Just BE

How many of us are living the life that has been defined by someone else? How many of us are breathing stale air and reminiscing on forgotten dreams? I continuously question my purpose, my passion, and my place in this world. I decided to stop chasing after the “American Dream” and to focus more on being. Being present, being passionate, being happy, being grateful. I am no longer here to operate in the narrow halls of societies definition of life, but to expand my presence to cover as much space as possible.

We get so caught up in trying to obtain something that we miss out on the experience, the lessons, the journey. We wish for the end at the beginning and refuse to appreciate the process.  The struggle is real, but it is also the place where we grow the most. We plant a seed and we want it to grow right now, but in reality there is an entire process that has to take place before the seedling can even breakthrough the soil.  Even after seedlings have broken through the hard ground, they are not ready to be harvested.  There is still more cultivation of the crop that has to take place.

The work that it took to prepare the ground, till the ground, and protect the crop is tiresome.  If any steps are missed, all of the handwork that you put into the harvest will be wasted.  At every step of the process it may not seem that the work that you are putting in is worth it, but you have to remember why you even took the first step down this road. Be where you are. Be in that moment. Be aware. Be awake. Be engaged. You are here for a reason that is greater than this moment. Just BE.

Every step may not be easy, but every step is worth. Make sure you are walking in the right direction and not going backwards because you cannot see what is next. Take a moment and be grateful. Count your blessings. Express gratitude for your today.

Just BE. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

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Inspire Through Your Actions

There is a difference between those who are teaching the people as a leader and those who are teaching people to lead.  There are many people who can tell you from the pulpit that you can be successful, but few are willing to teach you how to be successful.  People are using their words to inspire instead of their actions.  Your words should be used engage and encourage, but your actions should inspire.

There is so much work to do and a shallow analysis of the current state of America will not change our tomorrow.  I am trying to balance my engagement and my action.  It is easy to sit behind a computer and say words that sound good, but it takes so much more effort to do the work that supports those words.  I am challenging myself to do less talking and more action.  I am working with grassroots organizations and personal initiatives to change the world, but I can do more. We all can do more.

I cannot tell you what your more is, because it is personal.  You have to tap into your passion and work hard at creating that change.  Life is going to be what we make of it.  We cannot leave it up to the next generation to make things better.  We have the power and we can change the world today.

Less talk.  More action.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

I AM Where I AM Supposed to BE

It is easy to say that you are in the right place at the right time when you are in a positive position.  We can easily declare that we fought our way to be right here or sacrificed enough to achieve a certain status when things feel great, but what about the times when we find ourselves in a valley.  Many of us pat ourselves on the back for our successes and beat ourselves up for our failures.  We should not do either.  Our success is not always triggered simply by the things we have done recently, but usually manifestations of seeds we planted long ago.  Our failures are not always a result of recent missteps, but a bump along this road called life.

We can easily look at ourselves and say we deserve to be where we are, except if we are in a bad place.  Although we may not deserve it, many of us need to go through that valley to be prepared for the next level. The glory of our greatness is balanced by the reality of our limitations.  We can only be great as the weaknesses we recognize and work through.  It is easy to highlight our strengths, but it takes courage to expose our weaknesses and transform them into foundational characteristics that lead to a better us.  We excel naturally through our strengths, but we build character by  converting our weaknesses into lessons of power.

Accept that you are in the right place at all stages of life.  Learn all of the lessons the first time around so that you are always moving forward, even when you are going through growing pains.  I am where I am supposed to be right now and I was where I was supposed to be weeks ago when I was in a dark place.  I had to go through that tunnel to get to the light.  The tunnel taught me how to focus, how to fight, how to listen, and how to learn even when it feels like I am stuck.  I never want to go back there, but my next tunnel will be full of new lessons and help me to be better than I was before I entered it!

I am enjoying the light and preparing my mind for my next valley or tunnel.  I want to grow and reach greater heights and I know this will take me through many valleys, over many mountains, and through many tunnels.  Basking in the glory of His goodness and accepting that the days behind me helped me be where I am today.  I am blessed.  I am grateful.  I am where I am supposed to be.

