Monday Motivation: MLK Jr. Special

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

If MLK, Jr. were still alive today, I believe he’d still be holding large-scale rallies to promote acceptance of others; only, people would be tweeting about them and creating Facebook events. But what does acceptance and MLK, Jr. have to do with business? More than you might think, actually.

Acceptance plays a key role in developing a business or organization. It helps leaders to be better listeners as they keep an open mind to new ideas. It helps our jobs become a place where diversity–in all aspects–is celebrated. NOT tolerated, but celebrated. It helps to break down culture and communication barriers as peers learn how to work in harmony with one another, creating a healthy workplace. And most importantly, it encourages everyone to think outside the proverbial box in order to generate better solutions to pressing issues.

That being said, here are two great articles to read, aligned with the theme of MLK, Jr., acceptance, and business lessons we can learn from the man who coined, “I have a dream…”

1. Martin Luther King by Jack E. White of TIME Magazine

Summary: This is a great article from the 90’s (vintage!) about Dr. King. It touches on a brief history of the the Civil Rights Movement, and MLK, Jr.’s cause. White reminds us of the ever-growing need for equality in the present, stating that King was demanding justice–not citing some “…Hallmark card-style version of Brotherhood.”

2. 5 Entrepreneurship Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Joseph Steinberg of Forbes

Summary: This article is especially encouraging for entrepreneurs and dreamers alike. He analyzes some aspects of King’s life and cause, and gives us 5 important lessons as a takeaway. Though this article focuses more on the business side of things, Steinberg does mention the issues of racism and prejudice.

Today, I personally am taking some time to reflect on the things that Martin Luther King, Jr. did for humanity. I’m also taking the time to reflect on what that means for me as a business owner and human citizen. It makes me angry and appalled to think about the problem of racism, lack of acceptance, and prejudice that still exists all around us. And it’s not just in the U.S.; it’s everywhere.

I think that being a leader–whether in business or otherwise–demands something greater to surface from me than just seeing “results” or “success.” I think it has more to do with responsibility to my fellow man more than I realize. I believe that caring for one another and striving to make the world a better place through our passions and talents are at the heart of good business practices. And that’s something I can learn from the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

My mantra/coin phrase as a fiction author is: “Always dream big.” That’s what Dr. King told us to do. To dream big about the future while we discover how to change the world and its bad practices.

So, whether you’re a business owner, manager, employee, stay-at-home-mom/dad, student…whatever you do as a vocation…I’d like to encourage you to dream big and take some time today to reflect on lessons you can learn from Martin Luther King, Jr. and how you can implement them into your every day life. Enjoy the day and create some amazing opportunities for yourself and your fellow man.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Remembering 9/11: My Story

On September 11th, 2001, two days before my 17th birthday, I woke up at 6 a.m. to go to school. My family didn’t watch TV in the morning or listen to the radio, so I got ready, grabbed breakfast, and headed out the door at 6:45am (PST) with my younger sister. We drove to my best friend’s house to pick up her and her brother, and as soon as they got in the car, our lives were forever changed.

My best friend’s family members were avid morning news radio listeners and heard all about the horrible tragedy that plagued New York City and other surrounding areas/States that entire morning. After chatting with her dad, who told us to call him if anything crazy happened, we drove to school while listening to the radio the whole time. We received the latest updates from the East Coast and were in total shock. There was nothing to say, really. We just listened.

Arriving at school was somewhat frightening. Our classmates were in a frenzy, the staff all looked worried, and feelings of depression and anxiety hung over the whole campus. Some of the kids had parents who traveled often for business and were scared that their parents would be on a plane with suicidal terrorists. Some had parents who worked in San Francisco and were worried that such a prominent city like SF would be next on the hit list. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was no use going home. Being home alone on a school day seemed worse than being at school with a bunch of people with whom to share our fears.

I was so grateful to have had awesome teachers who let us watch the news in just about every class. It’s not like they were able to concentrate on work that day, either. They were just as scared as the students, and didn’t try to hide it. And because I went to a Christian school, we said prayers in every single period. That did bring much comfort and we found solace in our faith–whatever the varied beliefs of the student body. That day, everyone prayed and had hope that things just had to get better.

During such times like 9/11, people expect prayer and words of hope. It’s amazing how someone will curse God or their neighbor until something dreadful happens. Then, it seems, God and your neighbor is all you have in the midst of trial.

 Home> U.S.>Sept. 11, 2012: America Remembers 9/11 Anniversary Photo of Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo Touches Family (from ABCnews.go.com)


Sept. 11, 2012: America Remembers
9/11 Anniversary Photo of Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Photo Touches Family (from ABCnews.go.com)

That day, in California’s Silicon Valley, we made it through the last bell, and went home to our loved ones. We–at least those I knew–did not experience the 9/11 tragedy in full, like those in other parts of the country. But we all knew things would never be the same for the United States. And our hearts and prayers went out to those directly and horribly affected.

Never in my life have I witnessed such a culmination of hope, devastation, and camaraderie. People who didn’t speak to one another became friends in a day. Our cultural and racial prejudice, for a time, was dismantled. As long as you were an American, it didn’t matter what you looked like or where you came from. You were an American and you belonged in this country and you were not you–you were US.

Sadly, many negative things also developed from the 9/11 incident. Innocent people who were American but “looked a certain way,” were wrongly targeted from the springboard of people’s anger and fear. And as time went on, people forgot the camaraderie and prayers and sense of belonging to something greater than themselves, and became lost and disconnected. They became jaded at best, and cruel at the worst.

Today, though we’ll maybe watch footage of the World Trade Center or the Pentagon being crashed into, many of us will then go back to watching Honey Boo Boo, or Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or some other reality show that’s not really our reality. Don’t get me wrong–it’s nice to be entertained and become brainless for a while. But how many times do we default to that and stay disconnected from one another?

Will it take another tragedy for the citizens of this wonderful country to embrace each other and finally shed our own prejudices, judgements, and insecurities? Is that what it will take to help us accept ourselves and others–just as we are?

I am filled with so much gratitude that my family was not directly affected by 9/11. The only large-scale, traumatic event I’ve ever gone through was the big earthquake of 1989. And that was Nature’s doing–not an act of terrorism on humanity. Whenever I read about 9/11 or see video footage, I still weep like a baby. My heart swells with sadness at the thought of all those people losing their lives–especially the brave ones who prevented further damage by their acts of heroism. May we “never forget,” as the motto says.

And, a brief look back at the scene of the attacks in New York in September, 2001. Seen here, the twin towers of World Trade Center burn after two planes crashed into each on September 11th. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

And, a brief look back at the scene of the attacks in New York in September, 2001. Seen here, the twin towers of World Trade Center burn after two planes crashed into each on September 11th. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

So today, as we remember, I would like to ask you to join me in an exercise. I’m going to go “media silent,” in honor of 9/11 and its heroes and will not be Facebooking, Tweeting, Tumblring, Pinning, or anything in between. I’m always digitally connected, but today, I’m going to spend time with people I love and actually connect with them. I sincerely hope you’ll do the same. It’s not much, but it’s something we can all do as individuals that will have a rippling effect, I’m sure.

From Oprah.com

From Oprah.com

May God bless those who are especially hurting today, and may you go forward today and every day, loving yourself and others in the greatest capacity that you can.

Never forget…

Do you have a 9/11 story to share? Let us know in the comments below. 🙂