confrontational answer you would receive is, “I don’t care. I’ll just do my job and go home.” Even this answer implies that the individual is disconnected from and dispassionate about the organization. It’s important to note that a dysfunctional organization is made up of disconnected and dispassionate individuals. So in order to maintain a highly functional organization, we must identify and eradicate all roots of gossip.
Leadership Fundamental #6: Take care of your home.
There were a couple of songs that came to mind when I thought of this topic. The first says, “Sweep around your own front door before you try to sweep around mine.” (Song by The Williams Brothers). The other says, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” (Song by Michael Jackson). These two catchy songs have a similar message that forces us to take an introspective look at how we conduct business in our own organization.
The first song is likely a spin-off of the Bible verse in Mathew that uses an analogy to tell us that we should focus on improving our own organization before looking at ways to improve someone else’s. Sometimes, we become enamored with and distracted by what other organizations are doing. Contrarily, we should identify our own sustains and improves and take the appropriate actions. Michael Jackson echoed that same sentiment in his song as he reminded us that change begins internally.
One of the biggest myths is that taking appropriate actions require us search for solutions that are external to our organization. However, research has shown that numerous successful organizations thrive on employee-generated solutions. That could mean promoting from within, restructuring the organization, or firing those who no longer align with the company’s ideals or goals. I called this “grooming for growth.” You develop, resource, and prepare employees to build the company and brush away the loose ends and dead weight.
When I worked as a computer programmer/analyst at Tyson Foods Inc., the CEO at the time, Donnie Smith, would say, “The answer is always in the room.” This is the art of using past experiences to inform future successes instead of allowing the same experiences to fuel fear of the unknown.
Leadership Fundamental #7: Be an example. Let your actions reflect your words.
People are constantly watching and examining whether or not our actions align with our words. This is by far one of the easiest ways to gain or lose trust and support as a leader. I’m more willing to follow a leader who sets and achieves his or her own high standards. In turn, it encourages me to do the same, and eventually this attitude pervades the organization and becomes its identity. That is the ultimate goal for the successful leader: To develop an environment where individuals are inclined to set and achieve high standards that align with the organization’s ideals and goals.
It’s easier to measure what we’ve told people than it is to measure how we’ve changed people. It is easier to preach to people than to practice with them.
Eric Greitens in Resilience
Leaders are change agents, because we are empowered to stimulate growth. Our leadership abilities heighten when we transform our knowledge into intentions and allow our intentions to become consistent actions (remember “Establishing Winning Habits?”). This is an all-encompassing fundamental because our actions (not words alone) will either support or detract from our overall goal to create an environment for individual and team growth.
Therefore, I encourage you to take action today to apply these fundamentals to culture success in your organization. Success and growth begin with you!
Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling Author
We expect some people to live forever, but that’s not reality. I want to pause to reflect on the life of Reverend Thomas Kennedy who we affectionately know as PawPaw. Although he was not biologically related to me, he has always been a mentor, guide, leader, wealth of knowledge, and a shining example of someone whose moral compass pointed true north. PawPaw may be gone, but he left behind some great lessons. I’ll share a few that have impacted the way I live, love, and lead.
Stand for what you believe in.
PawPaw was first and foremost a Christian man who stood firm in his beliefs. He believed in being kind, generous, and forgiving to others regardless of how they treat you. One of his funniest quotes was, “don’t look like a bulldog sucking on lemons. It costs nothing to smile.” In other words, he was teaching us to be approachable leaders instead of being standoffish and off-putting. This is a lesson I try to apply daily. Greeting people with a smile can lift their moods, portray trust and positivity, and can be the first step in a lifelong friendship. It’s a simple but powerful friendly gesture that can make someone’s day.
I’m 100% for “right” and 100% against “wrong.”
The above was usually the beginning of PawPaw’s quote that he’d finish with, “if I were a police officer and my wife was speeding, I would give her a ticket even if I had to pay for it.” I admittedly used to think this was an extreme or draconian outlook when I was a child; however, I quickly realized how important this was as a leader. The law is the law, and a standard is a standard. If we aren’t committed to enforcing existing standards, we are intentionally or unintentionally creating new standards. For example, for every substantiated investigation that I’ve conducted or read in the Marine Corps, there is usually a deviation from the existing standards. As a result, this deviation inevitably caused the acceptable standard to lower. Then, the lowered standard produced unethical and/or immoral actions.
