Real Men Doing Real Work

L.I.F.E. PRINCIPLE # 4: Be a leader who associates with winners not losers.

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As a youngster, I became enthralled with the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And as I matriculated to and through college, I found myself making frequent visits to the John C. Hodges Library’s audio-visual department to watch, and re-watch, Eye on the Prize documentaries. To me, Dr. King was the ultimate leader – my hero – for he led a movement that laid the groundwork for Black Americans, and other persons of color, to gain equal rights and protections under the law.

Dr. King is the reason I decided to pursue degrees in Social Work. Like him, I wanted to help people help themselves. But as mobilizing forces seek to convince young people that their future is bleak, I’m calling on Real Men like yourselves to do more to help them become the kind of leaders that articulate more hopeful narratives about their futures. In the words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, we must keep “hope alive” through our righteous words and deeds.

As a Huddle Group, you must show young people what it means to be leaders in their homes, schools, workplaces and communities. They must know that leadership in these arenas is not predicated on one’s racial/ethnic identity, or political party affiliation. It is based on doing the right thing relative to fairness, equity and justice.

What our young people must understand is they live in a country where citizens have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. From these inalienable rights come values. At times, our self-righteousness as human beings causes us to impose our emerging values on individuals and groups that nurture. learn, work, lead and even pray differently than us. But we’re only right some of the time. For this reason, we, both the young and the old, have no right to tell other people how to live their lives. We can provide a gentle nudge, or two, but we should never get them to do our bidding through coercion. True leaders are quick to acknowledge this fact, opting instead to humbly work with like-minded people in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities to maintain bonds of peace, havens of tranquility.

Your Huddle Group should develop lesson plans that require young people to study the lives of leaders both past and present, from all racial/ethnic groups, both genders. After this study has been completed, they should be asked if they consider themselves to be leaders. The introverts will undoubtedly say no, the extroverts yes. But then you’ll have to reel them back in, asking follow-up questions about how they’re leading. Most will probably give you examples of how they’re leading positively. But when you dig a little deeper, they, and you, will discover they’re nowhere near being the righteous leaders we need them to be. Their lack of growth in this area should be attributed to their peer influences.

Believe it or not, the peer dynamics that we see in their world are driven by common goals, similar objectives. Achievers, young people who are living independently fearless and empowered, want to be successful by establishing educational and vocational foundations that allow them to maintain positive relationships while simultaneously imprinting their legacies on the society at large. The Slackers, on the other hand, have a difficult time envisioning their success, resulting from their preoccupation with the here rather than the there.

For this reason, they risk not graduating from high school and college to secure employment that pays a livable wage.

For this reason, they risk not developing marital relationships that withstand the test of time.

For this reason, they risk bearing children out of wedlock, thus robbing the born children of opportunities to bear witness to marriage done right.

Getting young people to embrace the leader within should be the primary objective of your Huddle Group’s efforts. My TRIO Upward Bound staff and I accomplished this by offering a series of life skills workshops (on Saturdays) that forced our scholars to get in touch with their selfless selves. They were then encouraged to become Servant Leaders by helping each other achieve the program’s B or better standard in all of their classes. While my staff and I went to great lengths to ensure our scholars were successful as individuals, I took more pride in letting our scholars know when the program’s collective GPA was B or better. The latter just meant that the vast majority of our scholars were handling their business in the classroom.

When I attended Body of Christ Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, I had the honor of serving as one of the co-chairs of the church’s Warriors Rites of Passage Program. This program was our Iron Man Ministry’s outreach to boys between the ages of 10 and 14, and our goal was to mold boys into men.

Through bi-weekly Saturday meetings – which lasted about two hours – we men shared our hearts for God and L.I.F.E., taking our young charges under our wings, and helping them develop a leadership mindset. Most of the boys we worked with didn’t know the first thing about being leaders. They were immature and undisciplined. But through our instruction and guidance, they seemingly gave more credence to the incessant tugging of their consciences, which told them to do right by themselves and others when they wanted to do wrong.

