Monday, December 15, 2008

Tribute to Tiffany Gates - Also, Reactive or Proactive -- Which One Are You?

Last night was absolutely wonderful. Tiffany Gates was remembered and honored. Her mother, Vanessa and our family were honored by Tony and Robert who throw these annual Holiday Fundraising parties. This party was at the Takoma Station Tavern and in its fourth year. There was a band, people everywhere, food, a silent auction and a good time. The atmosphere was great. Tony and Robert gave gift cards to Vanessa and gave Manyka, my sister, and me a chance to greet the audience in between remarkable and ear-soothing sets of Holiday selections.

It feels so good to get out in the public and talk about the issue of violence. Our message was loud and clear. We were there to remind people of the horrible tragedies that struck Tiffany Gates and our mother and brother. Robert also honored Veronica Williams, murdered in Baltimore on the same day as Tiffany, 28 November. Robert and Tony honored Veronica's family and also raised money to send dolls to South Africa for underpriviliged children. This is an annual fundraiser and I will definitely be supporting this effort annually. What a world we live in. There are some wonderful people out there. Keep it up folks. Let's continue to spread the peace.

Secondly, today. There are some amazing interviews coming up. We will be arranging some interviews with people who have survived horrible circumstances. So, gear up. We are going to be talking about the issues. That's what having a conversation with Kellibrew is all about. Our first interview will start tomorrow. We will interview a young lady who will tell you about her past. She will tell you how her life hung in the balance while her mother lye on the ground in a pool of blood, left permanently disfigured. What an amazing story for two women. One of them will be with us tomorrow.

By having these conversations, we will be able to delve into the lives of victims and those who are truly survivors working to turn their lives around, rebuilding for the future.

Finally, I want to leave you with some inspiration. I am reading this book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.

In Part II - Habit 1 - Be Proactive "I am the force." Covey writes about reactive and proactive language. That's what I want to focus on. Let's list the language used for both.

Reactive Language -- Proactive Language

I'll try -- I'll do it
That's just the way I am -- I can do better than that
There's nothing I can do -- Let's look at all our options
I have to -- I choose to
I can't -- There's gotta be a way
You ruined my day -- I'm not going to let your bad mood rub off on me

Covey says, "Listen to your language."

Kellibrew - This is so essential if we are going to conquer or complete our goals. I really like this book because it really teaches us about the basics to building and strengthening our self-esteem. I found two copies just sitting around in the house, probably from my nephew who got them as a gift. I decided to pick one up and read it and look what I am doing now, telling you about it. Wow. I love to pass along useful information.

Anyway, Covey also says, "It pays to be proactive"

I totally agree. He says that proactive poeple are a different breed. Covey and I think alike. Covey tells you how resilient proactive people are and I reiterate the importance with my opinion and brief anecdotes to help you connect.

Proactive people:

Covey -Are not easily offended
Kellibrew - We have to learn not to take things personally. Remember that saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me." That's true. What can someone really say that can truly hurt you. Yeah, at the beginning it hurts, but you will eventually loose that feeling and bounce back. You have to feel good about yourself -- who you are and then you will find it very easy to take criticism. Sometimes I tell the person that they hurt my feelings and that always gets a really nice reaction. Then they are apologetic, most of the time. But, even if they were not. No worries. I know who I am and most importantly, maybe they are right. So, that's something that I may be able to change. So, I thank them for pointing my faults out. I would rather stop the faults now than continue them in front of more people. That's the positive way of looking at it.

Covey-Take responsibility for their choices
Kellibrew - I am learning to do this more and more. I try to immediately say that I am responsible and that I am sorry for my behaviour if I know I was wrong. Sometimes it has to be pointed out to me, but I eventually come around. We have choices in life to make and we do nothing without a choice. Even when I was staring down the barrel of a gun, I had a choice. I chose to beg for my life. My mother decided to yell and my brother decided to say nothing before they died. I always look back on that horrible day and thank God for my decision to want to stay alive. Maybe that was the difference between life and death.

Covey-Think before they act
Kellibrew - How many times have we regretted things we have done. We look back, even if for one second and say to ourselves, "S&@^, I wish I hadn't done that." I know I have said that about my whole teenage and young adult life. There were some good things, but for the most part, I made some stupid and dumn decisions. When I think about where I am today, I am so happy that I changed my life and started to make great choices. For instance, at 15, I went with my friend "J" (named changed for privacy) to steal a car. It was my first time. I just wanted to be around the crowd and be accepted. Besides, I was tired of walking everywhere (chuckling). Anyway, we stole the car and later that night we were blocked in by police on three sides. We all jumped out. I ran in the same direction as J, but the driver, Mike, ran a different way. J and me got away, but unfortunately for Mike, he was caught. He did not give our names up and had to take the fall, but that taught me a huge lesson. I never did that again. I could have simply ruined my life at that point. Thinking before acting is not as simple as it is stated. There are tools to thinking. We will not go over them today, but remember that you have to arm yourself with information to help you think before you act. By the way, J will never see the outside of a prison again. He is serving life in prison and Mike, I believe is in a similar situation. Another one of our close friends is dead.

Covey-Bounce back when something bad happens
Kellibrew - Recently, as you know, Tiffany Gates, my God-sister was murdered -- stabbed to death in absolute cold blood and rage. Naturally, we were devastated. I, for one second, almost lost control. But, I said, what good what that do anyone. So, within two days, I held a teleconference with family and friends. I changed my status on Facebook, to "William is hurting right now due to the death of his sister." I got amazing responses immediately. People, friends, strangers reached out. It was a level of support that was totally missing from my childhood experience. I was determined to not let Tiffany's death define who I was at the time. I had to take everything I learned about leadership and resilience and turn it on. I bounced back. Now, I still hurt, but I am channeling my energy and helping to channel everyone elses energy I come in contact with.

Covey-Always find a way to make it happen
Kellibrew - I am not sure who said this first, but I use it. "There are three kinds of people in life. Those who watch what happens, those who make things happen and those who do not know what happened." Choose one. Sometimes one of these choose you. Well, if anything is going to happen the way that we want it to happen, we have to take control and find a way. You may not succeed, but you will at least know the outcome rather than wait on an outcome. Make things happen. You have the power. We have the power.

Covey-Focus on things they can do something about, and don't worry about things they can't change
Kellibrew - I always remember the passage, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Now, you may not believe in God, but as we discussed in an earlier post, there is another force on earth beside your own and that force is moving with or without you. So replace God with that force outside of yourself. The passage is self-explanatory. I really like the last part though. It takes discernment to capture the wisdom to know the difference between the things you can and cannot change.

Covey's book is a national bestseller and has sold over 2 million copies. If I were you, I would certainly pick it up. There are some basics or fundamentals to rebuilding your life. One of the basics is feeling good about you. I am feeling better and better about myself as every day passes. Yeah, sometimes I get down on myself, but I surround myself with people who remind me to keep my head up and stay strong. It gets difficult sometimes, but together, we can do it.

I wish you the best as you continue your journey through life.

Til next time.

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