Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Atlanta Hawks - Beyond The Entertainment

Another win for the Atlanta Hawks! That's 17 in a row!

I am simply mesmerized by the success of the Hawks.

In addition to being entertained, I'm studying their success so that I can maintain effectiveness as the CEO of L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct).

There are three baskets that I feel that the Atlanta Hawks continue to fill and they are culture, standards and accountability.

I've asked a few of my close friends to weigh in on the success of the Hawks and help me write this blog.

The Culture

Culture is the the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.

What is the culture of the Atlanta Hawks?

This Hawks team appears to have collectively adopted the mindset that the determined 'game day' mission will be accomplished through team work and excellent play! -Lisa Baker

Team!! Team!! Fun!! Unselfish!! -Vaughn Williams, Kennesaw State University Director of Athletics

I think they don't want to pay guys because they don't want a superstar. They just want a bunch of role players. They cycle role players in and out. They have no stability. At the end of the day that works and the most important thing is they win! -Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs outfielder

I would describe the culture as team focused. They are playing as a team with a mindset of it takes all of us to win. Everyone plays an important part, from the players on the bench to the ones on the court. Everyone has something to contribute. -Katrina Johnson

The Standards

Standard is a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment.

What "must happen" in order to be a member of the Atlanta Hawks team?

The way I see it, in order to truly "be" a part of any "team", you have to understand that teamwork (at it's core) is essentially a perfect balance of unselfish personal behavior coupled with an appropriate level of personal ambition/drive. Teamwork makes the dream work..... and the "dream" must be shared by all. -Charlie Finch

You must be cooperative and you must work as a team. There is not just one man on the team. You must be discipline, so that when you are in a tough situation you know how to come out on top. You must have core values and you must always have a positive attitude. You must have your teammates back. You must also know how to deal with adversity and be the best cheerleader when needed. -D'Anthony Morrow, L.E.A.D. Ambassador

You must be the best at what you do, yet humble enough to be a member of the team. -Kevin Young, L.E.A.D. Ambassador Head Coach

Each person must adhere to personal and team core values. Iverson had talent no doubt, but his character wasn't strong enough to sustain it. Core Values produce character that attracts success. You must be willing to share the glory of winning and the disappointment of defeat. You must be honest about individual strengths and weaknesses so the puzzle of the team can be properly assembled. You must be dedicated to the development of the bench. The bench will be what sustains you when you need a rest or you're hurt. They should not be forgotten about or thought of as scrubs. -Kelli Stewart, L.E.A.D. Executive Director

The Accountability

Accountability is being subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.

What "must not happen" in order to remain a member of the Atlanta Hawks team?

They must not become arrogant, complacent, lose hunger and most importantly forget where they come from. - Joseph McCrary, 
L.E.A.D. Ambassador Alum

They must not violate team rules... on time and good conduct. -Sam Crenshaw, 92.9 The Game

They must not get distracted by the celebratory happenings (events) of the fans. They must not get distracted with the doubters and critics that will doubt the authenticity of the success. They must not allow past success to cause them to be content with the success that is to come. -Minister Tim Sims, Elizabeth Baptist Church

They must not change who there are. They are a blue collar team that meshes well together and just cares about winning. -Brent Shade, Mercer University Assistant Baseball Coach


Saturday, January 24, 2015

When winning is difficult

My 13 year old daughter Mackenzi is an amazing tennis player and I am so proud of her. While watching her win here tennis match today, I was giving thought to the process of winning.

Mackenzi with Georgia Tech sophomore Chris Eubanks

We all want to win and winning is difficult.

It is difficult to win when fear is your friend.

Depending on your long term goal, short term losses help you win in the end. Small battles must be won before winning the war.

Mackenzi's Perspective

If I'm afraid then I'm not allowing myself to be human and make mistakes.

It is difficult to win when your attitude changes like the wind.

The wind is the movement of air. You can't see it but you can feel it. A bad attitude can be seen and felt and unfortunately it is cancerous when it spreads.

Mackenzi's Perspective

When my attitude is bad, it usually means that my confidence is low and I'm insecure about one of the parts of my game. But even still, on the bad days, I have to remind myself to keep my head up because nothing good comes from a bad attitude. Ever.

It is difficult to win when you choose to break rather than bend.

When training, I get my clients to a place of discomfort and then build their skills because they are forced to mentally focus more. We can learn to do anything including how to not quit.

Mackenzi's Perspective

You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Black Youth and The Dabnus Brickey Connection

I recently asked a teen age white male when, if ever, does he get an opportunity to interact with black people. He responded that during community service is the only time that he is able to interact with black people. Meaning, he's the one serving Blacks who are in need. 
Members of the 2015 Ambassadors ready to serve on L.E.A.D.'s adopted segment
of the Atlanta Beltine at Washington Park on MLK Day. 

I know this young man really well and he is an amazing individual. I believe that the danger with his statement is that he could develop a negative bias towards Black people as he enters adulthood. He could have the mindset that Black people are always in need and can only advance or do better when White people offer help. Without strong core values, bias can turn into racism. Thankfully, this young man has a strong set of core values and a heart for human beings.

But consider the narratives we read everyday that are written by way of statistics as it relates to Black inner-city Atlanta youth:

There are 50,000+ students in Atlanta Public School
80% of those students live at or below the poverty level
80% of Georgia prison inmates are comprised of youth that come from Atlanta zip codes 30310, 30315 and 30318

Ambassadors complete monthly service projects that instill in them a
sense of belonging and investment in their community.

Those stats portray a group of people who don't have a chance of having a great life, right? I mean, if you had to draft an All-Star team made up of the individuals who these stats speak of, could you draft a winning team?

