Meet The Goal

There is not a day that goes by where goals are not being set, some of them you achieve and others seem to remain forever elusive. There are strategies available that can assist all of us in meeting more of our goals as well as empower us to life a life of significance.

Going From Not Now to Not Yet to Now Achieved

“Yet” is an adverb that is defined as: ‘up until the present or a specified or implied time; by now or then. An adverb is a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. “Not” is an adverb defined as, “used with an auxiliary verb or “be” to form the negative.” Therefore, “Not Yet” in a simplified form is “the opposite of now.” There is a Bible verse in Hebrews 11:1 that states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is how I have gone from “Not Now” to “Not Yet” to “Now Achieved.”

Jerry 'D-Rhino' Clark and I
The first part of my journey begins with a “Not Now” reality. In the year 1996, I accidentally and on purpose found myself working with a major litigation support company in their Information Technology department as a “Systems Support” technician. While I loved the service I performed, the director of the department informed me, that I had reached the plateau of growth within the department and no other raises or promotions were possible told the job as a whole left me unfulfilled and me. As the years went by my desire to improve myself caused me to seek resources in the form of books and audio programs that would teach me new concepts and give me new ideas on how to live a fuller life. This search led me to an old high school friend, Jerry “D-Rhino” Clark that in December of 2000 was hosting what he called “The Self-Mastery Boot Camp” in Dallas, Texas. Although I had not seen him in nearly 20 years this “boot camp” would be the first of many workshops I would attend in my life. I sat and listened attentively to every presenter that spoke. I took copious notes and seized the opportunity to ask questions at every turn. One of the presenters by the name of Artemis Limpert said something that would alter the course of my life when she shared with those in attendance, “If you can’t go back then you must go forward. And if you must go forward, failure is not an option. And if failure is not an option, you will succeed.” That statement caused me to think that everyone must meet his or her goals in life to be truly happy in life. This thought caused me to quickly leave my seat and retreat to my hotel room where I secured the internet domain name After the end of the day’s section of learning and development, while on the way to dinner I said to my friend as we rode to the Olive Garden restaurant, “Jerry one day I am going to speak at one of your boot camps!” After his laughter subsided and he reminded me that “we hadn’t seen one another in 20 years” and that “people pay a lot of money to speak at my boot camps, but hey you never know.” I quietly sat thinking yes, not now but one day I will. In the video by CarolDweck called “The power of believing that you can improve” she said “…Not Yet, you understand that you are on a learning curve, it gives you a path into the future” and this thought serves as the foundation of my story.

The next part of my journey continues with a “Not Yet” moment. Nearly one year after attending my first boot camp hosted by Jerry, he called me and asked me would I be willing to speak at his upcoming boot camp and tell the students about our lives prior to the success level he had reached. After agreeing, I reminded him of the conversation we had a year earlier in the car ride to dinner and he said “wow isn’t that fascinating how things work?” After my presentation at the boot camp, Artemis Limpert 
Artemis Limpert
who had at that point become one of my mentors approached me and said “Rodney you have something, I don’t know what it is but you have a gift and you should seriously consider teaching for a living…” I was blown away by her words because my Not Now had turned into Not Yet because that event was my first time speaking publicly in my life. It was time now for me to set a goal to become a paid motivational speaker and trainer. While still working in Information Technology I began giving unpaid talks to Boys and Girls Clubs, after school programs, graduations and online interviews in my quest to reach the goal I had set before me. Mrs. Limpert was right that I “had something” but I just didn’t know how I would make the transition to full time speaking. One of the programs that I delivered to Charles R. Drew University Saturday Science Academy was called 7-Steps to Grow a Child of Greatness and after completing the 7-part workshop, I realized that I also needed a systematic plan to go from local presenter to global speaker. Was I ready? Not Yet! Did I have a plan? Yes!

