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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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!
Here’s what you should expect to read and review with your children.:
Walking to school.
Identifying safe routes to school.
Your child’s readiness.
Instill safe habits.
Strength in numbers.
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.
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!
On the go? Listen to the audio version of “Talk is Cheap: 8 ways healthy couples set the example for their children!”
I remember my dad used to tell us, “Talk is cheap, but it costs money to buy land.” I’m sure I was too young to initially comprehend what my dad meant, but as I got older, I responded, “well duh. That’s obvious.” Of course that response was under my breath… ten minutes after he walked away, but it was my response nonetheless.
So why did he feel the need to regurgitate such an obvious analogy? It’s simple. Regardless of how pure our intentions were, our actions did not align with what we said we were going to do. Furthermore, our actions did not align with what we knew we should do. Yep, we talked a good game, but we did not set the example with our actions.
What’s even more interesting is though our parents repetitively reminded us to set the example through our actions, I still often find myself selling some of that “cheap talk” without applying any action. If you’re honest, you probably do it too. If that’s you, just keep reading and we’ll dive into some practical advice I have to help you set the example for your children.
Here’s what triggered my thoughts.
I posted this on Twitter a few days ago:
I was so proud of myself! “You’re setting a great example brotha,” I told myself. That’s when my own reminder smacked me. I asked myself, “do you truly ‘take heed’ and set the example daily?” Well, the obvious answer was, “no.” There I was selling that cheap talk again. Only this time, I decided to make a list of ways I could set the example. Here’s that list of eight ways healthy couples can set the example daily for their children:
Eight ways healthy couples can set the example.
“I don’t want my children–especially my daughters–trying to copy us with their friends!” That was my fear when it came to being affectionate in front of my children. Seems rational right? Maybe not. Either way, that was my excuse. I know I’m not the only one.
Trust me, I understand. However, this is one of the best examples we can set for our children. Showing affection to your significant other is demonstrating that you care. You are creating a physical and emotional safe place for him or her. Affection is the outward expression of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual connection, and it gives the receiver a feeling of adoration. To deprive your children of this example is to allow them to inaccurately develop their own understanding of how love is outwardly expressed based upon societal norms. This is the first and arguably the most important example of all.
What you want, baby, I got it What you need, do you know I got it? All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you get home
Man, Aretha Franklin rocked that song! Of course this song came out loooong before I was born, but it has always been one of my favorites. I mean, really… who doesn’t like a little respect?!
Respect is easy to define but hard to demonstrate because it often has a negative connotation. Somehow, we have managed to create the illusion that to respect someone is to become inferior to them. Instead, to respect someone is to value their words, opinions, and contributions regardless of the circumstance. It is to admire them for who they are and how much they mean to you.
So lay it on thick! Look your significant other in the eyes and tell them, “I want to know what you think before I make this decision.” Tell them, “Thank you so much for what you do for our home.” Speak very highly of your significant other… especially in front of others. Public praise goes a long way! Give genuine compliments without expecting anything in return. Say things we learned in elementary like, “please” and “thank you.” Last but not least, find out how your significant other wants to be respected and do that!
R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me
3. Organization skills.
I am a huge advocate for being organized. My wife and I try to do simple things like keep our room clean and orderly to teach the children how to take pride in and ownership of their belongings. However, my favorite thing we do is keep a joint scheduler. We try to put everything on the schedule from birthdays to bill dates to girls’ night out. Why? Because it allows us to plan ahead. It is a simple way to demonstrate a life lesson that our children can use throughout their personal and professional endeavors.
Some will argue that this kind of organization will hamper their relationship because their relationship thrives on spontaneousness. On one hand, I agree that if your schedule is so rigid that it doesn’t allow fun or spontaneous activities or chance encounters, your relationship will likely become stale and mundane. On the other hand, I submit that you should use your scheduler to plan for these opportunities. Many times, we aren’t as spontaneous as we think anyway because our disorganization causes us to lack the focus we need to make the best out of the moment.
I recommend you read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. You’ll be surprised how much distractions caused by disorganization keep us from accomplishing individual and couple goals.
This one gets me every time. I believe that patience is like any other muscle; if you don’t intentionally build it, it will fail when it’s tested. Like most parents, my children taught me a lesson about patience with the old “are we there yet” question. They challenged me to ask myself, “why are you getting mad over something so simple?” I admit that my ego didn’t allow me to answer the question maturely the first few times. “Because it’s a stupid question to ask every five minutes!” I would say to myself.
