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Great communities make great people. Great people make great communities.
Action in love. Love in action.
It is that time of year again. Students, student-athletes, parents, teachers, and coaches are all wondering how to handle the academic workload. How to manage time. How to make sure that the people in our lives meet whatever standards that have been set. How to ensure peaceful and joyful growth. How to love in a loving way. How to love in traffic and chaos. How to love out loud.
The great divide in academic success comes at the intersection of make an excuse or make a way. The sign by the side of the road “that I do not have the time.” On the other side of the street is a sign that says “168.” One is an excuse. One is the right way.
I do not have the time usually means that a person simple can not figure out how to manage their time. Prioritizing is simple once the direction and goal are known. Detours are less likely when the destination is agreed upon.
In the other direction is the 168. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Successful people and unsuccessful people both have the same 168 hours per week to accomplish the same things. Successful people use the 168 to set priorities, determine paths, choose focuses, define purposes, and to stay on course to whatever it is that is being pursued.
Misdirected, disconnected, and unfocused people allow time to pass without using their 168 purposefully. The time is wasted and spent, leaving a vacuum of missed opportunities. In retrospect, there are short and direct roads to success to look down. In hindsight, there were clear roads to success in the rearview mirror.
Forward, there are ways to help our young people manage time. There are ways to help them stay on the right path, the easier journey, and the successful way.
If you want control of your 168, plan ahead. Know where your time bank account is being spent. Know what expectations are required of you by teachers, parents, and coaches. Consider sleep, meals, school, faith, family, and chores. Be aware of time spent on social media, watching television, listening to music, talking or looking at your phone, and workouts. Consider your practice time if you are a student athlete, and the time for study halls, homework, film study. Talk to your teachers in advance, let them know your plan for success, and use the connection to make sure that you stay ahead of responsibilities, assignments, quizzes, and tests. Use your time on school buses or car rides home for studying if you are not driving. Use the wait time for practices to begin for studying. Use the wait time after practice for studying. Confirm and reconfirm your projects due dates, and use your time in class for the reason you are there. To learn. Take notes, and share the notes with your teacher to make sure that you did not miss anything. It helps make the teacher better to know that their intended message was heard, received, and learned.
Know your young persons 168. It is hard to help them if you do not know where time is spent and how. You can not know these things if you do not ask. Ask about time on social media, time talking to potential dates, time texting, surfing the net, and listening to music. Know their assignments due, their work turned in, and what is coming due next. Know the teachers and coaches, and stay connected to them for the mutual benefit of your young person. Do not be afraid to ask or demand for headphones to be off when you are checking in on them. Shared information and IQ keeps the connection strong. Its much easier to help when connected. You know when your child goes left or right off the path if you stay connected to them. Set aside time to check in each week with your child. Ask about assignments turned in, assignments due, and what they are learning. Set aside 5 minutes to look over those notes that were taken. It speaks volume on what is going on. Feel free to ask the teacher to sign them and send home for review. The additional boundary of them knowing that you care and will confirm removes a lot of going off the path.
Offer the students access to you for checking notes, communicating with parents, and working with coaches. Truth is, coaches have some additional time and leverage with the student athlete. They have time and reason to check status and standing. The more connected the teacher-parent-coach-student are, the easier it is to be aware of status and standing. This removes the 23rd hour of panic, stress, chaos, and drama of not knowing that something is due, something is wrong, something is missing, something was missed, or something was not turned in. A few moments at the beginning or ending of each week can save the teacher from drama. Use it. Everyone wins.
You have the student-athlete’s attention and time. You have access to the student athlete 5-6 days a week, anywhere from 5 to 20 hours a week. Remember, the first thing remains first. Academics. If a student-athlete is struggling academically, the practice can not take precedent over the academics. Use that time to get caught up or ahead. Sometimes, the practice facility needs to be the classroom. Also, there are usually 10-90 teammates who are taking the classes as well. Often, the same classes. Take advantage of the team’s shared IQ. There are other teammates who took notes, got assignments, are working on projects as well. Let the team help the team. We rise together, so let them study together for the greater good of the teammate if needed. Ask for direct help from the teachers. Get weekly updates, or daily ones if possible. Get weekly communications from the parents as well. SHARED IQ. The more we know, the more we share, the more we agree on, the more we do together, the more success we have together. Teams that study together, and learn together, win together.
For some of you, this is already being done. Bravo, and thank you. If you are not, there is hope. The 168 is there for you to use. It has value, and makes sense. Use your 168. It is a plan for success.
Finally, time to sit down and share more details of my LovePrints mentor trip to White House and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. I will try and make it short. I have been working with President Obama’s initiative My Brothers Keeper for the past two years, spawning LovePrints into action. My Brothers Keeper is about helping young people get on track, stay on track, and have support in doing so. For its 2nd anniversary, some of us were invited to the White House to celebrate the work. There would be a Stakeholders meeting and reception, with speakers from the Presidents cabinet, and several financial supporters of the initiative. Also present were mentees, and select mentors. Some spoke. We all shared. We shared stories of why we do what we do, for whom do we do it, and how we do it. As I have said, I am not sure why I got invited. But I was. Now, lets jump to my why I do this. Apparently, this is big. WHY?.
When asked who we do this for, my mind bounced like a ping pong ball in a tight cube. The name that came to mind was one. It was bright and glowing. It was so BOLD AND BRILLIANT. We asked to all call out the name of the person. For me, it was the person that I thought of the entire time I stood in the security line to be cleared to go in. It was the name that made me cry, because I wish that they could be with me. It made me smile because it would make them smile. It would be the person that this would have meant so much to.
It was mom.
To think that her boy was invited here. That her boy had done something, anything, worthy of being here, with Mayors, Govenors, Cabinet Members, and leaders. When the Secretary of Education asks for your thoughts, you probably should answer. Her boy who grew up just a few miles away from this place, who lived in its shadows, but never felt a part of it. Her boy was dressed up, fired up, and ready to go!
And then it hit me. I was there representing not only my mom, but my grandmother, my wife, daughter, family from one end to the other. I was representing Green Valley, Drew, Jackson, Swanson, and W-L. SMBC, JSR, and VCU. Every company that I ever worked for, and dreamed bigger than. Every friend that said that I was something, and those “friends” that thought that I was not. For every coach I ever had, every player that I ever knew, and every friends mom or dad who used their hands to lift, pull, raise, or elevate me. I was there. And proud. we were a part of the process. We were there to add to. We were there to add on.
I got to speak about each and everything and everyone in my previous two paragraphs. And they listened. They asked about mom, and my family, my old neighborhoods, and my new. I was asked about my old schools and new. They asked about my teacher friends, my teachers past, and what they were and want to be. I got to suggest ways to make the helpers happier and the path easier. I got to share your successes, and more importantly, your love. Hopefully, I spoke on your behalf. On your kids behalf. On our kids behalf.
I do not know why I was asked, other than saying that it was because of all of the people that i mentioned. I needed to share them all to these people, because they needed to know them. And they listened. They really did. And wanted to know more. And they shall. Because they asked.
Thank you mom. Thanks all of you. Thanks all of them. You were all there with me. And I sure would not have been there without you. As a matter of fact, I am sure that you were why I was there. Or anywhere else for that matter. Bravo, I applaud YOU.