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A World of Possibilities for Each Of Us

Let us be free to like what we like and not have others be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits

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I read a remarkable Letter to the Editor in a college newspaper, from a young black student. The point of his letter was so amazing and its insights so profound that it needs to be shared across the country for everyone, of all races.

This student wrote that, as a black male, it would inaccurate to make judgments about him without knowing him personally. He highlighted, for example, that while he likes some rap music, he much prefers traditional rock and roll, and even an occasional country song.

Is Your Bias Showing?

He wrote that if you think a black student should not like country music then your bias is showing. Why couldn’t a student, of any race or ethnicity, enjoy a particular type of music even if it’s not traditionally ascribed to his or her particular group? Who is in control here?

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He likes historical novels, modern novels, biographies, and autobiographies. He was captivated by a biography about the Wright Brothers. He enjoys poetry and finds the poems from many writers to be relevant to him, from Maya Angelou to Carl Sandberg.

He suggests that there is a world of possibilities when it comes to entertainment, music, and literature. Why, he asks, must we be confined to the narrow band of choices that others, particularly within our own races and ethnicities, suggest that we adhere to? Who decides what is best for all members of a particular group? On what do they base their decisions?

Who Chooses?

Who determined that venturing outside of such restrictive limits is somehow being a traitor to one’s group? And what does it mean to even be a traitor when it comes to literature, history, music, and so on?

He pointed out in the most eloquent of terms that following the dictates of a small section of the populace and adhering to the stereotypes that prevail are extremely limiting to one’s personal freedom and an attack on one’s individuality and, potentially, creativity.

With so many experiences and possibilities that one can enjoy, he ponders, why limit yourself, especially at the age of 19, 20, or 21 to predefined, limiting confines?

No Free for All

I marveled at this young man’s wisdom which seems to transcend his years. I certainly was not as wise and perceptive myself at that age.

Over the next few days, I was eager to see if there would be any responses to his letter. Surely, he’s going to get some blowback. Someone of his own race will tell him that he needs to get “back in his lane.” Someone will tell him he’s “not acting black,” or not black enough. Somebody else will say that he’s been brainwashed, probably from an early age and he’s trying to capitulate to the predominant Caucasian culture. Someone might call him an “Uncle Tom.”

While I was monitoring the publication, actually nothing was said of his letter. I hoped maybe somebody else, or lots of somebody else’s, understood the man’s viewpoint. They could see the wisdom in his observations. I thought perhaps someone would comment in that direction, but that didn’t happen either.

Free to Choose

In the larger sense, it’s a shame that blacks and other minorities, as well as Caucasians, are supposed to act this way or that way. Hispanics are supposed to prefer this versus that. Asians are supposed to do this versus that. Why, exactly, do these illegitimate confines continue to rule the perceptions of vast numbers of our population?

Why can’t we be free to like what we like, to prefer what we prefer, and have others not be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits?

I have no knowledge of this young man and how he has fared in his studies and overall life. I surmise that whatever he’s doing, whether it’s continuing in his education, landing a job, entering the military, volunteering, traveling, or simply taking time off, he will continue to pursue his interests and remain unique.

Bound for Success

Hopefully, he’ll continue to sidestep unwarranted, prevailing norms that dictate what he can like, think, and be. May we all strive to have such personal freedom.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Education

Putting North Carolina Public Education Back on Track  

With Michelle Morrow’s leadership, North Carolina public schools can be better equipped to educate and inspire today’s students.

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It’s no secret to conservatives that the nation’s children, every single one of them, are at risk. In the main, not for reasons malnutrition, growing up in a tough neighborhood, or having toxic parents. The risk that all kids face today is the potential to be indoctrinated in public schools by their own teachers, teacher’s aides, and administrators.

America’s Children Are under Siege

Some school districts in America, are populated by boards of education, principals, and school administrators who think it is their sacred duty to indoctrinate children, exposing them to all manner of adult and sex-related topics long before any child should be. As such, they usurp the rights of parents and guardians.

Nowhere is this more evident than in North Carolina where 23% of all kindergarten through 12th-grade students are enrolled in either a charter school or private school, or study at home, and the percentage increase in these three options is 84% over the last 11 years. Why? Parents want to determine the best educational options for their own children and they don’t believe that North Carolina public schools are doing an adequate job.

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Fortunately, one candidate running for NC superintendent of public instruction means to the state’s education programs back on track. Her name is Michelle Morrow, and she is a personal dynamo whose grasp on the issues is outstanding.

First and foremost, Morrow advocates having safe schools with a culture of academic achievement and civility. If it takes having a security guard in every single school throughout the state to ensure the safety of children attending class as well as teachers and school staff, Morrow is all for it.

