Don’t Be Mad at the Comp…etition

I just got an e-mail from one of my numerous photography newsletters. The headline said “Social Media is Ruining Photography.”

Let’s face it: We have a love-hate relationship with technology. We enjoy the ease with which we can maneuver through the day but we abhor the fact that simple jobs can now be done without us, meaning we have to work harder to make ourselves valuable. I even catch myself hating on Siri and her smart-sounding self (I set mine to have a posh British accent). She has never touched an encyclopedia, yet she knows almost everything. And she’ll tell you a joke if you ask her to. It’s almost like we don’t need humans anymore for 87% of life’s functions.

But we do need humans. We need humans to be better. This morning, I pulled up on a deadly train accident and wanted to photograph all of the yellow tape and flashing lights that surrounded the intersection. Issue is, because it was raining heavily today, I had resolved to leave my camera at home. Big mistake. I refuse to take a photo I have an intentional vision for with my iPhone. Sure, it’s fast and the image will be decent but it will always leave me wondering what my own human ingenuity could’ve created without the automatic lighting adjustments iOS makes.

No one really feels like lighting candles every night. And I’m not trying to light a fire to cook my dinner. Technology makes life easier. But the touch we place on life makes it engaging. So, don’t blame social media or technology for ruining art or taking your jobs. Art is a derivative of emotion. Creativity and problem solving comes with human empathy. Without an emotional experience, those things are as good as a forgery.

 

Make being better than technology a priority.

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Fear of the Three C’s

Yesterday, after getting a great night’s rest, I woke up to my go to morning newsletter to find out that Amazon passed up on RDU for HQ2. With 20 finalist locations, Amazon opted to split the wealth between two finalists: Northern VA and Long Island, NY. That’s all well and good but, once again, North Carolina missed out on a major bid. Now, let’s talk about why.

Southern comfort is a thing. No, I’m not talking about the whiskey. I’m talking about the twang when (some) Carolinians talk and our hospitably sweet diabe-tea when you visit. But it’s cool, right? Folks come from up north and think our slower lifestyles and “fast” moving traffic is neat. Well, so do we. In fact, we love it so much that it’s become a hinderance.

According to a poll, only 43% of local citizens strongly supported Amazon HQ2 being located in the Raleigh area. So, you mean to tell me that you’re not in favor of 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000? Why is that? Sounds crazy to me. No, excuse me. It’s not crazy. It’s fear.

News flash Carolinians: A large number of us are afraid of the 3 C’s. You’ve never heard of them so you don’t know what they are. That’s ok. I just realized it this morning but I’ve known it my entire life (which is why, as much as I love home and will be back, I’m getting the hell out of here for a while so I can be around some less fearful people). The three 3’s are *drumroll* change, commute, and competition.

I’ll start with the most obvious, which is change. In the south, people fear the unknown because, it’s unknown. This is why Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp can run an openly racist campaign advertisement saying he’ll take the role of ICE into his own hands and still (almost) win an election. Non-white immigrants represent change and the south likes things slow, steady, and at it’s own pace. This is why they fought so hard to keep slavery, Jim Crow, and mandatory minimums that look like everything they have always known. Change is scary. Amazon represents progress that non-Southerners will bring and that progress will require North Carolinian culture to change. That’s C1.

C2 is the commute. In North Carolina, we like our cars. We like our trucks and our sedans and our sports cars and our nice cars (say it with a thick southern accent and you’ll see where that speedway in Charlotte got its name). Automobiles are status symbols. ‘Round here *Memphis Bleek voice*, we drive by people who stand at bus stops with our noses up in the sky. In more developed cities, that doesn’t happen. I’ve been on the subway in New York and LA and seen A- or B-list celebrities on there too. It’s normal. But, for some reason, N.C. would rather continue fixing our messed up, pothole-filled roads and destroying the atmosphere with gas guzzlers instead of figuring out a sustainable and reliable transit system.

Therefore, you know what another reason of those who weren’t strongly for Amazon being located here is? They say we don’t have the infrastructure to handle it. That’s code for they don’t want to deal with the traffic. I have family members in central NJ who catch a train to NYC daily for work and then back. We’ve been spoiled when it comes to our commutes and now we don’t want to forego that.

C3 is competition. For some reason, we don’t feel like competing with the outside world. We don’t want Amazon flying in their “foreign” (from other states but still American citizens) team to take jobs that North Carolinians should have. What sense does that make? Now the “foreigners” aren’t here and neither are the jobs, which means neither is the growth. When companies like Amazon come to places like Raleigh, multiple industries boom. But, when they over look us, professionals who would’ve come here and started new business go elsewhere. Students who would’ve come to one of the Triangle’s over ten colleges and universities will now look elsewhere to get their education. Homes that should be built by our construction workers are going to be built in Northern VA and on Long Island. When we don’t want to compete, what we’re really saying is that we don’t want to win. We don’t want to be the best. We just want to be left alone to live with our Southern comfort.

