Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Great American Experiment

By Jon Dunnemann

My biggest reason for lending my voice to integration in all its forms is because I have directly experienced the many benefits that it can produce. From my childhood education, my church membership, my community life, my college experience, my involvement in intercollegiate sports, my travels to other countries, my professional career, and my regular reflection I am reminded of the vital ingredients that are required to build compelling value at the individual and group level. In each one of these familiar settings, I was part of a small minority of people filled with common aspirations, self-determination, and spiritual willpower. I too believed as did my grandparents, that when given a chance and backed by the same amount of resources and encouragement as the next person that I could climb any mountain, sail across any sea, and accomplish any specific goal that I set my mind to. 

For the most part, this has proven over an extended period of time to be true for me and others alike. Sure, there were a few things or people that stood in the way. While at other times, the biggest impediment to my forward progress was actually myself. Nevertheless, because of where and how I was positioned, the general company that I was surrounded by, along with the ongoing support that I received, my prospect for achieving a successful life has been much better than that of most kids with only a single parent, being in foster care, and unable to afford a college education without assistance from the federal government. Without a doubt, I am indebted to all who have positively participated in my "becoming" as it equipped me to conduct myself as a responsible husband, father, neighbor and member of society. I am a product of the Great American Experiment here to tell you that it worked.

Consequently, it is my strongly held belief that all of the advantages that were made available to me were not provided just so that I could one day live the "good life" inside of my own little bubble of comfort and safety but rather because the way that this incredible system of caring is supposed to work is that for he or she that has been given much, much will be required. The guiding and unprecedented principle behind this Great American Experiment is meant to remain continuous. Such that in the arduous and ongoing process of being helped by others, learning how better to help oneself, that this all serves as an essential preparation and training ground for the vitally important work of engaging in helping others who are confronting similarly exasperating circumstances so that they too can make steady progress and ultimately become capable themselves of growing out from underneath potentially limiting situations and thereby experience bright new horizons and more promising tomorrows. 

Of course the difficulties and troubles that I faced in my youth will not be the same as those of others that I may have the rare honor and privilege of meeting along life's journey. However, what I do share with many others is having actually tasted the grit and gravel of poverty and I have also been made soiled by the stench of pain, struggle and unpleasantry. Yet with God's grace, and all manner of assistance from numerous people early in my life, I've managed to escape defeat, despair, desperation and repeated disappointment. That my friend, is a great victory for their collective generosity of spirit, inclusion, and loving-kindness.

There is absolutely no question, that without these many gifts that today my life would only amount to small potatoes. Instead, both my heart and my potential has been enabled to reach its fullness and I also have the added blessing of having accumulated plenty of healthy seeds of prosperity to now freely share with others.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Come here to these United States of America having chosen to be one with all of humankind

By Jon Dunnemann

Come here to these United States of America having chosen to be one with all of humankind. Then join us in our continuing struggle to become a great nation brimming with sociocultural, philosophical, theological, and moral diversity of principles, practices, and human worth. We are a tapestry of peoples originating from every corner of the earth gathered together here as one: the Protestant, the Roman Catholic, the Mormon, the Jew, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Athiest, the Native peoples, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Lesbian, Straight, Transgender, Disabled, and both rich and poor.

First and foremost, recognize that America by birthright belongs to the indigenous people who were here long before any European settlers knew of its existence. This is a simple fact. We still have a very long way to go in further mending the wounds that were inflicted on our nation's original settlers. Let us seize this moment in our shared history to embark on a nationwide campaign to esteem these important members of the great American frontier. They need us and we need to accept this challenge and responsibility for doing what is good and right for the American soul.

Through this deliberate practice we are likely to find a widening path toward more meaningful and lasting restorative justice as well as a far more durable template for the elimination of unnecessary addictions, cruelty, exploitation, greed, hatred, homophobia, human suffering, injustices, intolerance, immorality, poverty, prejudice, racism, self-destruction, selfishness, sexism and other tremendously degrading and costly human maladies of our modern times.

The United States of America has unfinished redemptive work to do at home. This work entails a balanced, focused, heartfelt, and self-fashioned and improved identity. I firmly believe that it can best be accomplished by enlisting the aspirations, hopes, imagination, and critical thinking of all members of our united family. Permit me to also propose that the American people be given the opportunity through the popular voting mechanism to elect a council of elders representative of academia, business, government, religion, etc. who would serve the people through a single, three year term and work to define the people's vision and therein develop a strategic plan that could be implemented across all areas of American public life. Of course such a great experiment would need to obtain adequate funding, include a phased implementation plan, and would have to be effectively evaluated and measured against its original outcome objectives and accurately and regularly reported on to the nation.

A communications infrastructure would have to be put in place to both engage and sustain citizen involvement in this value-added process of sociopolitical transformation. Quite possibly, local, state, and federal education grants combined with volunteer job skills training might help to make it an active, expansive, and ongoing cultural shift across all boundaries of American life most especially with the nation's youth and diverse faith organizations.

Crazier things have surely been contrived. However, part of being an American is choosing to make new history and this is often done by drawing on the great awakenings found in our past and by continuing to advocate for enhanced human rights, decency, and respect for others.

May we all be blessed with inner peace and longevity.

Kind regards.


A Heiltsuk village site on B.C.’s mid-coast is three times as old as the Great Pyramid at Giza and among the oldest human settlements in North America, according to researchers at the Hakai Institute.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Purpose of Education

by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse College Student Paper, The Maroon Tiger, in 1947

As I engage in the so-called "bull sessions" around and about the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. Most of the "brethren" think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, "brethren!" Be careful, teachers!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

We've Got Ourselves a Predicament

By Jon Dunnemann

Understanding how to make America better in ways that also benefit the least of us requires greater knowledge on all of our parts regarding the enormous challenges and limitations that we are currently faced with. This is especially true if we genuinely wish to play a supportive role in delivering the poor out from under the burdens of crime, drugs, exploitation, mental crisis, misery, and violence.