She believes that schools should be the safest buildings in the state. Alas, they are not. In North Carolina, school crime and violence increased a whopping 84% in just the past five years. The top three crimes being reported include drug use, weapons possession, and assault – even assault of teachers.

An Advocate for What Counts

As the NC superintendent of public instruction, Morrow will support fair and effective policies that both deter crime and promote classroom civility. She’ll be a strong advocate for teachers’ rights to employ fair and reasonable measures to manage their classrooms as they see fit.

Morrow will insist on parent-friendly schools, recognizing that a child’s academic performance often hinges on the vital partnership between teachers and parents. In too many schools throughout the state, parents are kept completely in the dark about medical treatments and, surprisingly, even academic performance.

Some children are forced to take surveys requiring them to reveal details of their sexual habits and mental state, and schools employ such data to monitor, diagnose, and treat psychological issues. Parents alone, however, have the right to make medical decisions in relation to their children’s health and well-being. Government sponsored data collection needs to end. Morrow will enforce a Parents’ Bill of Rights to ensure that families are protected and that parents have dominion over their own children.

Back to the Basics

Academic achievement has suffered for years on end in North Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. A staggering one-quarter of eighth graders cannot meet national math, science, or reading standards. Test scores throughout North Carolina reveal that more than 800 schools are under-performing.

As superintendent, Morrow will be focused on ensuring that all the money earmarked for education actually makes its way to the classroom. She will ensure that schools focus on teaching science, math, reading, and real history. She will advocate for small group tutoring when needed by students who are not performing well, and touting for those who are doing exceedingly well and can do even better.

Morrow recognizes that the government in Washington, D.C., has no business in the education of North Carolina students. Parents are not co-parenting with the federal government. The programs and policies that politicians and special interest groups attempt to impose on North Carolina schools must come to an end, and any interference in teaching core academics must cease immediately.

As such, Morrow will sever the ties with public interest groups while helping to strengthen local school districts’ ability to employ proven teaching methods, with the goal of enhancing core academic achievement.

The Big Picture

Morrow will seek to enhance national unity and patriotism. Too many students throughout North Carolina are subjected to one-sided history lessons that portray America as an oppressive, racist, unredeemable nation. Some schools go so far as to stereotype their students and inform them that, as a result of their ethnicity, sexuality, or religion, they are oppressors.

This one-sided, warped view of humanity and method of education must end. Instead of dividing students, Morrow will seek to foster unity and understanding. America is an exceptional country. While every country faces challenges, ours in particular has been fair, compassionate, and forward thinking in recent years.

With Morrow’s leadership, North Carolina schools can be better equipped to educate and inspire the next generation who will become the leaders of our great nation.

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Business

Bite-Sized Motivation

The insights or wisdom we need to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words

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I’ve spoken to 1075 audiences at conventions, conferences, and meetings, and have had the opportunity to hear probably 800 other speakers as well.

The insights, perspectives, or wisdom we need, to get us going often don’t have to be more than a few words. Here are 52 of my own six word “speeches,” drawn from my keynotes and breakout session on the topic of work-life balance. Some of these likely will resonate with you:

Choose from what you already have.
Everyone needs breathing space, especially you.
Information overload obscures meaning and relevance.
Deep breathes are essential for well-being.

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Make every day an organized day.
Allow your natural rhythms to rule.
Stay confident and in control daily.
Manage your time, manage your life.

Slow down to plot your course.
Look for the best in others.
Make yourself indispensable on the job.
Compete with yourself, not with others.

Learn to take control of today.
Manage your time to make time.
Take control of your desk clutter.
You’re the best when you’re fresh.

Do something to take control now.
Major projects often require a jumpstart.
Methodically pare down your paper piles.
Don’t attempt too much at once.

Evaluate your situation and what’s important.
Narrow your priorities to stay focused.
Avoid making promises you can’t keep.
Learn to embrace your many talents.

Take the time to become organized.
Become aware of how you react.
Arrange your space; help isn’t coming.
Manage the flat surfaces in life.

Periodically challenge yourself to perform better.
Take long, deep breaths as needed.
Reclaim your places, spaces, and graces.
Start big projects well in advance.

Don’t rush the truly important things.
Make the best use of today.
Schedule accordingly: plan for your future.
Be kind, cut yourself some slack.

Opportunity knocks, but are you answering?
Conventional wisdom has diminishing value.
When practical, substitute time for money.
The market for top talent lives.

The self-reliant survive and thrive.
Leadership requires forethought and super-vision.
Learn from and capitalize on mistakes.
Firmly face the future with confidence.

“Now” holds a lot of opportunity.
Control but don’t curb your enthusiasm.
Treading water won’t propel you forward.
Have you ever really tested yourself?

Life goes on; do your best.
Continually seek out the higher ground.
Luck is distributed evenly, but disguised.
You must be doing something right.

 


 

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