Folks, Carolinian or not, take this as a lesson. You don’t want to be like present-day North Carolina. Hopefully, losing this bid isn’t what wakes us up. Let’s be honest with ourselves: we probably would’ve lost to a bigger city either way. What should wake us up is our attitude to even being considered for the bid.

Oh, and since we’re talking about Amazon, go grab my long-time friend Joe‘s new book, #ClosingSZN. It just went live last week. I got mine in the mail from Amazon today (I’m a hardcopy kind of guy but you can get the digital version and dive in right now if you want).

 

Make embracing the 3 C’s a priority.

Beautiful Chance

On yesterday’s final run of the month, I came across a small WWII-era airport that was tucked away at the very end of a dead end road. Being that I am a history buff who was born and raised in the Triangle, I thought I would’ve known something as cool as this was here.

The point of this is that, when you set a goal, like I did last month and you go above and beyond, more blessings come. You see, I ran an extra 2 miles past my goal yesterday. Had I stopped running a half a mile earlier (which would’ve put me right on track for hitting my goal with precision), I would have never seen this airport. I wouldn’t have these amazing photos.

Life is about chance but sometimes we create our own.

 

Make going that extra mile a priority.

Do Something You’ve Never Done

Last week, I posted about my 60 mile goal. With 11 days to go, I was 37 miles from my goal. Today, I hit mile 60 and, then, I kept running. Why? Because 62.14 miles is 100KM and I don’t know when I’ll ever be hitting this point again. Could be next month. Could be next year. Could be next lifetime. Who knows. All I know is that, today, I decided to accomplish something I’ve never done before. Why? Because, next time I want to accomplish something major when it comes to running, it has to be bigger than this. I’ve done a half-marathon. I’ve done a 100K month. What’s next? Either a full or 200K.

Now, let that translate to anything else in life. If you set a goal and you’re close to another goal, go ahead. Knock both out if you can. And then set a more challenging one next time around. You were given ability not so you could keep it to yourself but so that you could make some amazing waves on this third rock from the sun.

We’re 62 days until 2019. Don’t make excuses. Figure out how you can accomplish your goals.

 

Make smashing major goals a priority.

It’s Not All Smiles

Disclaimer: I’m a very happy and positive person. This post is just meant to address the aspects of my life that you don’t see online.

Social media will have you thinking everyone’s day is amazing. The traveling. The smiles. The love. The family. The articulate quips that seem to roll off the tongue and onto the stock photo. The gym progress pics. The overall balance.

Well, my life isn’t perfect. Right now, I am looking for a job that is fulfilling but lucrative. I also don’t want to let go of my creative passions because they drive me on the days I don’t feel like going to anyone’s office. My youngest first cousin just went to jail. My wife and I don’t see eye to eye on everything. One of my best friends may be moving before the year’s end. Oh, and I’m a black man in a nation where there is a target on my back 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Those are the challenges that you don’t see on Instagram and Facebook.

Mind you, I have a ton to be grateful for. I’m not complaining at all. I’m just saying that, in the age of instant gratification and narcissism, what you see isn’t always what you get. Social media allows us all, my- and yourself included, to show people exactly what we want them to see. Be mindful of that next time you think that you’re not where you need to be in life yet. Don’t get depressed just because everyone else seems to be living in a perpetual state of living their best lives. I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t have had a clue of anything in that second paragraph (minus the whole getting shot as a black man part) before today.

Thanks in advance for not taking advantage of my purposeful (but calculated) vulnerability. I hope it helps someone somewhere.

 

Make keeping everything in perspective a priority.

People See It In You. Why Don’t You?

So many people see greatness in you. They see that you are capable of accomplishing your dreams. Sure, there are people who don’t support but that’s life. The bottom line is, the person who needs to believe in you the most often doesn’t believe in you enough.

Trust that your passion will get you where you need to go. Today, I got a call from my brother to help him as he develops an internship program for his business. Lately, people have been contacting me for more and more creative gigs. While development consumes my days, my creative juices are always flowing. At night, I stay up creating content and editing photos.

I’m not saying quit your job to follow your creative aspirations… yet. I’m saying don’t let those things that pay your bills keep you from using your gifts. They are stepping stones. A means to an end. A seed of passion was placed into you for a reason. Water it so it can grow or it will die.

 

Make using your gifts a priority.

Keep It Movin’

Tonight, I was out at Home Goods with Desirée and my father-in-law, Dwight. Just as we were getting ready to leave, we ran into my dad’s oldest first cousin. He told me that he’s proud of me. He said he sees me on Facebook making moves. While most people say that and are talking about my traveling, his focal point was the wisdom that I am passing on via The Daniels Daily Reader.

I appreciate the fact that I made my cousin proud because that’s only a stone’s throw from my dad. And it means that my writing is not in vain.

Keep moving toward the mark. You never know who is inspired by the energy you’re putting out into the universe.

Thanks, Butch.

 

Make living in your purpose a priority.