“Be careful what you say out loud. Remember, YOU are listening.” Trevor Moawad.
I woke up this morning and during my morning reflection my mind was racing. I couldn’t get my mind to slow down. For all of my athletes, do you remember playing in a game and everything was going so fast, you were playing the game 100mph and the coach told you “slooooow doooown!” Even if you haven’t personally experienced this, I‘m sure you’ve seen it play out before. This was my mind this morning. Racing. As soon as I opened my eyes it was like the gun went off and my thoughts exploded out of the starting blocks. From one thought to the next, and they weren’t smooth transitions like passing off the baton in a relay race. It wasn’t one thought transitioning and relating to a prior thought. I couldn’t string my thoughts together to make sense of it. It was just scattered thoughts everywhere like a Jackson Pollock painting.
My mother always told me sometimes you have to stay still and let your mind rest. “When you don’t know where to go, stand still, and always allow God to guide your steps,” she’d say. With that thought jumping out in the front of my mind I decided to open up the floodgates and write it all down which is where I started to get some coherence with my thoughts.
As I started writing this I saw a message from a young superstar who I call my little sister. She’s a teacher, basketball coach, dancer, creative… a superstar to me. She said make sure you check on your strong friends, the ones who are quick to help someone but struggle asking for help, vulnerability is not their strong suit, don’t want to burden others with their problems. Those statements strung together quite a few thoughts for me.
First I had to laugh because I literally had that conversation with the love of my life last week. About me wanting her to be more vulnerable and her countering with you have to be more vulnerable as well. Pride is something that I have a lot of and it’s not always a good thing. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” James 4:6. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Proverbs 16:18. I was a pretty good basketball player in my day, accomplished a lot but I laugh because I’m not the most accomplished athlete in the Mitchell household. My wife is. Not only is she more athletically distinguished, she has also been the epitome of strength, sacrifice and love. Through the joys and pains she’s stuck by my side. My mother would tease me as she would say “Ramel when you look in the mirror you don’t see an average size man, you see Shaq.” She’s right. I have Shaq size dreams and aspirations with the energy and tenacity to accomplish them. I’m strong willed, stubborn, and have been that way since I was little. But when my wife didn’t look at me in that same light, it was then I knew I was the one who wasn’t being vulnerable and yet she stuck by my side. To say the experience has been humbling, just doesn’t do it justice. My admiration, love, and respect for her which was already abundant grew exponentially. I know I’m strong but my first check in was with her.
From those thoughts, the baton was passed to conversations I had last week. I’m a very optimistic person, a glass half full kind of guy. Always trying to find the positive outcome or solution and understanding, albeit uncomfortable during the moment, it’s going to be ok. This is also a debate sometimes in the Mitchell household. I truly believe Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death.” As I like to say “the tongue bringeth to life.” If you say something enough you will start to believe it. If you speak negativity that will follow. If you speak positivity that will follow. I’m not saying be unrealistic here but in general if you don’t believe you can be successful and you speak that negativity openly what actions follow? What effort follows to solidify the result you want? I’ve talked about Trevor Moawad before and the brilliance of his “neutral thinking” in his book It Takes What It Takes. You put in the work to be prepared for the situation and understand you have prepared yourself to be great. The optimism in me, just says I can make it happen. I put in the work, I’m prepared, I can do this. I believe I’m great not because of what I’ve accomplished but because I have and will continue to put in the work and march towards success. When I see greatness I speak on it.
When I started my company, The Movement I.T.P.A., I put out an infomercial for marketing and advertising. During the infomercial I told a story about a man who worked for 730 days straight to get his business off the ground. No real money, no vacations, getting up at 4a and working until 9p for 2 years straight. He told me “succeed or fail I’ll never regret trying. I’ll never have to ask myself what if. I’ll always be able to say I gave it my all and no one can take that feeling from me. I can’t buy that.” James 2:14-26 “faith without works is dead.” That’s greatness. Believing and putting in the work to accomplish. So when I heard this same friend say “I’m not great at anything” it stopped me. It played in my thoughts. But like I said earlier once I started writing, things became clear and aligned. Those words brought me to Trevor’s statement, be careful of what you say out loud. Checking on the strong friends. I needed him to know he is great. His mind is great. His actions are great. His will and desire is great. To see his business now, from where it started is more proof of his greatness. Witnessing his journey is motivation and inspiration because I get to see real life greatness and the desire and will power it takes to achieve it. Although neither one of us has accomplished or achieved all that we have set out too, I need you to know you are great at many things, you are living proof of what hard work, dedication, and commitment looks like.
My last thoughts that came together for that final baton pass for the final leg of the race were about the current events and BLM. I spoke earlier about Shaq sized dreams. Those dreams aren’t to attain fancy cars, and clothes. It’s not to be a millionaire. My dreams are to have defining, impacting moments on children who will eventually change the world. Not just one kid but an army of them. That one day the kids I work with will do amazing things and maybe a phrase, a word, an action, an interaction, a moment in time had such an impact on them and their psyche they carry it with them the rest of their lives and becomes a foundational pillar in their decision making. Paying it forward. I attended the BLM protest in Delaware, Oh and what really captured my mind was seeing the children there. They witnessed, heard, watched, saw police officers, pastors, neighbors, families, white people, black people, together, shouting and screaming for the same thing. What impact will that have on them?
I’ve been questioning myself, and others, on how I can use my platform, my business, my leadership. 9 out of 10 times in my field I’m the only man of color in the room. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t see color because I do. I recognize that and I carry it like a badge of honor. My experiences are unique. My perspective unique. I understand what I bring to the table. I do believe hate and racism is taught and my mere presence goes against all of the slander and negative stereotypes racism and the media brings forth. I’m not ignorant or uneducated. I’m not a thug. I’m not a criminal. My mother and my wife do worry and have worried about me making it back home when I walk out the door. Here’s another one for you, my father is a retired police officer. My godfather is a retired police officer. Both are strong respected men. Men with black skin. Even though they were police officers my father still prepared me on how to “survive” when dealing with the police. Yes, you read that right. My father made sure his 3 boys knew the 10 rules to survive when dealing with the police. This is coming from a police officer. A highly respected police officer. All police officers aren’t bad. They have a tough, hard, demanding, dangerous and scary job. They have families they want to go home too. It’s hard. It’s also hard when all the cards are stacked against you because of a system, especially when you knowingly abuse it or act like the system doesn’t exist. Growing up in a predominantly black community, preschool, an elementary school, where police officers don’t have a positive reputation and being the son of a police officer, I think it’s safe to say my thoughts, perspectives, and experiences are unique.
I watched a lecture by Dr. Joy Degruy Leary on Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. I think everyone should watch it but I attached my notes here. We have to recognize the pain, treatment/healing, and truly reteach ourselves and our youth. But how can I help? Continuing to be a positive black male in the lives of the youth. Using my social media platform to expose other images of positivity to combat the negativity the media displays. By being great and following my dream to impact an army of future leaders.
By the way, earlier I said my thoughts were scattered like a Jackson Pollock painting. Well, his classic drip painting is worth about 140 million dollars. Just some food for thought tying all this together.