To a degree, this human predicament reflects a gross failure on the part of the American system, especially for people of color, when it comes to public education, employment opportunity, medical and mental health, and adequate housing and public safety throughout many large communities all across the country.

As a nation, we have a ongoing propensity to practically ignore the very processes that greatly diminish hope, ensure multigenerational poverty, increase exposure to a lifestyle of criminal activity, and which continue to produce rising numbers of unskilled workers.

Why is it that we are more apt to advocate for the provision of food, financial aid, and other forms of material support to developing nations yet can readily turn our backs on those most in need right here at home? We continue to promote a useless legacy of nation building elsewhere and yet we don't seem to have mastered the ability to defeat despair and dreadful conditions for our own people right here at home.

Is it just me or are we totally unfounded in the way that we prefer to see and portray our collective selves to others. I think that this glaring dichotomy actually makes all of us look like we are full of poop. When was the last time that the United States of America was ranked as world class in feeding its poor, in the quality of  the public education that it provides to its citizenry, in reducing teen pregnancy and suicide, in preventing bullying, homelessness or alcohol and drug abuse among our people of all ages? Wouldn't you agree with me that it is high time that we got to the bottom of this dilemma?

Why is our government spending millions and millions of dollars in an effort to find an inhabitable place in outer space for a hand full of people to live on when there are literally hundreds to thousands of people within 5 miles of most of us who do not have a safe place to sleep tonight? This makes absolutely no sense to me. I think that it is time that we started demanding a real change in how we go about setting our priorities, along with establishing who should really be involved in setting them for the millions of people who today are left feeling mostly as though they have no influence, no say, and little if any bit of a promising future to still speak of.
In 2005 NASA had a budget of $16.2 billion; this includes not only the human spaceflight division, but also other engineering projects, and science funded by NASA. The total federal spending budget in 2005 was on the order of $2 trillion ($2000 billion), making the NASA share 0.8% of the budget.

We have gotten ourselves into quite a predicament. Yes indeed. It's time for us to go deeper in our problem solving in the hope of producing a more favorable outcome.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Trump Proposes Cutting Billions to Urban Areas He Vowed to Help

This post by Jane C. Timm originally appeared on The NBC News page on March 16, 2017.

President Donald Trump is proposing slashing billions in federal funding that helps heavily minority urban communities — just months after appealing on the campaign trail to residents of cities like Detroit, asking, "What the hell do you have to lose?"

Released Thursday, the budget calls for $6.2 billion of cuts to the nation's Housing and Urban Development agency, putting the already strapped federal housing authority under even bigger strain.

The reductions come in a spending plan designed specifically to keep the president's many promises — "if he said it on the campaign, it's in the budget," Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Wednesday — and one that advocates say will have disastrous effects in the largely African-American communities that Trump promised he'd "fix."

The administration's "America First" budget blueprint is quick to note that there's still $35 billion left for HUD's other programs, and argues that local governments and private groups need to handle their own urban development programs.

"The impact of this budget is there's going to be more people who are homeless, who are living in substandard housing, or struggling to pay rent," Mary Cunningham, co-director of the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing and Communities Center, told NBC News. "This budget does not outline a plan to fix the inner cities — it does the opposite. It cuts money that cities rely on."

Trump's budget also eliminates the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which lets communities allocate federal funds toward housing and community projects that bolster and create affordable housing and jobs. It's designed to help the low and moderate-income families, and prevent blight in cities like Detroit, which will see $33 million less funding next if the cut is approved. In the past, those funds have been used to repair or demolish blighted homes and pay for homeless shelters.

Consider an old, boarded up former Masonic Moose lodge in southwest Detroit: The Urban Neighborhood Initiative is redeveloping the 7,000 square foot space into a community center to house youth employment and apprenticeship programs, a legal aid office office, and more. A CDBG grant paid for roughly a quarter of the project, the Lawndale Center, according to the group.

Perhaps more importantly, UNI's Executive Director Christine Bell said that federal investment and support attracted other funds for the project, which is on a walking path to a local elementary school. It will serve the 6,000 Detroit residents under 18 who live near the center.

"This money is essential to ensuring that these neighborhoods don't fall apart," Bell said. "If you take away safe places [for children] to stay while parents have to work two jobs, you're creating more trauma."

Bell said she wants to ask Trump how he intends to boost the communities he campaigned on fixing.

"If this is your strategy, what next?" she asked. "How are you going to ensure that states are able to do this?"

The administration argues the CDBG program "is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results" and calls for the state and local government to take over such funding.

To slash an additional 1.1 billion from the HUD budget, Trump's proposal eliminates the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity program, SHOP. The administration calls these "lower priority programs."

HOME is the largest federal block grant creating affordable housing, by funneling grants to states and local nonprofits to help low-income families rent, buy, or repair affordable homes in the community, offering up aid like loans and security deposits.

A signature urban development program from the Obama administration, Choice Neighborhoods, redevelops properties and distressed housing to turn around troubled neighborhoods by developing high-quality mixed-income housing and rehabilitating low-income housing.

SHOP awards grants to non-profits like that buy home sites to be developed into affordable housing, allowing low-income individuals to invest sweat equity in building and repairing low-income homes.

Also on the chopping block?

The Low Income Heating Assistance program that helps heats the homes of the disabled, elderly and families with young children, which the administration argues hasn't demonstrated its efficacy. In the 2011 fiscal year, at peak funding of the program, nearly 9 million homes — 23 million people — received assistance, including 1.8 million veteran homes.

Section 4 Community Development will also see 35 million less in funding, meaning there's less block grants for nonprofits that do affordable housing and economic development like Habitat for Humanity.

