My Urban League Experience: The Good, Bad, and Ugly!

Originally published on July 25th, 2014.

When you are asked to speak to kids you can forget that just as much as you are there to teach them something they will, in turn, teach you something.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to 40+ kids that are involved in the Urban League summer enrichment program for high school kids in St. Petersburg, FL. To me, this was an exciting moment because I enjoy speaking with kids. Nothing helps me prepare more thoughtful presentations than knowing that my audience will be high school kids.

I was up late the night before, this time not watching YouTube videos, but preparing information for my talk. Of course I did a good job but this post is about the results of what I saw and my impression, so let’s get into it.

THE GOOD:

Mrs. P is a longtime friend of mine that leads the program in the classroom sessions. As I approached the open library area I didn’t hear any kids only her speaking with them about the importance of doing things the correct way. She was the ultimate momma bird. This was her flock and I could feel the love that she has for these students. When she spoke to me the other day about the kids I could tell she was proud of them but knew there was a lot of work to be done with each of them.

There was a good energy from the room. The kids flowed from place to place with as much respect as I have ever seen in high school kids.

As I went through my presentation there were many kids that were interested in the books that I had published. Multiple questions were asked in relation to the book and I wasn’t prepared with enough to disperse to the students.

There was a sense of hope with these students. As much as they hear the “Live your dreams” mantra, it seemed as these students believed that something good was going to happen in their lives. It was refreshing to be around that type of hope again.

I loved the opportunity to speak and I could have been there all day.

THE BAD:

If there is a good there has to be a bad. As I watched Mrs. P. work, teach, and love these students I wondered about the loss of momentum once the program was over. To me, it seems as if these kids need a Mrs. P., for longer than 6 weeks. Mrs. P., is good for them but her time is limited so her momentum with these students will be broken in a few short weeks.  I believe they will remember her teachings but we all need additional support to achieve great things in life.

I wondered if there was a follow-up program or session so that these students could see a familiar face when life got tough. The bad news was that those young kids wouldn’t have a lot of time with Mrs. P., but they need more time. Change happens with a consistent message. I believe that there is great message that will end in a few weeks and that is a bad thing.

THE UGLY:

Just as I was ready to leave one of Florida’s famous thunderstorms rolled through and I was forced to sit in the back of the room for a bit. This was one ugly storm on the radar so I decided to work on some emails.

While I was in the back Mrs. P. and Mr. Faulkner spoke from the heart to these kids. Mrs. P. led with Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Women, a poem that has reminded her on how to carry herself.  Her voice, took me back to our church days when she would have a lead role in our plays. The power in Mrs. P’s voice had the room in silence.

She shared deep parts of her life and her path. She shared how she weathered terrible storms but was proud to say she was still standing. I was happy to see her still standing and doing wonderful things for her community.

I was hit with the thought that such an ugly storm caused me to witness such a powerful teaching lesson that I would have missed. I don’t always know what being blessed is but that moment helped me to understand what it may feel like.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS

  • Someone else’s hell is always hotter than yours.
  • Storms yield great results if you let them.
  • This Urban League program is powerful because of this team.
  • These kids have hope in a great future.
  • I miss being teaching and working with kids.
  • They actually wanted my book.
  • We need more Mrs. P’s.
  • I have to find a way to do more talks.
  • Our community is our responsibility.

Thank you Mr. P. and the Urban League kids for having me in to share my story and teaching me more than I ever expected to learn that day.

Follow Pierce Brunson on Twitter, IG and Google+.

Pierce Brunson http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00I10A3XK , M.Ed., is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, and spends his time working as a mentor and speaker while developing businesses that help improve the high school experience for students and teachers. He has over a decade of experience teaching in the public school system as a high school Social Studies teacher, majoring in World History and Sociology. Pierce believes everyone can do more to help improve the education system in their local communities, which is part of the backbone of any society. Pierce’s advice is simple: stop complaining and do something to help improve the situation. Good people have to stop being afraid to fight for what they believe in. Get in the game, help others, share culture and move the world toward equality and justice. Connect with Pierce at http://www.piercebrunson.com, http://www.fireflyeventphotography.com, and http://www.piercebrunsonphotography.com.

My Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/truthisnear17/videos

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Get Stuff Done

Chapter 17: Get Stuff Done

I never mind working, but even work has to be directed with purpose. As I sit and write this book, the rest of my family is resting. Granted, I get my rest in, but as much as I want to rest, I also know the importance of getting this book published. No matter how much I dream, I have to sit and get it done. There are times where I wish I could just talk it into existence, but that isn’t going to work for me. At some point, I would have to take the time and write the words. You can’t just hit the keyboard of your computer and expect to have a book written. Again, you have to focus, and type the right words. You have to know where you are going with the words. You have to physically get it done.

