Sunday, September 24, 2017

Happy Birthday Jonathan

By Jon Dunnemann

Today would be Jonathan William Smithers-Dunnemann's 32nd birthday. Daniel's brother and Dr. Wilda Smithers-Dunnemann's and my first child. Jonathan left this world at age 11 and I can't begin to tell you what his absence at the table has been like for the three of us and the rest of the family for the last twenty-one years.

Jonathan had enough energy and warmth of spirit for everyone. And, as older siblings can and should be he was a conduit for the untapped potential in his younger brother Danny Boy.

Losing a child or a sibling is a sharp pain that never completely dulls.

Today, it is Daniel who really has the best perspective on this tremendously challenging life event. He says, "Mom and Dad, I would rather have had Jonathan as my brother for eleven years then not to have been able to enjoy him at all."

As a man, a husband, and a father I am enormously thankful that I got to see Jonathan and Daniel's tender and loving relationship for those eleven years. My two little boys are so beautiful, complementary, and unique in every way. Who could possibly ask for more?

For Wilda, a daughter, sister, wife and physician but always a mother first and foremost, it has entailed an immensely heartbreaking loss. Jonathan had his Mommy's tough will and smile . The sort that enables you to get back up after having the life knocked out of you. With help from her Dad, Pastor and Prayer, she fought through the dark night of the soul and managed to climb up and out of the pit of despair and pain to put her other baby first and nurtured him with remarkably dedication, love, sacrifice, and wisdom to young adulthood.

For other parents out there who have also e Today would be Jonathan William Smithers-Dunnemann's 32nd birthday. Daniel's brother and Dr. Wilda Smithers-Dunnemann's and my first child. Jonathan left this world at age 11 and I can't begin to tell you what his absence at the table has been like for the three of us and the rest of the family for the last twenty-one years.

Jonathan had enough energy and warmth of spirit for everyone. And, as older siblings can and should be he was a conduit for the untapped potential in his younger brother Danny Boy. Losing a child or a sibling is a sharp pain that never completely dulls.

Today, it is Daniel who really has the best perspective on this tremendously challenging life event. He says, "Mom and Dad, I would rather have had Jonathan as my brother for eleven years then not to have been able to enjoy him at all."

As a man, a husband, and a father I am enormously thankful that I got to see Jonathan and Daniel's tender and loving relationship for those eleven years. My two little boys are so beautiful, complementary, and unique in every way. Who could possibly ask for more?

For Wilda, a daughter, sister, wife and physician but always a mother first and foremost, it has entailed an immensely heartbreaking loss. Jonathan had his Mommy's tough will and smile. The sort that enables you to get back up after having the life knocked out of you. With help from her Dad, experienced the loss of a child and to those of you who have lost a brother or a sister I'm thinking about you today too.

I am confident that if Jonathan were here today he would tell you to enjoy your life, to wear your most magnificent smile, to trust in the power of the almighty creator of all things and to always bare in mind that everything works together for good even though this is beyond our capacity as sentient beings to understand and at times to accept.

Happy Birthday Jonathan. We hope that you are proud of the way that we are carrying on in your honor while we are away from you.

Monday, September 11, 2017

What more can we do in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey?

By Jon Dunnemann


Maybe there's a good deal more that America can do to as part of National Preparedness and Response and justice reform "inside prison walls" by proactively teaching non-violent offenders between 18-to-32-years-old how to productively assist in saving lives, distributing materials, site clean-up, and rebuilding homes following natural disasters.


Below is a proposed brief outline for possibly teaching these inmates useful disaster response and relief skills so that they can stand beside and act in the best interest of their fellow Americans in a time of great need:
  1. Basic medical skills (i.e., Cleaning and Dressing Wounds, Making a Makeshift Splint or Sling, CPR, Heimlich Maneuver, Treating Shock).
  2. Food and water storage/safety and sanitation procedures.
  3. Victim coping and stress-management skills.
  4. Crisis, trauma, and grief-counseling skills.
  5. Utilization of alternative means of communication (i.e., the "Coordinated Assistance Program" (CAN), the 2-1-1 system - coordinated by the United Way since 1997).
  6. Capability of speaking more than one language (i.e., Spanish, Chinese, and French).
  7. Basic computer skills, knowing how to use a camera or take video to help document the work organizations and teams are doing.
  8. Basic survival skills (i.e., Finding and purifying water, Building A Wilderness Survival Shelter From Scratch, Starting A Fire Without A Lighter, Navigating Your Way Back To Safety, Survival Signaling To Help Rescuers Find You, Food Acquisition To Stave Off Starvation)
  9. American Red Cross, FEMA, National Guard, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) protocol & operational systems, and quite possibly in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity get the full scope of home repair and construction training and equipping needed to become a functional, contributing member of a disaster rescue, recovery, and relief team so that you can go wherever the crisis is and provide valuable assistance under a team experts direction.
  10. Learn how to make a long-term commitment to acquiring this knowledge and the varied skill sets that leave a place and people group better off then when you first arrived.