But I eventually stopped acting like a pouty child and decided to answer the question honestly, “I have no reason to be mad.” So if I can handle such a frustrating question without becoming frustrated, there is no reason I should become impatient with my wife. At least that’s my theory and nobody can tell me otherwise! Ok, I’m kidding (kinda). The point is that we have to intentionally build our patience to ensure we set the example for our children.
Forgiveness and patience go hand-in-hand. In fact, I believe that forgiveness enables patience. True forgiveness requires us to release all traces of bitterness, negative emotions, and desire to get revenge. Sounds pretty easy right? Not even close. Just like patience, we have to practice forgiveness if we want to set a consistent example. This requires us to do a few things:
Acknowledge your emotions. You won’t be able to move on if you pretend everything is ok.
Take some time to gather your thoughts. Don’t sulk and dwell on the negative. Just take some time to journal about how you feel and why you feel this way. Try not to even mention your significant other.
Avoid saying things like, “he (or she) should’ve known better!” Though it may be true, this is inflammatory and will only cause your emotions to spiral.
Understand your emotions and refrain from blaming yourself or your significant other for your emotions. I know, that’s easier said than done!
Confront to restore and strengthen your relationship, not to point out deficiencies or “hold accountable.” I know; you caught him or her red-handed, and this is your proverbial slam dunk! You’ll call them out, they’ll feel convicted, and you will feel a lot better!… Except that rarely happens. Shift your perspective from appeasing your own feelings and emotions to restorating and further developing a healthy relationship.
Now for the hard part–time to have the conversation (you knew you couldn’t avoid it forever). Prepare for every response. In a perfect world, your significant other will just say, “I am so sorry, and I will do anything to make it up.” We don’t live in a perfect world though! Be patient and continue to focus on resolution and forgiveness.
Regardless of how your significant other responded, let it go. It’ll be hard and may take a little time, but it is important for your relationship. Continue to be kind and work together towards a solution. Forgiveness may take time, but you both can do it and continue to grow together!
6. Confidence and Trust.
“Pull over and ask for directions.” “Nah, I got it.” I think this is one of the most common conversations couples have had over the years. I know we have the GPS now, but that doesn’t matter to me because I can figure it out for myself! It’s so bad that I even find myself looking for ways to prove the GLOBAL Positioning System (GPS) wrong. I put “global” in all caps because I wanted to point out that this handheld computer has a perspective that spans far beyond my own; yet, I am only using it as a reference instead of a guide.
We often do the same thing to our significant other, and in turn, our children do the same to us and others. Be confident in your significant other’s perspective and trust in their integrity and abilities.
When we demonstrate kindness in front of our children, we are teaching them an extremely valuable lesson. Kindness is all about being generous, friendly, and considerate. Ironically, the longer we are in a relationship, the more we tend to lose sight of this category. It’s easy to become comfortable in a relationship and assume our kindness is implied. Guess what? It’s not!
Put down the phone and offer to cook for the evening. Place the book on your night stand and rub your partner’s back. Add a little money in the budget to send your significant other to the barber shop. Whatever you do, make a daily practice out of putting your significant other’s needs and desires above your own. Strive to make them smile and feel good. Kindness is a key component to a healthy relationship.
8. Harmony and complementary strength.
As a musician, there is nothing more pleasing than a harmonious sound. That means every musical instrument or voice is fulfilling its role by hitting the perfect tone and note to create a melodious chord. In relationships, this kind of euphony can only be replicated when both parties intentionally work towards complementing the other. This is why it is important to connect with someone who complements your strengths and improves your weaknesses.
We tend to naturally attract to those who have those characteristics we lack. That’s why we have to be comfortable enough around our significant other to be vulnerable. This is the only way to truly demonstrate our need for and dependency on our significant other.
It’s time to buy the land
Setting an example for your children requires focus and intentionality. In other words, it won’t happen without a little work. So let’s put some action behind our words and set the example!
On the go? I felt this conversation about race was so important, I created an audio version just for you! Check it out:
“The Marines are set to have the first Black 4-star general in their 246-year history!” That was the title of an article posted on July 20, 2022 by NPR that I saw on LinkedIn. People typically have varying responses to articles like this: pride, celebration, skepticism, disgust, hope, anticipation, confusion, and inspiration are just a few. Nonetheless, it is a historical moment–one of which our children are witnessing and learning how to digest. The reoccurring question that we have to face as a society is, “does his race matter?” Well, today I am going to discuss this in a way that anyone can comprehend. This discussion will examine how we can use current events (like the article I mentioned above) to spark a conversation about race with our children.