One thing that hampers students is perfection, or trying to be too perfect. Giving your best effort means that you are willing to give something extra that will help you achieve a goal. Many times, students will get caught up in trying to be exactly perfect that it stops them from acting in general. No one is good at doing things last minute, but funny how the night before an assignment is due you can make miracles happen. We have all been there, and waited until the last minute to do something. Think of all the things you do when you have to. Think of how you turn off your phone, computer, and other distractions to complete an assignment. You don’t work better under this pressure because it is just a false sense of hope. This pressure is helping you get focused. That last minute push to complete something is because you know and understand the consequences. You don’t like to fail, or look stupid, so you really push. This is what you need to be doing on a regular basis. Working ahead may not be your thing, so you will always need that push of the possibility of unwanted failure at your back. Not the best approach, so I suggest you just adopt the action of “getting things done.” Let’s go so far as to say “getting the right things done.”

Getting the right things done also means doing what will get you to your goal as fast as possible. While writing this book, I thought of the many schools and people I could send info to about it. I had to sit down and make a list of all the places and people I wanted to share my book with. Now, I could have just thought about and waited until the book was published, but I, too, will procrastinate, so I started telling people that my book would be out by a certain date and to look for it. Now, that is pressure because it takes time to publish a book, so the writing has to be done way beforehand. This date has forced me to get things done and focus on getting the right things done.

So from here on out…Get Stuff Done! Just do it and follow up. Don’t leave your energy in the hands of things that are taking away more than they are returning. Now, that doesn’t mean destroy all video games, and read books, but it means know how and what you need to do effects your day, year, and future. There was a time where I spend hours at a time playing video games and watching sports. Now, I really limit those activities so that I can produce these books for students. Call it sacrifice, or just call it what it is, getting shit done.

Need a process? Ask yourself these questions.

  1. What do I need to do today so that I accomplish my important goal for the week? Month? Year?
  2. If I did the really important stuff for two hours, how much time would I have to do the really unimportant stuff?
  3. If I don’t know what I want to do yet, is it really that important that I have a set of skills ready for when opportunity knocks?

Here are the questions that are on my phone that I use to check myself when times are really tough.

  1. If you quit and go back to where you were, will you get to where you want to go?
  2. If you quit, what you are doing now and move to something else will the process to success be any easier?
  3. Which is the better: action right now, quitting, or making a pivot?
  4. What pivot will move you closer to your goal?
  5. What action will move you closer to a sale or personal connection?
  6. When you accomplish a huge task and hit your “sweet spot”, will you see that all of this mess was worth all the effort?

This is a part of a chapter from my book Learning Curve: How to Prepare For Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going by Pierce Brunson. Every Monday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks I will share parts of the book starting today 3/17/2014.  The next shares will come from my new book Rock The Crowd (Wednesday/ Friday Schedule starting 4/21/2014), a book that helps teachers give the best performances of their life as they teach their students.

Learning Curve: How To Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going is dedicated to helping the high school student that desires success in life but doesn’t know exactly what they want to do or how to do it.  During this confusing and stressful time most students just pick a college major or get a job and just hope things work out. Well, that strategy is terrible!  The best strategy includes learning and adding the characteristics in this book to one’s personality so that as the right opportunities come along the student can take hold of them.  Learning Curve is the jumpstart information that helps teens prevent a lifetime of wishing, “if only someone would have told me”, once valuable opportunities have gone away.

Direct Link: https://www.createspace.com/4626501

Follow this blog to enjoy more samples from the book.

No Magic Wand in the Learning Curve

Chapter 16: There Is No Magic Wand

I really wish that this was a book that gave you a magic wand or silver bullet to your dreams. But it isn’t. Because your journey involves a lot of not knowing, and possibly creating something from nothing, there is no guarantee that you will reach your goals. The only thing you can do is to get these skills in your hand, make a plan, and go for it. That is really all anyone else has. Yes, colleges are set up for people that know “doctor” and they get to take these classes or those, but there is still the risk that they may not make it to that final destination. My approach is for those of us who didn’t fit nicely into a mold of doctor, lawyer, or teacher, but know that our place is out there. 

I wish I could say it will be easy, but it won’t be. I wish I could say that everyone will love your idea, buy it, and you will never see a broke day again. I hope that everyone that reads this book takes the chance on his or her soul’s calling for something great so far in the distant future. But these things may or may not happen. At the writing of this book, I am still in the process of accepting who I get to be every day.  Just because you figure it out doesn’t mean all is good; you now have to put in the work to get there and stay there.

