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Category: Community

The Pursuit of Happiness

My father is happiest 66 year old alive because 3 times a week he gets to help people in need.

He could be telling me about his life as an entrepreneur, which he was been for well over 30 years. But he chooses to share with me all the interesting people and their stores he comes across while giving out food working for a charity on the side.

He tells me it’s hard work. Picking up food from major donors, unloading trucks, packing and preparing food for those in need. But he knows it’s also purposeful work. And purposeful work is the most fulfilling work.

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2021 Metamorphosis

2020 has changed many things.

It’s changed how we shop. How we connect with others. How we do our daily professional work. Even how we practice our faith.

Live concerts have shifted to parking lots with attendees sitting in their cars. Schools have found ways to administer education remotely and continue to make improvements in the area of connecting kids with teachers.

Everything I’ve said above is not surprising and is a result of the Covid-19 restrictions set in place across our countries.

The IOC announcing that breakdancing will be an official Olympic competition in the Paris 2024 summer games is a change we didn’t see coming. But it’s indicative of the way of the world is turning currently.

The point is what we all thought we knew to be true is being challenged. The world as we know it is going through a metamorphosis. Change is taking place with the likely and the unlikely. The expected and unexpected.

The question is, what do we do about? What happens next will continue to shape society going forward. Which means our actions can no longer remain in a vacuum.

The most significant change that will need to take place is within us. 2021 will give us that opportunity.

Happy New Year!

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Social Responsibility

The desire for self improvement can lead us in an endless pursuit of acquiring personal excellence and greater levels of achievement.

Doing better for ourselves can never be wrong but in the absence of social responsibility as part of our journey, we cheat ourselves and the world around us the best parts of ourselves.

“Again the greatest use of a human was to be useful. Not to consume, not to watch, but to do something for someone else that improved their life, even for a few minutes.” – Dave Eggers

When we open our smart phone calendars, locate a day and find those few minutes a month to improve the life of someone else, we’ll begin to realize it’s a necessary component of our own goals for self improvement.

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What Real Hero Work Looks Like

We love superhero movies. There’s something about them that we can relate to. Good overcoming evil. The afflicted getting the justice they deserve. Peace being restored. All narratives that resonate with us. There’s no better example of this than last year’s box office hit Avengers Endgame.

Released in Spring 2019 to much fanfare, Endgame went on to shatter box office records becoming the highest-grossing movie in history on July 21, 2019, after 89 days of release. It was the climatic ending we all have been wait for after a decade of Marvel films building the anticipation.

One of my favourite scenes in the film comes near the end. Steve Rogers aka Captain America stands alone in the battle field as thousands of enemy soldiers, aircrafts and beasts begin to approach him. Looking at the overwhelming task in front of him, Captain America, in true Cap form, grits his teeth and tightens his iconic battle shield strap preparing to seemingly die honourably in battle.

We can sometimes allow the fantasy of superhero life clash with our reality and influence how we approach issues on a global scale. To clarify, we all have a small inherent desire to be ‘superheroes’ to save the world and the problems it’s currently facing.

At first glance this idea doesn’t seem problematic. Having a desire to do good is the essence of humanity. The problem lies in the area of how we scale what real effective problem solving looks like. One against a thousand is a romantic idea, but is often not practical or provides meaningful impact. As well the idea that the only means of achieving something significant is to approach large scale issues head on can lead to missing more optimal opportunities for progress.

If personal circumstances won’t allow you to participate in a march for racial inequality, donating to organizations that have been in this fight for sometime may prove to be more beneficial. Signing petitions, sharing legitimate information on social media and participating in progressive conversations aren’t massive undertakings but can lead to positive change.

Don’t be fooled by society’s perception of what real ‘hero’ work looks like. Simple, unassuming actions done consistently over a period of time build a stronger foundation to the ultimate goal. Recognition will be hard to come by, but is that the real reason we desire the hero status?

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Some Extremes Are Good Us

“Too much of a good thing can be bad for you”.

Really? Is that really true 100% of the time? Or does it relate to what exactly that ‘good’ thing is?

An over indulgence of menial or trivial pleasures can lead to serious heath problems. Pizza is ‘good’ and ‘enjoyable’ but high cholesterol isn’t.

