Challenge Constructively

This morning at 5:30 AM, I got back to Prime Athletic Training & Fitness Institute for the first time in a week. Though I have gone running a couple times this week, today was my first day of lifting and it was obvious. Not because of the weight. I actually had a decent weight day. My effort is what told on me. It was as if I was proud of myself for just showing up. As if the gym should be happy I came. As if being there and doing the bare minimum and coasting through my “workout” was enough.

I was not there mentally. My mind was in a fantasy land. I was going through the motions so I could check off the gym box as opposed to being fully present. The General Manager, Rashard, came up to me about 30 minutes into my workout said “Bro, I’m glad you’re back in here but you see what that sign says?” “No sitting.” “No sitting. I’ve been watching you this whole workout. You’ve got to get back to it.” So I got back to it.

Find a community that cares enough about your wellbeing to get to know your work ethic and to challenge you when you miss the mark. I am past the point in life of needing a yes man/woman. Sure, sometimes everyone wants positive affirmation, but if I am messing up, I need you to let me know. Certainly don’t berate me maliciously but please come to me with constructive criticism that I can use.

Thanks to Rashard, I will be back where I need to be next time I step in the gym. Choose to be in spaces like Prime, where you are challenged, as opposed to spaces where they are just glad they pocketed your money for another month. And that applies to every circle you are in, from fitness to professional to social to spiritual. If it is not making you better, make it better so that it can make you better or let it go.

Make finding the right community a priority.

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People Notice

“You’re late today.”

This is what Rashard, general manager at Prime Athletic Training & Fitness Institute in Durham, said to me when I came in at 6:20 this morning. Monday through Friday, I am one of the first members in the building when the doors open at 5:30. And, while I’m sure they see over a hundred people go in and out of the doors every day, certain people stand out. When you’re consistent, people usually don’t mention it but they notice when you’re not on your P’s and Q’s. Now, sure, Rashard was just picking on me because, obviously, I still made it in this morning but when you stand out, make sure you keep standing out and doing it for the right reasons.

You may think no one notices your dedication but they do. Of all the people in the world, if you didn’t do what you do the way you do it on just one day, someone would notice. Your consistency matters not only to you but to those who see you working hard to better yourself.

By the way, Prime is a great place to workout for people just getting into fitness, those who are already exceptional athletes looking to develop that extra edge that will get them to the next level, or anyone in between. If you’re looking for a fitness facility in Durham (and I know I was for a while), this is the place to be.

Make commitment a priority.

Took a Look In the Mirror, Said “What’s Up?”

Last week was intense and draining. From the act of terrorism in Charlottesville on Saturday to marching with protesters down the streets of Durham, I was both physically and emotionally exhausted. The fact that school is starting and I was forced to interact without having time to process how the community I serve sees me didn’t help and I nearly shut down. I wrote two pieces for Blavity in which I exposed myself in both a very dangerous and very genuine way, in addition to my four pieces for my own blog (sorry about Friday but my mind was exhausted).

See the two pieces Blavity published below:

As Black People, Will We Ever Truly Have A Future In America?

What Do You Do When The Racist Is Your Neighbor?

So, this past weekend, I fell off, but in a healthy way. I forgot about my goals, I hung out with my friends, I went to Black August in the Park to remind myself of why I do what I do and, most importantly, I didn’t do any real work. I had a few mental health days. We all need them. But today is Monday. Bills don’t pay themselves and hard work won’t save my soul. So, today, I’ve committed to getting back to working toward my purpose. Life is too short to either get complacent or bogged down in circumstances that are outside of your control.

Have an amazing Monday. Step into every room with the goal of making a brighter future for everyone in the world. It’s not just about you or your family or the people who you feel you can relate best to. You’re at this point in your life at this time in history for a reason. Take a step back and see what you can learn from it, both on a micro and macro level. More hasn’t been placed on you than you can handle. The problem is in the underestimating of yourself.

 

Make personal reflection and purpose priorities.

Giving Back in the Right Places

At 6:15 AM yesterday, I walked out of my home an hour and a half before I usually do. Why? Because I had agreed to volunteer on the Bull City Breakfast for Scouting’s committee. Why? Two reasons. First, there are children who need assistance paying for programs like this and I believe that the dollars raised at the breakfast play a pivotal role in that. Secondly, experience on a résumé is not just professional experience. Outside of my 8-5, I volunteer in numerous capacities, from working with young people at my elementary school to doing marketing for my church to sitting on finance and fundraising committees for local organizations.

Gifts, both of time and treasure, are of the utmost importance to me. I don’t care what anyone says about the selflessness that goes into giving money and time away, it is one of the most selfish things I can do and do you know why? Not because of the connections I make or the token gifts that I receive for volunteering. I give back because the feeling that I get when I know what I’ve helped someone is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

We all have the capacity to give something. If you don’t have money, you have time. If you don’t have money or time, you have kindness.

 

Make giving back a priority.