A federal, state, and locally funded program of this nature will not only enhance our nation's National Response Plan (NRP) capacity for saving lives and rebuilding communities but it will transform the lives of former offenders and I assert that it also greatly affirms our best values and provides real and lasting second chances in sharing a good life in America for young non-violent offenders.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Ready Yourself And Walk Into Your Perpetual Groove

By Jon Dunnemann




Whenever I am given the opportunity to teach life skills to older boys and teenagers I always enjoy discussing the great importance of self-awareness, self-control, and self-improvement given how painfully difficult it was for me to not only develop a good understanding of these concepts but to also learn to effectively apply the underlying practices behind them well into my adult life.

As far back as I can recall, I was an impulsive person and someone always seeking affirmation from others regarding my self-worth. To simply blame this tendency on the absence of my father in my early years would be a big mistake and seriously overlooks the necessity of learning how to accept personal responsibility for all of the actions and decisions that we must inescapably make throughout our lives. What we choose to do or not do in every area of our daily living yields significant consequences for us both good and bad.

Let me tell you, my mother to her credit as a single parent did not overlook exposing me to many extracurricular activities and events when I was a boy all of which were intended to foster a healthy, safe, and stimulating platform for a kid's personal growth and virtues shaping.

What laid at the root of my early difficulty though was the refusal to exercise good judgement. I clearly knew right from wrong yet chose the latter anyway. Looking back, I now recognize that this stemmed from my overindulgence and a weak conscience. Experts will tell you that this is never a good thing. Because when this is the case, it’s as if you’re always just itching for a licking. Believe me when I tell that I got plenty of spankings and whippings as a child and they proved inadequate in changing me. Sure they certainly got my attention and as intended they did hurt. Nevertheless, it was not long before I found a solution for avoiding any form of verbal chastisement or physical punishment altogether: run away! 

Initially, even as a foster youth, trouble need not look very far to find me. I always seemed to be anxiously awaiting the next adventure or dare to do something mischievous. In fact, a number of the kids that I grew up with and attended junior high school with will remember exactly what I’m talking about having routinely edged me on in my immature and irresponsible state for their own amusement or to do their dirty work. I was ignorant then of how little they truly thought of me and how lacking I was in self-acceptance as I repeatedly threw all caution to the wind and ended up engaged in juvenile pranks and reckless behavior - I was buck wild.

The bad habits that I developed were foolish, troublesome, and for me remain deeply regrettably. Fortunately, although I didn't realize it at the time, I was abruptly removed from one of my most familiar and formative settings and miraculously placed in an entirely different environment where everything that I did was closely scrutinized by a household of older African American Muslim men. The discipline that they imposed on me in terms of conduct, focus on learning, martial arts, civic engagement and political activism, and self-awareness literally crowded out the most useless and unwise actions of my past. I also received the added benefit of being made to feel good about being a young, strong, thinking, activist, and African American male. Surprisingly, they did not require that I convert to Islam and become a Muslim.

So for me the questions that I am most eager to humbly speak to with today’s youth are a) How does one begin to recognize their error, b) interrupt their patterned behavior, and c) recover a more mature sense of self? Now I am not about to mislead anybody, hardheadedness, misdirection, and neglectfulness -- these are not simple or quick fixes. In all likelihood it will take years of progressively hard work and ongoing soul searching to reach the center of your fullness and purpose. However, the sooner that you begin to explore and reflect regularly on the important business of your life path then the earlier your life will begin to yield meaning and the happier you will ultimately become with yourself.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the necessary changes will never occur and other people’s lives will be hurt or worse, and further damage may well continue to be done to your own life. On the other hand, as you become more aware of the consequences and outcomes associated with your actions, you will be better able to learn how to control your impulses and use your best judgement, and as the benefits of this inner state of being become more apparent you will also find a perpetual groove that grows out of the recurring experience of successful personal improvement. Ready yourself and walk into it!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Courage

By Jon Dunnemann



Who is the hero?

What does s/he seek?

When do they appear?

Where does their belief in possibility come from?

How is it that some are able to do that which others would not dare?