Mr. Motivator Les Brown and I
Being a student is the first step to being a teacher. What was once a Not Now moment, that lead to a Not Yet reality, soon would lead to a Now Achieved situation. As I continued my journey to increase my abilities as a speaker, I attended a speakers training workshop hosted by Mr. Les Brown. At one of the break moments Mr. Brown spoke to me directly and asked me the following question: “Rodney are you going to die with your gifts in you?” After replying “no sir!” He then commanded me to “get out of that windowless office, toiling away for money and go help some people.” He continued, “Someone is waiting for you to show up. Someone’s entire life is hinging on you, showing up.” This talk by Mr. Brown ultimately led to me resigning from Information Technology as a worker and starting my own company teaching others how to use the technology. 

By having what Mrs. Dweck called a “growth mindset” over “a fixed mindset” allowed me to see a possibility, set a goal to reach and perform the necessary actions to achieve the goal. Yes Mrs. Dweck I agree that there is “power” in “believing that” I “can improve.” My desire to overcome what the director of I.T. said so many years ago that I had reached the “plateau of growth within the department and no other raises or promotions were possible,” I knew that if I wanted to go beyond his “fixed mindset” I would need additional education and up to date skills. Two years ago I set an intention or goal to “get off the road and go to school for Information Security.” In January of 2017, I began my first classes toward achieving that goal. As I near the conclusion of my first semester at Glendale Community College, I can tell you that setting goals and actively engaging learning that gets you closer to that goal is a formula that works. As I take the next steps toward what will ultimately lead to a BS in Information Security from Arizona State University, I am reminded that it all started with a Not Yet that led to a Not Now that ultimately leads to a Now Achieved reality…if I just stay the course.

Protect Your Value(ables)

The values that are valuable vary from person to person and must be protected. Values as a verb is defined as; “consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.” And valuable is defined as; “a thing that is of great worth, especially a small item of personal property.” In the King James version of the Bible, in Luke 17:20-21 it states: “20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” 

There are three areas that I value in life and they are interdependent when properly understood. The first of these values is self-worth. After watching the video presentation by Robert Waldinger titled “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study onhappiness” I realized that while the research was sound, I do not believe those doing the study looked deep enough into why some of the participants where “happier” than others. True happiness comes from within and while “good relationships keep us happier” as suggested by Mr. Waldinger, those relationships and their relative goodness is ultimately a personal choice. I have always valued my own internal happiness and I realized very early in life that anytime I did not feel happy or fulfilled, it was not my external world that needed changing it was my internal thoughts. My oldest son when he was a teenager decided to do some not so good things with his life. And while his choices had an effect on me as his father due to my love for him, I quickly chose to love myself and own my internal feelings instead of being influenced by the actions of my son. Doing this immediately changed my feelings within and while I did love my son, I chose to love me more, enabling me to love him in spite of his teenager antics. Which leads to my second value and that of family. My spiritual father Minister Louis Farrakhan once said “...nothing is more important and sacred than family...”  When as an individual you decide to experience happiness within by the choices you make that feeling of self-joy extends to those around you. Based on Mr. Waldinger’s video presentation and the studies done it can be extrapolated that those test subjects that were the happiest chose to be that way and in spite of the normal challenges of life, the external world did not alter their internal feelings of happiness. I do agree with the study in that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period!” In my life I found that when I had mutually beneficial relationships with others, the quality of my internal happiness was enhanced. Knowing that there are people directly connected to me that I can rely on and assist provides what I call a “Relationship Energy Loop” like any good electrical circuit, the energy flows in a circle giving light, life and power to all connected. The final area I value is community. “Self-Improvement is the Basis of Community Development” as the guided study system created by Minister Louis Farrakhan states. Communities are made of individuals, individuals connected in homes make up families, and families clustered in close geographic areas comprise communities. Community is important toward nurturing strong families and individuals as it provides the broader support system that keeps the smaller units intact. Having friends that I started with in Preschool, knowing their families and each parent knowing the parent(s) of those I called my friends gave me a strong feeling of belonging. Never feeling like I was alone no matter where I was in my neighborhood because knowing that I could knock on a door of my neighbor and get not only guidance as a child but also get food as well was a definite community bonus. To be invited in to have lunch or dinner with a family that was not of my immediate family shored up the feelings of belonging. So being happy within self allows you to work effortlessly within your family unit and gives you a greater chance at being invited over for lunch within your community, and who couldn’t see the value in that?