"This program is duplicative," the administration's budget proposal writes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dear God,

Please grant to me a singular and inexhaustible thread of faith that has been torn from the irregular, stained, and tattered cloth of your Son so that I might wholeheartedly persist in learning how to spin this yarn in a very pleasing and delightful way into a magnificent covering for the overall comfort, protection, and reassurance of the disadvantaged, elderly, and tired and weak among us.

May a great increase in collective faith and determination grow out from underneath this all inclusive blanketing of love, hard work, and shared life experience.

Truly, the excellent outcomes of renewed hope, safety, and well-being shall be more than sufficient joy and purpose for me in this brief but spectacular gift of life.

I love you God and thank you ever so much for this day.

Thy will be done.


Friday, March 10, 2017

In Search of a Model for Building a Better Neighborhood

By Jon Dunnemann

Houston – Neighborhood Centers, Inc.

Neighborhood Centers illustrates what it means to embrace democratic change and build a new work force — a new America — at metropolitan scale,” says Bruce Katz, a vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding director of its Metropolitan Policy Program.

When you are fortunate to find a good working model in the field, one that you can cluster additional examples of positive change and success around, then I think that it absolutely makes total sense to learn how to effectively replicate it.

At the top of my bucket list this year is hopefully getting the opportunity to meet with Angela Blanchard, the Neighborhood Centers Inc president and chief executive officer for the past two decades to learn how best to listen fully to community residents and then to appropriately respond to their important stated needs regarding what they would like to see occur in the spaces where they live, work, and play. In other words, what does their community most wish to be known for? Also, what would they like to see accomplished in the neighborhood?

Community development isn’t a quick fix. It’s hard work and it takes time. But what’s happening in Houston, Atlanta and elsewhere shows that it’s worth doing.

Neighborhood Centers, is a Houston nonprofit that grew out of the settlement house movement, and has been around since 1907.

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Black Man's History

By Jon Dunnemann

High School Senior Photo 1973

"Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" 
by James Brown 

In 1968, I was fourteen years old and that's when I grew my first Afro. That same summer while living in the Belleville New Jersey Children's Shelter for foster kids, a white male barber completely shaved off my Afro against my wishes and when he finished he said, "now you look decent boy". He had absolutely no idea that what he had taken from me in that moment was far more than just my hair. In fact, I was so incensed that I had to be physically restrained to keep from Jackin' 'Em Up, Fo' Real. But at that time, I would not have been able to articulate my sense of anger over that gentleman's dismissive behavior. Nor, do I think that he would have been able to empathetically understand my emerging Black Pride.

As African Americans we had only just begun to unabashedly live out our heritage. Now, owing to my age, I have got far less hair to work with but I am still deeply-rooted in my blackness because it's a very important aspect of who I am: A Soul Brother.

Look here, "Say It Loud I'm black and I'm Proud." Never forget where you've come from or who you've become through both "effort and skill building!"

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Built to Last

By Jon Dunnemann

272 Lincoln Street

The house above is located at 272 Lincoln Street in East Orange, NJ and it's where I lived back in 1970 while a sophomore student attending Clifford J. Scott High School. 

It was the second of three families that I would live with as a New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services foster child. 

The five bedroom, 3 bathroom residence was home to a group of African American Muslim men all working, actively serving their local community, and going to school to further their education in variety of fields (Business, education, government, law, and information technology). 

Before relocating to East Orange, I happily lived with an Irish Catholic American family, the Garlette family, for one year at 58 Gould Place in Caldwell, NJ while enrolled at Grover Cleveland Junior High School as a freshman.

During the remainder of my high school years and when not away at the College of the Holy Cross (an Irish Catholic Jesuit college) located in Worcester, MA, I lived with Daniel Butler and his Mom, Mrs. Jessie Butler who was my legal guardian until I turned 18 years old. Mrs. Butler was from the City of Opelika, Alabama and she always insisted that we attend the First Baptist Church of Vauxhall with her on Sundays or else forget about it!!   

Well, I guess that the combination of all this exposure makes me an African American Muslim, Irish Catholic, and Southern Baptist Christian. Undoubtedly, like so many other Americans of my generation, I am a product of the many people that I've lived with, have gone to school with, been loved by, and of course have been taught and mentored by.  I had the monumental good fortune of not being left alone to fend for oneself. This along with the richness of diversity that I have encountered along the way has overwhelmingly shaped my values, aspirations, spirituality, and enormous love for our country.

My life has been a journey from that of a welfare child, to foster kid, to struggling youth, to now adult well-being. I do not refer to it as a walk in the park but it certainly has remained filled with great hope and possibility even now as I prepare myself to push through to the next growth phase in my overall development.  I am immensely delighted in knowing that I will continue to have you along traveling with me as I take each new step along the continuing path of growth and perpetual resilience.  

To everyone, thank you so much for your kindness and support.

May God's many blessings always be richly upon you and your family.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The 2 Mental Shifts Highly Successful People Make

This post by Benjamin P. Hardy originally appeared on The Mission page on February 13, 2017.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. -- Max Planck, German quantum theorist and Nobel Prize winner

There are two primary mental shifts that occur in the lives of all highly successful people. Many make the first, but very few make the second.

Both of these shifts require a great deal of mental stretching from conventional and societal ways of thinking. In many ways, these shifts require you to unlearn the negative and sabotaging programming from your youth, public education, and even adulthood.

The foundation of the first shift is the sublime power of choice and individual responsibility. Once a you make this shift, you are empowered to pull yourself from poverty of time, finances, and relationships. In other words, the first shift allows you to create a happy and prosperous life, where, for the most part, you control how and on what you invest your time.

Unfortunately, the results of the first shift can be overly-satisfying on one hand or paralyzing on the other. Thus, few people ascend to the second shift. Hence, Greg McKeown, bestselling author of Essentialism explains, “Success can become a catalyst for failure.”