Why is it that real courage is seemingly limited to a chosen few?

In my mind there is hardly a trace of the heroic trait.

Could it be that the door to the soul must first be made open in order for us to experience the complete fullness of our divine nature and spiritual power?

Is it then, that we are well equipped to exhibit the greatest sense of courage naturally flowing out of our actions and decisions?

Only time will reveal the strength of current flow that is found in the answers to these unavoidable questions.

Until courage arrives be calm and carry on.

Waking Up: Are Spiritual Experiences Becoming More Common

This post originally appeared on the Psychology Today page on June 9, 2017

Steve Taylor Ph.D.





What are spiritual experiences? I don’t think of them in religious terms. I see them as moments in which our awareness becomes more intense and more expansive than normal, so that the world around us becomes more real and alive, and we feel a strong sense of connection to nature and other human beings. We might feel a sense of joy or inner stillness, and feel that somehow the world around us is "in harmony" or has a meaning that we find difficult to express.

If a person from a religious background has such an experience, they may well interpret it in religious terms. They might see it as a gift from God, and believe that the aliveness and harmony they perceive is a glimpse of the divine, or of heaven. But if you’re not religious, there’s no reason to think in these terms. The experience is just a psychological one. It suggests that our normal vision of the world is limited and in some ways even aberrational. In awakening experiences, there is a strong sense of ‘seeing more,’ of expanding beyond limits and perceiving a more authentic reality. 

My research shows that awakening experiences are connected to certain activities and situations. They are associated with contact with nature, spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer, sporting activities (such as running and swimming), and sex. They are also strongly associated with states of intense psychological turmoil. That is, paradoxically, they often occur in the midst of stress and depression, or in relation to traumatic life events such as illness, divorce or bereavement.     

However, one of the most interesting things about these experiences is that they are apparently becoming more common. In a 1962 Gallup poll, just 22 percent of Americans reported that they had "ever had a religious or mystical experience." In 1994, 33 percent of people answered yes to the same question, while by 2009, the figure had risen to 49 percent. Research by the Pew Research Center in the U.S. has shown a similar trend. In 2007, 52 percent of Americans reported that they regularly felt a "deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being." In 2014, the figure stood at 59 percent. In 2007, 39 percent of Americans said that the regularly felt a "deep sense of wonder about the universe"—a figure which had increased to 46 percent in 2014. Perhaps significantly, these increases coincided closely with a decrease in interest in organized religion. 

In the U.K., the surveys of the Spiritual Experience Research Centre have had similar findings. In a 1969 survey, the question "Have you ever experienced a presence or power, whether you call it God or not, which is different from your everyday self?" was answered affirmatively by 29 percent of people. In 1978, the figure had risen to 36 percent, and then to 48 percent in 1987. In 2000, there was a further steep rise to 75 percent—a 27 percent increase in 13 years (which was, coincidentally or not, exactly the same figure by which church attendance declined over the same period). (1)

A Collective Movement?

Why should spiritual experiences be more common now than they were a few decades ago? It could simply be that people are simply getting better at recognizing them, or are more open about discussing them. Now that there is more general awareness of spirituality in our culture, and concepts such as "spiritual peace and well-being" are a more common part of discourse, it could simply be that more people are describing their experiences in this way, when they might have described them in other terms in earlier decades. 

Or perhaps it’s right to take the research at its face value. Perhaps spiritual experiences actually are becoming more common. This is the approach I take in my new book The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening. I suggest that spiritual experiences are glimpses of a new state of being that is slowly becoming more normal to human beings. This is a higher-functioning state that I call “wakefulness,” in which a person feels an enhanced sense of well-being, clarity, and connection. They have a more intense awareness of the world around them, a greater sense of appreciation of nature, a broad global outlook, and an all-embracing sense of empathy with the whole human race. In many ways, it is a permanent, ongoing variant of the 'awakening experience.'

I have found many examples of people who shift into this higher-functioning state in the midst of intense psychological turmoil - for example, bereavement, serious illness, or alcoholism—I describe some of these examples in The Leap. This shift is quite common, and can be seen as a variation of “post-traumatic growth”—I sometimes refer to it as “post-traumatic transformation.” There are also hundreds of millions of people around the world who are gradually cultivating wakefulness by following spiritual practices such as meditation and service, or spiritual paths such as Buddhism, Yoga, or the Kabbalah. A constantly increasing interest in self-development, spiritual practices, and traditions is one of the most significant cultural trends of our time. 

It seems to me that there is a collective moment towards awakening, which is manifesting itself in a variety of ways—one of which may be the increasing frequency of spiritual experiences.  