I-Media-tly Get Social or Not

Social media is here and who cares if you do not like it! Over the last 30-years, the digital landscape in the world has jumped rapidly. Leaving many behind during the days of DOS and PASCAL program languages, to dropping others off at the advent of the color screen and QWERTY keyboard.

QWERTY Keyboard
However, no other development in those 30-years has had a greater impact as “social media.” According to PC Magazine, social media in part is defined as, “The online forms of communication that individuals and companies use to share information with interested parties (friends, colleagues, customers, etc.).” Where children used to “go outside to play” with their peers, they now “play” with others on a “digital playground” and all ages can “play” with no consequence of being labeled as a “child.” There is no denying the importance of social media. In a 2013 article written by Gareth Cook in Scientific American titled “Why We Are Wired to Connect” based on work done by scientist Matthew Lieberman.
Matthew Lieberman
Mr. Cook says, “Across many studies of mammals, from the smallest rodents all the way to us humans, the data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed.” Reading the entire article and that statement opened my mind up to The New York Times article “Found on Facebook: Empathy written by Teddy Wayne. Although I felt that, the article was an Opinion Piece filled with bits of conflicting “research,” it does illustrate in its own way that there are no hard rules or absolute statistics on the impact of social media. I do believe that social media as a whole, has an impact that each individual user and non-user alike feels. The user is allowed to determine what the use of social media means to them. There are those that use it for strictly keeping up with relatives, like the loving grandmother who lives out of state and desires to participate (looking at pictures) in the growth and life happenings posted of the grandchildren. And the joy that is obtained by digitally being a part of their lives.  There are also those that do not use social media because they believe that it is too intrusive into their lives and they desire digital anonymity. By not using the different platforms, it makes them virtually “invisible” in a world filled with people. In the video titled: “How Social Media can Make History” presented by Clay Shirky. He demonstrated in various ways how social media has been used to empower people due to the dynamic that “groups that see or hear or watch or listen to something, can now gather around and talk to each other as well.” This has changed the way news is disseminated across our planet, changed how connections are made and had altered the ability of a single entity to control any one bit of information that is publicly available. Social media is here to stay and everyone should like it…or not.

Angel On The Shoulder And The Devil In The Details

Popeye The Sailor
Popeye Opening Can of Spinach
Based on my life experience I have come I believe that the encouragement children need is inspiration. I recently watched a video on YouTube titled “Ashley Merryman & Po Bronson: The Myth of Praise” and it brought to mind memories from my own upbringing. Reared by a single parent, my always-working mother had no time to sit around and clap for me every time I did something. When I think about it, she did just the opposite; she expected me to perform at a high level and was critical of me performing at any level less than optimum. While in preschool, I enjoyed watching the cartoon ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ and begged my mother for a can of spinach so that I could open the can like Popeye did. After receiving the can, I began to squeeze with all my little might as my mother gleefully watched. Although I was unable to open the can using brute strength, my mother handed me a can opener after my fourth attempt. After opening the can with the can opener, my mother remarked, “see you have it open now” and this was the “right kind of praise” that strengthened my self-esteem.  After watching the video, I read an article “How Not to Talk to Your Kids” [Po Bronson Published Aug 3, 2007], which led me to do a little research on some of the key words, used in the article and this statement specifically caught my attention; “…gifted students severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with the lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves.” Praise according to the [The Oxford Universal Dictionary on Historical Principles – With Corrections and Revised Addenda, 1955] is defined as “The action or fact of praising; commendation of the worth or excellence of a person or thing; from the Latin: Preciare, earlier pretiare to price, value, prize.” Praise in my opinion is the placing of value in oneself and abilities. Another life moment when I needed to tap into the ‘praise within’ happened while I was learning Tae-Kwon Do Martial Arts. During testing to receive the next belt rank, there is a section when the student must spar (fight another student or teacher.) This is designed to show in actuality the things previously learned. Going into this sparring match knowing that I had never lost a fight my confidence was high. After names were drawn, I ended up sparring with one of my school friends that trained with me daily. During the match, my friend’s right foot caught the side of my face and knocked me to the ground. As I laid there on the verge of unconsciousness, my head instructor began yelling to me to “get up,” “get up and keep fighting!” Here is where I tell you that if you haven’t read my blog on Grit then you definitely deserve to read that now, because I needed grit to get up but I also needed inspiration to keep fighting. Not only was I fighting my friend, but I was also fighting against unconsciousness and pain.