Mind you, this is work. Going for it requires you become something greater than your problems or current situation. It requires that you deflect all the negative talk, and walk with your head held high in public, even if you cry in private. It requires that you fight the good fight, and accept when you have to pivot. It also requires that you go easy on yourself when you don’t get out of bed one day because you feel all is lost. It then requires you to seek the help needed so you can continue your journey to your place in life, even if you finally meet it at age 50.

Because this is hard work, I am going to share with you the list of questions and statement I have asked myself. These are the questions that pop in my head when things don’t seem to be going my way.

  1. Am I ever going to make any real impact on people
  2. Am I being stupid with this goal?
  3. Is this really what I want to do?
  4. Why is it so hard to make a sale?
  5. Why do people know understand that I am trying to help them?
  6. How am I going to pay my rent this month?
  7. How am I going to pay for that?
  8. Are we going to make it?
  9. They (successful people) never go through this type of trouble.
  10. They did it because they are rich.
  11. If I only had the right people.
  12. I am too tired to go on.
  13. I give up!
  14. Maybe really helping kids isn’t what I am supposed to do.
  15. Maybe I will be happier if I go back.
  16. No I really did try!
  17. They make it look so easy.
  18. They (successful people) never have to stay up late at night.

Hopefully you get my point. If not, take this list with you and just start to see how many things you say, as your road to success gets bumpy.

As I continue to find out through daily experiences, there is no shortcut to success. It is a journey, and we really have to be dedicated to accomplishing what we believe is important.

As a final note, and probably the most important: NOTHING IS GUARANTEED. That may be the best advantage you have knowing that everything you do, you may fail because it means that you also have just as good of a chance of succeeding. This isn’t about giving something your best effort. This book is about you seeking your best life by taking a huge risk to grow toward the life you desire. Knowing that nothing is guaranteed should help you to see that you have to put in effort, and stay focused, or you could lose all of your momentum.

So what can I say about work? Well I will say this. If you aren’t working, someone else is and getting ready to do what you could be doing. There are plenty of mountains for all of our dreams to exist.  You just have to be specific with what you want. No sense in taking the life someone is willing to give you because it may not be the life you want. Go out and take the life you desire. This life you seek will make you happy to do the hard work, you won’t be so bothered by the long hours, you won’t miss some of the events that will be a schedule conflict, and you will say it is worth it.

 

This is a part of a chapter from my book Learning Curve: How to Prepare For Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going by Pierce Brunson. Every Monday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks I will share parts of the book starting today 3/17/2014.  The next shares will come from my new book Rock The Crowd (Wednesday/ Friday Schedule starting 4/21/2014), a book that helps teachers give the best performances of their life as they teach their students.

Learning Curve: How To Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going is dedicated to helping the high school student that desires success in life but doesn’t know exactly what they want to do or how to do it.  During this confusing and stressful time most students just pick a college major or get a job and just hope things work out. Well, that strategy is terrible!  The best strategy includes learning and adding the characteristics in this book to one’s personality so that as the right opportunities come along the student can take hold of them.  Learning Curve is the jumpstart information that helps teens prevent a lifetime of wishing, “if only someone would have told me”, once valuable opportunities have gone away.

Direct Link: https://www.createspace.com/4626501

Follow this blog to enjoy more samples from the book.

The Learning Curve of Expecting Greatness

Chapter 14: Expect Greatness

I know it is easy to expect good things when everything is going well.  It is easy to see your success when you are making great grades and such. But what happens when those things don’t lift the fog and you are still wondering if you are on the right path? What happens when you are doing all the right things, and your brain just isn’t producing any new thoughts? What happens when you have taken time off, worked the list, and so on? This is where you just have to have faith that you are on to something and your time will come. You have to expect greatness. I firmly believe this is the only way to live. By expecting greatness, you have a tendency to push really hard in that direction. Why get started on this path if you are going to be just another average person? Expect greatness as it relates to your goals and dreams. It is easy to get caught up in the person that has the yacht and nine-bedroom house. Don’t measure yourself against that guy unless you really want to put in that kind of effort. Everyone is built in different ways. Here is a list of reasons why you should expect and reach for greatness.

  1. Average sucks, no one writes about the average team, person, or accomplishment.
  2. You have a gift that will help humanity.
  3. You should become more than you though you ever could.
  4. You will inspire others by telling your story to them.