My household rules about race discussions
Before discussing race in my house, I always lay some ground rules for my children:
Discussing and learning to appreciate who you are while embracing your heritage and culture does not make you superior to anyone else. We are all created equal.
Since we are all created equal, everybody deserves dignity and respect. I usually break it down for them. “Every” means “without exemption,” and it does not matter how the body is wrapped. That human being standing before you, whether physically or virtually, deserves dignity and respect.
Let’s dive in!
Color blindness is a myth
I know what some of you are thinking, “but I was medically diagnosed with color blindness!” Trust me, I am not being insensitive to your disability. In fact, my father is color blind, but in the context of discussions about race, color blindness is usually an argument that one only sees a person for what they have on the inside. At first glance, that sounds awesome! We should all have racial colorblindness, right? Well…it’s not that easy. I will use my own household as an example.
If you would’ve asked me a few years ago, I would have proudly proclaimed that we were raising my daughter to have racial colorblindness! “I don’t want her to say, ‘white folks this’ and ‘black folks that,’ I just want her to say ‘folks!'” It worked!… Until my oldest daughter made it to Transitional Kindergarten (about 4 years old). When she came home from school, she was excited to talk about all of her new friends. “There is one girl that is brown like me, but everyone else is yellow,” she said proudly.
I was shocked but didn’t say anything.
I simply let her continue to tell me about her new friends. She continued to come home and discuss how excited she was to have new “yellow” friends–one had the same name! That’s when it hit me: this young child got it right. She recognized a difference but still searched for a common ground. She naturally gravitated towards children with similar backgrounds but made a point to play with others who brought different interests to the classroom. For example, she absolutely hated water getting on her face, but she slowly began to explore swimming when she saw me and some of her “yellow” friends having fun in the pool.
In other words, my daughter recognized a difference but didn’t care! She didn’t need to pretend to be color blind to show genuine interest in others. She learned–and quite honestly taught me–how to embrace the things that made her different from her “yellow” friends. Now that she is in junior high, she obviously knows the difference between the many races, but her friend group remains diverse. She didn’t need color blindness; she needed her parents to avoid teaching her polarizing lessons about race.
It’s ok to celebrate
When discussing historical events (like the one I mentioned above) with our children, one of the most polarizing lessons we can teach is, “the general’s race doesn’t matter.” Some argue that highlighting the general’s race suggests that he was promoted because of his race. Some even argue that highlighting his race is ironically racism or “reverse racism.” In reality, the article described the general’s many accolades and credentials. It then discussed how senior military leaders have continued to focus on decades-old efforts to increase diversity and equality by eliminating systemic barriers. The barriers are eliminated so that the most qualified person and “best fit” gets the job/promotion.
Highlighting the general’s race is not to discriminate or claim ones race is more superior than the other. It is a celebration of progress! is progress that our parents and grandparents did not see when they were my age. It brings hope and encouragement that no matter how recently we were segregated, we are healing and making headway.
Need more to celebrate?
If that’s not enough to celebrate, then how about we celebrate how inspiring the general’s story is. He came from Shreveport, Louisiana. That means there are young people in Shreveport (and surrounding areas) who can/will see someone succeed who looks just like them. It inspires them to pursue their own dreams because those young people relate to the general’s experience. “If he can do it, so can I!” I have seen and heard this numerous times. We cannot discount the effect headlines and historical events like this have on our future generation. Each of us can influence a unique group of people, and General Langley is no exception to this rule.
Systemic racism still exists
This is the final topic and probably the most taboo when discussing race. Some of you may be ready to jump ship, but don’t worry; I’ll keep the ship steady, so stay with me. I have discussed my thoughts on systemic racism with a couple of people, but now it is time to share it with the world. Sometimes, we solely identify written rules, policies, and regulations as the “system,” but we fail to discuss the most integral part of any system–the human being.
