Liberate yourself

Sorry to lay this on you, but most of us live in some form of self-slavery.

We are slaves to our work. Slaves to our hobbies. Slaves to our passions. And for sure, slaves to our habits. Anything that compels us to act in a certain way, even when we know it’s not good for us, is our master, and we are its slave.

I’m not talking about the kind of slavery that physically subjugates people, such as the sex trade, or any indentured enterprise that keeps others subservient either physically or financially.

I’m talking about the kind of self-slavery that we give in to and that we could free ourselves from if we exercised some self-discipline to change our behavior.

Saying, “I don’t have a choice,” is pure-dee B.S. 90+% of the time. I’m leaving a little wiggle room here. I personally cannot think of a situation in my entire life when I did something contrary to my best interest that I did not have a choice to do otherwise.

Rule #1 of INPowerment. I always have a choice.

You might not like the consequences of it, but you usually always have one. It just takes the discipline to make it.

My destiny

is the the sum total of all the choices I made throughout my life that has brought me to this place and time. Fortunately, I’ve made some good choices. And I’ve also made some doozies that, for the grace of God and the kindness and compassion of friends and strangers, worked out better for me than, by all rights, they should have.

My point.

The self-discipline of making better choices might have meant that I would have avoided some of the pain and heartache I both suffered and inflicted.


is just the inner strength to show up and do the right thing, even when you don’t want to or don’t feel like it.

Your choice.
Learn the freedom that
comes from self-discipline
and choose to
Garland McWatters blog website

Permission to speak up

Permission to speak up

You exploded into this world with a voice and something to say. You had needs, and you wanted them to be met, NOW!

Nothing has changed,except that some–too many–have forgotten how to speak up for themselves. Why?

I think there are three primary reasons some have lost their voice:

  1. They were told they had no right to speak.
  2. They were made to think they had nothing worth saying.
  3. They were intimidated into silence.

All are the tools of tyrants and bullies who want only their voice to be heard. They don’t care what you have to say, and they don’t want anyone else to hear it either.

But because you have the spirit of INPowerment, you have permission to speak. As a citizen of the United States of America, that right is constitutionally guaranteed. As a citizen of the universe, that right is unalienable.

It is worth saying solely because you have a need to express it. Your opinion is your take on the world as you understand it. Some of the most important breakthrough ideas were offered by someone who under valued their ideas. DO CENSOR YOURSELF. Offer your ideas and thoughts. Your idea or opinion might be the stepping stone to a breakthrough as your ideas challenge others to think in new ways.

Intimidation is a mind game. The tyrant gets inside your head and convinces you through threats, humiliation, belittlement, and other means that you are inconsequential. They shout you down and hover over you demanding your silence or acquiescence.

Where would we be today if our nation’s founding fathers and mothers had kept their silence? Where would we be today if freedom fighters and suffragettes had kept their silence? Where would we be today if spiritual leaders had cowered in the face of religious tyranny?

You must speak, especially in the face of intimidation.
You have permission to speak.
You have permission to
Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

038: Andrew Spector and Jake Lerner Tulsa Changemakers [Podcast]

038: Andrew Spector and Jake Lerner Tulsa Changemakers [Podcast]

038: Andrew Spector and Jake Lerner Tulsa Changemakers [Podcast]

Andrew Spector and Jake Lerner wanted to make differnce in education. Neither went to college to become teachers. Both are. They signed up with Teach for America, a program to recruit high-performing college graduates to teach in rural and urban communities in dire need of teachers.

They received their assignments to move from the northeast to Tulsa, Oklahoma. They soon realized they were in the presence of exceptional young students who just needed a little extra in order to excel. In this episode of The Spirit of Leading we hear their story of how they launched a wild idea to develop middle school and high school students into changemakers who could identify and help solve problems in their schools and communities.


Related links

Tulsa Changemakers

Teach for America history

36 degrees N Tulsa’s Basecamp for Entrepreneurs


I remember when I could run a 9-minute mile.  I ran every day and did some form of resistance training three times a week most weeks.

Then I got too busy to maintain that exercise schedule. Little by little my stamina and strength evaporated.

I remember when I was well versed in pop culture. Today, there is a new wave of pop artists I’ve never heard of, while my favorites are now the classics.

Life happens

A new generation is born, grows up, moves in to drive the commerce of culture, and takes over all the institutions. The world as I knew it is a relic, and I’m left hanging on to it with a death grip, terrified of falling into the abyss of irrelevance.