Honestly, I don’t know anyone with an average life that really likes it.  Everyone is trying to do something better, whether it be dropping a few pounds, or running a half marathon, no one wants that average life. I believe that it goes against the natural process of human beings.  Think of all the things we do and how we constantly look to improve upon the average of those things. Look at all the companies that spark a new trend by taking the average and making them extraordinary. Starbucks took an average cup of coffee and made it so much better that even non-coffee drinkers, like myself, have had coffee there. That is what taking average and making it better can do. With my business, Firefly, we take the average homecoming, prom, and graduation photo and make it fun, amazing, and memorable.

Now this is where it gets tricky; to each their own. Someone may look at my life as boring because my passion falls in a certain field. It doesn’t matter what the next person says, it matters what you are saying about your life. If you think it is average, then it probably is and this may irk you on your road to success. You also may know that your life isn’t average, but aren’t willing to jump out of an airplane to experience skydiving. Always remember, you are the only person that knows if you are living that average life. You can lie to others, but you can’t lie to yourself. Admittedly, my average life was in the classroom because there was this push in my heart to do more. If you have that push, and you now ignore it, then you are living that average life. I really feel that if I didn’t take the chance and leave the classroom, I wouldn’t be writing this book that you are reading. I think my life now is above average, and I get to challenge myself to do the things I really desire. Now, writers like Stephen King may look at my writings and say, “rookie” because he has written so much. That is ok. The key is that I am working on my above average life according to what is important to me.

I really believe that this book and the series that is planned will help students all over the world. I could never do that from my classroom.  No matter how much time on the Internet, I wouldn’t have been able to put into words what I feel is important without taking a step outside.  With that risk, came the understanding that my words and passion that I used in the classroom for years now gets to be out all over the world. My focus going into teaching was to help as many students as I could. Now, with technology, that isn’t just limited to the classroom, but now I can develop a worldwide audience with my writings. My gift is helping and teaching.  Probably helping more than anything else, but I know now I am giving back to humanity in the way I feel is very important to me, and that gives me all the energy I need to write each word and get this book completed on time.

This is a part of a chapter from my book Learning Curve: How to Prepare For Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going by Pierce Brunson. Every Monday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks I will share parts of the book starting today 3/17/2014.  The next shares will come from my new book Rock The Crowd (Wednesday/ Friday Schedule starting 4/21/2014), a book that helps teachers give the best performances of their life as they teach their students.

Learning Curve: How To Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going is dedicated to helping the high school student that desires success in life but doesn’t know exactly what they want to do or how to do it.  During this confusing and stressful time most students just pick a college major or get a job and just hope things work out. Well, that strategy is terrible!  The best strategy includes learning and adding the characteristics in this book to one’s personality so that as the right opportunities come along the student can take hold of them.  Learning Curve is the jumpstart information that helps teens prevent a lifetime of wishing, “if only someone would have told me”, once valuable opportunities have gone away.

Direct Link: https://www.createspace.com/4626501

Follow this blog to enjoy more samples from the book.

The Learning Curve of Planning

Section III: What’s Your Plan

Your greatness can’t be achieved if you don’t have a plan. A plan can be very detailed, or it can be a general list of actions where the details get filled in as you gain more experience and knowledge. Not having a plan can help you waste valuable time and resources, like money. By having as detailed a plan as possible, you will be able to save yourself time, money, and other resources that come from being unprepared.

So how do you start to make a plan? Well, I think starting a plan is like traveling. You know where you want to go, but how do you get there?  For example, if you wanted to travel from Philadelphia to Miami for a summer trip, you could just hop in the car and follow Interstate 95 South until you got there. That would be a very general plan. I equate that to a person saying they want to be successful in life. I get it, yes success is good, but there is always more detail needed. A few questions that get asked are…

  • What do you want to be successful doing?
  • What do you call success?
  • How are you going to get there?
  • What resources are you going to use to make this happen?
  • What do you need to make it happen?

Just like your road trip, your life has more to it than “I want to be successful.” That has many different meanings for everyone.

Back to the trip from Philadelphia to Miami; what would be some of the questions we would need to know to make our trip happen? Here are a few I came up with.

  • Is this vacation or business?
  • How long do I have to travel?
  • How fast do I need to get there?
  • Am I driving or flying (or taking a train)?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What time of the year am I traveling?

These questions help us to decide how to approach the trip. If we want to go on vacation, and we had only five days, the last thing we would want to do is spend two days driving that long distance. The more we want something, the more the variables change.

