Monday, April 30, 2012

Why Should I Listen to You?

I am in the process of preparing my speech for the Jacksonville Business Journal Diversity Awards.  As I do, I have been busy interviewing and researching for my topic: Innovation Inspired by Diversity.

One of my research methods is interviewing the people around me about my topic. I seek various perspectives and see what I am missing. I ask a few questions and get ideas from the brilliant people God has put in my life. It is fun and enjoyable way for my pals to add into my work in a way that is fun and engaging. I often quote them and cite their brilliance from the podium.

So the other day, I am with a friend who is recently been through a horrible divorce.She is feel down and in this zone of fear and healing. We were having breakfast and sharing our lives. I spoke to her about my process and hoped it would help her see her way through. Eventually she asked me what I am working on, so I shared this topic of diversity and innovation. 

She asked me the purpose of the speech. I said, I wanted people to comprehend that exploring other perspectives on a situation is good and healthy. That we as a community have so many resources and that when we bring people together, we must have a respect for all view points even though we might not understand them. We talked about it and laughed and cried and enjoyed creating some ideas together.

Suddenly she blurted out, a big thought. She asked my why I felt I had what it took to speak in front of a few hundred people. She simply asked, "Why would they listen to you?" As I took in her question, I realized she was the person feeling like no one listens to her. I told her why, and she smiled. She told me how proud she was of me and how she hoped one day she would be capable of doing similar work. I know she will heal and i know that as I help her see how I find mine, she will find hers. That is how the divine works! It is called living in the world of diversity.

What I was struck by is her fear and her ability to find her voice within the fray. I have to be honest, I started crying, with joy as we spoke. As I listened to her ideas, she found her voice that morning. She found a way to express her wisdom, her perspectives in a way that honored her and her journey. WOW, what a blessing this speech prep has been for not only me, but the people around me.

I felt so grateful that I have the chance to find my voice in a way that will help my community. I know that the work I do helps others find theirs. So as I jump back into the work of getting ready for the event tomorrow, I shall bring everyone's journey with me to fuel and focus the pile of to dos. 

Looking forward till tomorrow...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Innovation Inspired By Diversity

We are grateful to be a part of this years Jacksonville Business Journal Diversity Awards - May 1. Not only do we get to honor some of the thought leaders in our city, we get to share about one of our favorite topics. 

Diversity, is at the core of many of the Pillars of Character. As we take a look at diversity, we will be sharing how this way of thinking may inspire innovation, if wielded in the right way. We will discover how to look at things in new perspectives as well as experience what it feels like to hold a perspective that is not understood or popular.

In working with the team at JBJ, we have had the chance to witness an openness to innovation. We proposed a pretty out of the box approach to the event and were encouraged to go with it. It was a great thing to actually work with a team that is willing to trust creativity and explore alternatives. 

When we are willing to actually take a look at the many perspectives in the room, the situation, the community...we are able to potentially see opportunities for deeper exploration for solutions, innovations and most importantly relationships.

Truly the JBJ, is walking their talk and bringing diversity to all that it does. Kudos to the team!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Conscious Threads is Coming to Life!!

Our newest installment here is about the excitement of planning for our new home. 

We have been given a donation that will allow for 2 years of rent for a warehouse space to open our doors. Much to do and plan for. We are actively seeking support and am working with many designers to create a space that will allow or healing and creativity.

Last week I had a chance to visit a world renowned program that supports ex-felons and addicts. Delancy Street, is a model that we have been studying and could potentially replicate at some time in the future. It is a live in situation and has a social enterprises that fund much of the costs of the program.

As the vision evolves, we are working diligently to  create a financial model that will sustain us and create a long term vision. We have hired our first man part time to help with the financials and business plan. His insights have been invaluable as we move forward.

Each and every day I work on this, I become more clear about how much it is needed! The mission to create jobs for ex-felons has taught me so much about the true meaning of the 6 Pillars of Character. As we bring this enterprise to life with the 6 Pillars as the core, I know that it will begin to show tangibly the power of living a character based life.