For example, when a musician starts out, they write lots of music for the love of it. Their dreams are often huge. If they end up becoming successful, in almost every case, they’ll begin producing less and less music overtime. This happens for one of two reasons:
  1. Their focus shifts from why they’re writing music to what their music has brought them. Consequently, they are either satisfied with their results and no longer have the drive to write more. Or, they desire to make more music but the fire (their “why”) is gone, and thus, they can’t create the same depth and quality they once did.
  2. They become perfectionist and paralyzed. They fear their best work is behind them. Elizabeth Gilbert describes her paralysis in her beautiful TED talk. After the mega-success of Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert couldn’t get herself to write. She knew she wouldn’t be able to replicate the results of Eat, Pray, Love. This paralysis is where many, many people get stuck.

However, Gilbert is different from most, because, as she explains in her TED talk, she continued forward in spite of her success. In order to do so, she forced herself to fail a few times — just to “get it out of her system.” Once she did this, her emotional blocks were gone and she was able to continue her creative career.

The foundation of the second shift is transcending your own independence, wherein your thinking stretches far beyond yourself. Thus, the second shift begins with 10x thinking and subsequently requires you build a team/network that brings your ideas into physical form.

In this article, I explain the process of experiencing the first and second shift.

Let’s begin:

Shift 1: The Power of Choice
“If it is to be, it is up to me.” — William H. Johnsen, famed African-American painter

In order to make the first shift, you must go from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control. This is the scientific way of saying: you stop playing the victim to external circumstances and take responsibility for your life.

You are responsible for how you respond to life. No longer do you impulsively react. No longer do you blame others for any lack on your part.

You are 100% responsible for your marriage, for example. None of this 50/50 business. It’s all on you. If it fails, it was your fault. You made choices and now there are consequences. Of course others may be involved, but you can’t blame them for your choices.

In the book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin explain this level of responsibility as fundamental to true leadership. Hence, there are no bad teams, only bad leaders. Any negative outcomes of a team operation fall square on the leader. Any positive outcomes, conversely, are awarded primarily to the team.

Self-leadership, similarly, involves the same level of responsibility. If something doesn’t work out, who (or what) do you blame? If anything but yourself, you’ll remain hostage to things outside your control.

Every choice has a cost and consequence
“Free-will” doesn’t exist.

You aren’t “free” to act however you want, unless you’re willing to accept the consequences of those actions. As Stephen R. Covey explains, “We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.”

The only way to avoid negative consequences, then, is to understand the principles governing natural consequences. Hence, highly successful people are continually learning and striving to better understand the world around them.

You can’t be free to act if you don’t understand the consequences of your behavior. Ignorance is not bliss, but bondage to negative consequences without understanding the source and reason for those consequences. Combine this ignorance with a victim mentality and you have a destructive cocktail.

Yet, once you realize that every choice — even small ones — will yield an outcome, you can then decide which outcomes you want. No choice is free. Every choice is tied to an outcome. Thus, every choice has meaning.

The final consequence (and cost) of every choice is TIME! You can’t get your time back. Of course, you can course correct. You can learn from past mistakes. You can solve problems. But there is always a cost. Once you realize that, you’re far more sensitive about spending time on non-essential activities.

Success (and happiness) is a choice
Success, health, and happiness are all consequences. They are bi-products.

They are effects, not causes.

You can’t control the effects; principles control these. However, you can control the causes of these things, which are your behaviors. Negative environmental factors? Change them.

A recent meta-analysis shows that most people misunderstand confidence. Confidence doesn’t lead to high performance. Rather, confidence is a bi-product of previous performance.

For example, if you start your day well, you’re likely to have confidence throughout the rest of your day. If you start poorly, that prior performance will sap your confidence, even subconsciously.

Get this clear: confidence is a direct reflection of past performance. Hence, yesterday is more important than today. Luckily, today is tomorrow’s yesterday. So, even if your confidence today isn’t optimal, your confidence tomorrow is still within your control.

Once you’ve made the first mental shift, you know that your emotional state is your own responsibility and the product of your choices. If you want to be confident, that’s up to you. If you want to be happy, that’s up to you. If you want to be successful, that’s up to you.

Momentum is essential
“When you experience positive momentum, you’ll never want it to stop.” — Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach

Finally, people who have experienced this first mental shift really care about momentum. They’ve worked hard to develop their momentum and know what it feels like to not have momentum.

Being without momentum is rough. It’s how most people live their lives. And without momentum, results are minimal, even with lots of effort.

Consistency is key to developing momentum. You get it by putting intentional effort toward a singular goal or vision, and eventually the compound effect takes over. It’s as though several outside sources are working for your good. Because, they are.

Keeping momentum once you have it, then, becomes very important. Hence, you must maintain a thirst for continual learning and growth.

Most people get stuck at the first shift
If you take complete responsibility for your life and choices, you will develop a love for learning. You’ll come to understand and live principles which will organically facilitate success in your life.

However, there’s a far higher level beyond this first shift, and most people never get there.

In the book, Tribal Leadership, authors Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright explain the different cultures of organizations.

Most organizations operate in a “Stage 3” culture, where everyone is “out for themselves.” Thus, the goal of Stage 3 cultures is competition rather than collaboration. Yet, this competition actually occurs with the other people within the same organization. Everyone is trying to “get up the ladder.” Hence, there is sucking up, backstabbing, secrecy, and other nonsense.

People within these cultures don’t care about the organization as a whole. They only care about what the organization can do for them. They also only engage in relationships so far as those relationships benefit them. It’s all about them. And for this reason, they suffer. They can’t think beyond their own needs and wishes. Thus, their vision for themselves and the world is actually quite small and limited.