For example, I talked to a Human Resources (HR) specialist who said her company has several non-discriminatory hiring policies in place; however, if she sees a “Shequita” (or any unique name for that matter) on the application, she will place the document on the bottom of the stack. That means Shequita never even had a fair chance at the job! Why? Because the HR specialist assumed Shequita was black, she used her authority to deny Shequita’s application. Is it unethical? Yes. Does the company have policies in place that condemn this type of behavior? Yes. Does the company have monitoring and accountability measures to prevent this from happening? Let’s just say the HR specialist had been doing this for at least two years when she told me this story. This is just one of many examples of how a human being can commit discriminatory acts on behalf of a company and inevitably create/maintain systemic barriers.
Let’s move forward!
So when we discuss this topic with our children, it is important that they understand that we celebrate progress while pushing for more. We celebrate the removal of barriers–both people and policy alike! This is an all-hands effort that requires us to embrace our differences, isolate detractors, and celebrate the many steps forward! The ongoing race war will only end in victory if all races fight together for unity and equality.
The ongoing race war will only end in victory if all races fight together for unity and equality.
Thanks for joining me today! Have a great weekend!
One of the best parts about visiting my hometown is stopping by some of the places that brought me wonderful memories. I guess you could say I am often overcome with acute nostalgia. One place I always like to visit is my old job that I worked during my college days. This time around, I reflected not only on the fun times I had and the great people I met but on the lessons I learned that I still apply today. The best way to describe my time there is to borrow a quote from Charles Dickens: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Regardless, the biggest lesson I learned was to embrace where you are because there is a lesson in everything. I learned some lifelong lessons:
Although my name tag introduced me as a “server,” I absolutely hated that label. I preferred to be called a “waiter” because “server” felt degrading, demeaning, and humiliating. I often quipped, “I work and study hard, so I am no one’s servant!” It wasn’t until later that I truly understood and began to appreciate how important servitude is. In fact, I learned that servitude is one of every successful organization’s core values, and it is one of each inspirational leader’s foundational principles. Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive. Serving others is an honor.
Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive.
I always considered myself a hard-working guy who does not mind getting dirty. Like seriously, I worked on a chicken farm in high school. I always envisioned I would use that blue-collar mentality to become the leader known for rolling up his sleeves and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his constituents to get the job done.
Even so, there was a part of my job as a server that completely humbled me–“crab leg night.” On “crab leg night,” we added crab legs and other seafood items to the buffet. Aside from holidays like Mother’s Day, these were by far the busiest shifts. Of course there was nothing wrong with “crab leg night” in general; however, some customers really tested how far my attitude of servitude would stretch!
They tested my humility!
Customers complained about prices, questioned me about the quality of the food, threw crab legs on the floor, left a $0.27 tip, and truly tested my humility. Even so, I had to question why I was getting frustrated with these type of customers who made up a very small percentage of the customers I served. My conclusion was that I was frustrated because I felt this kind of work was “beneath me.” That was a red flag because it was contradictory to my can do, blue-collar philosophy. That day I took an oath to never allow myself to become so consumed by my own self-worth that I am unable to willingly and cheerfully serve others.
Remember those busy “crab leg nights” I mentioned? Funny story: I actually made a pretty big mistake during one of the busiest crab leg nights I’ve ever worked. I remember it like it was yesterday: the team and I were working hard to keep customers satisfied–refilling drinks, busing tables, serving orders etc.
Well, it was my turn to make some more sweet tea. As I had done numerous times before, I grabbed two buckets and headed to grab sugar. The first container I opened was completely empty, so I quickly moved on to the second container. Once I opened the second container, I observed the white granular content within and proceeded to scoop it into my buckets. About five minutes later, one customer stopped me to tell me her tea did not taste right… Then another… Then another.
I made a huge mistake.
Before long, everyone in the restaurant who previously had a taste for sweet tea was now waving their glass in the air while making a disgusted face. I am sure it was only about four or five customers, but to me, it seemed like the entire restaurant was about to start a riot. That is when one of the customers yelled, “this is salty, and I’m a diabetic!” If you haven’t figured it out by now, I put about two giant scoops of salt in the “sweet tea.” I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t tasted it myself. It reminded me of my first time wrestling with my brothers in the Atlantic Ocean.
Several customers requested free meals and other accomodations to make up for their salty surprise. As expected, the manager on duty (and owner) was not very happy with me. I later walked in her office fully expecting to be written up and charged for several meals for this mistake. Instead, she asked me what happened, then told me to be more careful in the future.
