When I do “Diversity Training” I always tell my “Kool Aid Story.” Now before I share the story with you, I have to tell you a little about myself, to make the story more impactful and insightful.
I was raised in Compton, California, when Compton was a predominantly Black neighborhood, a few Latinos, but mostly Black. I went to an all Black School, church and so on. The only interaction I had with any other ethnicity was a White aunt I had for a short time.
When the family traveled we traveled to other family members or friends homes, so the conversations, food and environment was mostly the same, no surprises. Fried chicken, macaroni, rice and cornbread was the norm at most houses, and yes the usually drink was Kool Aid, grape or red.
Fast forward twenty years, while living in Germany, I was sitting in my office and talking with a colleague who was sharing with me about her upcoming trip back home to Circleville, Ohio, for the Pumpkin Fair. The smile on her face could have lit-up a whole city, as she talked about pumpkin burgers, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pies and pumpkin donuts.
And “Mr. Moreland, you have to see the Miss Pumpkin Show.” As I looked at the excitement on her face, on the inside of me, I couldn’t help but think “White people do some strange things.” How could they be so excited over pumpkins? As far as I could remember, I only thought about pumpkins during Halloween, but here was a city that dedicated a whole week to pumpkins.
After all the talk about pumpkins, I made her promise to bring me back some pumpkin cookies. And I must admit they were very good. But what changed my perspective was what she said to me next. As serious and plain as she could be, she said but I really can’t wait to eat some of my grandfather’s food and drink some KOOL AID!!!
Hold up! Stop the presses, she couldn’t be talking about the little ten cent bags of Kool Aid that my family put a pound of sugar in, could she?. I said, “Wait a minute, you drink Kool Aid?” With a puzzled look on her face, she said “I sure do.”
I begin to quiz her on her Kool Aidology, what flavors mixed the best, how much sugar do you use, a long line of questions that she was able to pass.
That day in that office, I learned so much about us as humans. No matter what your skin complexion is, we have many different experiences, BUT we have a whole lot of common experiences as well. From that day forward, we were able to have meaningful and deeper conversations. She was able to ask me questions that she had been curious about, and I was able to do the same.
I have travelled the world, so for me the world has become a lot smaller, because I have learned that at our core we are very much the same. Want the same things, hope and desire the same outcomes. In every people group you have some wacko’s, but for the most part, we are very much the same.
Be willing to learn from others and you too will see that every one drinks KOOL AID…………………..
Thanks Kimberly, for teaching me, that every one drinks KOOL AID!!!
Think Better, Live Better
As I looked over my life, I have realized that I have always been in some type of leadership position or had a degree of influence. But having a position or influence doesn’t make you a good leader. Over the years I have tried to grow, develop and equip myself with the tools to become a good and even a great leader.
For almost two decades I have been studying leadership and applying what I have learned to my own leadership. I have had the great opportunity to lead in many capacities and in great organizations. Organizations like the United States Army, Department of Defense, University of Maryland University College, Living In Victory Alliance and International Gospel Church to name a few.
I have been fortunate to have others call me their mentor, leader, and team chief, and what I have learned over the years is that leadership is really about four essential things. Let’s look at these essentials.
The first essential I have learned is that great leaders LOVE people and love what they do. Leadership is about people and developing those people to become the best they can be. It’s not about the bottom line or seeing your vision or dream come to pass. Great leaders know that when they help their team succeed, they will succeed. The team will want you to succeed. Leaders that want to be great LOVE what they do, and what they DO is make others better.
Next essential leaders have is an ability to EQUIP others. I study and seek out the best principles and practices to SHARE with my team. I understand my development is my team’s asset. Equipping is empowering your team to be the best. A leader that wants to be the smartest in the group will never empower the team; they will attempt to keep team members in the dark.
The third essential is APPRECIATION. Great leaders will demonstrate appreciation for their team and the work the team does. Whether a person is an employee or volunteer, they should be appreciated. Many people think that because they are paying someone to do a job, or provide a service that the pay is thanks or appreciation enough. This is the wrong attitude to have. Look for opportunities to tell your team you appreciate their continued support of the company, team, project and your leadership.
Lastly, great leaders DEMONSTRATE what they expect from their team members. Whether it is respect, excellence, punctuality, going the extra mile or keeping the standard. When you demonstrate these traits, it is easier to get your team members to follow. Be first to DEMONSTRATE what you want to see.
Leaders that L.E.A.D, Love, Equip, Appreciate and Demonstrate!!!
Think Better, Live Better
The number one question I am always asked is “Will, how did you really change your life around.” Every time I run into old friends and colleagues, they can’t believe they are talking to the same Will Moreland.
Well, I’m not the same Will Moreland; I have enlarged, expanded and enhanced my horizon.
So how did I do it! I made a decision to THINK BETTER. I have fought some of the toughest dudes on the streets of California, played pop-warner football, high school football, and college football, been to Army Boot Camp and served on deployments in the Army. But making the decision and following through to THINK BETTER, has by far been the toughest challenge of my life. Period! But it is worth the pain, sacrifice and commitment.
Let me share with you my 10 Reasons Why I Want You To THINK BETTER………………..
1. More opportunities will be available to you
2. You will enjoy life a whole lot more
3. It will be hard for other people to distract you
4. People will be attracted to your positive out look
5. You will remain in control of your life
6. Problems will become success steps instead of stumbling stones
7. You can collaborate with more people for success
8. Success and successful ideas will be attracted to you
9. Never have a bad day again, different days, but no more bad days
10. You owe it to yourself to THINK BETTER
Dr. Will is an author, speaker and leadership consultant....