The primary stumbling blocks for successful people who have made the first shift are as follows:
  • It’s all about “them”
  • Their vision doesn’t extend beyond their own needs and goals
  • They become satisfied with and distracted by their success
  • They stop doing the very things that created their success (i.e., they stop learning and working)
  • They forget their “why”
  • They become perfectionist, and lose their drive to fail and learn
  • They over-attach themselves to their success and perceived identity
  • They go from offense to defense — rather than seeking more they focus their energy on maintaining what they’ve acquired
  • They become obsessed with constant affirmation from themselves and others, and stop seeking genuine feedback
  • They don’t learn how to work well with others
  • They think their way is the “right” way
  • They can’t trust other people enough to delegate or collaborate

If you are seeking a life of individual happiness and prosperity, you need read no further.

However, if you want a much higher degree of growth, relationships, and contribution, here’s how the second shift works:

Shift 2: The Power of Context
“Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten or a hundred or even a thousand! It’s the profound result when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.” — Stephen R. Covey

In the book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday explains that many successful people “stop being a student.”

When you’re a student, you actively seek to have your paradigm shattered. You want to be wrong and you want feedback. You care more about learning than what other people think about you.

Moreover, once you’ve developed the confidence and skills to do incredible work via the first shift, you may realize you can only get so far by yourself. The “lone ranger” mentality is played-out and overrated.

You may be able to rock life by yourself. But you could rock life far more with the help of the right people. Naturally, this is the very ascent Stephen R. Covey explains in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The first several habits are to help you experience the first mental shift, or what Covey calls the “Private Victory.”

The habits Covey outlines to experience this private victory are:
  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
Once you master these habits, you will go from dependence on others to a high state of independence — the first mental shift.

However, three additional habits of Covey’s book are intended to take you beyond independence to a state of interdependence, where you experience synergistic relationships in all areas of your life. What I’m calling the second mental shift Covey calls “Public Victory.”

The habits Covey outlines to experience this public victory are:
  1. Think win-win
  2. Seek first to understand… then to be understood
  3. Synergize
I know several “successful” people who do not demonstrate these three habits. Rather than seeking to understand, they only seek to be understood. Rather than synergizing, they only do things “their way,” seeing others as inferior. They aren’t team-players. They aren’t teachable. They don’t set up relationships that are mutually beneficial. Indeed, they care very little about other people.

It’s been said that the 21st century is the time of the woman, because naturally, women demonstrate many of the characteristics needed to thrive in today’s global and team-driven economy. On average, women are far better team players and collaborators. Men, on the other hand, are prone to ego and self-absorption. Men more often want the glory while women simply want to contribute and grow.

The following are the core components of your mental model after you’ve experienced the second shift:

10x thinking
“When 10x is your measuring stick, you immediately see how you can bypass what everyone else is doing.” — Dan Sullivan

Becoming “successful” requires taking personal responsibility for your life and choices. By nature, it’s beyond average, since, to be average is to not take responsibility.

Thinking 10x is much different, though, than simply taking responsibility. It involves a grand vision wherein others must also be responsible. Moreover, 10x thinking involves far more boldness and creativity than simply “being proactive.”

10x thinking takes you from the goal of earning $100,000 a year to earning $1,000,000. Or, from helping 100 people to helping 1,000. Or, from getting 10,000 page views to getting 100,000.

When you do this, your strategy immediately shifts.

In his book, Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss explains that 10x thinking can come from asking “absurd” questions, such as the question billionaire Peter Thiel asks himself: If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask: Why can’t I do this in 6 months?

Of this type of questioning, Ferriss continues:

“For purposes of illustration here, I might reword [Thiel’s question] to: ‘What might you do to accomplish your 10-year goals in the next 6 months, if you had a gun against you head?’ Now, let’s pause. Do I expect you to take 10 seconds to ponder this and then magically accomplish 10 years’ worth of dreams in the next few months? No, I don’t. But I do expect that the question will productivity break your mind, like a butterfly shattering a chrysalis to emerge with new capabilities. The ‘normal’ systems you have in place, the social rules you’ve forced upon yourself, the standard frameworks — they don’t work when asking a question like this. You are forced to shed artificial constraints, like shedding a skin, to realize that you had the ability to renegotiate your reality all along.”

If you want to think bigger, ask better (and more absurd) questions.
I once asked myself how I could write a blog post that would get one million social shares. The product was a 10,000 word list unlike anything I’d ever seen to that point.

These types of questions lead to creative breakthroughs and different avenues of thought. They also organically facilitate a very different strategic approach.

What absurd question will break you out of your limiting and traditional ways of thinking?

“Delegate everything but genius.” — Dan Sullivan

When you begin thinking 10x, you realize you can’t do it all on your own. You need to be far more focused.

Thus, it becomes essential to build a team around you immediately. Your network is your networth.

The sooner you build a team around you, the faster, wider, and deeper will be your results. In almost every case, you won’t feel ready to build this team.

Don’t get caught-up with any preconceived notions of what “building a team” means. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to “hire” people in the traditional sense. It could mean that you exchange favors. Or that you have win-win relationships — such as the one I have with my literary agent, my editor, and friends who help.

These are mutually beneficial relationships wherein you focus on your superpower and have those around you who focus on theirs’.

Collaboration and synergy in all areas of life
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

Take a minute to examine your life.

When you go to the gym, do you have a workout partner? Surveys show that most people prefer working out alone. However, if you’ve experienced the growth available by pushing yourself with someone else, the idea of working out alone seems somewhat comical.

As Michael Jordan explains, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

In a Darwinian sense, most people compete with others on their own level. Those seeking rapid growth compete with others who are far advanced, what Josh Waitzkin calls “investing in failure.” An even higher order principle is collaborating with others who are far advanced of your current level.

For instance, if you want to get stronger or faster really fast, exercise with people in far better shape. If you want to do incredible work, work with more talented people than you. If you want to become a better person, date or marry someone “up.”

Of course, if it is a true collaboration, you’ll need to bring much to the table yourself. This isn’t about social loafing. It’s about intensive growth, and must therefore, be both win-win and synergistic.

