Worthy Investments

Last week, I spent some time mentoring High School students from Dunbar Vocational High School. Dunbar High School is a four-year vocational High School in the Bronzeville area of Chicago’s south side.

Notable alumni include Oscar-winning actress Jenifer Hudson,  Mr T and the late Lou Rawls to mention a few. We were there on invitation by the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), they organized a career mentoring program in conjunction with my church and other community stake holders.

I had a wonderful time there, however, as I sat there watching and listening  to the professionals tell stories about their successes and failures, it hit me. Our future, that is (the teenagers/youths ) will only become as good as what we the adults are willing to invest in them.

When you look at the lives of successful individuals regardless of their fields, you will find out that at some point in their lives, they had good role models that guided them and invested quality time to ensure their success.

On the other hand, we can trace a lot of the dysfunction in the lives of many youths today to a lack of positive role models, absentee fathers and good mentors. It is so easy to look down on the youths especially in the African American community, in fact they make up an invincible force that is often relegated to the background, that is until there is a shooting somewhere involving teenagers.

Time Magazine’s, June 10th 2013 issue which features Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Chicago’s Mayor) on its front cover, reported a startling statistic. David Von Drehle, in his article titled “His Kind Of Town”  said that 77% of the Chicago murders in the past year were black on black crimes. 54% of the offenders are 15 to 24 years old. 44% of the victims are also the same age.

Not to get political or anything but common sense tells me that this should not be the case. Although the government is doing all it can, I still believe that prevention is better than cure. If parents and good people step to the plate to mentor a youth and invest positively in the lives of these kids, I think the future will be bright.

Only God knows, how many teenagers in prison today would have avoided that fate if someone had taken interest in them and mentored them. I also wonder how many shootings on the south side of Chicago could have been avoided as well.

Mentoring is relational interaction, it involves time but it is also a way to empower another by sharing experiences, wisdom and positive tips for success.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Apostle Paul says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

I am not naive enough to think that mentorship is the only solution, but it is a start. Life is wholesome when it is lived for others not just ourselves. God bless.

Decision for today: No more excuses, Lord help me to use my gifts, hurts and passions to help the next generation.

Question for today: What investments are you making in the next generation?

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What Is Before Your Eyes (Part Two)

In my last blog, I wrote about Jacob and how he used the power of positive imagery to create a future for himself [Read here].  Today I am writing  along the same lines but now my focus is on Jacob’s grand father Abraham. I find Abraham very interesting. Here is a man who left his home country at the age of seventy-five, with his wife and all his possessions to seek a new life with God.

I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure that most of his colleges and family members thought he was stupid for embarking on such a journey at that age. In any case, as a result of his obedience to leave his country and faith in God, God made a covenant or strong agreement with him.

In spite of this covenant, Abraham was deeply concerned that his servant Eliezer would inherit all his possessions. The reason for this concern was because Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless. So how did God begin the process of solving this problem?

Gen 15:5-6 says “Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous.”

Isn’t it interesting that Gods first remedy for Abraham and Sarah childlessness was not an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas to get their “mojo”back nor Viagra or the latest fertilization pills (not that those are bad). God simply started by changing what Abraham was seeing about his future.

God said “Look,” change what you are looking at and it will change the current situation to match your desire for your future. This is so crucial because what you are looking at, will determine what you think and what you think will determine who you are and what you have.

So how can we apply this practically today? well, our eyes need to be looking constantly at images of where we want to be, who we want to become or what you want to have or accomplish.

A way to achieve this is to use something called a  vision board. A vision board helps to create a good image of our goals and dreams. I was introduced to this concept by my mentor and it really works.

Creating a vision board is very simple. Basically, I just went online and downloaded a bunch of pictures of things I want to manifest in my life presently or of some goals I want to achieve.

For example, my vision board is based on my values and one of my values is family. So I just created a word document with various images or pictures of happy families that I downloaded from the internet which I review and look at for about 10 to 15mins everyday.

Alternatively, you can just get these pictures and paste all around your work space or kitchen. Friends, your dream may seem unattainable but never underestimate the power of vision and the images that are infront of you especially if they are positive. God bless.

Decision for today:  I will start by creating an atmosphere in my house, work place etc with positive imagery.

Question for today:  What do I want to see in my marriage, finances, business?

