054: Nehemiah Frank and the Black Wall Street Times
Nehemiah Frank left Tulsa as a child, became an elite gymnast, struggled to graduate from high school, blossomed in college, and returned to Tulsa as a young man to become a new voice for equity in education and social justice reform.
Nehemiah established a blog in February 2017 to express his observations about educational inequality and social justice reform. Little did he know that The Black Wall Street Times would get national and international attention and put him center stage in his efforts to educate the public about these important issues.
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading Podcast, I talk to Nehemiah about his journey, how it has helped him to evolve as a public advocate, and the impact he hopes to have in improving education for all citizens, and especially the under privileged.
My thanks to Joel Wade and Blue House Media for hosting the recording of The Spirit of Leading podcast. Blue House Media is a video, audio, and web development media company and recording studio. www.bluehousemedia.tv
We learn to be a leader the same way we learn to live﹣by trial and error, through relationships, by paying attention and being present in our moment-to-moment experiences.
I invite you to discover an innovative genre of leadership development literature using the power of storytelling to make being INPowered2 LEAD come alive in your life.
Meet MARCUS WINN, a fictional Gen-Y supervisor who must navigate through a workplace transitioning between competing world views and expectations.
His experience unfolds through a series of episodes, each highlighting specific management and leadership issues integrated with his on-going personal life events — the way life happens.
As Marcus discovers, leading and managing is a lifestyle, not a job delineated by bullet-point duties. Life flows. Therefore, his narrative of growing into an INPowering way of living weaves leadership principles into the fabric of experience. Marcus’s lessons come from his environment — not from a menu of how-tos, but from a myriad of what-ifs brimming with possibilities.
The first two episodes are ready for you to enjoy and use for yourself. They also make a great gift for anyone looking to unleash the creative energy of personal INPowerment.
Read the first chapters free of Marcus Winn’s Moment of Truth and Marcus Winn’s Quest for Clarity available to download from the INPowered2 LEAD website welcome page.
When you purchase the soft-back from Amazon.com you can get a copy for your Kindle at a reduced price.
The third episode, Marcus Winn’s New Way to Lead, will be released early in 2014. More about that in a future post. Start your own workplace story of an INPowering life.
No doubt, you will be
We desperately need elegant leaders in every aspect of our lives: business, politics, education, health and wellness, financial, religious institutions of all faiths, the military – everywhere.
By elegant, I mean leaders who have a way of helping others reach their greatest good with the least effort, intrusion, and disruption.
In an earlier post I defined a leader as someone who takes us [helps us go] places we cannot or will not go by ourselves.
That being said, we’re still short-handed when it comes to “elegant” leaders. Here’s why.
Elegant leaders are NOT:
- Power hungry for control and command
- Ego driven at the expense of followers
- Attention deprived, self-aggrandizers (no matter how charismatic they appear)
- Willing pawns ready to do the bidding of hidden power brokers
- Self-deluded that they are acting for the greater good when their first thought at the moment of difficult decisions is for their own survival
- Leading from behind (an oxymoron on its face)
Unfortunately, many of those who put themselves out there as our leaders and tell us to follow them are NOT ELEGANT LEADERS. At their core, they might be fine individuals, but they misunderstand and misapply leadership.
Elegant leaders ARE:
- Solution oriented, with a clear vision and understanding of end results that are beneficial for the greater good
- Focused on what can be, instead of looking for scapegoats
- Eager for everyone’s success and growth
- Collaborative and inclusive
- Compassionate, empathetic, and forgiving
- Protective of their followers and self-sacrificing if necessary
- Trusting, hopeful, and persevering
Therefore, I describe an Elegant Leader as someone who:
- INLarges our expectations of living by helping us define our greatest aspirations and to pursue them;
- INLivens our heart with hope and possibilities that evoke joy and passion;
- INLightens our mind with information and insights we need to find our way, and who
- INCourages our spirit to persevere when obstacles seem insurmountable or when the way forward seems unclear. They trust in us, believe in us, and are close by to stabilize our footing when we slip or stumble.
At this very moment, you have what it takes to be an elegant leader, because leadership has nothing to do with age, gender, or race. It has everything to do with clarity, accountability, and relationships.
Take the test. Are you:
- Clear about the direction you are heading and the results you are out to accomplish? If you are not, stop and get this right. A way-maker also takes time to help others clarify their own destination, dreams, and goals.
- Accountable to yourself for the consequences of your own actions – no excuses. Get this right first before others will find you trustworthy. Be true to yourself.
- Committed to the relationships you develop on your journey. If you arrive at the destination alone, you have led no one, nowhere.