As Andrew Carnegie, among the richest Americans of all time, has explained, “Teamwork appears most effective if each individual helps others to succeed, increasing the synergy of that team; ideally, every person will contribute different skills to increase the efficiency of the team and develop its unity.” Another billionaire, Richard Branson, similarly stated, “Build your own business team. 

Survival in business requires a synergy of skills.”

In everything you do, there should be collaborative and synergistic elements. Of course, there is work which is your work. However, that work should be embedded within a group of others and toward something much bigger.

Again, a huge difference from the first shift to the second is that you are responsible for more than just yourself. Because others depend on you to show up and do what you do best, you are responsible to your team.

These others could be customers, fans, family, a workout partner. Whatever. The point is, you are responsible for other people’s success. Moreover, in many ways, their success is your success. Their growth and development is just as satisfying as your own — sometimes more.

Rest and recovery
“Working with a 10x goal and game-plan requires that your brain is relaxed, rested, and rejuvenated.” — Dan Sullivan

Deep, creative, and strategic thinking and work is exhausting. An essential component of the second shift is doing “less, but better.” Where the first shift is often about quantity of work, the second shift is all about quality.

To experience the first shift, you often just need to throw a bunch of darts at a board. Simply throwing a dart is seen as a huge win, initially. Eventually, some of those darts start hitting the board and getting some attention. However, once you make the second shift, you are among the world-class. It’s not just about hitting the board. It’s about hitting the bulls-eye, consistently.


Conservation, rest, and recovery, then, becoming increasingly essential. This is true at all elite levels. For example, professional athletes spend an enormous time resting. Roger Federer and LeBron James have said they sleep an average of 12 hours per day.

Similarly, to build mass and strength, many people need to workout less, and give their body more time for recovery and sleep. Yet, during their workouts, they need to push themselves harder and heavier. Less, but better. The same is true of mental and strategic work.

These mental shifts are incredible.

Wherever you are on your own journey, you can intensify and deepen your understanding of the principles at these various levels.

Never stop being a student. Never stop learning.

Shatter whatever paradigm you have a get a new one. When you change the way you see things, the things you see change.

Call To Action
Are you proactive? If so, check out my 7-page checklist of the most effective morning activities.

Click here to get the checklist right now. (p.s. — good luck with the cold showers!)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Time Immemorial

Jon Dunnemann

Time touches, traces, and slyly invades the very spaces of every human possibility that each one of us at times unpreparedly faces.

And yet, time also permits us all to sore along its glorious jetstream to the most wondrously new and unfamiliar places.

Miraculously, we find ourselves living on the very edge of stability while equally accompanied by the keenest sense of sublime fragility.

There is no need for time to stand still. I say, keep it forever coming over every single mountain and over every hill.

Dare I ever ungratefully suggest, that I shall go most willingly to an eventual and long-awaited rest.

No, not until after I have been tediously put to the test will I finally be satisfied in having known that I faithfully did my very best.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


By Jon Dunnemann

Strewn across what were once blank pages here are the choice words from my stirred up soul.

It cries and hollers aloud, with heavy etchings of noise and fury carved up into neat little stories of my misadventures in principles away from the crowd. Some will remain forgotten while others are repeatedly being revisited or fashionably reworked.

Like a voice being shaped into notes, scribbled, then assembled, and orchestrated into a crafty fate that captures the attention of others so that they too may hear more of what it wishes to propose through all that it has struggled so arduously to compose.

And here it is, laid out for all to see, the troubling life and times of one man's misguided journey. Lifted from memory, placed on full display, and ready to be criticized and italicized, even though not easily recognized for what it must truly be: a calamity. No more left, no more lost in hiding, though quite burdened still by the anxious prospect of other people's chiding. I say, it is time to face the music out of the fear of forever losing it.

Like the tempestuous strike of fool's gold I have discovered that I can not just simply leave well enough alone. Therefore, I set about to climb on top of my high horse, gallop out into the field, and when in the right place to have my sordid life fully revealed. Yes, right there out in that wide open space is where I became totally undone. Because this recurring nightmare of a dream has not at all been the least bit fun. But its okay because today I am done. I have decided to finally share this awkward truth for me, for you, and for everyone.

Alas, I dare say, it feels pretty damn good to be reawakened my friend. On such an important matter as this, I can assure you that I do not pretend.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The plunder of the American prison system

This post by by Ryan Cooper originally appeared in of The Week magazine on January 25, 2017.

Mass incarceration is expensive in America — as might be expected from a system that oversees a similar fraction of the population as the Soviet gulags. But how much does it cost? Until today, nobody had attempted to estimate the cost of every part of this system.

Enter the Prison Policy Initiative. A new paper by Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy makes the first systematic attempt to add up every part of the cost of mass incarceration. The total is eye-popping: $182 billion, every year.

As is well-understood at this point, mass incarceration was partly caused by racialized panic over the great crime wave during the second half of the 20th century. But this report details another cause — the political economy of incarceration. One major reason so many people are in prison is that the constitutional basis of the criminal justice system has been mostly abandoned in favor of self-interest.

The Prison Policy Initiative's estimate is, of course, rather rough, as Wagner and Rabuy admit upfront. The reason is poor data. Sources on some factors are sketchy or out of date, as with food and utilities. Others, like the cost of the court system, do not break down the total into civil and criminal fractions, and so the authors were forced to guess based on other work. However, on the whole, the estimate is as good as can be done at this stage — and Wagner and Rabuy are careful to hedge on the side of caution, so it's almost certainly an underestimate if anything.

(As an aside, I should note that it is a moral atrocity that we don't have up-to-date data on these questions. The government ought to be maintaining and releasing such data on an annual basis.)

So how do the costs stack up?

