Environment Matters

Fortunately for me, my mother, Herlean, knew how important environment was to becoming your best. As an only child, living with older parents in a neighborhood with very few children my age, my mother recognized that without the right environment, I could become spoiled, self-centered, and dependent upon others to do for me things that I should do for myself. Those were not the outcomes she wanted for me; in fact, she wanted just the opposite. To that end, she and my dad decided to enroll me at 2 years of age in Southside Kindergarten. My hours were 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday – Friday.  Would you believe the cost was $1.55 per day?

When it came time for my first day at Kindergarten, it was my Dad who took me to school. kclass He loved taking pictures, so before leaving, my Dad would always take a picture of my classmates. It’s hard to find me on the picture because I am near the back, “crying”.  For the first three days, I cried when he left. Magically, on the fourth day, when my Dad had decided if I cried he was going to take me back home, I didn’t cry. Instead, I waved good bye like a big girl. You see I had a caring, and nurturing teacher, Mrs. Susie Curinton. She knew just what to do to make me feel that I was in a safe, welcoming, and fun place. It didn’t take long for me to start mixing and mingling with my classmates and begin developing friendships, many of which I still maintain today.

Mrs. Curinton kept us busy with lots of activities. We played outside, learned to sing, and dance. Then she would invite our parents and community to witness our performance.kprogram (2) Because our school was too small for such an event, the auditorium of our local college, Bethune Cookman, became the venue. So at four, I made my first visit to a college campus and sang a duet. I don’t know how that went since today I can barely carry a tune.

It wasn’t all fun. There were educational activities too.  I started imitating my classmates- coloring, counting, and copying letters.  It was the beginning of my learning to enjoy the basics- reading, writing, and math. One day, my mom was writing a letter to my dad who was away. I told her I wanted to write him too. She pulled out some of paper and pencil and I began writing. For the words I didn’t know how to spell, I would ask her for help. You can see my writing wasn’t the neatest but you can make out most words. Not bad for 4!

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I could hardly believe that it was time for me to leave a place and teacher that had become dear to me. kgraduationBut the time had come and at five years of age, I was the Valedictorian of my class. Sitting next to me on the stage was the speaker, Mrs. Turie T. Small, the Principal of my soon to be elementary school. While sad to be leaving, I was excited to be going to the “bigger school” and couldn’t wait to get to know the Principal.

The people and your physical surroundings influence what you think and do. They bring out your best.

Environment matters! 

Do you have dreams and goals that you want to achieve?  Learn more about how important your environment is in my book, “Be Your B.E.S.T.”

Don’t Let Age Stop You!

Have you heard these quotes about AGE?  ali

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When these quotes have been shared, a response that I often hear is: “You need to face the fact that there are some things that are going to change because you age.  You just wait and see.”  While that is true, as I age I may move slower, my visual and auditory acuity may change, my memory may not be as sharp, boundariesBUT what I never want to allow is my age to become a boundary that prohibits me from achieving my goals and dreams.  

Recently, I was reminded that age has no boundaries when I saw a picture of a fellow Hamptonian, William (Bill) Goldborough. Bill graduated in the 1949 class at Hampton University (Institute). This class fondly called themselves the “49ers.”  Bill and I met at a meeting of the National Hampton Alumni Association and later served together on its Board. Bill was the Technology Committee Chair in 1998. My initial impression of him was a man of innovation and a trail blazer. He was fearless, perhaps in part, because he bravely fought as a World War II Veteran.  I often admired that Bill was unafraid to speak what was needed to be said and likewise was unafraid of change. No wonder Bill was recognized by the President of our National Hampton Alumni Association as a “trailblazer.” I wasn’t surprised when I saw this recent picture. Bill, at 91, made history becoming the oldest initiate of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.  See the details in this article.

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When I reached out to say congratulations, Bill responded:

“I live my life like “A CANDLE IN THE WIND” and look back only to direct my path FORWARD. God is my constant CO-PILOT and continues to guide me.”

Bill’s message reminded me to look back as a reference point to continue moving forward and not forget that I need my co-pilot, God, to guide me.

My message to you. When you think you’re too “old” to accomplish a dream that was placed on your heart, remember the dream is a “calling” AND if you stay in tune with your co-pilot,  God, your dream will become a reality.

Achieving your dream is not about AGE; rather, it is about YOU!

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I Found My Strengths

When working at my national professional association, I was tasked with several different responsibilities. Responding to members and stakeholders’ requests, facilitating committees and task forces, hosting conferences, and developing position papers were primary. I loved my work because it allowed me to impact my profession from a far-reaching perspective. My position afforded me the opportunity to meet and connect with leaders, researchers, educators, and direct service providers from around the country. Because our national office was in the DC area, I was also able to meet with other allied professional groups, policy makers, regulators, and funders. Traveling was integral to my understanding and staying current about our members’ needs and expectations. My travels took me to 45 out of our 50 states. This work experience was beneficial in so many ways. I built long-lasting friendships, expanded my understanding of systems, recognized the value of outcomes, and discovered my strengths.

my-strengths

The discovery of my strengths began when my supervisor and I received letters from committee chairs and members after several committee meetings. While I found myself enthusiastic about working with my committees, energized by our time together, and pleased when we accomplished our goals, I had not recognized “how” I had personally contributed to the productive meetings.  Over time, specific feedback from participants in my committees helped me to identify facilitation of diverse groups as a gift and strength. Here are some examples of the feedback I received.

“Pat kept a rather disparate crew on topic and goal-oriented, encouraging appropriate    discussion but limiting unproductive and divergent agendas.”

“I thought it was a very productive meeting. I appreciate your outcomes-process approach and will certainly implement what I have learned from you. Your timing throughout the meeting was exquisite!”

“You gave us time to process, think out loud, and focus. Well done!”

“Pat’s ability to guide and direct such an energetic and diverse group is most impressive.”

Once I identified my strength, I began to focus on facilitation and enhancing my skills: establishing rules of engagement, clarifying meeting outcomes, listening to understand, managing the group process, staying alert to participants’ non-verbal communication, asking probing questions.  Focusing on my strengths elevated my performance and results.

Since founding my company, the Outcomes Management Group, I have continued to focus on improving my strengths by incorporating new technologies, new strategies, new tools, and new knowledge. Today, when a client needs facilitation, I step confidently inside the organization, playing to my strengths, knowing that I can achieve their desired outcomes.  I love bringing out the b.e.s.t. in people and organizations!

Finding my strengths, I learned:lessomslearned2

  • Sharing specific feedback when you observe people doing something productive can assist them in identifying their strengths.
  • Playing to your strengths elevates performance and results.
  • Strengths need continuous attention so that you remain at peak performance.