You know what we can never get enough of? Justice, equality, human rights, anti-racism, love. Too much of this can and never will be bad for us as individuals or collectively as a community.

As a matter of fact ‘too much’ of the things we need might just solve a plethora of the social issues we’ve been dealing with for decades. So no, not all extremes are bad. Especially the ones that tend to be less self focused.

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Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable

As I write this humanity is going through a phase of uncomfortable growth. The realization of systematic anti-black racism and how deep it flows in society today is only now being recognized by many.

That realization is coming at the expense of our comfort zones, regardless of who you are. If you’re a non-person of colour, having to unlearn some ideologies that you once assumed isn’t easy. And you shouldn’t assume otherwise.

As a person of colour, understanding that getting the attention of the ‘the powers that be’ is only the first step. Staying the course to see real lasting action and change take place is the real work.

Both mindsets require a level of pain tolerance through the process. Change and growth in anything is uncomfortable because it takes humility to learn what you do not know and endurance to keep the pace when you feel like quitting.

Whether in business, education or standing for social issues it’s all the same. We have to fall in love with being uncomfortable in order to accomplish something of significance. Pain and gain aren’t mutually exclusive of each other.

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The New Emotional Intelligence

The Emotional Intelligence methodology has been rampant in recent years since 1996 especially when it comes to leadership in the workplace. Now more than ever it will be needed at the forefront in combating the effects of anti-black racism in places of employment.

Let’s take a quick step back and understand the term clearly. Mindtools.com defines Emotional Intelligence or (EI) as follows below:

Emotional intelligence or EI is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.

For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who shouts at his team when he’s under stress, or a leader who stays in control, and calmly assesses the situation?

According to Daniel Goleman , an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to it:

1. Self-awareness, 2. Self-regulation, 3. Motivation. 4. Empathy, 5. Social skills.

There’s no doubt in my mind that (EI) training for managers and executive leadership will need to increase as we walk through such a delicate time in history in North America.

But also as individuals we need to begin to unravel what information and issues are affecting us emotionally enough to have an adverse impact on how we make important decisions.

Skills to master Emotional Intelligence should be introduced or re-introduced in company policies and handbooks. There’s no reason (EI) shouldn’t be a foundational guiding principle in every organization as we move towards a more inclusive future.

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Pause, Step back and Recalibrate

We all set out with good intentions. We read, strategize, and put 3, 6 and 12 month plans into place. We have no idea what will happen tomorrow but we plan like we do.

Sometimes unfortunate events force us to pause and really reassess what’s really going on outside the bubble of our lives.

The death of Ahmaud Arbery caused us to pause. The death of George Floyd caused us to pause. The death of Breonna Taylor caused us to pause.

The world hasn’t been the same for a month. Add Covid-19 to the mix and it’s 3-4 months. It’s pushed the true necessity and weight of our so called plans to the test.

You need to still write that book, but what’s the new direction going to be? Is the subject original matter still relevant? Is that business idea still in high demand or is there another immediate need that has been uncovered as a result of above recent events?

Traumatic events, especially global ones, are cause for pause to recalibrate our life’s intentions. When what we thought we knew about this world blows up, its time to allow new thoughts and ideas to take residence in our lives.

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Networking Made Simple

If you want to write a book, support those you know who have written one. Buy it. Give them encouraging feedback. Tell others about it.

That’s just one example of building a community. Whatever creative focus you have, locate and support creatives that are already in that stream.

Yes it’s called networking. And networking is a fancy term for building a community. It’s the prerequisite for long term success.

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Your True Circle Of Influence

Social media provides a platform for us to extend our circle of influence to people we’ve never met in countries we’ve never been to or sometimes even heard about.

But are we really extending some that hasn’t been perfected at it core?

What’s your relationship like with those in your household and how does your life affect them positively? What about close friends? Daily acquaintances? how do you impact their lives?

Do you give freely? Love freely? Help without expectation of something in return? How well do you know your neighbour(s)? Do you even know your their name?

Your true circle of influence starts at your core. Ground zero. Those closest to you. Social media and other alike tools are an extension of who we already are. It was never intended to be a starting point.

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