The three largest categories are public corrections agencies ($80.7 billion), policing ($63.2 billion) and judicial and legal expenses ($29 billion). Within these categories we can identify sub-categories that serve private interests. There is the private prison industry (costs of $3.9 billion and profits of $374 million); and the cost of utilities ($1.7 billion), food ($2.1 billion), construction ($3.3 billion) and health care ($12.3 billion), which are typically contracted out these days.

Then outside these categories there is civil asset forfeiture ($4.5 billion) — in which police seize the property of those they arrest — and costs to families for commissary and phone calls ($2.9 billion). Finally, much of the money spent on police and corrections means public sector jobs and yet more business for private contractors, who operate much of the bail and probation services. This huge complex of institutions comprises a system dedicated mostly to its own self-preservation and profit.

On the other side of the ledger, there is only one sub-category of spending which is unequivocally dedicated towards due process for the accused: indigent defense — i.e. providing public defenders for the poor — which costs $4.5 billion.

Now, defense attorneys would no doubt also like to keep their jobs, and it's impossible to disentangle exactly how much of the first bundle of stuff is dedicated to constitutional due process and how much is purely private self-seeking. But the number of different mercenary outsourcing operations within the incarceration system, and the yawning abyss between defense and imprisonment, makes it clear where the bulk of it lies.

The on-the-ground reality of the situation also speaks for itself. Well over 90 percent of all criminal cases are settled by plea bargaining. Many if not most jurisdictions use the hell of pre-trial detention and the threat of gigantic sentences to coerce guilty pleas from most of the accused, because it is literally impossible for the system to provide meaningful due process in anything like an adequate volume.

Constitutional due process is a difficult thing to maintain, particularly when it comes to accused criminals. Racism and Americans' hysterical fear of crime undermine the empathy that a moral criminal justice system requires. But the profit motive also tends to dissolve moral considerations. Our system of mass incarceration needs a steady flow of prisoners to maintain itself, it doesn't particularly care how it gets them, and so they are obtained.

Abuse is as predictable as the sunrise.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Job Makes the Person

Jon Dunnemann

May the job of the Presidency make Donald Trump our 45th President of the United States into a person worthy of everyone's respect and a model for American decency, fairness, humility, inclusiveness, responsiveness, and sound judgement and enduring spiritual strength.

Congratulations Mr. President. 

Now lead us in the direction that will truly make America Great!!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Do Not Cower

By Jon Dunnemann

John Lewis with MLK after Selma.

Today, who will fight the battle for the oppressed among us?

Do you have the character, bravery, and willingness of heart that it requires?

Justice continuously demands that everyone be made to play by the same rules. For fairness does not belong to only some alone but rather to all of us as one body, one nation, one humanity.

There is a very important lesson to be learned from those among us who have previously stood on the front-line and taken sacrificial blows in the struggle for dignity, equality, and justice.

Do not cower in the face of the enemy!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Toward A Portrait of Resilience - The Build A Better Neighborhood Board Game

By Jon Dunnemann

The future home to the Obama Library in Chicago

Play is the act of participating emergence. 
~ Evonne (Evo) Heyning ~

Monopoly is a well known commercial board game that originated in the United States and promotes the acquisition of things and money. If and when you have a bad run at it while playing the game you can even end up in jail. My vision, is to introduce a board game designed to create an educational experience that facilitates the themes of critical mindedness, active engagement, flexibility, and dynamic and diverse community.  The target age group is youth between the age of 9 and 14 years old.  The primary game objective is to promote youth gaining familiarity with the optimal personal and collective development skills that are needed in order for them to more likely be placed “at promise” as opposed to “at risk” (Boykin, 2000) in their personal, family, school, church, and community life. This will improve their chance of emerging as ideal agents for meaningful, purposeful, organised, and sustainable positive change within a participatory democratic framework where they will be better able to thrive and flourish well into their emerging adult lives.

In my view, a board game design incorporating mechanics that function to increase youth knowledge, understanding, and competencies in the following nine domains for development as an adaptive or protective process will provide a powerful means for the enhancement of self-control, self-determination, self-efficacy, self-regulation, and  self-community and psychology:

  • Identity development
  • Emotional development (EQ)
  • Social development
  • Cognitive development (IQ)
  • Physical health and development
  • Budget development and financial planning
  • Spiritual and faith development (SQ)
  • Diverse and revitalizing community development
  • Mutual trust and urban sustainable development

My interests are in learning how to draw upon what is currently being done in Southeast Chicago, San Diego, Boston, New York, and other urban settings to create the ultimate board game decision scenarios that will help youth in the mediating of 7 Key Questions: Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, and How Much? Who do you think should be consulted for assistance, what are you seeking to accomplish, why do you want to try and avoid certain consequences, where should you productively spend your time, how can you make the best possible use of all of your available resources and vital touch points, and last but not least how much effort will be required, are you willing to make a personal commitment to meet the challenge, and are you prepared to stay the course?

Think about the space that you want to occupy and begin to live as if you are already in it.
~ Jon Dunnemann ~ 

In my own life as a poor African American urban youth there were numerous individuals, organizations, and local safe places which all led me to dream, hope, and see beyond my temporarily limited circumstances. They also helped me to effectively weigh the difference between right and wrong and recognize that there are consequences to one’s actions and for inaction. I desire to ‘pay it forward’ by creating a challenging and fun board game and instructional tool that can be made available on a large enough scale to meet the vast educational needs of disadvantaged, racially and ethnically diverse youth aged 9 to 14 years old all across America.

