I remember being in high school asking what will I do with my life? Of course the thought of professional baseball, millions in the bank, fast cars, a beautiful wife to come home to, and nice clothes blew through my mind, but I consistently found myself asking the same question; How was I going to get there?
1) I didn’t play baseball; I was in the marching band
2) At that time, I worked at Sonic Drive-In and made about $250.00 every two weeks. My only problem was when I got payed on Friday.. by Sunday, my money was gone. If I had a million dollars, I would’ve made Mike Tyson look like King Solomon.
3) I drove a tricked out two door Honda Accord which made me feel a little fast & furious, but those dreams quickly shattered when my best friend’s father passed down his Z28 Camaro for Christmas 07′.
4) I’ve always loved women, that’s never changed. But how could I envision my 1 beautiful wife when I juggled girls like hot potatoes? (My hands are still burning)
I quickly realized, while high school was supposed to be my pre “welcome to the real world” party, I was not prepared for what was ahead of me. I had to figure out a way to align myself with someone who actually lived their life, conquered their dreams, and did it on their own terms. I knew I didn’t want to go into the normal “career day” occupation of being a police officer, doctor, lawyer, or mechanic. But with no real guidance, other than wisdom from my parents, and my lack of exposure to the professional field, by the time I graduated I still had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until after high school, I met a gentleman by the name of Barry Byrd who changed my life forever.
Barry was an entrepreneur. He worked in sales for an independent company that allowed him to create residual wealth as long as he spread the word, sold products, and convinced others to join the business. He worked when he wanted, played when he wanted, and enjoyed every minute of it. More importantly, at that time Barry had fast cars, millions in the bank, nice clothes ( he’s the reason why I lotion my ankles to this day; tailored pants show all your business), and even more important, a beautiful wife to come home too. Barry took my friends and I under his wing and instilled principles that we still carry to this day.
Often times influences, whether they are negative or positive, tend to steer the car that drives our life. Scripture says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I thoroughly believe that every parent wants their child to be successful. I also believe that no matter how hard, tough, or manipulative a situation someone grows up in, they will still ultimately want to be successful. If for no other reason than to show through their success, the very reasons why their own children will come out on top.
The problem arises when, specifically in urban markets, kids are left to be raised by what they see and hear through their music and television. Not because their parent doesn’t care or is incapable of providing a good example, but because they’re (parent) too busy working to provide a roof over their child’s head. Often times once the parent arrives home from a long days work, naturally they want to unwind and ensure every head is fed and accounted for before they then(without even knowing what color shoes the child had on at school that day) retire for bed themselves. The rationale becomes, as long as the child isn’t out setting fires or running the neighborhood after the street lights are on ( when most of these shows air on television) a little tv can’t hurt them. Now more than ever before, children are being raised by pseudo-celebrities who have no real talent other than a loud mouth or hefty trust fund.
We can go all day talking about how these telegraphic messages kill our communities and divide our culture. But for our youth, these false idols become their reality. We do them no justice by standing to the wayside commenting, ranting, and giving our two cents with no rationale as to how we can develop a plan to counteract the buffoonery.
I remember being in grade school, given a textbook, an assignment, and a time limit in which to complete it. The logical thinker in me would quickly wet my thumb and index finger, then immediately turn to the back of the book where I knew without struggle I could find the appropriate answer. To me it didn’t matter how I got there, all I knew was that I would be right, and that’s all that mattered. Without fail, I could never make it past question number five without being scolded by my grade school teacher for what they considered “cheating.” This was the biggest challenge for me. How did the teacher expect me to sit there and waste time writing out equation after equation, research after research when the answer to my problems were directly at my fingertips. While her idiosyncratic remarks may have held true in the classroom, I believe the same problem to be on the horizon today, only in a different form. If we want to solve our nation’s “skills gap” between recent grads and “work ready grads” or develop a plan to decrease the +50% number of recent college graduates that are unemployed in this country, we have to skip the fluff and get directly to the answers!
Ripe young minds should not be forced to sit on the sideline because old man John is too afraid to give up his seat. How will we impact our future? Create it! Young Entrepreneur Atlanta reels in community leaders and entrepreneurs to speak directly to students and show them exactly what it takes to become movers in the world. It takes a village. We’ve heard this philosophy for years yet we treat it like the flavor of the month on top 40 radio. When the band comes around, we’ll be quiet and act like we’re all for community involvement, but the minute they step away for a water break, we’ll be paying attention to the nonsense again!
Maybe we’re too caught up in our own mess or don’t care enough to worry or be bothered with the next man’s problems? It’s a jinga effect. Once one falls, we all do. I’ve seen a problem child turn her life around in an hour from someone positive reaching her heart and helping her identify her passion. I’ve seen a kid take colored shoestrings, tie them together into a bracelet, and make more money in an hour than most recent college grads. We’ve identified the problem, provided a solution, it’s now up to us to determine if we will continue to make excuses or build, impact, and create a life worth living.