You are not in control of what happens to you. You are however in control of the situations you place yourself in that you have absolutely no control. Your responses in these moments are only as effective as your experience in such situations. My life is a reflection of my responses to conscious decisions to place myself in uncontrollable situations.
What you know, what you have learned, and what you have experienced are not the same. As such, how you prepare for a goal you set, adapt to the terrain along the journey, and respond to the hurdles along the way are a reflection of your understanding of knowing the difference between what it means to 'know something', 'learn something', and 'experience something'. It has been my experience that everything I knew before I went to college was based on my understanding of what I had experienced up till that point. What I learned in college was based on my understanding of the material as presented by my instructors though most of my instructors had no experience executing the principles being taught in my field of study. This does not however diminish the value of knowledge and experiences along the way.
Today many organizations are having conversations that were once taboo or forbidden in the workplace. Discussions rooted in Race, Religion, Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Political Ideology are now necessary in order to achieve the goal of authentic relationships with both peers and clients. It has taken me 20 years to get comfortable with being vulnerable about my story and the root of my experiences which explains my response to what is happening in our communities today. As it relates to community relations and authentic relationships in the workplace, my personal response and professional partnerships are a result of what I know, what I have learned, and what I have experienced. I was not in control of what happened to me. In response to 'now what?', I embraced less nouns and more verbs.
Critical Thinking Exercise; The Difference between 'Know', 'Learn', and 'Experience'. Which is the source of your strength and explains your ability to lead?
When I was 19yrs old I began receiving hate mail in college. I was the only Black male student living on campus and one of the few Black students enrolled in the college. This experience did not change the goals I set for my life before I got there. Life did ask 'now what?' and challenged my next move.
The biggest disasters are rooted in the best of intentions. Our intentions are rooted in our experiences. Having no experience with students being targeted for their race, I find no fault with my college doing the only thing they knew to do; publicly support me (not realizing that media has no such personal obligation to my well-being). I have a bin full of hate mail that the college knew nothing about. Do you think putting me on the cover of the newspaper helped or exacerbated the issue?
Experience The Difference
Everything you know about me professionally happened AFTER what happened to me in college. My partnerships with you feel different because I have experienced different. I also know that my experiences are limited which is why I am just as eager to learn from you as I am to partner with you. THANK YOU to everyone that humbles me by the call to serve your teams in the Organizational Culture, Diversity/Inclusion/Equity, and Professional Development space.