Everyone experiences this with age. It happens because as time goes by, somewhere along the way we find a comfortable spot and stop. It feels familiar and safe and predictable, so we decide to relive that life every new day.

We desperately try to mold the emerging world to match the way things are supposed to be. When that fails, we become like the ostrich that sticks his head in the sand, thinking it’s better to be blissfully ignorant than engaged. The problem is we don’t realize we have done so.

Opening my eyes to a new life

I’ve taken a different approach.

I’ve decided to evolve with the times.

I’ve decided to embrace pop culture as expressive of the interests, personality, hopes, and dreams of the world’s new population of leaders.

I’ve decided to embrace the exuberant freshness of their inclusiveness, tolerance, and passion for a better way

I’ve decided to let go of the way things are supposed to be to grab hold of the way things could be.

I’ve decided to

Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

Fear less

I stood on the edge of the dance floor awaiting instructions from the dance leader, anxious to impress my date–an accomplished dancer. My mouth was dry, my palms sweaty, my knees locked.

On my side, the gents lined up shoulder to shoulder. Facing us from the other side, the ladies. Behind the ladies, Carol sat among the tables surrounding the dance floor.

Truth as I saw it

Carol and her dance instructor had just performed a routine at the showcase to which she had invited me. They were amazing. They had trophies to prove it.

“Ok, everyone, it’s time to get sociable,” the dance leader began. ” When you get to the front of the line, gents, introduce yourself to the lady facing you and dance her down the floor. We’ll be doing a two-step. Have fun.”

Fun?! Crap! I had never done a two-step in my life. Personal humiliation in front of a room full of dancers was not my idea of fun.

The resonate baritone country and western vocal swelled over the crowd. The first couple stepped out between the facing lines. The ladies were already dancing in place, moving toward the head of the line. They expected to be shown a good time.

A quick line count to my right. I estimated I had about thirty seconds before total humiliation.


So, I did the only thing I could think of.

I scooted backward, slowly, out of the line, drawing minimal attention to myself. I gazed at the floor, thinking if I didn’t look anyone in the eye, they wouldn’t see me slinking into the shadows.

I watched from a dark corner near an exit. What I saw horrified me.

Many of the gents could barely walk in time to the music, much less two-step. The ladies didn’t mind. They were laughing and dancing and having a blast. Had I given in to a false fear?

I snuck out the back door.

Shamed, I considered just leaving. But I made my way around the hallway and reappeared at Carol’s table just as the dance was ending. I slid quietly into the chair next to her.

“I wondered where you went. I thought you were going to dance in the mixer,” she chirped.

“Er, uh . . . I was, but a stomach cramp hit me. Had to go to the restroom. Must have been something I ate,” was my excuse.

“Oh. Well then, there’ll be another dance later. Maybe you’ll be over it by then.”

But I couldn’t lie to myself. I let fear make the choice.

A better way

Fear compels us to run away from possible harm in whatever form we perceive it. To survive, the brain is programmed to treat all threats as real, just in case. Act first, think later it warns.

In this case, the only fear I faced was the fear I conjured up in my imagination.

I resolved at that moment, that I would never let fear make my choices again. My new strategy: fear stirs -> automatic reaction -> think and evaluate -> choose to adjust behavior and follow through.

I have kept my word to myself because I intend to
Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

The joy of surprise

The joy of surprise

Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead founderI’m an advocate for setting your goals, then, going with the flow. It sounds counterintuitive; yet, it works for me. I’ve learned that choosing to go in one direction means that I cannot go in all other directions. However, no matter which path I choose, I know that I will face obstacles and opportunities along the way that either force me to alter my course, or that intrigue me enough to want to do so.

Frankly, I love the surprise.

You can tell from my photo that I’m not a spring chicken. Five years ago I found myself unexpectedly single again, living in the DFW metro. The shock of it was devastating. I resolved that I would never marry again. I set myself on a different path to go it alone. I buried myself in my work. A friend insisted I go on I said absolutely not. But months later I relented. However, I posted a profile I was certain would turn off any prospects. As it turned out, I was exactly what one lady was looking for, and she contacted me on the very last day my subscription was active. After several years of a distance relationship we married and are happily settled in Tulsa.

Way leads on to way–it’s true.