PawPaw’s advice was to nip that in the bud by hating what is wrong and holding tightly to what is good. (Paraphrase of Romans 12:9 NLT)
Love for family.
Pawpaw left behind his widow after being married for almost 70 years! Although I knew they had been married for a while, actually hearing how long was astounding. PawPaw stressed the importance of being chivalrous and serving your wife. He taught us the countercultural lesson that selfless sacrifices and kindness are key ingredients to long, healthy relationships. He loved his wife, and I always saw her by his side. I never heard him acknowledge an accolade or achievement without giving credit to his wife. He also believed in taking great care of his family and exemplifying an admirable commitment we could all learn from. I believe PawPaw had the utmost respect for his family, and he expected us to do the same.
Hard work, patience, and community service.
I remember working outside in what seemed to be 150°F weather!! Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it was definitely hot and humid Louisiana summers. Either way, we would head outside with PawPaw to do some yard work. Whether we were landscaping, replacing flooring, doing carpentry, working on cars, or anything in between, PawPaw patiently taught us how to do these odd jobs. At the end of the day, he paid us for every hour of work. He hired countless young men of all ages–including returning citizens–with the goal of giving us an honest way to earn money. PawPaw was a dreamer with a passion for community service.
Jack of all trades.
I had a hard time coming up with one topic for this section, because I learned so many lessons from my time working with PawPaw. For starters, my wife and I laugh all the time at the random knowledge and experiences I’ve had over the years. Although I choose to pay professionals nowadays, I was perfectly content with doing my own odd jobs earlier on in our marriage. I am the textbook definition of a “jack of all trades, and a master of none.” Ok, I say this jokingly, but I do not wink at the experiences, knowledge, and work ethic I gained. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
PawPaw couldn’t teach us these skills without patience. I remember one particular instance when I was supposed to use the weed eater to simply “edge” his lawn along the sidewalk. He did everything right–he told me, showed me, and allowed me to practice. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for me. I somehow managed to dig a little two-inch trench along his sidewalk… A big “no-no” when caring for the lawn! I could see the disappointment and displeasure on his face as he walked towards me. “He’s about to chew my butt out!” I thought. What he did next shocked me.
PawPaw walked up and said, “uh oh. I didn’t teach you right.” He then calmly took the weed eater and taught me (again) how to properly edge the sidewalk without yelling or even seeming agitated. It was such a countercultural moment that it has persisted in my mind and influenced my parenting and leadership style. When given the perfect opportunity to gripe, he patiently extended grace.
Resiliency and consistency.
PawPaw lived for almost 90 years, but it was amazing to see how his messages, lifestyle, humor, and generosity remained consistent for at least the three decades I had the pleasure of knowing him. (Several others will attest to the fact that he’s been consistent much longer). No matter what fads came and went, PawPaw took pride in his personal appearance and was sure of his identity and purpose.
He constantly demonstrated his strength, resiliency, and wherewithal. Even when physically down, he would claim he felt “like a 15 year old!” During my last visit, he said he wanted to ride the 4 wheeler and even had me wheel him outside to take a look at it. I couldn’t help but encourage him to hop on! Luckily, his wife (Ma’dear) was the wise voice of reason to prevent what was sure to be a catastrophe…the flat tires help dissuade our antics as well. 😂
This is just one of the many [humourous] examples of how PawPaw never allowed life to get him down. He taught us to be confident in who we are and to never give up. Most importantly, he taught us the value of trusting God and pursuing a higher calling in life.
We will miss him!
I’ll miss PawPaw, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that we were blessed to witness him live for almost 90 impactful years. During one of my last conversations with him, I told PawPaw how he had to stay healthy so he could witness me bring one of his community service dreams to life. He responded, “well when you do, come pick me up so I can see!” Though he’s no longer here to witness it, I plan to fulfill that promise to bring his dream to life. His direct influence has transcended several generations, and we will ensure his legacy continues!
I’m excited to share my latest article with you! My friends at Stand For the Silent gave me another opportunity to share my opinion. This time, I discussed how we can provide our children the support they need. This topic is extremely important to me because I believe our support is the foundation upon which our children build their lives. Therefore, our children rely upon our support to effectively navigate the obstacles and opportunities in life.
Other Articles I’ve Shared on the Stand For the Silent Platform.