Quite exciting times for Character Counts! in Jacksonville.  We are in the process of creating a social enterprise. I will be sharing the journey to creating the business and praying the right resources come out to support it's success.

You might ask, "What is a social enterprise?" A social enterprise is an organization that applies business strategies to achieving philanthropic goals. Our social enterprises is structured
as a non-profit, with all profits going to educate and empower our employees, which are ex-felons.

Why A Clothing Company?
Conscious Threads is social enterprise that seeks to educate on the issues ex-felons
face as they re-enter society after serving time. We use ugly t-shirts to create fun, smart new ones. Like the t-shirts, many of us have things in our past that are not pretty. Like these shirts, their lives are not disposable. With creativity, love & determination all can be made anew.

I will be writing about the creation of the brand, the business case, the team...etc. I hope you will engage with me...

As we move forward, I will be sharing the journey with you, in hopes of:
• Creating support for the enterprise
  • Time
  • Talent
  • Resources...AKA Dinero, Cash, Moola!! | Real Estate | Donate a Sewing Machine or Laser Printer | Donate/Subsidize Warehouse Space | Creative S
  • Run a t-shirt/tie/scarf drive at your church, business group, company, etc
• Reveal the dynamic process of creating such a vision, knowing that as I share, I will gain insights and maybe you will too!

• Share the real life ins and outs of social enterprise development. 

And of course...fuel the mission of Character Counts!!

Spread The Word

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What is Accountability?

One definition of ACCOUNTABILITY: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. 

The willingness to take responsibility stems from our ability to see "our" part of a commitment and have full understanding of the elements of a situation and the dependencies. 

While researching this rich topic, I sought the usual sources of information, yet what i found myself desiring is a more REAL world view of this idea. I asked others to comment on a Facebook post about this topic. I got a full range of views on the topic. Some simple and concise and others rich and complex. Today, I will share a handful and add more this week as they come in.

The perspective that come up consistently was simply stated by Tina Warren "For me, it is "say what you'll do...and do what you say." to an extent, it is answering to someone or something outside of yourself for your choices and actions." The element of answering outside yourself is an intriguing one. A person, a process, a entity? Many are possible if we are willing to open ourselves to that. 

Many also mentioned their spiritual paths in regard to answering to God and being inspired by their faith to DO for others.  Hans E. Huntsinger beautifully states, "Keep our head in the clouds with Him who presides over us. But keep our feet firmly planted here on earth where WORK for our fellow man must take place..."

The richness of the faith filled ideas flowed, Kelli De Moro eloquently added, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Christ said this and made it very clear that the person you pass by a person without shelter, clothing, or someone is despair.. you are essentially passing him over. I try to make it a point in my life everyday to reach out to the "invisible" in our culture in small ways and sometimes not so small. That is my love for God and of course transcends into love for my brothers and sisters. ♥"
Another view that came up repeatedly is the willingness to put others first. That we are to understand that serving others is critical component.  "It's putting selfishness aside and living up to your responsibilities." as Michael O'Connell states. What a powerful view. 

 Halimeh Barrie added "...Of course it all depends on our character, and our desire to do right things, and maybe just appreciating that we have a responsibility to our fellow man to cover their backs and make sure they succeed at their mission, because we said we would, because we are accountable.

Jeffrey Spear added, "It's about doing the right thing. Treating others as you would prefer others treat you. It's also about being true to your word. If you say you're going to do something. Do it as promised... or even better. I love it when others exceed expectations and try to do the same for them." Love this idea of exceeding expectations. That is a rare view these days, when just getting by seems the norm. 

A colleague decided to take a holistic view and blended the intellect with faith in his post.
Ronald Tomas "The Wikepedia definition includes references "to improve both the internal standard of individual and group conduct as well as external factors, such as sustainable economic and ecologic strategies." Responsibility to one's self and society, in general. Matthew 5:13-16 states'"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses it flavor, how shall it be seasoned? it is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Not do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand , and it gives light to all who in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Accountability=shine your light so that you change your world!" 

Ron's approach helped me to better understand out ongoing desire to use both our heads and our hearts. wonderful and expansive.

I will be adding more to this post in the coming days. Stay tuned.