The Long Weekend

Just came off a long weekend. While I wanted to take it to travel, I stuck around. And you know what I realize? You can have an adventure in your own area, especially if you live near a major/mid-sized metropolitan area. So, what do I suggest you do with your day off?

1 – Go to the park. I went to Pullen Park, one of Raleigh’s most notable public parks. It’s a great family place and, for me, it’s a pretty neat place to take photographs. From the children’s train that runs around the perimeter of the park to the pond at the center, I was able to capture some pretty great shots. And, even if photography isn’t your thing, the landscaping was beautifully done and people were having fun. It’s not Disney World but it’s a pretty happy place to be.

2 – Have lunch somewhere new/with a friend. I ended up at Setti, a Lebanese restaurant off Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh, where I met a good friend for lunch. We chatted about stuff we don’t always have time to discuss during church service on Sundays and enjoyed some pretty great food.

3 – Go to a museum. I went to the North Carolina Museum of Art after lunch. It was on my way back from Raleigh and though I’d been before, since I had nothing to do, I said I’d stop. But I had no idea there was an outdoor component to the museum. The additional exhibits were pretty neat. I’ll be back when the weather is nicer though because the chill kept me from exploring the entire property.

4 – Have a drink. Once I arrived back in Durham, it was around 4PM and I had been wanting to check out this pretty swanky looking bar downtown called Alley 26, so I did. I went, ordered their proprietary drink, the Alley Cocktail and enjoyed the experience of being in a bar that had a lack of televisions but no shortage of good conversation.

5 – Read and write. I’m moving out of order because I started my day by reading and blogging but Friday was even cooler because I had time to write a lot more (even though I really write as much as I want every day I just felt like I was able to explore more places to read and write at.

Other things I wish I’d done/would have done were the weather nicer: Gone to a library. Taken a swim. Taken a hike. Played some basketball. Rented a bike and gone riding. Had a picnic. Wrote a poem. Gone for a run.

I had a pretty great and relaxing day off. And it was much cheaper than my anticipated trip to Charlotte would have been.

 

Make taking care of yourself a priority.

Why I Do What I Do

Thanks to technological advances and enhanced forms of communication, as society grows more conscious of conditions across world, we are becoming increasingly aware of both the impressive successes of and enormous challenges facing humankind. Whereas we are doing much more for those across the world than ever before, we still have a long way to go. No one who wants to eat should be without food. No one who wants shelter should be without a home. No one who wants to learn should be illiterate. Yet there are the hungry, the homeless, and the illiterate, both domestically and overseas. I believe that the answers to these problems does not lie only in the economic or public policy sectors but also in the education of the next generation.

I am in the field of development because it restores my faith in humanity. Every family at the parents at the private PK-8 school I work at already pays tuition and yet, in recent years, between 80% and 90% of those families choose to give back annually. Do you know what that does? It offsets the cost of education for some families, improves technological resources, and adds to the professional development of the faculty and staff here so that their students and others can go on to solve problems such as hunger, poverty, homelessness, and other pressing issues. I believe that one of these students will play a role in ending world hunger or improving access to information across the world. True, they may not. But what if they do? And what if it’s a student who is on indexed tuition? And what if my dollars helped close the gap so that (s)he could be here? That is why I fundraise and that is why I give back to this school, my alma mater, and my church. Because I believe not only in what they do but also the communities and constituents that they serve.

Today is #GivingTuesday across the world. Put the hashtag into your search bar on Twitter or Instagram and you will see the conversation about how important it is to give back in the world’s 3 most important currencies: time, money, and love. Which will you donate today?

And, if you don’t know who to give to {or if you just want to make an additional gift}, I beseech you to consider make a small contribution to Duke School by clicking here.

Make giving back a priority.

 

*If you happen to click this link after Nov. 29, don’t worry, your donation is still just as important and just as acceptable.

 

Love Yourz

“There’s beauty in the struggle.” — J. Cole

No one wants struggle. No one wants pain. No one wants to lose people, either to the circumstances of life or to the inevitability of death. But know that there is purpose in the pain. Today, as I sat and met with the Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce of one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States of America, I had to thank God. 18 months ago, I was working for minimum wage (at that point in the retail season, there was no way I was making my commission mark). I never foresaw myself having the freedom to expense not only my caffè latte but also my guest’s just a year and a half later . And, then, after that minimum wage job, I still went through another struggle with equitable compensation before landing in this role. And now, I see that it was worth the struggle. All of it, from loss of family members to fighting for equal pay led me to this point. All of it was a part of a greater plan; His greater plan. I wouldn’t have met the people I met who put me in the position to get this position without being in the challenging situations.

Stick with it. You never know when you’re going to meet that person who will change your life in the blink of an eye. Keep putting in applications. Keep putting résumés out there. Keep putting positive vibes into the atmosphere. Keep going to networking events. Keep investing in your ideas. Keep keeping on. Giving up is the only way you can fail.

I’m happy. You will be too if you believe you can be.

 

Make professional development a priority… and don’t quit on that journey.