Lesson Three: YOU DESERVE IT
“We often block our own blessings because we don't feel inherently good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough... You're worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough.”
Earlier this year, I received an email from my former students (I taught them during their first year of middle school…smiley face) asking if I would be the keynote speaker for one of the most memorable events of their senior year. Now of course I couldn’t say no! They were graduating from the very campus that changed my life. This school was a huge part of my destiny and one of the reasons why I love teaching teachers. I was one of the founding teachers, first instructional coach, and helped to establish traditions that still exist to this day.
Although I felt extremely humbled and honored, I didn’t feel I held the value needed for an event of this importance. I understood the magnitude of the moment all too well. I would be the last words of inspiration and wisdom in a formal setting that their families heard before the actual ceremony. No pressure.
The day finally came…
I received a standing ovation and a beautiful crystal plaque from the Senior Class of 2019 showing their appreciation for my impact on their lives.
I want to explore this sentiment of unworthiness in writing and why it was difficult for me to believe that I deserved to be the keynote speaker. Maybe it was the expectation of what success looked like? Maybe it was the realization that people listened to what I had to say, and I didn’t know why.
I comfort you today with the fact that sometimes your title doesn’t match your level of influence and that’s exactly how God prefers it to be. It never makes sense according to societal norms. He uses the unknown. He uses the least likely. He uses the hidden gems.
I’m sharing an excerpt from my speech because I wanted to remind myself of myself and take my own advice.
The newest 2019 rankings from U.S. News and World Report gives Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy an overall scorecard rating of 98.96.
•Out of 17,245 high schools in the nation, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy is ranked #180.
•Out of 2,059 high schools in the state of Texas, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy is ranked #27.
•Out of 920 magnet high schools in the nation, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy is ranked #46.
NOT BAD FOR A SCHOOL THAT STARTED AS A BINDER IN THE BACK OF MR. DOUGLAS’ CAR LESS THAN A DECADE AGO!
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the word audacity means to have courage or confidence of a kind that other people find shocking or rude. And my question to you this Tuesday is why would people consider it rude or shocking to have courage? And why would people consider it rude or shocking to have confidence? I’ll tell you why…because seniors, YOU DARE TO BELIEVE.
•You dare to believe that you can be more than your environment.
•You dare to believe that your worth isn’t defined by your past, present, or future. Your worth is defined by the decisions you make every day to be a better version of yourself than the day before.
•You dare to believe that you deserve the very best that life has to offer.
•You dare to believe that you are not the exception to the rule...you are the rule.
•YOU DARE TO BELIEVE THAT YOU MATTER.
Having audacity isn’t about being right or being wrong…it’s about being different. Over the course of the next several months, you’re going to experience a range of emotions. Freedom…Anxiety...Gratitude…Excitement...Fear...Hope….and several more on any given day or any given minute. But know throughout it all…you will be okay. From the 16 Habits of Mind to the life lessons that taught you who to be and who not to be, you have the tools to balance your thoughts during this transition in your life and as my grandmother always professed, “bought wit is better than taught wit.” Sometimes learning lessons the hard way is the best way to avoid making the same mistakes again. It’s how you gain wisdom. I encourage you to never forsake wisdom, and she will protect you: love her, and she will watch over you. Know that wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting…get understanding.
Understand that everything you need is already inside of you to succeed. Do you hear what I’m saying to you young men? YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL. Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy has been more than a school…it has been your private tutor. Please don’t dismiss this essential factor because you’re eager to move on from high school. Lock these tutorials in your mind, heart, and soul for the remainder of your life. You were destined to stand out in this world and there is nothing coincidental about your life. It’s about serving your purpose.
Because you dare to believe. I want to inspire you to dare even more. I would like to share three philosophies that I highly recommend you take into consideration.
1. I dare you to Listen Authentically.
The act of listening is an art form that must be nurtured daily. Listen to yourself first and trust that your instincts are God’s way of ordering your steps. Listen to others without thinking about your next statement. Learn to digest the words of others, said and unsaid. Be attentive to the whole person. When you learn to truly listen, life’s solutions are never as invisible as they seem.
2. I dare you to Embrace the Cultivation.
There is no progress without struggle. Barack Obama, our nation’s 44th President, once said, “The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.” Understand that there is a pruning that is taking place in your lives right now. You must believe that God has your best interest at heart. He is setting things up for you to bear fruit once more. I am not ashamed of my faith and I don’t apologize for I know the source of my strength. Acknowledge your belief system and put your teachings into practice. It’s not about rituals, it’s about relationship. Honor God with your actions and trust that His will is perfect.
3. I dare you to Live with Intention.
There is an African proverb that says, “only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet.” Simply stated, THINK BEFORE YOU ACT. Live life on purpose and with purpose. Being joyful…being miserable…being angry…being in love…IT’S ALL A CHOICE. Don’t give life the OPTION to inspire your mood. Allow your mood to inspire life itself. If you want to be happy, do things that make you happy because one day you will look around and realize that you have wasted the days away searching for a feeling that was always within your control in the first place.