During those years she became a driving force in helping me to alter my path, while staying true to my passion. I shifted my work toward writing and working with Millennials. I have written and self-published three books, and I’m on my forth. You can find them on I’m working daily with Millennials across Oklahoma encouraging them to step into their leadership opportunities now, instead of later. You’ll hear more about NextGen Leadership Oklahoma and it’s counterpart recognition program NextGen Under 30 Oklahoma going forward ( My life since that devastating Tuesday in May more than five years ago has been a case study in serendipity. It would not have happened if I had stubbornly stayed my course of going it alone. All this probably would not have happened if I had not allowed myself the occasional side trip on my path. I’m the happiest and most fulfilled I have been in twenty years.

Allow the surprises in your plans. Embrace the serendipity if you want to Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

Be a brave heart

Be a brave heart

I hated yogurt, or at least I thought I did, until I became a brave heart.

Now, I like yogurt. But I didn’t know I did until recently, because I refused to try it for my entire adult life. Why? For some reason I had already made up my mind that I would not like it. I was afraid it would taste disgusting.

How many of us can admit something like that about not trying?

Why are we afraid to try?

We can be rather creative about all the reasons we invent for not trying new things.

  • We fear we might get injured.
  • We fear we might be emotionally hurt or embarrassed.
  • We fear we might fail at something and affirm our perceived incompetence.
  • We fear any number of unpleasant results, including something will taste bad or smell bad.

I’m guilty of using all of the above.

Try it; you might like it

For years I thought line dancing looked stupid. I convinced myself that I was above it, and refused to try it.

Then I met Cyndi, a dance instructor, and she encouraged me to try it. Heck, I’m a boot-scooting dude now. I enjoy every step of it, and you know what? I don’t care how stupid I might look, ’cause I’m having a blast.

Don’t use fear as an excuse

I have my limits. I won’t try something that I’m physically incapable of doing, which also might result in my demise. Mountain climbing, crocodile wrestling, milking venomous snakes, and base jumping are a few examples (although I think I would enjoy base jumping).

However, many fear to try because they exaggerate the possible bad consequences of doing so. If you are in that category, I encourage you to get real about what the fear actually is, and ask yourself what you can do to lessen it. Get in better physical shape, take lessons, be honest about why you are afraid to try.

Take it from me. You won’t look stupid, and you will be proud of yourself that you took the first step by trying.

Turn your brave heart loose
If you want to
Garland McWatters, INPowered to Lead, Tulsa OK, author

Everything is “on the test”

Everything is “on the test”

“Will this be on the test?” Students would ask me, during my days as a university assistant professor.  My stock answer was that if it was important enough to include in my lessons, it could be on the test. It was definitely worth learning.

We do live in a world of just in time learning. We want to know when we need to know. That approach also means we are in a state of stress (a.k.a. internal conflict) when we realize something is in jeopardy because of our ignorance. OMG!! I DON’T KNOW HOW. PLEASE, SOMEONE SHOW ME HOW!!!!!

Just in time learning–really now

Most of the training I have done in my career has been that kind–just in time before things get out of hand, and just enough–but no more–than absolutely necessary. I’ve lost count of how many times a company asked me to change a lifetime of employee bad habits in a two hour block. Sorry. Won’t happen. But I’ve tried.

There’s another problem with that.

When we are in stress, our ability to think and learn is inhibited. The stress hormones pulsing through our bodies get in the way of rational thinking. Taking time to learn ahead of the need is more effective, and the learning has time to find its way into our long term memory. That’s also why studying a little every day is more effective than cramming the night before an exam.

Why take time to learn when you can just Google it?

Remember Chesley Sullenberger, “Sully,” the commercial pilot who safely crash landed his Airbus A320 in the Hudson River after being struck by a flock of birds and losing both engines?

He didn’t have time to Google how to crash land a jetliner when both engines go out. All those passengers walked away because Sully had spent hundreds of hours learning how to handle that situation just in case. He wanted to know so that if, and when, he needed to know, he would not have to deal with the added stress of learning and applying a new skill in the moment of crisis.

A positive stress

When you want to know, you might put yourself in uncomfortable situations. The difference is that you choose to do so on your terms. The life-long learner does just that. They seek new information and new experiences to satisfy their own curiosity and to prepare themselves for the unpredictable. There is actually joy in that experience, and it fosters self-confidence. Who knows; it might show up as heroic someday.

Look for ways to grow your learning zone by pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone just a little at a time. You will grow, and be more
Garland McWatters, leadership development, leadership training, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Oklahoma