Visit any school in America, and you will hear school administrators and teachers talk about student involvement in service learning projects. When young people are involved in service learning projects, they learn invaluable lessons from the giving of their time, talent and treasure. Consequently, because learning is a lifelong process, it is important that your Huddle Group commit itself to developing Servant Leaders during constituent engagements. Your Huddle Group must convince them that leadership is the highest calling, and, consequently, they must adhere to a moral code governed by their love for God and neighbors.

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From Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H. 
Part Two: Real Men Doing Real Work
Click here to purchase Part One only.
Copyright 2016 Jeffery A. Faulkerson.  All rights reserved.

Michelle Obama on Dignifying Women

It has been customary for me not to post politically charged material on this site, but after hearing First Lady Michelle Obama’s powerful and profound words, I couldn’t resist. Standing in the gap for our women and children means we Real Men will never allow ourselves to be led by Fake Men who objectify women rather than dignify them.

Our champions must have high standards around common courtesy and decency.

Pursuing My Passion, Living My Dream

The photo to the left RMRC Cover Photois of my son and I making our way up to the ‪#‎HollywoodSign‬ in California about four years ago. This photo inspired me to write Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner COACH. I wrote this book for men who want to have transformative interactions with their children, and preserve the peace and prosperity that is supposed to be every child’s birthright.

Men, it is imperative that we stand in the gap for our wives (and children’s mothers) and children. Gone are the days when we fathers allow our self-worth to be measured by hefty paychecks. I should know.  Off and on, I have spent nine of my son’s 12 years being a stay-at-home dad.  But know this: I receive immense joy from watching him develop into an intelligent and selfless individual. Now don’t get me wrong; my child is still prone to bouts of selfishness.  But just like I don’t allow him to fail in school, I also will not allow him to develop the kind of defeatist mindset that denies him promotion and, moreover, prevents him from one day collaborating with others to establish a more fair, equitable and just society.

Real_Men_Raise_CHAMP_Cover_for_KindleI want to thank those individuals who have already purchased Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner COACH.  Without you, I would not be able to pursue my passion, live out my dream.  Your purchases increase my capacity to take my message to the streets.  And for those who have yet to purchase my seminal text, I say, “What are you waiting on?”  While it’s true I don’t know why so many fathers have detached themselves from their children, I do know transformative leaders like us are needed, so it’s time for the Real Men out there to stand up and be counted.

Please click here to PURCHASE ebook or paperback versions of my book.

Thank you for your support.

J. A. Faulkerson

Strategist | Author | Speaker

 

That First C

SupermenLike most parents, I beam with pride when my son brings home good grades.  This is a sign that he is beginning to understand the correlation between good grades, worldly success and eternal prosperity. But when he went from a low A to a low B in Math earlier this year, I thought I was going to blow a gasket.

For some strange reason, he was having a difficult time breaking word problems into logical equations.  And this comes after receiving what I perceived to be quality private school educations in North Carolina and California.  But I get it, though.  My son is in a new school, a public one, and he would rather be friends with the other kids than compete against them for top academic honors.  But with only one week left in this six-week period, it looks as if he is destined to make his first C, something he has never done since his recorded grades started to matter, when he was in the third grade.

Real Men Must Establish High Academic Standards

Please understand where I’m coming from.  I know a C is a passing grade, but I’m cut deep by the fact that my son is at risk of making one.  As a Real Man, my academic standards are much higher than those parents who allow teachers to just educate their children without holding these same teachers accountable.  C grades mean our children’s academic performances are average. And, if you’re anything like me, that’s not good enough.  Our children have one job – to make A’s and B’s in all of their classes – and the fact they aren’t making good grades should be signs they aren’t taking their jobs seriously.  We must always expect more from our children, not less.