Elegant leaders appeal to us because their strength rises from within. They comfort us by their presence while they reassurance us of our own strength. They help us to believe in ourselves.
Become this elegant leader and you will be
We desperately need you to be an Elegant Leader.
I am often asked, as a consultant, “Why do so many employees wait around to be told what to do next instead of showing initiative?”
At the expense of oversimplifying the situation, I believe it’s because they learned it was safer to wait for permission instead of sticking their neck out.
We come into this world at the top of our lungs, motivated and INPowered. Somewhere along the way we learn speaking out, taking action, and showing initiative can be dangerous.
We are taught to keep quiet, stand in line, wait our turn, and don’t color outside the lines. Any deviation from the norm requires permission from authority. Those lessons play out in the work place to reward compliance over creativity, good enough over excellence, blending in over standing out, and playing it safe over taking a risk.
Do something different, take a chance, or propose something progressive, and there is a chorus of critics with 1001 reasons why it won’t work, and why doing nothing is better than whatever it was you proposed. Who ever heard of such nonsense, anyway?! Or there are authority figures who shoot you down, because keeping things the same old way also keeps them in power.
So, if you are waiting for permission to show your stuff, I’m giving it to you now. Go ahead.
Am I arrogant to that I think I can grant you blanket permission? Well, it’s not arrogance, because you have always had permission. You just bought into the lie that you must wait for someone to give it to you.
Thank goodness for Gen Y and the kids being born today. Their norm is, “full speed ahead. Everything goes.” They renew my spirit and remind me of the unabashed idealism that inspired me to dream big and aim high.
You have permission to keep it up relentlessly.
But just in case you are already feeling the inertia to tone it down, let me remind you:
- You were born with permission to live, love, dream, and be happy. Do all without apology.
- There is no one else in the whole human race like you. You are unique, and you bring something special to everyone you meet. The fact you live adds to the glory of this universe. You possess the seeds of greatness.
- You were INPowered at birth to achieve your greatest good. Whatever you choose to do with your life, it is exactly as it should be. Be proud of who you are, where you are. Blossom where you are planted.
Permission granted to be
The World According to ME is our comfort zone, or comfort world.
I started becoming more INPowered when I learned how my comfort world operates.
We are automatically in a state of conflict anytime we are not getting what we need, want or expected. Sometimes the conflict is mild stress. Sometimes it is full-blown panic. The illustration above is my model of this conflict situation.
Anytime we are forced outside the boundaries of our comfort world we go into stress. Actually, the stress sets in as we approach the edges of our comfort world, away from our center of comfort. If the threat to our comfort world is too large and too sudden, we will likely panic.
Panic is any exaggerated behavior we act out in order to try to restore comfort in our life. You have heard of the “fight or flight condition.” These are expressed as a form of panic.
I remember the first time I was told that I had to learn to swing dance, or else lose my girlfriend. This photo expresses my feelings at the time.
Somehow, I got through it. Mostly because I began with basic baby steps in a non-threatening environment (a class) where everyone was as inept as I. Each week I got a little better and more comfortable.
Today, the picture below is an actual promotional photo I use with my dance seminar partner and dance coach, Cyndi, to publicize a workshop we put on called, Finding Your Leadership Frame: lessons of leadership from the dance floor. I now swing dance in public and in front of an audience (although I’m a novice swing dancer).
As I learn to dance, I was stretching my comfort zone a little at a time. Over time, I grew or enlarged my comfort zone by small increments, until today, I’m comfortable enough to demonstrate with Cyndi some of the parallels between leading and following in dancing and leading and following in other aspects of our lives, professionally and personally. It’s a BLAST!!!
So, what ever it is that scares you and causes you want to stay close to the center of your comfort zone, consider venturing toward the edges and giving yourself a little stretch. Just enough so that you don’t panic. Before you realize it, you’ll be INPowered in ways you earlier thought were impossible.
Stretch your comfort zone, and you will become
I’m about to hit the 6.5 decade mark, and I still haven’t reached my potential. And I’m happy about that!
The reason for that, is the more I experience, and the more I learn, and the more I succeed, the more potential I have. I was far closer to reaching my potential at 21 than I am today.
It’s more accurate to say that I keep growing my potential.
Earlier this week I read Paul Angone’s new book 101 Secrets for Your Twenties. A 20-something blogger I follow put me on to it. (Thanks, Gen Y Girl.) My take-away from reading through his “secrets,” is that I could apply most of them in every decade of my life. They’re not just for the 20s.
Looking back, I would say Angone’s secret #6 is the most meaningful to me, at least as I write this post: “Life will never feel like it’s supposed to.”