Homer Angel and Devil
Homer Simpson in Conflict
I conclude with this, some of you reading this might remember older cartoons where they showed an angel character on one shoulder and a devil character on the opposite shoulder of the cartoon character. In the example the “angel” would be telling the character not to do something wrong and the “devil” would be suggesting that they do just the opposite. This is a perfect example of the “war” that is going on in the mind of a child, where the parent, while thinking that they would be representative of the “angel character” is actually represented by the “devil character.” The “devil” is on the shoulder of the child comes in the constant broad praise of an ever-present, doting parent. Which according the article by Mr. Bronson the “liberal use of praise” and the child’s “shorter task, persistence,” the yin-yang relationship that is developed between them is never recognized. The child becomes dependent on the praise of the parent and the child’s low esteem of self and low performance, gives the parent another opportunity to offer liberal praise. On the opposite metaphorical shoulder stands the “angel” that if activated as Ms Dweck suggests by “emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” this is self-esteem. I conclude with this from 2 Corinthians 11:14 “and no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light,” While most parents believe themselves to be the “angel on the shoulder” of their precious little children, the quicker they understand that the “devil is in the details” it might just change how parents talk to their children.  Are you a parent that is a “guide from the side” like an “angel” or the “sage from the stage” like a devil? Your child’s performance and attitude will tell the tale.

Am I Right or is it my Writing? The Four Ways to Finding my Writing Powers.

                One of the first things I realized after completing the Jung Topology Test and receiving the results ISTJ (IntrovertSensingThinkingJudging), I realized that the results were more accurate than not, and by looking more closely at each designation, it has helped me find my writing power. The first way I found my writing power was in the identifying letter ‘I’ for ‘Introvert.’ In the work “Your Personality Type and Writing” for “Introversion and Writing,” I agree that I “need time and solitude for concentration…” Whether at home or school I have found locations and methods to “block out” the distractions so that I can focus on what I am writing. One of the strengths mentioned in the section speaks to my “needing distance from” my “audience to gain a perspective for whom” I “am writing.”  I have always liked the “helicopter view” of things. My only disagreement with this first designation is that I am an extrovert in personality but as I normally tell those that meet me, I am an introverted – extrovert in life and in writing. This leads us to the second letter designation ‘S’ or ‘Sensing.’ I have always felt that there is power in the details. When I write I recognize that the more data or information I am presented with, the more clearly I feel that I can be in the communication I am being asked to present. I use the statement: “facts in – facts out.” While I disagree with the suggestion that due to this designation, I “have difficulty deciding what to include in the paper.” I have to agree that I sometimes “fail to notice content weaknesses” due to the speed in which I would put the writing to paper. The third designation letter ‘T’ or ‘Thinking’ is spot on. I thrive in being well organized and when I have a predetermined action plan for writing I definitely agree that “if the structure dictates the inclusion of material, it is included. If not, it is excluded.” I will often cross out entire sentences and not include them in my final submission when I feel they do not fit the original requested structure. Being very logical and analytical in my methodology such as having all my papers in a single stack, writing devices in one place and books to be used all stacked neatly, this process helps me to stay organized and write in an organized manner. The last and final “temperament test” designation is the letter ‘J’ or ‘Judging.’ This area seems to be my blessing and my curse. Although brevity in speaking can help to get a point across quickly so that life can continue on, when it comes to writing it can be a detriment to the reader. Here is an example, the “content weakness” and “being well organized” as mentioned above are both results of the ‘Judging’ designation. It is true that when I write a paper I begin writing in my head long before I grab a pencil and paper and then proceed to write down my thoughts (judgments) about the subject matter as if it was an well planned out process that was taken to produce it. This process can leave the reader without some very important information. However not all is lost as it is suggested that this ‘Judging’ also carries the benefit of being able to “write quickly” and “meet deadlines.” When writing a paper with a writing “temperament” such as this, while I might feel that I am “right” in what I am writing, I know that I can gain much more writing power by enhancing the strengths of each temperament trait and work to eliminate the weaknesses and this can only be done through my being adaptable as it relates those four areas. 