(1) I am grateful to my fellow author Jules Evans for bringing my attention to this research.

Steve Taylor PhD is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. He is the author of The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening. 

His website is www.stevenmtaylor.com

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201706/waking

Friday, June 9, 2017

Loneliness

By Jon Dunnemann




Loneliness seats us in darkness and engulfs us in silence.

In the absence of warmth we become cold and frigid.

The heart seems to lose its natural rhythm.

Stricken with pause we slowly begin to wilt.

Left in this condition for too long we are overtaken both by fear and despair.

Very likely, hope will rise up and walk out on us.

Good reason though informs us that being alone is so very unbecoming.

It is far better for us to grab a firm hold of our sense of oneness.

There in the company of others we are much more apt to find loving comfort.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Willingness to Change

By Jon Dunnemann




Do you have a willingness to change?

Whatever your age, perspective, or past it takes courage to move into unfamiliar spaces.

This is especially true, if like me you easily grew accustomed to relying upon what others think-or gaining their acceptance.

While there's certainly nothing wrong or incorrect about trusting in others, given their possible expert knowledge, guidance-or wisdom gained through a life of experience.

On the other hand, it is altogether unnatural and quite possibly unreasonable for anyone to go through all of their life having failed to ever become empowered by making their own choices, supported by clear intentions, and bolstered by unique objectives.

This is a big part of what it actual means to be human, to flourish and to thrive.

Your gifts, passion, and path all belong to you.

Therefore, trust in yourself enough to choose who and what you are deeply committed to becoming. Be not denied your distinctiveness and don't be afraid to fail.

Failures are more than anything else opportunities to gain greater mastery over all that you find yourself faced with. Without failures it is very difficult to recognize victory.

A willingness to change is an open invitation to greater authenticity, freedom, strength of character, and meaningfulness.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Black Middle Class Is Leaving Its Brothers And Sisters Behind: Your own achievement is not enough.


This post originally appeared on the HuffPost on 05/02/2017

Tony Allen, Contributor
Head of Corporate Reputation at Bank of America

Dr. Tony Allen is the head of Corporate Reputation at Bank of America and the founding President of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League where in 2003, he received the Whitney M. Award for Advancing Racial Equality, the National Urban League’s highest honor.




I am a blessed Black man. Against enormous odds with respect to my family background and prospects for economic mobility, I have received great opportunities in my life. Those opportunities have afforded me a good living, a respectable profile in the public square and a resolute passion to serve others that I have always taken very seriously. The old biblical adage, “To whom much is given, much is required” is the standard by which I have lived my life and, in my mind, should be the burning platform for every middle and upper class African American in the United States.

Instead, too few of us take the time to really extend a hand to our fellow brothers and sisters who have lost their way and help bring them with us as we climb the proverbial corporate ladder, willing ourselves into the American Dream. And even fewer stand in unison against injustice or taken it upon ourselves to build up the communities from whence we came.

We, the black middle class, often find our comfort in the cultural notions of “black achievement” – escaping the surroundings that many others could not – and note that the symbol of a black man or black woman who provides a good home for his or her family and has a successful career should constitute “enough” inspiration for others. But it is not enough.
Black achievement doesn’t consider the disparity between the black middle class and their lower income peers.

We are buoyed by the occasional community service that comes from our affiliations in Historically Black Greek letter organizations or Masonic lodges and find it sufficient to prepare our sons and daughters through debutante balls and Jack and Jill affiliations to maintain the other, more elite, more intellectual black America.

Yet, Black achievement is not enough to make a difference for the black and brown men who comprise more than 60% of the prison population or the one-in-three black boys who are predicted to have a run in with the law in their lifetime. Black achievement doesn’t make up for a widening opportunity gap between African Americans and their mainstream counterparts or for the fact that too many students labeled “underperforming” begin tracking away from college at early ages and become accustomed to limited choices as they come of age.

Black achievement doesn’t consider the obvious disparity between the black middle class and their lower income peers, individuals who feel no connection to the success of their favorite uncle, auntie or childhood best friend and as such, resent the profiles of their communities and their situations as something less than a fertile ground for developing a strong character and work ethic that can propel their journey. This particular chasm is significant as it shines a light on the crux of the concern. Specifically, brothers and sisters from struggling black communities can no longer see themselves or their dreams through the eyes of their more successful peers. And those successful peers, instead of running toward them in ways that can uplift and change their circumstances, too often run away and sometimes even disassociate their circumstance from that of the people with whom they were raised.