Stand For the Silent has really opened their [virtual] doors to me and the parent-child-connect platform! It’s always fun to collaborate with visionaries who share a common goal. Their message, “I AM SOMEBODY” perfectly aligns with my goal to remind people to “Never, EVER, forget your worth!” Ultimately, we share a common goal to raise awareness about issues that impact our children and provide resources for parents, teachers, mentors, and caregivers to develop a positive relationship with their children to lead them through life’s many challenges.
Here are the other articles I shared.:
What is Stand For the Silent?
I have introduced Stand For the Silent before on my platform, but here is a brief description from their About Us page. It won’t take you very long to figure out why I love collaborating with this organization!:
Stand for the Silent was started in 2010 by a group of high school students in Oklahoma City, OK, after they heard the story of Kirk and Laura Smalley’s son, Ty Field- Smalley. At eleven years-old, Ty took his own life after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully that had been bullying him for over two years. Stand for the Silent exists as a platform to allow Kirk and Laura to share their story, and offer education and tools that will prevent their tragedy from happening to another child and family. Kirk and Laura’s mission is to continue to change kids’ lives and bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes.
Since May 2010, Kirk and Laura Smalley have traveled to over 1,000 schools and spoken with over 1,000,000 kids! On March 10, 2011, Kirk and Laura met privately with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in The White House prior to attending the first ever White House conference on bullying.
The Stand For The Silent (SFTS) program addresses the issue of school bullying with an engaging, factual, and emotional methodology. With the help of student leaders, Kirk Smalley presents his inspirational story, and students are shown first-hand the life and death consequences of bullying. Through this unique approach, lives are changed for the better. Students, some for the first time, develop an empathetic awareness through education and understanding.
The goal of the program is to start a SFTS chapter at each participating site. Each chapter consists of a group of students committed to change. These students will no longer stand for their peers to suffer at the hands of a bully. At the end of each event, pledge cards are given to those who agree to stand for the silent. The pledge speaks of respect and love…hope and aspiration. Above all, it illustrates the main lesson taught through the Stand For The Silent program: I AM SOMEBODY.
Lately, I’ve been besieged by the thought of “living in the moment.” I’ve previously written about embracing where you are and how parents can make time count; yet, I find myself pontificating about what it truly means to live in the moment. As many in my generation do when they want to blurt out their opinion, I turned to Twitter to express my conclusion. Here’s what I wrote.:
It’s easy to scroll past a quote like that because, quite frankly, it’s an abstract concept. In other words, I gave you a Yoda-like quote with no practicability or applicable instructions. The good news is this blog is not constrained to 128 characters, so I can provide that for you today!
Living in the moment is a balancing act.
Living in the moment is actually fairly complex for many of us because it requires intentionality. If you were to observe the world around you, I promise you will find someone opposite ends of the spectrum. Neither side of the spectrum represents “bad” people. Having been on both sides myself, my justification was supported with good intentions. Either way, I had to find my equilibrium point after a wild swing of the proverbial pendulum.
On one hand, there are some who simply exist. They are physically present, but their mind is elsewhere. They appear isolated and disconnected from the people and world around them. Their number one defense is: “But at least I’m here, right?” Many may call them boring or a “drag” to be around. I say they are living at the moment.
On the other hand, there are people who appear to follow the wind wherever it leads. It’s almost as if the only word they know is “yes.” They are the ones who live by the motto, “you only live once” and proudly sport a “Carpe Diem” tattoo. Oftentimes, these people have very sporadic and inconsistent relationships. Their decisions are sometimes erratic, careless, and dangerous. Many may call them “scatterbrained,” or as the Temptations so talentedly sang it, “a rolling stone.” I say they are living around the moment.
Of course I wouldn’t recommend that you lean towards either side of the spectrum. Instead, as Goldilocks learned many years ago, we should strive for the “just right” combination of both.
Living at the moment.
Being physically present is a huge part of living in the moment. Some would argue that’s half the battle. However, I’ve been this person, and I’ve been around this person before. Honestly, many times it feels better if they just weren’t there. They are so disengaged and uninterested that bystanders feel personally attacked by their presence. Their [our] physical presence wasn’t a gift to those around them [us].