Why this one? Because I kept hearing all my life that I’m supposed to strive to reach my potential. I’m supposed to want more, have more, demand more, become more. More, more, more. Better, better, better. Win win, win.
The reason life will never feel like it’s supposed to is because we listened early in life to others telling us what our lives were supposed to be. That advice came from loving and caring parents, family, and friends. They told us so because they were told the same things when they were small.
Later, that advice came from those who had something to sell us. They defined the good life as it was supposed to be, showed us photos and movies of it, and told us we were missing out if we didn’t have it. Just about everyone buys into that story to some degree.
Then, somewhere along the way I learned the difference between acquiring abundance and living abundantly. I learned that living an INPowered life meant that I got to decide what success means to me instead of chasing after someone else’s idea of what it is supposed to be.
What is life supposed to feel like? I thought I knew in my 20s. I pursued it in my 30s. It eluded me through my 40s. I grasped it in my 50s for a while. And in my 60s, I realized I had it at my fingertips all along in my 20s and let it slip through.
What is life supposed to feel like?
It’s supposed to feel like however you feel when you are doing what you love to do—what ever it is that springs from the essence of who you are in the depths of your soul.
It’s supposed to feel like how you feel when you are in the company of those you care about and who care about you.
It’s supposed to feel like however you feel when you are proud of who you are.
It’s supposed to feel like however it feels when you finish the day knowing you have more potential than you had at the beginning of it.
As that happens for you,
it’s supposed to feel like you are
the life you choose.
I’m 10 years old in dog years*. Old by dog standards. The fact that I’m writing this blog proves old dogs can learn new tricks.
When I was a pup, the electric typewriter was the office technology of the day. Amplitude Modulation (AM) transistor radios ruled; FM stereo was still in the future. And not one auto came equipped with a seat belt, much less a GPS or satellite radio.
Every advancement in technology amazed me. I wanted it.
But there wasn’t much I had to learn to use it—just turn it on. FM came with stereo sound; just turn it on. Electric typewriters evolved to offer interchangeable fonts simply by replacing the font ball; switch it out, switch it on and type as usual. But seat belts required a paradigm shift of being strapped into the car and giving up some freedom. I got used to it.
Then computers came along and changed the way I used the technology. I had to learn new tricks. Computers evolved into networks, and networks evolved into the internet, and the internet produced social media. I’ve had to learn new tricks, and I have.
But many haven’t. In fact, they’ve refused. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” they lament, and wonder why they can’t figure out how to turn on their new flat screen HDTV. Duh.
I’m living proof that old dogs can learn new tricks, if we want. It’s all in your head.
Here’s the thing: I’m not afraid of growing old, because it’s inevitable. However, I am terrified of becoming irrelevant. I won’t as long as I keep learning the new tricks. And I love learning the new tricks.
Learning new tricks is INPowering.
New tricks challenge my creative energy. My mind is more INLightened. The new tricks connect me to the world in ways never before possible. Hey, you are reading my blog, and I get to read yours.
I have discovered so many other INPowered people like you through this social medium. You have INLivened my heart.
My world, and the expectations I have of myself living in this world are ever INLarged.
For all you pups, here’s something else to keep in mind. My 18-month-old granddaughter carries her 6-year-old brother’s iPad around to play with apps that she can turn on. Their 8-year-old sister is making her own videos and publishing stories she writes for her family and friends. I’m INCouraging her to go public with her stories.
They are so INPowered, and they are teaching me so many new tricks.
I am one lucky INPowered old dog.
Let’s go wild and chase some cars together.
Let’s be INPowered2 LEAD
[*Dog year (DY) calculation:
DY 1 = 15 human years
DY 2 = 9 human years
Each DY thereafter = 5 human years]
OK. I’m a Boomer. Nothing I can do about that. But I’m energized by what is happening in the workplace. I’m excited by the Generation Y population taking its place.
Dare I coin a phrase? The workplace is being “reGenYrated.”
That’s a good thing. A refreshing enthusiasm. New ideas, and better ones. Possibility thinking. People who want to be “INPowered” to make things happen, and not be told what can’t be done, or why it’s not done that way around here. Good for them.
I’ve seen a lot and learned a lot during my time in the workplace. I long to share it. And I know every generation must learn its own lessons. I also know I have a lot lot to learn from my Gen Y counterparts. So, here’s what I know: my generation, Boomers, has a legacy to share; the new generation, Gen Yers, has a legacy to build.
We all must be INPowered2 LEAD.
I’m ready and willing to do my part to “reGenYrate” the workplace.
(previously posted on give heart and soul.com blog)