Archives for posts with tag: leadership

My first job out of college was teaching Spanish for grades 7–11 at a private school in New Jersey. I started right before I turned 22. I left way before I turned 23.

Fast-forward many, many moons when I found myself in a high school classroom again, this time in one NYC public school’s ninth grade to talk about social media.

Don’t ask. Those of you who know me will find this laughable since I am a recovering technophobe who probably wouldn’t even be online if I didn’t kinda have to be for my type of work.

It all happened very quickly — I was asked on a Wednesday if I would start the first of six classes the following Monday, and without much thinking said yes, I guess because I trusted the person and wanted to see if I could now handle the critters that gave me so much grief way back when. Besides, I’ve been speaking/teaching for years, and I remember ninth grade being my favorite at the time, so why not? Social media? Apparently the entire curriculum would be provided, I just had to deliver it.

HAH! After the first day, with little to no preparation or training, it was like being thrown into a tank with 40 cranky sharks — what did I get myself into?!?! I held my own, but nearly quit. Other days it was like wrangling cats. But there were a few days of pure magic.

After surveying the students and finding out they spend nearly 100% of their free time on social media, I realized that a.) that’s the first problem, and b.) beyond the general predator and online reputation issues (along with their celebrity obsession), when looked at through the lens of cyberbullying and the associated psychological and physical tolls — as in murders and suicides — it quickly occurred to me that having them understand the proper and positive use of social media, texting and the internet could not be a more important and serious assignment…and that it was quite literally a matter of life and death. In other words, I realized that since they live most of their lives on social media, I was really there to teach them about life.

Aha! Now that made sense, because that is what I do for my day job. Let’s just say I tweaked the lesson plans I was provided.

It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. I could go on telling you how much I learned about kids, education, their future, our future, and the culpability of adults; the upsetting things I discovered about how our youth behave, what they think, what they do to each other; how they only care about being famous; how I tried in our short time together to turn some of those things upside down and instill them with completely new empowering ideas and perspectives (yes, the Golden Rule was one of the “new” concepts introduced after you could hear crickets when asked if anyone could tell me what it was); and how I held their attention with my knowledge of Justin Bieber (yes, I saw Never Say Never and was impressed — don’t laugh — it was relevant because of how he used YouTube to become famous, but he is/was extremely talented and worked hard even though he’s had some trouble lately…not to mention second highest amount of followers on Twitter etc.)

I know this is probably the first and only time some of these kids will hear about such things, and I’m pretty sure I reached at least a few who will now think a little differently about their lives and the consequences of their actions, both online and off. But I know for sure there was at least one who truly got it.

After the third lesson, which was the first on cyberbullying and the aforementioned wrangling cats day, I was caught off-guard when after class, a soft spoken but confident kid from the back of the room came up to me, shook my hand and said Miss, I just wanna let you know I really appreciate you.” He had me at appreciate! But he went on to say how disgusted he was with his classmates, that they weren’t taking this seriously and that he had been listening to a lot of Bob Marley lately and was looking for his purpose, how he wanted to be a leader and that today he found his calling.

STOP THE PRESSES. “Purpose” and “calling” were the exact words he used. I cannot make this up. And you can imagine to someone who does a talk called “Who Are You and What Are You Supposed to Be Doing with Your Life?” it was like winning the lottery.

My work was done, (or as my new colleague Karim goes: “Boom!” while gesturing the dropping of a mic and exiting stage left.) even if no one else got it and they did not listen to the next three lessons!

Junior (his actual nickname) and I talked about how he might accomplish such a mission, and I asked if he would like to start by talking to the class. Our final day together he did just that — the first time he ever spoke in front of a room! And he was an unlikely candidate to do so according to him and his teachers who say he’s not a great student, and he admittedly wasn’t even the best kid but recently had a change of heart — and my class helped to solidify and confirm his new direction. With no coaching from anyone, he spoke for almost 15 minutes about how his peers need to wake up and take life and education “fa real” and do something that helps others. I couldn’t have been more inspired and proud, as I know for anyone, especially at that age, to get up in such an environment and speak his truth was quite remarkable. It was one of the best days of my life.

