When it became official that the Electoral College had voted for Donald Trump my stomach dropped. And it's been dropping every day since. Unfortunately, no amount of protest has changed that. But during times like this, it’s the voices of the great leaders who have come before us that speak the loudest. In this case, Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermon, ‘The Drum Major Instinct’ speaks like a light in a dark tunnel.
It took place at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, 1968. Dr. King began telling a story from the book of St. Mark about James and John and how they asked Jesus if they could sit next to him on the throne. They wanted to be where Jesus was. The other disciples got mad. What had they done to deserve this? Jesus, on the other hand, had a different response.
Dr. King went on to talk about the character trait that would prompt James and John to ask that question of Jesus in the first place. He calls it ‘The Drum Major Instinct,’ and says it’s that innate desire that we all have to lead the parade or be first. Philosophers say it’s the most dominant human impulse. When the instinct goes unharnessed we will put others down so we can be on top.
Dr. King tells a story of being locked up in a Birmingham jail, talking to police officers about race, when the subject of money came up. When the officers revealed how much they were earning Dr. King laughed:
"You ought to be marching with us. You're just as poor as Negroes. You have been put in the position of supporting your oppressors, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people too. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big, when you are so poor you can hardly send your children to school.”
Little has changed. Poor whites think it’s the black and brown population taking away jobs and security when it’s really the one percent. Dr. King also warns of what could happen if China, the U.S. and Russia had a standoff. We’d all go within seconds. Even less has changed. Dr. King goes back to Jesus, James and John.
Jesus tells James and John that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to sit next to him on the throne, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be first. “But you must earn it,” Jesus says. “True greatness comes not by favoritism, but by fitness." He told them to be first in love, moral excellence, generosity and service. Dr. King finishes with...
If I can help somebody as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,
If I can show somebody he\'s traveling wrong,
Then my living will not be in vain.
If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,
If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought,
If I can spread the message as the master taught,
Then my living will not be in vain.
And I’m encouraged because we’ve been here before, and together we won.
Do you draw inspiration from any of Dr. Martin Luther King's teachings?
Friday is finally here. I have a new tradition where I plan out my weekend on Friday. For the past couple months, I've dedicated a portion of the weekend towards improving my environment. This mainly consists of decluttering and organizing.
It's an annual process that began years ago. It's a method I utilize to prepare my life for the new year that awaits. The goal is to create a "new" environment to attract new experiences in my life. Little did I know that what I was doing was having a real impact on my brain power. It started when I decided to that corporate America was no longer for me. I devised a plan to work all year long and request two weeks off at the end of the year. But instead of traveling off to some foreign land, I stayed home and did the following:
This routine wasn't perfect but it was ultra-powerful. The process ALWAYS began with a focus on improving my environment. I found that if my environment was right, a burst of motivation followed. It was a similar experience to Eddie from Limitless. When he took his brain enhancing pill, the first thing noticed was his chaotic environment. The moment his space was cleared and organized, all of the sudden he had the motivation to finally grind out that book he had been putting off.
Cleaning & organizing my space was good, but I also felt the need to also elevate it. For me, this meant purchasing high-quality candles and decor that stimulated my soul and made me feel good. I couldn't explain it, but when my house was on point, something was also happening to me internally.
I can recall a few times when someone has stepped into my home, paused, and proclaimed, "wow, you have a nice house." What they're commenting on is probably my decor. It's nothing special, just a few notable pieces that add to the feel of the home. That's what I strive to achieve...an environment that stimulates at deeper level. There's a reason why wealthy people invest so much into their dwelling. They utilize their living space to nurture their abundance mindset and lifestyle.
This morning, I discovered that by enriching my home environment, I could have been stimulating the growth of additional neurons in my brain.
There's evidence that "enriching the environments" of rats increases neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is simply the generation (growth) of neurons in the brain. When they enriched the environment of the mice (by adding running wheels, colored tunnels, other mice) neurons grew and had a greater survival rate! Growing neurons is healthy for our brain but they don't always have longevity. Especially if we don't actively use certain parts of our brain.
Keep in mind that once we've something new, the subconscious kicks it to turn it into a mindless behavior. That's how we carry out most of our day. We drive to/from work and complete our required tasks based on old information stored in the brain. Operating on autopilot necessary, to some extent, but it inhibits the growth of new neurons.