This is a part of a chapter from my book Learning Curve: How to Prepare For Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going by Pierce Brunson. Every Monday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks I will share parts of the book starting today 3/17/2014.  The next shares will come from my new book Rock The Crowd (Wednesday/ Friday Schedule starting 4/21/2014), a book that helps teachers give the best performances of their life as they teach their students.

Learning Curve: How To Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going is dedicated to helping the high school student that desires success in life but doesn’t know exactly what they want to do or how to do it.  During this confusing and stressful time most students just pick a college major or get a job and just hope things work out. Well, that strategy is terrible!  The best strategy includes learning and adding the characteristics in this book to one’s personality so that as the right opportunities come along the student can take hold of them.  Learning Curve is the jumpstart information that helps teens prevent a lifetime of wishing, “if only someone would have told me”, once valuable opportunities have gone away.

Direct Link: https://www.createspace.com/4626501

Follow this blog to enjoy more samples from the book.

Pivot Toward Success

Chapter 8: Learn to Pivot

Learning to pivot on your road to success doesn’t mean you give up on your goals, or an intended outcome; it means that you may have to slightly adjust your direction in order to get to your final destination. If we take a look at all the things we have in life, there is constant pivoting to get a desired result. If your current course of action isn’t delivering the desired results, you don’t have to make a drastic course change, you may just need to pivot or tweak a few things.

I am writing this book as a pivot on my planned course of success. I didn’t personally plan on writing a book this early, but I met a publisher, Tara Richter, and she had this amazing process for getting a book published for very little cost by using today’s technology. If my plan to write a book was 18 months down the road, but Tara is here to help me accomplish it now, I would be a fool not to take some extra time out of my day and get it done. I already have on my plan that I want to write a series of books to help high school students and teachers. My main goal and focus in life is to make the high school experience more valuable, rewarding, and memorable for students and teachers through quality product and service development. After a long thought process, I know that I can now make a pivot and accomplish my goals way earlier than intended.

I define a pivot this way: a pivot is an action against the actions that aren’t currently working, that has to take place immediately so that you can continue to move in the best direction to reach the desired destination. A pivot makes things better not worse. A pivot may cause you to give up some extra personal play or rest time.

This is a part of a chapter from my book Learning Curve: How to Prepare For Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going by Pierce Brunson. Every Monday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks I will share parts of the book starting today 3/17/2014.  The next shares will come from my new book Rock The Crowd (Wednesday/ Friday Schedule starting 4/21/2014), a book that helps teachers give the best performances of their life as they teach their students.

Learning Curve: How To Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going is dedicated to helping the high school student that desires success in life but doesn’t know exactly what they want to do or how to do it.  During this confusing and stressful time most students just pick a college major or get a job and just hope things work out. Well, that strategy is terrible!  The best strategy includes learning and adding the characteristics in this book to one’s personality so that as the right opportunities come along the student can take hold of them.  Learning Curve is the jumpstart information that helps teens prevent a lifetime of wishing, “if only someone would have told me”, once valuable opportunities have gone away.

Direct Link: https://www.createspace.com/4626501

Follow this blog to enjoy more samples from the book.

All Things Great at Book Launch

When I wrote and published my first book the feeling was awesome. It was such a good feeling what within 6 weeks I had published my second book. The publishing of a book is such a daunting task and it challenges the soul deliver something permanent to the world that people can love or hate. Publishing a book of your words and thoughts can be frightening. Just as many people that say to me they want to write a book have been the same amount of people that are too afraid to do it. Everyone has fears about writing and publishing a book but mine were put to rest by Tara Richter (www.richterpublishing.com) and her system for publishing aspiring writers in 4 weeks.

Here is a review of the event: http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/blog/morning-edition/2014/04/business-owners-to-book-authors-in-four-weeks.html

My results were typical of anyone that works with her. By the end of the writing seminar my book was ready to be shipped to me. I must admit that her process is faster than 4 weeks. I only took 5 seminar days to have my book ready for print and ship. From that completion date it took 8 days to get my books in hand. That was a great day for me.

My Books:
Author: Rock The Crowd: How The Cool Teachers Inspire More Students, Earn More Respect, and Become Lifelong Mentors. https://www.createspace.com/4703109

Author: Learning Curve, How to Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going
https://www.createspace.com/4626501

Learning Curve Video: http://youtu.be/9xp-ikkQ1TU

Meeting Tara and learning this system has dramatically changed my life for the better. She has taught me a system that inspires me to continue to write books for the audience I desire to reach. I am focused on delivering a total of 5 books by April 2015 for my high school audience. I enjoy working with Tara on book projects because she knows how to get your words into print. Tara Richter is just awesome to work with. I am glad I took her seminar.

Pierce