She forgave me for what should have been an easily-avoidable mistake and inadvertently taught me a lesson about forgiveness. You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve. I was bought in from that day, and I did my best to represent myself and the company well throughout each interaction. Her forgiveness earned my loyalty and respect.
You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve.
Embrace Hard work.
Gordon B. Hinckley has a quote that has resonated with me: “without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” I believe I relate to this quote because I have literally spent countless hours pulling weeds while doing yard work. I also metaphorically understand how much we grow and develop from each of our experiences. When I was working as a server, I learned that my work ethic had a direct correlation with my success. There was nothing like walking around for a few hours while ensuring each of my customers had a pleasant experience. My customers’ smiles, words of encouragement, tips, and appreciation gave me a sense of accomplishment each. Pretty soon, I began to crave that feeling of accomplishment and it became one of my driving forces each day. Work hard and grow!
Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.
Gordon B. Hinckley
One of my least favorite parts about working at Peking was missing my little brother’s and oldest nephew’s basketball games. It annoyed me so much that I considered just not showing up to work a couple of times. These thoughts were usually short-lived when I remembered I had bills to pay, but more importantly, I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.
I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.
I knew my time at Peking would be short-lived, but I had to remain focused on why I was working there in the first place and how much I was growing in the process. Though I sacrificed quite a bit of my social life, I gained the financial stability I needed to prepare me for life after college which included marriage, children, and starting a career. All of the lessons I learned and the sacrifices I made during this time in my life came to head and made me the man I am today. Although I remain a work in progress, I am grateful that I chose to embrace my time as a server, and I implore you to embrace where you are today. You can and will grow from this!
That was my experience, but what have you learned from your past experiences? What can you learn as you embrace where you are now?
You read that right! My newest children’s book, Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine, is finally here! Check out this cool (and completely adorable) commercial my daughter created!
How can you support my newest children’s book?
Great question that I am glad to answer!
My brother (Josh aka the illustrator) and I are going LIVE on Facebook and YouTube this Friday (2/18) at 10 A.M. EST on Story Time with Mr. Limata! We will read Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine, have a discussion, and do a Q&A session with YOU! I look forward to seeing you there!
As always, thanks so much for your support! Click here to check out my Amazon Author Profile for more information on this children’s book and my others!
*Quick commentary from Olaolu: I created Parent-Child-Connect to provide resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to connect with their children. I believe a large part of that mission is to use my platform to encourage and spread hope! With that in mind, I am excited to share the virtual stage with a great friend who has been like family to us since we started active duty service in 2013! Meet, Aubrie Owens aka my wife’s bestie. She is excited to speak out and share small portion of her story to encourage, educate, and empower you! Like, share, comment, enjoy!*
I have been contemplating writing this, and I have finally decided to speak out. Social media tends to highlight happy moments, but in truth, it’s not all happiness. I have been struggling with endometriosis for many years now. For those who don’t know, endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is “a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus” (source: mayoclinic.org). They say one in every ten women struggle with this condition. It has caused me infertility and pain for many years, and I have had countless miscarriages and heartbreak because of it. It hasn’t all been heartbreak though. My husband Kyle and I have also had many joys giving birth to a beautiful daughter named Yuri and watching Ava be a wonderful big sister. I have also been fortunate to have amazing doctors and family/friend support.
How it started:
Around 2013, I went to the ER with abdominal pain. The doctors discovered a cyst the size of a softball near my ovary, and they determined surgery was the best option. During the surgery, they identified that I had severe endometriosis. They advised me to immediately start consulting a fertility doctor if I would like to have children in the future. This led us to visit multiple doctors which, in turn, led them to prescribe me multiple medications. Numerous Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments resulted in many miscarriages. Finally, in 2016 (our last IVF attempt), I became pregnant with Yuri.
After months of heartbreak and disappointment, we finally conceived a child! However, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. In 2017 I almost lost my life, and we almost lost Yuri. I had appendicitis that resulted in sepsis, and Yuri and I would spend months in the hospital trying to recover.
The journey continues:
I have accepted the hard truth; it is time for a full hysterectomy. Though I am extremely grateful that I was able to conceive my two children, I do not want to continue to live with the pain. I do not write this for sympathy but in hopes I can reach another woman who is going through a struggling time. Whether you have had to endure a chronic illness or disorder, a miscarriage, or pain that led to infertility, I am here. We as women must choose what is best for us and never let others dictate how we feel.