In my personal experience and opinion–of which I am an expert in–I believe closure is the biggest contributor to living at the moment. Whether it be closure from a past relationship, loss of a loved one, past hurt, or even daily activities, lack of closure seizes your mind and leaves you thoughtlessly going through the motions.
Here’s my advice to seek closure.
Be patient with this advice as it takes time and practice.:
Face whatever it is head on. It can and often will feel overwhelming, but it will steamroll you if you don’t accept responsibility for your own healing. Surround yourself with friends and professionals who can help you begin your journey. The only way to finish a large meal is one small bite at a time.
Acknowledge and accept your emotions triggered by this event, series of events, deadlines, etc.
Schedule time to journal out your emotions.
Develop a daily “closure” action plan that includes what you need closure from and what you are determining to be “the end” for that particular day. You want to tell yourself, “I will have closure today once I finish [this].”
Execute your daily plan or “ritual.” This is an intentionally scheduled time that ends with you declaring “the end” of that activity so you can become more engaged with those around you. I like to associate this step with a physical action.
For example, if I find myself constantly thinking about work, I will choose to only work in a designated location. When I finish work, I will say “all done,” turn the computer off, close the laptop, stand up, stretch, turn off the lights, walk out, and close the door. Over time, the combination of these verbal and physical cues trains my mind to leave all traces of those thoughts in my office. This frees me to be both physically and mentally present with my family.
Living around the moment.
Another song that comes to mind when I think of this group is, “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf! These are the thrill seekers who are either never around or so busy they never really have time to engage in normal human interaction. Since their minds are constantly fiending for the next thrill, their actions are usually infused with spontaneity. This isn’t inherently a negative thing until it impacts their [our] relationships with others.
Relationships are impacted because this group of people fails to exercise moderation. I believe they can find the same fulfillment and more if they add structure to their lives. Furthermore, I believe this group can benefit from the aforementioned steps for closure. Nevertheless, they must first become more organized.
Here is my advice to become more organized:
Goals, goals, goals! Here’s a topic I’ve written about a few times. Why? Because structuring your life begins with setting measurable and achievable goals that will lead you to your desired end state. Zig Ziglar said it best, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
Establish a “daily battle rhythm.” This is a military term that describes the deliberate, repeatable events we do everyday to achieve a specific goal. I know this sounds like nails on a chalkboard for spontaneous people, but don’t worry. You can (and should) schedule time to be spontaneous. Just ensure you achieve closure after each activity or series of activities.
CCTV. No, I’m not talking about closed circuit television. I’m talking about checklists, clocks, timers, and voices.
Checklists: Many scientists recommend checklists because–according to them– our brain releases dopamine every time we check that tiny box. That dopamine creates positive feelings which, in turn, gives us the adrenaline we need to complete the next task. This tends to work really well for thrill seekers because they enjoy that same dopamine release on their various adventures.
Clocks: Allocate blocks of time to do certain tasks. It may be tough to accurately guess the proper amount of time starting off, but you’ll be able to create a better time schedule as you continue to practice.
Timer: Having a scheduled time block is important; however, sometimes seeing that time dwindle is the psychological push we need to complete various tasks. Additionally, the act of counting down creates an urgency that gives importance and relevancy to each task. Some may argue that urgency draws on our adrenaline supply while increasing anxiety. Contrarily, I submit that the adrenaline rush is what gives us the momentum and focus to complete a list of tasks in a timely manner. Using timers are another method to combine physical and psychological activities to produce a favorable reaction.
Voices: Listen to your voice and your accountability partner’s voice. Sometimes, our thoughts tend to drown out our own conscience. That’s why we all need that friend (or group of friends) who will help hold us accountable. Listen to them when they tell you to “slow down” or “you’re never around.” They may be trying to help you grow.
Clean up! That “rolling stone” or “wild” lifestyle tends to make us a little junky. Physically organizing your personal and professional spaces is key to becoming more organized.
Limit distractions as much as possible. I know this can be a challenge depending on your situation, but we have to try! Close the door if you can work in a closed door office. Wear headphones while at the computer. Stay away from the break room during normal “chat” time. Set time restraints on your phone apps and web browser. These are just a few ideas to get you started!
I get it; living in the moment sometimes seems like a foreign concept or “dream deferred.” None of us will get it right all the time. In spite of that, the beauty of our daily journey is that we can let yesterday go to have a better today so we can start tomorrow off on the right foot. Be encouraged. Living in the moment is achievable!