I tell you all this because I did not do anything special — all I did was listen to my gut, show up, be myself and do my thing, which is all you can ever do, regardless of the context. You never know what the bigger plan is and how affecting just one person can make a huge difference.. The Universe knows what it’s doing — and what it had to do to get me in the same room with that 14-year-old boy was nothing short of a miracle.

Still not a Belieber? Whether you’re 15 or 51 you’re never too young or too old to take responsibility for your life, discover who you are and be confident enough to share it with the world. Give me a buzz and I’ll help you offer more than just a #Selfie to have a positive impact in the Twitterverse and beyond….

Today’s PGG was originally published on April 30, 2014

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Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)” In this excerpt covering the final seven minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.

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If a human being dreams a great dream, or dares to love someone…If a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which he or she was born, it means so can you… I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me. ~ Maya Angelou

And what a human she was! Dr. Maya Angelou possessed and cultivated a creative and brilliant mind, a powerful and compassionate heart, a flair for the dramatic, a serious sense of humor, and a thorough appetite for all aspects of life. She was a phenomenal woman who spent every breath of her 86 years consciously striving to express the fullest embodiment of what it means to exist as a spiritual being in this physical world.

To me, this is her greatest legacy. Like my other six foot tall heroine Eleanor Roosevelt [for those of you who don’t know I’m a six footer myself ;)], she walked her talk, and therefore we all benefited. She served as an example for all she stood for and knew to be Universally true; she espoused the unity and dignity of people of every race and creed, recognizing that “we are more alike than we are unalike.”

And she was very aware that she was indeed human, and knew how dangerous it is to make people, like a Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, or Mother Teresa larger than life — they were all human beings and when we idolize or put them on a pedestal they become inaccessible and we think we can never be like them. Instead they should inspire us to be extraordinary in our own way.

In our youth-obsessed and advertising-driven culture, it is unfortunate that we give so little airtime to our elders like Dr. Angelou, Nelson Mandela or Grace Lee Boggs, because when we listen to the wisdom that nearly nine decades of being a person who has chosen to love, forgive, learn and grow, who allowed themselves to reflect, observe and evolve, they teach us how to live. They are lighthouses that remind us who we really are and where we should be going — and these days especially when one is extinguished it feels like an even bigger loss because they are rare gems and we wonder who is coming up the rear to replace them.

In my work I have the honor and privilege of helping you discover that no matter how old you are or where you are from, you have a unique way of leaving our planet a little better off than when you arrived — even if it is simply by virtue of your own healed life.

Some of my clients, as a result of our meeting, have already gone on as a to win Tonys and Fulbrights, or are on their way to becoming a media moguls, best-selling authors, cutting edge inventors, or warriors for justice; whether they have an Ivy League background, were formerly incarcerated or are a ninth-grade NYC public school student, every one of them has something to offer, an opportunity to improve their own world, a way to be the most human they can be.

Not quite convinced that you, too, can be a giant among us? Give me a buzz and I’ll show you how like those Redwoods of California, you are one of hundreds of special trees that make up a forest of awe-inspiring majesty and beauty, living in harmony with one another and Earth, and the very Nature of Life itself.

Today’s PGG was orginally published on June 4, 2014.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CLICK HERE FOR FULL PGG ENEWSLETTER WITH INTRODUCTORY NOTE ABOUT CURRENT EVENTS

Get essays like this delivered every Friday to your mailbox as my PGG newsletter by texting CLEARLYKRISTINA to 22828 to join my mailing list.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!  

CLICK HERE TO BOOK ME AS A COACH

Click here for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

Click here for some testimonials from past clients 

Click here for a video that explains some ways I can help you as a coach

**CLICK HERE FOR MY PODCAST-STYLE INTERVIEW WITH RICK YOUNG OF WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND RADIO SHOW**

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter for up to date posts, helpful articles and inspirational thoughts.  Slowly building my YouTube channel so you check that out and subscribe too!

Text CLEARLYKRISTINA to 22828 to be added to my mailing list and be in the loop with my coaching and workshops as well as have these essays delivered to your inbox!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)” In this excerpt covering the final seven minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.

Click here to watch video

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Read over 100 5-star “Yelp” style reviews here

Join Mailing List

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn
YouTube

Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s:

All Roads, Same Place | And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor | Strong Medicine | 10,000 Hours | A Decade of Doing What I Do | Express Yourself

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