In the 2002 edition of State of Black America, my colleague Professor Leland Ware and I wrote “The Geography of Discrimination: Hypersegregation, Isolation and Fragmentation within the African-American Community” and highlighted the following:
Generations of African Americans have benefited from opportunities created by the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Those who were in a position to do so took advantage of the educational, employment and other opportunities that were foreclosed to African Americans during the first half of the 20th century. The success of middle- and upper-income African Americans and the growth in their numbers over the last thirty years is a testament to their intelligence, ambition and hard work. For these groups, the Civil Rights Movement created unprecedented avenues for advancement. However, for the one-third of the African-American population left behind in the nation’s inner cities, the Civil Rights Movement might as well have never happened.

The question is not who’s to blame, but rather what do we – middle-class African Americans ― do about it? What IS enough? In my view, it is an active re-integration of our people that should be the focus of the African American middle class. My contention is that such work must continue and should be bolstered by a grand return to densely populated urban settings where an influx of middle class incomes from black and brown citizens would help stabilize some communities and build enclaves of African-American achievement that are in closer proximity to the people and communities most notably left behind.

In the Urban Institute’s recently released report, “The Cost of Segregation,” they conclude “that higher levels of economic segregation are associated with lower incomes, particularly for black residents. Higher levels of racial segregation are associated with lower incomes for blacks, lower educational attainment for whites and blacks, and lower levels of safety for all area residents.”

The great debate between famed scholar W.E.B. du Bois and orator Booker T. Washington focused on the importance of creating meaningful educational prospects that could accelerate the economic and housing opportunities for people still under a Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) existence, versus a more conciliatory approach of providing basic agricultural and technical skills that would sustain a reasonable existence for them and their families. In many ways, the outcome of those discussions and years of civil rights laws and social change movements have created two divergent groups within the African American community. Not surprisingly, the first group is defined by the narrative that African Americans are plagued with historic and systemic inequalities that put them well behind their mainstream counterparts at birth. And throughout life, that distance widens on nearly every front that matters to achieve success. This results in densely populated, poor black communities that cycle through generations of poverty and impoverished conditions, making those communities fraught with challenges too many and too embedded to overcome.

The other narrative recognizes that there have been great gains made, particularly since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and those gains have directly benefited a generation of African Americans, women and other minorities by enhancing their educational opportunities and successes in leadership and influence in both corporate America and the public sector. Further, those gains over the last 50 years have created a burgeoning black middle class, and many have used their new found wealth and opportunity to leave the largely rural and urban settings of their birth for suburban aspirations.
Brothers and sisters from struggling black communities no longer see their dreams through the eyes of their more successful peers.

In his documentary, “Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise,” Henry Louis Gates makes the chasm clear. On one hand, the percentage of African Americans making at least $75,000 annually more than doubled from 1970 to 2014, to 21 percent. Those making $100,000 or more nearly quadrupled. By contrast, Black America with income below $15,000 declined by only four points, from 26 to 22 percent.  And the unemployment rate for African Americans overall is virtually the same as it was when the civil rights movement ebbed circa 1970.[1]

At Bank of America, in the mid-90’s, my colleagues Kieth Cockrell and Geri Thomas were founders of the Black Professional Group, a group committed to connecting black Bank of America teammates to each other so they could find the path to their professional success AND appreciate how such success came with deep, substantive responsibility to the broader black community. Now there are more than 100 Black Professional Group chapters throughout the country, all of whom use their collective talent to extend time, resources and heart to the surrounding communities that disproportionately look like they do, but suffer from the conditions of joblessness, poverty and under-education.   And while examples of their good work abound, there is still much more to do before any of us can lay claim to success.

The way forward is to embrace an America where our tensions and intentions are not based in what we hope America to be, but rather in what it is. In 1903, du Bois wrote, “[We must] develop the Best of this race that they may guide the masses away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races.” Contamination and death are here.   And in this time, those who escaped those ills must remember from whence they came. Only then will it – will we – be enough. “To whom much is given, much is required."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/much-is-required_us_5908a07ee4b0bb2d0871ff81?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003

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.

JD

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.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/come-here-united-states-america-having-chosen-one-all-dunnemann

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 of others shall be more than sufficient joy and purpose for me in this life.

I love you God and thank you ever so much for each and every day that I am given.

Thy will be done.

JD

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!"

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/black-mans-history-jonathan-dunnemann?trk=prof-post

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 a 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 student.

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 Danny and I 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 generous 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 simply 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 seek to 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 who has provided assistance to me, 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
“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.

Precision.
Quality.

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.

Conclusion
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!)