Happy New Year to you and yours. I’m sure your looking forward to a year of productivity and achieving new levels of excellence. The first 10 days of 2013 have been very eventful for me in more ways than one. On the 8th of January 2013, I delivered a keynote presentation to a room full of 15 year old pupils at a college in North London, England titled: Can you see your vision of excellence?™. As I entered the hall, I observed there was a wonderful mix of young people; black, white, male and female so I knew my message would be relevant to all listeners.
During the presentation, I shared my background of how I grew up in Hackney, East London and because my father had left us, my mother had to raise me and my sister alone. I noticed that many of the young people could relate to my background and at that instant I knew the ‘ice’ had been broken.
In my presentation I spoke about having a vision, achieving goals and reaching new levels of excellence. I also spoke about my previous life living the ‘street life’ which involved six of my friends being murdered, me nearly getting shot dead and so much more. I could see the audience were captivated, shocked, inspired, awakened and challenged by my presentation; knowing that they were listening to a history maker whose past is still relevant today.
During my presentation, I gave a lyric by rapper, poet and ‘people’s champion’ Tupac Shakur which was ‘keep ya head up, legs closed eyes open’. I repeated the lyric and the teenagers were amused, shocked and excited that I knew classic Hip Hop lyrics. I went on to speak to the ladies, emphasising that they didn’t have to sleep around but rather they should concentrate on their school work. I went on to tell them about the females from my era who slept around with all the ‘top guys’ and now have many children from different fathers, strung out on drugs or even worse. I repeated the lyrics again and this time I spoke to the young men telling them sleeping around doesn’t make them men. The ‘sex education’ teaching I gave, I believe will stay with them for a very long time.
At the end of the presentation there was a Question and Answer session, and I realised that this was the only opportunity many of them had to ask their profound questions and receive strategic answers.
I asked each attendee what their vision was and also set them tangible goals to achieve. I had made up my mind to give a signed copy of my second book titled: The Doorway To Distinction: 200 Quotes To Reach New Levels Of Excellence to a young man who had kept his gaze on me for the whole presentation. After presenting my book to him, we had a conversation in which he told me his uncle had been shot dead. I promptly realised that he was indirectly/directly involved in the very life I so narrowly escaped. I spoke to him with authority, love and understanding about his powerful destiny which is in front of him and afterwards we shook hands and hugged the ‘male’ way. The young man held on to me tightly and squeezed my hands. I realised in that moment, I am not only a role model to the next generation I am also a ‘father figure’ to them as well. That night I stayed up thinking about the ‘hug’ and the other young people whose lives I had affected and impacted and a Tupac lyric came to mind; ‘I’ve come so far but I’ve still got a long way to go’.
The following day I delivered my keynote at a School/Sixth Form in South London. Once again it was a life changing, vision enhancing, goal setting and inspiring session for all attendees. Early last year it dawned on me that many of our young people are being ‘sold cheap’ by people who just come in and tell them to “fly like eagles” not knowing many young people are trapped in the net called the ‘street life’ and many who are saying “fly like eagles” haven’t actually achieved anything of substance.
During my session what really impressed me with this set of young people was their concentration level, zeal and willingness to learn. Once again, each young person was given a specific goal to achieve and I was humbled and satisfied that the teaching, coaching, inspiration and truth from my presentation challenged, encouraged and empowered them to regularly set goals, associate with winners, constantly reach new levels of excellence, read at least one book a month, manage their time and respect authority. I again gave the Tupac lyric, ‘keep ya head up, legs closed eyes open’ breaking it down for both males and females to understand each part of the lyric. A few days later I went back to the college in North London to deliver Life Coaching sessions for the young people but this time we worked in smaller groups.
Over a four day period every young person I encountered realised that 1. there is someone who survived the ‘street life’, doesn’t want to be famous, has tangible proof of what he is talking about, lives a life of excellence, cares for them, speaks their language and also brings solutions to the peer pressure, pain and problems they face on a daily basis and 2. They can actually achieve great visions and in turn become a blessing and a reference point to their generation, knowing that they spent valuable time with someone who is doing just that.