Your steps are ordered.  Live Excellently.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Set Your Own Expectations

If we became only what other people thought we would become, many of us would have never achieved half of our accomplishments.  Somewhere through the negative noise and circumstances, I told myself that I was going to make something out of nothing.  Some of this came from positive television shows that depicted the awesomeness of college and success, along with great movies that showed the underdog coming out triumphant every time.  Looking back now, that was a window out of my dark world and into an opportunity that helped create my ambitious spirit.  We become what we see around us.  I was influenced by more than just the images I saw on TV, but by amazing people who used their gifts to love and lead me.

An aunt that I grew up around always expected excellence from me.  My aunt spoke to me in a way that helped me to see the greatness in myself.  I always felt like she was my personal guardian angel, but she used her gifts to support and encourage her friends, family, and students .  Being around her always made me strive for more, despite anything that I was going through at the time.  The seeds of success had been planted by family and teachers throughout my life, but while I was in high school my aunt tilled and cultivated my intellectual, emotional, and social garden.  She did not allow me to make excuses or pity myself.  She helped me to see the lessons in my negatives and taught me how to use them as positives in my future.  She allowed me to speak freely, but did not allow me to retain that bitterness and anger that permeated my soul at times.

These important moments in my life taught me that no matter what others said I would or would not be, what others assumed I could or could not achieve, or whatever things I did not have were not determinative of my success.  When I went off to college, I did not have anyone pushing me to be the best.  The first semester I coasted through and ended up with mediocre grades.  I had to refocus myself, decide if college was where I wanted to be, and step up to the plate to prove to MYSELF that I belonged at Howard.  There were so many times when I wanted to give up, but I had to remind myself that I was built to win and the end result would be worth the sacrifice.

Many times we allow others to set expectations for us.  We live up to the standards that are set by those around us.  If the expectations are high and we do not achieve it or if the expectations are low and we exceed them, our success or failures could become a stumbling block to getting to our true purpose.  If you want the most out of life, YOU have to expect more out of yourself and follow your heart, not just simply achieving what others want for you.  People may see you working hard and admire you, but you know if you need to put in more work to get to the next level.  Outsiders may exalt you for what you have done, but you have to remain focused on where it is that you want to end up.  People may laugh at your failures and remind you of where you said you would be, but only bitter people measure your failures against their standard of success. Remain driven, passionate, and ambitious to not lose sight of your dreams.

Expect greatness from yourself.  Walk in excellence.  Speak positively.  Teach willingly.  Live in humility.  Give your all to everything that matters to you most.

Set your own expectations.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

What is Ambition?

Dreams + Action = Ambition

Ambition can be seen as a verb.  A verb conveys an action.  Ambition conveys you to use drive, determination, perseverance, resilience, and courage to elevate and complete the steps necessary to fulfill your dreams.  Ambition is taking the dream that no one may believe in, and writing out a plan of action.  Ambition is taking the plan of action and working on it day after day after day.  Ambition is failing and still believing in yourself.  Ambition is making small success along the way.  Ambition is starting a movement with just a few friends and creating a change that affects the world.  Ambition is getting an education or a job to help your family.  Ambition is getting up everyday to provide for your family as you try to remain passionate about your dream.  Ambition is being involved in your community, reaching back to lift as you climb.

Outside forces are diluting the hard work that goes into the word ambition.  The legs, backs and shoulders that ambition stands on did not dream, wake up then succeed.  They dreamed, failed, became doubtful and then kept dreaming.  Ambition allows you to develop your craft.  Ambition pushes you when you have become complacent.  Ambition is not fancy cars, clothes and houses.  Ambition is having more than enough, being fulfilled physically, spiritually and mentally.  Ambition is being in a place you never thought you would get to because someone kept telling you that you are undeserving, unqualified or unworthy.

Ambition. The word begets a cloud of dreams when you say it. Ambition.  It brings forth hope and power.  Ambition.  The blood begins to rush through your body and adrenaline kicks in saying, “Do something now!”  Ambition is not benefitting from an activity that diminishes those around.  Ambition is not elevating while tearing others down.  Ambition is not succeeding while everyone else around you fails.  Ambition is power.  Ambition is strength.  Ambition is also grace.

Be ambitious in your words and actions.  Be ambitious as you smile through it all. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your story.  On your own terms.