So, unlike this inspiring photo where a young Morehouse (College) man is asking me for tips about he can move forward with his dream in and for business, and for himself, this morning I had an all-too familiar, yet wholly uncomfortable experience in the local black barber shop.
As I sat there this morning, getting a hair cut, I could not help but take in the conversation around me, and I was struck by how "different" it was from my conversation with the young man at my home (Love Leadership book in-hand). First of all, these were mostly grown men, and women, at the barber shop this morning. Beyond that, the conversation was all about other people (celebrities, athletes, etc) and not themselves. My point is, while this young man was on fire with a movement called "his own life," becoming an expert "in his own life, aspirations, hopes and desires," what I heard at the barber shop were grown men and women who were absolute experts on the lives of others.
One man, who had to be mid 40's and seemingly intelligent, was having serious, take-no-prisons running statistics and facts contest about one athlete in particular; even getting to the point of arguing the athlete's strengths and what he saw as the "absolute and non-negotiable winning abilities" of and for this particular athlete. A professional athlete, let me add, whom he did not know personally, and did not represent professionally (meaning he was not his agent or business manager).
What would happen if we put that much expert energy into becoming a business success, or an entrepreneur, or a self-employment project, or the best employee that your employer has ever witnessed? Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" makes the point that with 10,000 hours invested in anything (about 20 hours a week for 10 years), you can become one of the absolute leaders in the world (and successes) in that field of play. So success, with a focus, is really nothing more than a focused part-time job. Focused, on the right things of course.
Would would happen if we put that much expert energy behind getting healthy (again), and pursuing whatever we are truly passionate about?
What would happen if we put that much expert energy into becoming great fathers and great mothers?
What would happen if we put that much expert energy into becoming the best community leader and community builder we could be? Or the best once-a-month mentor to a child without a positive role model? We would turn around our communities, is what would happen.
Let's take our lives back and live lives of excellence, of giving and of progress; and that means becoming an expert in our own prosperity, and not merely the fantasy-life of others.
Onward and with HOPE, love and light
John Hope Bryant
A Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum, an Oprah's Angel Network award recipient, a TIME Magazine 50 (Leaders) for the Future (94'), John Hope Bryant is an entrepreneur, the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE, the Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), advisor to the last three sitting U.S. presidents, a thought leader, public speaker, and an innovator in the business of empowerment.
Mr. Bryant serves U.S. President Barack Obama on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, and prior to that Mr. Bryant served U.S. President George W. Bush as vice chairman of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Council, and chairman of the council Committee on the Under-Served.
With the publishing of Love Leadership, Mr. Bryant became the first African-American business bestselling author published in mainstream business leadership in the country.