God, Goals and Extra Grit: How I turned tragedy into the triumph by finding EXTRA Grit.

Everyone has grit and this is how I found that extra grit. At the recommendation of my Prep For College Writing instructor, Professor Amanda Murphy, I watched Angela Lee Duckworth's TedTalk presentation on Grit. This video and the assignment connected to it, inspired in me the desire to share something with you about my life. I never thought to call what I had and what I would learn, Grit, but Ms. Duckworth gave a name to something intangible. The one thing you have to understand as we begin is that at 44 years of age, I was fortunate enough to marry the woman of my dreams. After several failed relationship choices, I had arrived at the conclusion that Love was not something the world needed. From being married at 21 to divorced at 26 and back to married again at 29 and that relationship lasting 7 years I knew it was time to do some self-reflection and repair of my love meter. Deep down inside I knew that my thinking was not only false about love, it was erroneous because it took grit to recognize the woman that would prove me wrong. Her name was Tonja and my journey to extra grit had begun. Both of us having been born to and growing up under very unusual family dynamics, and along with strongly faith based home environments we were both taught to not only believe in God, but to also have faith that you can always make it through any challenge.

After meeting Tonja, we started with the challenge of the physical distance between us, which was something we knew we would have to overcome. During our courtship, Tonja and I made plans to move from California to another state. Where you ask? We did not know at the time, however, by the time we were married she was living in San Francisco and I was in Bakersfield. Now if you are unfamiliar with the unique geography of California, those two cities are roughly 280 miles apart. While living in separate cities, there were times when we could not see one another for weeks. It took every ounce of grit we had to not only stick though the “connected loneliness” but I also found that this distance unknown to me at the time, would be like the seeds to the grit I would need in the very near future.

My final challenge and the full manifestation of the extra grit would come very soon. After settling on Phoenix as our home city. I moved first and found a great place in Central Phoenix.
 Two months later, I would drive to San Francisco, load up the moving truck with my new bride and her things and begin the 750-mile journey to Phoenix. It took not only grit to make that drive but also a great deal of gas, yet we made it. Our wedded bliss would only last 9 months. Unexpectedly while I was away on business I received a call that Tonja had gotten sick from something she ate at a Native American Pow-Wow she attended just one day earlier. As I awaited to board an emergency flight back to Phoenix to be by her side in the hospital, I received the call that would allow me to locate grit I did not know I had. The caller on the phone said these words: “I’m sorry she didn’t make it…” As the tears streamed down my eyes and the blood drained from my face, I stood motionless in the Fresno Airport Terminal. I had to summon every grain of grit I had, every ounce of grit I developed in my life and I had to dig deep and locate that EXTRA GRIT sown when I really was not looking. This extra grit would be just what I needed to being the next phase of my journey leading up to my attendance at GlendaleCommunity College. What often looks like loss and despair could be the mining tools we need to locate grit we did not know we had. I was happy being married, doing a job that I loved and living in the home we shared.

Lastly, as we hiked up a Superstition Mountain's "Treasure Loop #56" the week before Tonja passed, she said to me, “Rodney, I want you to do more; I want you to go higher and help more people.” After I made my arguments as to why I didn’t feel I had it in me to do any more than I was already doing, One week later, God and Tonja would assist me in their own special way, by helping me find the grit I didn’t know I had. I must say, Thank You God for blessing me with Tonja.

Justice or Else! - Detroit Live

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