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February 2019 - Posts

I grew up loving Carolina basketball. My aunt was a college basketball official and I used to travel with her frequently all over Virginia and North Carolina for games. She instilled in me a love for the game as well as Carolina basketball. I loved watching them on TV. In late March of 1982, I was 12 years old and distinctly remember being in our den at home watching Carolina take on Georgetown in the NCAA finals. It was a back and forth game filled with great plays and great players: James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing. I had to name at least one player from Georgetown! I remember being in awe watching Michael Jordan take the shot that put Carolina ahead late in the game. I couldn't believe that a freshman would take that kind of shot, but Carolina fans everywhere were glad he did. As you know, Carolina held on to win the game.

Fast forward to the summer of 1985. My aunt paid for me to go to UNC basketball school and it was there that I got to meet Michael Jordan in person. He had just completed his rookie year with the Chicago Bulls. Again, I was just in awe of him: how he carried himself, how he spoke to us, and of course how much "flight" he could get even on an outdoor blacktop court. He treated us with such respect and appreciation.

Though I was a Lakers fan in those days, I still followed MJ. If there was a book on him or articles on him, I couldn't wait to read them. When VHS tapes were produced on him, I would save my money just to get as many as I could. Come Fly With Me was one of the best.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching him as a basketball player and the amazing feats he would go on to accomplish, but as I got older I became more intrigued with his mindset. How did he think at such a high level? So much can be learned from his mindset of having a positive mental attitude. I know he's not perfect, but there is much I learned from his seven life lessons. Share these with your teenager.

1. Don't be scared to try.
2. Leave fear behind.
3. Focus on finding a solution.
4. Attitude is everything.
5. Stay focused.
6. Put in the work.
7. You can't do it alone.

Check out the full article 7 Life Lessons from Michael Jordan.

Posted by  On Feb 24, 2019 at 5:21 PM

The year was 1904 when Mary McLeod Bethune founded Florida’s Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Girls. Mary was born in 1875 and is one of 17 children. Her parents had grown up as slaves, but she did not let her background keep her from getting an education. After attending Bible college in Chicago, she dedicated herself to educating others at schools in Georgia and South Carolina.

Her work as an educator led her to found the school for girls which would merge with Cookman Institute for Men in 1923 and become Bethune-Cookman College, one of the historically black colleges that still exists today.

Mary was a firm believer in education as a path to racial equality. She focused on vocational education and social activism. In 1935 she founded the National Council for Negro Women. Her work in education and the initiative she took was noticed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who in 1936 appointed her as the director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. She would remain in that post until 1943 when she returned to her school in Daytona Beach.

In 1974, she was honored with a memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington D.C. In 1985, she was featured in the U.S. Postage stamp.

One never knows where his/her initiative and work may lead. Mary McLeod Bethune found her purpose in education. She had the initiative and drive to educate others and provide opportunities for growth especially for African American women. Mary’s positive impact throughout the world is a result of a life dedicated in service to others. Her impact is from the compound effect of a great work which started by taking initiative.

Posted by  On Feb 17, 2019 at 3:35 PM

The year was 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. A talented and versatile player, Robinson won the National League Rookie of the Year award his first season, and helped the Dodgers to the National League championship – the first of his six trips to the World Series. In 1949 Robinson won the league MVP award, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Despite his skill, Robinson faced insults and threats because of his race.

When general manager Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers offered Robinson the chance to break organized baseball’s unwritten color barrier, the talented ballplayer not only accepted, he also agreed to Rickey’s condition: that he not respond to the abuse he would face.

For two years Robinson endured abuse both verbal and physical, but he stuck to his word until 1949 when he finally broke his silence. Robinson become an outspoken and controversial opponent of racial discrimination. He took the initiative to step up for the rights of others and led other players to urge baseball to use its economic power to help desegregate Southern towns which is where most spring training camps took place. Jackie Robinson provided a important example of successful desegregation. Upon his retirement in 1957, he took that same initiative to increase employment opportunities for African Americans.

Robinson took the initiative and did the work to bring about change. His success encouraged the integration of professional football, basketball, and tennis.

His work reminds me of two quotes from Mahatma Ghandi:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

“The future depends on what you do today.”

It takes initiative to get started toward making change. The initiatives we take today, will create the change we seek for our future, our kids’ future, and the future of those that will follow.

Posted by  On Feb 10, 2019 at 5:58 PM

We generally think of initiative as recognizing and doing what needs to be done before being asked. And that's true. But initiative is so much more. Initiative believes in the possibilities of opportunity; it sees opportunity where others see barriers. Initiative means going the extra mile.

The following story is a great example of how taking initiative can change the course of one’s life and the lives of others.

The year was 1949. Dorothy Johnson Vaughan became the first African American supervisor at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the predecessor of NASA) when she was promoted to manager of the West Area Computers. This work group was made up mostly of African American female mathematicians who worked at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Vaughan’s title opened the door for her to collaborate with other well-known computer operators and gave her access to see future plans of the organization.

In 1958, the NACA officially became NASA. During that time, Vaughan realized that NASA was going to move into machine computing with computer programming. They began bringing in large computers from IBM. Seeing that these computers would likely replace her and her team of mathematicians, she took the initiative to learn FORTRAN programming language. She not only taught herself this complex language, but she also took the time to teach her team.

In 1961 she officially became supervisor of the digital programming center and brought her team with her. She made such significant contributions to the space program through her work on the Scout Launch Vehicle Program and the launch of John Glenn into orbit. Had Dorothy Vaughan not taken the initiative to teach herself and others this new language, she and her team would have been fired. The Scout Launch Vehicle Program may have taken longer to get off the ground. It may have taken NASA longer to get man into orbit. Her initiative changed the course of her life, her team, and essentially that of the NASA space program.

Vaughan’s work and the work of Mary Jackson and Katherine Johnson were featured in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures.

What can we learn from Vaughan’s story? She saw an opportunity and seized the moment by taking initiative. She saw possibilities where others may have seen barriers and she went the extra mile to affect change. As I mentioned earlier, there are four and half months until the end of the school year. I know I’m stating the obvious, but seniors this is your final four and half months of high school. As you all work toward the end of the year, think about where you can take more initiative either in school or in life. See the possibilities, work to overcome your barriers, and go the extra mile to set yourself up for success.

Posted by  On Feb 03, 2019 at 1:07 PM
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