(ThyBlackMan.com) A person close to me once told me that my standards were too high. My response? Maybe it’s just that your standards are too low. And while none of us are anywhere near perfect as we often struggle to do our best, give our best and reach our potential, we could at least begin to think on a higher level as a start. The actions take more time before they can follow. But if we make excuses, we justify staying on the complacent level that we are. And that cheats us as well as those we care about out of the excellence we are capable of, the prosperity we can have and the dreams we can make happen.
Maya Angelou was not our best poet because our best may not have even dared to write yet. Obama is not our smartest politician. Our smartest may not have even thought about running for office yet. Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods and so on are not the greatest of all time because time has not even show us our greatest yet. King had “A” dream, not the only dream and not the biggest dream. That is yet to come.
When I was in high school taking advanced placement English, I had a teacher who made us write three papers a week, two at home and one in class. At the top of each paper in the center we were required to write “In Pursuit of Excellence”. Failure to do so was an automatic 10-point deduction from your grade, therefore in such case, your highest grade if you turned in a “perfect paper”), would be 90%. Whatever a “perfect” paper is. My point is that she was setting a standard of excellence for us and helping to structure our self-expectation. All the while tweaking and unleashing our potential. I didn’t see that then but I see it now.
From that same AP English class came our top students in standardized test scores, social science fair projects, academics and outside essay contests. And after being frustrated at that teacher for expecting so much of me, I learned to expect excellence from myself. English became my best subject. I went on to excel in college English and Journalism. I wrote my first book at age 21 and my first book that went nationwide at age 25. Understand I don’t say this to brag. I say this because it illustrates my point. You are full of potential that you are not using because the standard for you and many of the people in your circle is far too low. Birds of a feather. So what kind of bird are you?
Raising your level of self-expectation, even if someone has to help you by demanding more from you, can unleash your potential and cause you to rise to the challenge. You are capable but complacency will keep your standards low and your ability dormant. To this day, every time I write anything, I thank God for Mrs. Gunn, my 10th grade AP English teacher. She set me on a path that would impact the lives of thousands upon thousands of people for decades.
Once you expect more from yourself, a process begins that elevates your thinking. Elevating your thinking causes you to reset your goals and your perspective on almost everything that matters. You then see the very things you thought were unreachable as very attainable. And that impacts your health, finances, spirituality and even relationships. In turn such a process impacts your habits , decisions and thus your actions. You then begin to rub off on others and impact lives, beginning with your own. You measure yourself against your real potential, not against mediocrity. And a whole new set of goals and self-expectations based on greatness is born. You have more insight. You become more resourceful and more independent. More confident.
Standards in the African American need to be higher and we need to hold ourselves and our people accountable to them. Crime needs to be unacceptable in your neighborhood, even if your little cousin is a part of it and sharing the benefits with you. Integrity, honor, priority and respect need to rise up in you and those around you. Excuses need to be despised and treated like the plague that they are. And when you get to the store or the bank 4 minutes after they closed, you SHOULD be locked out. Because you know that store closes at the same time all week long and you should have gone yesterday anyway. Stop expecting to be late and accepting when others are just as late, or more. Stop making concessions to make yourself feel better for staying down there on the ground with the pigeons when you should be up top flying with the eagles. Stop looking at what others have done and saying “wow” when you could be looking at what you have done and saying the same thing. Like Nike says, JUST DO IT!
So what does the Bible say about all of this? First off, if you read the Bible as a family book because you have chosen to be in the family, it has quite a lot to say to you about your thinking. But if you don’t choose to be in the family, don’t expect to get the benefit of full understanding and the secrets and treasures that come along with them.
To those in the family, the Bible says let this mind that is in Christ be also in you. And clearly even a glance at that “mind” shows excellence, superior thinking, superior expectation and results. The apostles went on to declare that they had the mind of Christ, and that is a phenomenal ability to think, conceive, decide, plan and initiate. UNSTOPPABLE!
An ability to also out-think your enemies. To be prepared for what is coming. To find solutions to almost impossible problems. To cast out fear. To build confidence. To impact others all around you. And to be the example of all these things to your children and their children. You see the mind is like a muscle, it must be worked out and kept fit. The more you use it, the sharper, more alert and more aware it gets. Every goal met started with a thought then a belief that such a goal could in fact be achieved.
But today, too many people are mentally complacent and their minds are full of mental junk food. The same as what happens to your body when you eat all junk food from the store. Too many people today are digesting this “mental junk food” and therefore uncomfortable when challenged to elevate their thinking, or even think much at all. Comfortable rather with feasting on diets of sports, soap operas and passive, superficial entertainment where you don’t have to think. Refusing to use their minds for critical thinking. A choice that causes people to make decisions only based on what they see on the surface. Are you hearing me?
I can recall having an intense conversation with a PhD professor about neutralizing then reversing the effects of what I call the Willie Lynch syndrome. The strategic programming of slave-minded thinking and how the oppressor can take advantage of it. Halfway into the one-hour conversation the professor told me to stop because his head was hurting. Of course you would think that a person of such higher education would be on the equivalent level mentally. Therefore such a discussion should have been what people might call a “drop in the bucket”. But it wasn’t. Such is the case even with pastors today who do not even understand most of the Bible they teach from. Or followers who get most of their understanding from the people who teach them instead of studying for themselves. They “can’t” and they often won’t because they don’t believe they can or will understand. They are in a sluggish pattern produced by a mind that refuses to elevate its thinking. And the danger of not thinking for yourself puts you at the mercy of those who will think for you.
Our expectations in the African-American community are far too low. Expectations of ourselves, our future, our political leaders, our spiritual leaders, our friends and family. And while I know this type of talk makes a lot of people uncomfortable, it is completely necessary. Let me give you another example. Too much of the African-American community is focused on entertainment because it is passive stimulation of the mind that often takes us away from the stress of life. Case in point, many of us were so astounded by the poetry of Maya Angelou. Entertainment. But not nearly as many people were impressed that she was Dr. Maya Angelou, civil rights leader.
Let me give you another example. You are supposed to have insight, visions and dreams. But what happens every year is that people keep celebrating the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. because they don’t really have any of their own. Let me give you another example. So many people in the “black” community are happy to celebrate the achievements of Barack Obama or Kamala Harris and adopt those achievements as if they are their own. But wait, where are your achievements? You see is not enough to talk about how smart Barack Obama is when you should be elevating your thinking so the potential of who you are will flow out like a mighty ocean.
Finish story here; African American Community; Raising Black Standards.