Absolutely you could! As a matter of fact, I have drafted such a team and I call them Ambassadors. The statistics above are positioned to speak of their futures, but through L.E.A.D., we are helping them create new statistics. Numbers like these: to date, 100% of L.E.A.D. Ambassadors graduate from high school, 95% enroll into college and 92% receive college scholarship opportunities. We are creating new narratives with these new statistics, so we can begin to plant a positive bias in society as it relates to young Black males.

We value things and people by the way they are presented to us. I know with the recent controversy associated with Bill Cosby, folks are trying to steer clear of any associations with him. I am neither judge nor jury on the issues facing Mr. Cosby's life at this time and I can't forget the many life lessons that The Cosby Show taught me. One of which has to do with value.

Remember when Vanessa, came home from college and she brought Dabnus home with her? If you recall, she brought him there under false pretenses: he was just a boyfriend from school. The truth finally came out and it was revealed that Dabnus was more than just her boyfriend, he was her fiance. During the "come to Jesus meeting" between Dr. Huxtable and Dabnus, Dr. Huxtable shared that he thought Dabnus could be a porterhouse steak quality of a guy, but the problem was that Vanessa introduced him to the family on a trashcan lid. Now who wants to eat a porterhouse steak, grilled to perfection, off of a trashcan lid? No one.

That's what's happening to Black youth in Atlanta and across the country. The stats that are being pounded into our consciousness every day through media and other forms of propaganda are presenting our young men, who have amazing potential, on filthy trashcan lids. Through the Ambassadors, we are working to positively raise the profile of young Black men in Atlanta so that the world can see their true promise - educated, civically-engaged, compassionate youth who will grow up to be excellent citizens, husbands and fathers.

As we search ourselves on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, let us ask these questions:

What biases do I have?

How often do I interact with people from other races on a personal level?

Is racism a problem for me?

Do I find it difficult to have conversations about race?

Am I an asset to my neighborhood, city, state, country?


Friday, January 16, 2015

Models are the best mentors

Did you know that Mentor was actually a person that later become a verb?

noun. Mentor Greek Mythology Odysseus's trusted counselor, in whose guise Athena became the guardian and teacher of Telemachus.

verb. To serve as a trusted counselor or teacher, especially in occupational settings.

One of the best methods of mentorship that is often underused is modeling.

The Hebrews established an amazing 4-step method of effective mentoring "back in the day" that was based on modeling.

Here is their simple method.

1. I do it.

2. I do it and you watch me do it.

3. You do it and I watch you do it.

4. You do it.

Watch me lead and I will watch you lead then you will lead. ~C.J. Stewart

When I began traveling down the road to officially become a mentor in 2007 by way of L.E.A.D., I didn't even really know what the word mentor meant. In that, I realized that knowing is better than assumptions if you want to serve and make significant and sustainable impact.

I learned that in order to become an effective mentor, you need to first know what you are doing so that you can model it. I'm able to effectively empower an at risk generation of black males from Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to lead and transform their city of Atlanta because I was them.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Denzel Campbell (USC-Beaufort), C.J. Stewart and L.E.A.D. Ambassador Desmond Stegall (Grambling State University)

I attended Grove Park Elementary School (APS) which is an inner city Atlanta school and used baseball and education to access Georgia State University as a student-athlete and later went on to play professional baseball in the Chicago Cubs organization.

In addition to L.E.A.D., my wife Kelli and I own Diamond Directors which is our for profit business that provides the blueprint of success for diamond sport athletes. Since 1998, our clientele includes over 100 college baseball scholarship athletes, several MLB 1st round draft picks and Major League Baseball clients such as Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler and Andrew McCutchen.

I think a role model is a mentor - someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them. ~Denzel Washington

My childhood through adult life experiences as well as my professional expertise uniquely positioned me to reestablish baseball in the inner city of Atlanta in 2007 with my wife. 

L.E.A.D. offers 12-month programming to over 200 APS black male student-athletes grades 6th through 12th. Our pillars of excellence include academics, athletics (baseball), commerce and civic responsibility. We strategically use the Habitudes curriculum by Dr. Tim Elmore as a performance enhancer for our L.E.A.D. student-athletes.

L.E.A.D. has an amazing Pathway2Empowerment methodology that moves our APS students-athletes from grades 6th-12th to and through college.

So what is it that I ultimately want our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors to do you might ask?

I want our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors to lead their city of Atlanta and state of Georgia to lead the world. Here are three ways that they will do it.

1. Serve as a Chief Executive Officer for an Atlanta based Fortune 100 company by 2040. Leadership is influence.

2. Serve as the Governor of the State of Georgia by 2040. Governors are the heads of the state and not a position for just any body. 

3. Represent the State of Georgia as a U.S. Senator by 2040. Senators create law.

C.J. Stewart at the 2015 Governor Nathan Deal Inauguration 

Before you can give back, you must have something to give. ~C.J. Stewart

Are you a mentor?

What skills do you model well for others?

What guarantees can you make to your mentees?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Living Each Day On Purpose

You've heard the saying that "we can learn something new each day." Since January 1st, I have established a new habit of journaling one thing that I have learned each day. It forces me to become aware of the things that I'm doing and saying throughout the day.

On January 1st while spending some time with our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors, I learned that problems are waiting on a great leader to solve them.

C.J. Stewart and the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors at Booker T. Washington High School

Today while spending time with my good friend and discipleship partner Mike Moye, I learned that the basis of establishing and maintaining healthy relationships is found in The Lord's Prayer "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us."

My prayer is that I can remain discipline enough to live each day on purpose and record what I'm learning each day in my journal.

What is something new that you learned today?