Experimentation in everyday play teaches adaptation and resiliency, essential for thrivable development. Active players learn to negotiate, solve problems, and strategize complex situations with friends. Cooperative play can encourage connection, bonding, and relationships that evolve with the world crafted in the game space.
~ Evonne (Evo) Heyning ~ 

Our greatest need today is more ingenious solutions to poverty. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

N.J. activist, champion of African-American heritage dies at 76

Sad news, this esteemed Muslim man was my foster parent and legal gaurdian under the NJ DYFS Program from 1970 through 1971. He taught me to be proud of my African American heritage. I lived under his tutelage at 272 Lincoln Street in East Orange, New Jersey while attending Clifford J. Scott High School as a sophomore and junior. God rest his soul. Balozi Harvey gave me my Swahili name: Akili by which I am commonly known by many of my closest schoolmates. I should be at his funeral service today but I just learned of his passing this morning. Please consider saying a prayer today for his family! Thank you. - Akili/JD/Jon Dunnemann

By Jessica Remo | NJ Advance Media for 
Follow on Twitter
on December 30, 2016 at 11:50 AM

In a 2005 photo, Balozi Harvey, sits in the living room where some of his art collection is displayed at his home in South Orange. Mitsu Yasukawa / The Star Ledger ( )

Newark - Balozi Robert A. Harvey, a longtime New Jersey community activist and organizer whose work benefited African-American communities in the state as well as abroad in Africa and the Caribbean died Thursday. He was 76. 

Harvey will be recalled as a champion of African-American issues and forged diplomatic ties to foster better cultural and trade relations between the United States and Africa, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said in a statement Friday.

"I join the citizens of Newark, the local and global community of pan-African nationalists and the many nations in the African Diaspora in mourning the passing of Balozi Robert Alexander Harvey, an extraordinary community organizer and activist in New Jersey and beyond," Baraka said. "Balozi's life was a love story with Africa and with Newark and its people." 
Balozi Harvey.

Harvey was born in East Orange and graduated from East Orange High School in 1957, according to his website.

He majored in political science at Seton Hall University and later attended the United Nations Language School, where he learned Swahili, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Zulu. Harvey served in the Strategic Air Command of the U.S. Air Force from 1957 to 1961.

"Few have done more to build bridges between African nations and the Black communities of America," Baraka said. "As a businessman and diplomat, Balozi Harvey facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars in trade between Africa and the United States, developing trade and investment relationships between American small, minority, and women-owned firms and developing nations."

Throughout his career, Harvey served numerous boards, commissions and companies. From 1977 to 1982, he worked as an aide to Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson focused on trade efforts.

"In Newark, we remember Balozi Harvey as Mayor Ken Gibson's partner in opening up trade between Newark companies and African and Caribbean nations," Baraka said. "We remember him for his work as a trusted advisor to local governments in promoting cultural diversity, affirmative action, job training, and economic development.

"Balozi Harvey will be sorely missed but he made sure that thousands here and in Africa have the determination, skills and knowledge to carry on his life's work."

Services are scheduled for Saturday with a tribute of dignitaries and imams at 11 a.m. followed by Janazah, or Islamic Funeral, according to his obituary.

Prayer will be held at noon at the National Islamic Association, 231 Roseville Ave., Newark. Interment will be at Restland Memorial Park, 77 Deforest Ave., East Hanover. Funeral services are being handled by Islamic Burial Services.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Obama Signs Emmett Till Bill To Reopen Unsolved Civil Rights Cases

This post by Taryn Finley originally appeared in the Black Voices section of the Huffington Post on Dec. 26, 2016

POTUS just signed the Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016 into law

President Obama signed legislation in December that allows the Department of Justice and the FBI to reopen unsolved civil rights crimes.

The Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016 grants the agencies opportunity to pursue crimes committed before 1980. The legislation is an expansion of a previous bill of a similar name signed into law in 2008. 

The original bill, named after 14-year-old Emmett Till who was kidnapped and brutally lynched by two white men for whistling at a white woman in 1955, was first introduced by activist Alvin Sykes in 2005. Sykes promised Till’s mom that he would pursue her son’s case after the two men were acquitted, USA Today reports. As a part of his ongoing mission to seek justice for racially-motivated crimes, Sykes named the bill after Till.

Since the bill was introduced, the FBI has investigated more than 100 cold cases. The updated act encourages the agencies to reach out to “activists, advocates and academics working on these issues,” according to USA Today.

The law calls for “the full accounting of all victims whose deaths or disappearances were the result of racially-motivated crimes” and for authorities to hold criminals accountable. The law summary also states that the DOJ and FBI will keep families regularly informed about the status of the investigations and make case information accessible to the public.

Justice under the law must never be blind. As a requisite, justice must always be found to be without preference or discrimination, regardless of identity, wealth, power, social status, position, or circumstances if it is to be rightly regarded as both equal and fair. - Jon Dunnemann

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Search

By Steve Taylor

When did you lose yourself?
It was so long ago that you can barely remember
where you were, or how it happened -
but since then you’ve been searching,
scanning every obscure forgotten place
lifting up every unlikely object,
growing a little more frustrated every day.

And now you’ve reached the point
where you’re beginning to forget what you’re looking for
like a dazed and weary solider
who can’t remember why he’s fighting anymore.

And eventually you can’t contain your frustration.
“That’s it! I’ve had enough!” you shout.
You’ve looked everywhere a million times over, so what’s the point?
You accept defeat and abandon the search,
and somehow feel relieved, as if a burden has been lifted.

And then, a few days later, when your life has settled down again,
you’re pottering around, doing nothing in particular,
and suddenly it’s there, right in front of you,
in the closest, most obvious place -
the essence of your being, shining so clearly,
like a beautiful luminous jewel.

Why did it wait so long to reveal itself?

Perhaps it’s only just crystallised -
perhaps the years of searching were necessary
to orientate you, de-condition you and deepen you
until finally your base elements could fuse together
into a golden core.

Or perhaps it was there all the time
and you were just looking too hard to see something so subtle,
looking in one place for something that’s everywhere,
hoping for a miracle that will only happen
when you give up hoping
looking for a truth that you can only find
when you give up looking.

An accidental discovery
that your whole life has prepared you for.
Steve Taylor writes books on spirituality and psychology.