What’s Before Your Eyes

There is a story in the bible about an entrepreneur called Jacob. At the time of this story, he was an employee of his crafty uncle Laban. He was not happy about his salary and working conditions. So Jacob decided to do something about it. What Jacob did to remedy the situation, simply bordered on tact, genius, faith and off course hope. His goal was to build enough assets for himself to compensate for the low salary his was getting.

His plan, build the correct image mentally.  This how he went about it, Jacob told his uncle to separate the speckled (The sheep that had white on them) and sported sheep (all the dark-colored ones) from the rest of the sheep. He requested that his uncle give him all the sported and speckled sheep as his payment (assets are always the best wages) while the others would belong to his uncle. This gave an unfair advantage to his uncle because most of the sheep were not speckled or spotted. To sweeten the deal,  Laban removed the existing sported and speckled sheep from the others and put them in the care of his sons. What this meant was that Jacob did not even have any sported or speckled animal to work with, making it almost impossible for Jacob to achieve his goal.

In any case, Jacob agreed to the terms and on the surface, it seemed like Laban had made a killing on the deal. However Jacob had a secret. So what was the secret Jacob had? Well, Gen 30:37-40 says ” Jacob however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.  Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban.”

The result of this was tremendous. Jacob’s livestock increased and Laban’s did not. So what am I getting at here? well, Jacob basically created an image of the result that he wanted and constantly fixed his eyes on it. The image he created by peeling the bark of the wood, built up hope in his mind which set the same process in motion in the sheep. Hope creates a vision for your future and vision can influence your present situation.

So what is before your eyes today? Sometimes, it is not what you see for your future that matters, it is what you are seeing “Now,” right in front of you that determines your future. So change the image in front of you and you will change the life ahead of you.

Decision for today: I will change the image I have about myself, my finance or my business.

Question for today: What steps can I take to change the negative images I have created in my mind?

Nothing Wrong In Being A Guru

One of the most important things an entrepreneur should constantly embrace  is acquiring knowledge.  It is actually the difference between a successful entrepreneur and  an unsuccessful one.  If you are going to advance your business or organization to the next level, an excise in constantly informing yourself in your area of specialty is necessary.

When I use the word “knowledge,” I mean getting helpful insights and tips on the products/services you are offerings as well as insights on how to improve your process in connecting this with your client base.

You know, there is nothing as frustrating as for a client to engage with an uninformed entrepreneur. You will lose business often and quickly if your clients senses that you really don’t have any idea on what you are actually offering.

The bible says “My people perish for lack of knowledge[Hosea 4:6] ” and your business or organization will not advance if you as the leader or entrepreneur don’t have adequate knowledge in that field.

I believe that every entrepreneur should aspire to be an expert or  guru in their field. It doesn’t mean you have to know everything, what I mean is that, you need to know enough about what you are offering and communicate it clearly to your clients.

It also means that you know extensively what your target market loves. This is so important because if you are ignorant about these fundamentals, your clients will not be convinced that you can solve their problems.

As an entrepreneur myself, I have made many mistakes in this area and one thing I have noticed is that clients who are aware of your expertise in an area seldom argue with your suggestions to them.

This is so because any one that has risen from the level of just regurgitating the specifications of the clients to actually adding value to their request always gets the ears of their clients.

The first level of just “re-producing” what the clients wants is ok and common when you are just starting. In fact some clients just want you to give them what they want. However, we you are a “Guru or Expert” in that field, your clients will pay you extra to get your opinion on the their request.  They come to you  as a consultant to get your recommendations. This usually occurs when clients can see the positive results of your work  and  can sense your knowledge in that field.

Knowledge always yields results, ignorance never yields results. Proverbs 15:4 says ” The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly” That says it all.

So if we want to take our business or organization to the next level, let’s get knowledge in that area. Regardless of your field, get information on it, join organizations that speak to what you are doing, find mentors, read books and seek  out things that can help feed you with knowledge.

So there is nothing wrong with being a “Guru” as long as you are willing to being a life-long student. So “Take it to the top.” Happy Sunday.

Decision for today: I will seek out knowledge in my field of business. I commit to discovering tips for success.

Question for today: In what area do I need to increase in knowledge, what mentor or material can I connect with to take me to the next level.

Be on the look out for my new E-Book ” The Anatomy Of A Successful Business.”

God bless,