Today, I ask for good vibes and prayers as I go in for surgery. I’m going to be straight with all of you, I am scared. The last time I went in for surgery I almost lost my life and my child. But I am thankful for the support of my family, friends, and wonderful doctors. I am appreciative of my husband who has supported me throughout many trying times. He held me as I cried over the children we lost. He spent countless hours with me in the hospital when I was ill, and stayed most nights with Yuri in the NICU.
As silly as it sounds, part of me feels like I am losing my ability to be a woman. I will never be able to carry another child. It is especially painful because people often ask, “are you going to try again for a boy?” I’ve decided my health and my body means more to me than bringing another life into this world. Getting to spend time with my family pain free will be the most rewarding joy.
I write this today as an encouragement to you all. Speak out! Do what you feel is best for YOU. In a world of uncertainty, your happiness and your health is the number one priority.
Hello great people! Recently, I was watching a movie called “Arrival” on Hulu. Here is a brief description I found on Google:
“Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.”
I will not give my opinion on the movie (because it is irrelevant for today’s topic). However, there was one quote at the end that got my wheels turning. 🤔
“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?”
-Actor Amy Adams playing as Louise Banks (Arrival)
I started to pontificate on this slightly modified thought, “What if I could see ‘the end?’ Would I change what I am presently doing?” The easy answer is YES! But how?
1. Start Imagining
In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey said, “begin with the end in mind.” This requires foresight, imagination, and vision.
Our [your] ability to imagine in high definition is our [your] super power!
Try this: Close your eyes and see your children in the future. What kind of personality do they have? Do you know what brings them joy and fulfillment? What opportunities exist for them? Keep imagining! This is a high definition imagination moment (e.g. if you cannot taste the coffee that future you is sharing with your child[ren], just keep letting your mind wander!)
I’ll give an example. Brea and I imagine that our children will create healthy relationships, maintain a positive mental attitude, and be financially stable/free. That’s “the end,” but how do we get there??
2. Start Building (in reverse)!
Ok, so now that you have a clear picture of “the end” what do you do? You start building… in reverse!
Let’s take financial stability/freedom for example. We asked ourselves, “what does financial stability look like for our children later in life?” We imagined our children comfortably traversing through three key areas of finance: giving, saving/investing, and enjoying.
1. Giving: We truly believe Acts 20:35 that says, “…it is more blessed to give than to receive.” So not only are we extremely transparent with our giving, we encourage our children to do for others! Give their time and their talents. Give [donate] a percentage (at least 10%) of the money they earn. We want them to feel and understand the value of promoting the welfare of others.
2. Saving/Investing: I admit, this is a tough skill that requires discipline and practice, but if mastered at a young age, our children can ensure their future financial stability while building a legacy for future generations.
Currently, we are teaching our children to save using a couple of different “baskets.”
Basket (A) is call “short term savings.” The short term savings basket is used to get things that require them to save for less than ~30 days. For example, my 7 year old would work for a couple of weeks to earn enough money to purchase a $15 toy.
Basket (B) is called “long term savings.” The long term savings basket is used for things that take longer than ~30 days to save for. This is a little harder for the younger ones, but my 11 year old would work hard for a few weeks to purchase some brand new shoes…… Yea, she’s at that phase in her life. Bring back the little cute puzzles from Dollar Tree!! 😬🙄🥴… I digress.
You get the point, right? We are teaching them to consistently put money aside vice constantly working the “instant gratification” muscle (we will get to that in a second).
Lastly, we introduced my oldest to the concept of investing in mutual funds, and thanks to the Financial Literacy Flashcards by the Finance Doctor (shameless plug 🔌⚡), we have been able to teach her some valuable financial literacy terms! In the future, we will likely open a custodial Roth IRA, show her how we consistently invest for her college expenses, etc. But for now, we are slowly exposing her to the concept of long-term investing at a pace that we feel is appropriate.
3. Enjoying: This one came natural for our children–nobody had to teach them how to spend/enjoy money. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that! By mastering the other two key areas, our children will be able to reap the benefits of their hard work. We are not flashy people, but there are a few luxuries that we indulge in as a family so our children understand that there is nothing wrong with treating yourself! In fact, it is a must for a healthy lifestyle. Work hard, play hard!
And that’s it! That is just one of many examples of how we are building our lives in reverse. See how easy that was?!
Now it’s your turn. Give me an example of how you are (or will start) living your life in reverse!