Because my son made a very, low grade on a recent Financial Literacy test, we had to have daily sit-downs to prepare for the retake.  Our sessions lasted a little over an hour, and each time I would explain the steps he needed to take to solve each problem.  But when I typed up a sample test, which pretty much mirrored the 20-question assessment (just different numbers), and had him take it, I found myself getting miffed at the fact that the only problems he could answer correctly without my assistance were the vocabulary problems.

Real Men Are Patient and Kind

I readily admit that my tutoring sessions with my son have, at times, tried my patience.  When he started humming some song that was playing in his head, I felt my lips quivering, my left leg bouncing, because I knew my words were going in one ear and out the other.  I threatened him with consequences for not giving me his full attention, but that only caused him to lose his focus even more, especially when he started crying because I told him he no longer had the privilege of watching his cartoons during the week, playing video games on the weekend.

Failure can never be an option.  Neither can mediocrity.  As our children’s first teachers, their coaches, we must use our creativity to get them to do things they view as impossible.  For my son, it is gaining mastery and proficiency in Math.  Because he isn’t as successful in this class as he is in the others (all A’s), you can tell there is a certain amount of pent-up dread when he has to complete assignments in it.  But because I have been there, done that, I know what it’s going to take for him to have a breakthrough.

First and foremost, he must be able to identify his weaknesses and develop a plan for turning them into strengths. He’s only able to develop these skills when I force his hand.  Yes, his teacher and I must provide the instruction, but he must have the self-initiative to sit at the table with his notes in front of him so Eureka Moments can be had.  It’s all right if he has questions; that goes hand-in-hand with the learning process.  But because I will not be with him when he takes the retake, or future quizzes and tests for that matter, he must be able to settle back down after I have answered his questions, so more Eureka Moments can be had.

Real Men Explain Why Their Academic Standards Are So HighHispanic Father and Child

As Real Men, our hope should be that our children understand why our academic standards are so high.  They should know that we want them to make A’s and B’s in all of their classes because it lets others know they have strong work ethics. Individuals with strong work ethics are esteemed more highly than others, they receive access to opportunities that are often denied to individuals content with settling for the average, the mediocre.  More importantly, though, they are positioning themselves to be leaders, not followers.

I know my son is destined to become a leader, but I also know I have to do my part to set him on the right path. Yes, I had the same problems in Math that he is currently having. And, no, I wasn’t the greatest of students, at least in high school. But that doesn’t disqualify me from helping him acquire the knowledge and skills to be better than me. If anything, it’s a challenge for me, resulting from the fact that I have to shake off my past disappointments in secondary school to prevent him from making the same mistakes.  And because, as a mature, educated adult, I now have a more thorough understanding of Math and a host of other subjects and topics, I am better able to help him reach loftier standards now and in the future.

Real Men Don’t Take It Personal

Seeing that first C on my son’s report card is going to be a low moment for me.  And if I didn’t know better, I would take it personal.  But I’m not because I know he has the capacity to understand when he is free of distractions. He just needs a teacher who can explain the real-life applications of the concepts being taught, and manage classroom dynamics well.

I now find myself pushing him to advocate for himself in the classroom by posing questions to the teacher during her classroom lectures and after them. That’s the only way he’s going to gain the understanding he needs to perform well on upcoming assignments and tests, by taking ownership of his learning.  He also receives additional instruction at Mathnasium.

We Real Men tend to take our little children’s’ lack of academic success personal because it reflects badly on us, our rearing of them.  I’m not going to lie; it makes me feel good when my son brings home a report card riddled with A’s. I’m now able to brag to my friends, and anyone who will listen, that my boy is an honor roll student.  It’s almost as if I’m trying to live through him.  But brothers beware.  Our time has come, and gone.  How we performed in primary and secondary school, and even college, has no bearing on our present circumstances, and those of our significant others.  In short, it’s not about us; it’s about them.

It’s our children’s time to sink or swim.

The burden is on us, and their teachers, to teach them how to swim with a sense of urgency.

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