If we can leverage the power of our environment to help promote a healthier mind, we must do it!
Those of you working to create new outcomes for your life, consider leveraging the power of being in an "enriched environment." Maybe that means that you dedicate time to improve your home decor. Or perhaps, you work from places that make you feel good. Just like the mice experiment, enriching your environment also includes the people you surround yourself with.
I remember working out of specific coffee shops because I would be surrounded by real entrepreneurs as they discussed business strategies. Often times, I pretended to be working but was really listening to their brainstorming conversation as inspiration. That was enough to stimulate my brain into action!
There a bunch of other ways to stimulate the growth our brains and we should experiment with all variations. But, if we must begin somewhere, start with where you spend most of your time. Enrich it in the way you see fit. Never stop elevating your environment.
One of my favorite topics to write about are the Monday Motivational posts. Early on, I wrote them for personal inspiration but eventually, some of you shared feedback that Monday posts were becoming your favorite. I was really excited to learn that many of you are motivated, self-driven individuals focused on creating your own destiny.
This past week, I received a direct message via my Instagram that immediately caught my attention. It was from a reader who stumbled on the blog and began reading through the past content. She came across one post in particular that instantly resonated with her.
Nikki, filled with inspiration after reading the Monday Motivation post, decided (that day) to listen to the Slight Edge audio book. Since then, nothing has ever been the same. The concepts in the book caused her to look at life a bit differently. "Every day I started doing something. Whether working out, researching for my future business, journaling or reading 10 pages of a book a day."
No matter what, Nikki made sure she did something every day to get her one step closer to her goals. This all started at the beginning of the year. Eleven months later, Nikki has a thriving business. Although she maintains a full-time career, her passion is in the beauty industry. Her day pays well but it's a far cry from what she's passionate about.
Her business became a creative outlet that grew organically. After receiving microbladding treatment, Nikki wondered if she can learn how to do it herself to save a little money. Soon she was hooking up her friends and family. Word of her work spread and before she knew it, Nikki rented out a shared space to take on her growing list of clients. Months later, circumstances changed which required her to step out of her comfort zone and purchase her own Brow Studio.
This is a big leap but Nikki is confident in what the future holds. I asked her to explain how she remains so confident, Nikki explained that after praying about it, she reflects on her past successes, says "screw it" and moves forward (FYI, bothNikki and Richard Branson share the same philosophy when it comes to taking calculated risk).
Stepping up her business location was "motivation to make sure she builds her clientele." That's when I shared my prediction that the simple act of expanding beyond her comfort zone would likely take her business to the next level. Sometimes we conform our actions according to our environment. Renting a space from someone else requires a different mindset than investing in your own location.
Nikki's business is flourishing and now she's reflecting on what the future holds. Soon she'll have to determine if and when to transition to pursuing her passion full time. In the meantime, Nikki continues to apply Slight Edge principles daily to her life and business.
Our conversation reminded me of how easy it is to build an empire simply by taking consistent daily action. Every time she said "I did something every single day," it took me back to my early days. Back when I worked endless hours and longed to experience my freedom. Time was scarce so I took a bunch of little actions. Those actions added up and compounded into a profitable business. Every year, around this time, I revisit the Compound Effect as a reminder that my small actions are critical and will create my ideal future. This helps me to get a head start on the year ahead.
Go read/listen to this book if you haven't done so. The Compound Effect and the Slight Edge are similar in content so check them both out.
Since Nikki is such a master at the art of creating the perfect brow, I asked if she would be willing to guest post and educate us on the microbladding technique. As you can see from her selfie above, a beautiful brow has the power to transform the face. Can't wait to learn more so I can step my brow game up.
Shiona is one of my favorite people on social media. She's a Creative Consultant and Freelance Fashion Editor who has extensive experience working with major publications such is Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, and W Magazine. Her Instagram feed is loaded with style inspiration along with snippets of her travel journal. Because of her background in creating fashion editorials for major brands, one would expect no less from Shiona than stunning images of her many adventures.
Oh, and you might see Solange Knowles pop up from time to time. They seem to be really close friends. I've even seen Solange make a cameo appearance on Shiona's snaps.
Although Shiona lives in the world of high fashion, her looks are really wearable. Her feed is non-stop style inspiration and I can't get enough of it. I visited Shiona's website and it seems as if she may be launching a blog in the future. Make sure to follow her social media so you're first to know when her blog goes live.