From an Olympian: “… All I could do was lean on my faith.” – Gabby Douglas

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“Things didn’t work out the way they’d hoped. The apartment where we were supposed to stay fell through. Jobs were hard to come by, and the money ran out.

We had to live in our van and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyone except me. Even though Mom fed me constantly, I couldn’t keep anything down and kept losing weight. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

“We didn’t have health insurance. Or money to take you to the doctor.” Mom told me later. “Baby, all I could do was lean on my faith.”

She sat on the floor of our van, held me in her arms and prayed words from Isaiah over and over. She asked God to heal me, and he came through. By the time my parents could afford a doctor, the disease had gone away. I was still on the small side but I was as healthy as could be.

-Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas, 16,from Virginia Beach VA-originalGabby Douglas went on to win a gold in the Olympics.  She was the first to win one for African Americans in the individual all- around event. Gabrielle means “God’s able- bodied one.”

No matter what the human scene is telling us, you are always more than able through God.  But you need to believe it now. And again, and again and again.  You are able for whatever you need to face in front of you!

Gabrielle Douglas (born December 31, 1995, in Virginia Beach, VA) began formal gymnastics training at 6-years-old and won a state championship by the time she was 8. She moved away from her hometown and family in 2010 to pursue training with world-renowned Olympic coach Liang Chow and was selected to compete with the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. There, Douglas became the first African American to win gold in the individual all-around event. She also won a team gold medal with teammates Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber, the first gold medal for the American women’s gymnastics team since 1996.

Source bio: Biography.com

Photos courtesy of ESPN, Blackpast.org Blog

Source quote: Guideposts

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Pamela’s Weekly Words of Wisdom: The Positives of Serving Others

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As I’ve found in my own experience, volunteering can be such a positive and valued experience for both the people helping, and the people who need the help. I’d love to share just some of the Positives I’ve observed for volunteers.

1- Be A Part of Something Greater. Often new volunteers find that the “product” — serving homeless people, helping microentrepreneurs, tutoring young mothers on their GEDs, is so meaningful that it’s hard to return to the corporate world. They feel a part of something greater, because it is so definitively clear how they are helping. We all want to feel we are caring for and helping others, and are part of a movement larger than ourselves.

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2- Keep Your Skills Current. Use your current skills and ‘exercise’ them just as you would any muscle. Are you an attorney, administrative assistant, construction worker, public relations expert, manager? Put those needed skills to use, and expand them as you continue your work. Since you are not under the guise of a strict corporate manager, you will have more freedom to expand them in creative ways.

3- Attain New Skills and a Second Career. Once you have invested some time at the organization, ask to work in different areas or work on different business units. Express your desire to grow and adopt news skills. Try different areas in order to understand how the entire organization works. Learn for yourself, and learn to become valuable to the organization. You may find a new career!

Overcoming Obstacles Message Series

4- Work on a Hobby. Do you love writing on the side? Perhaps you offer to write or contribute to their newsletter. Are you a hidden tech geek? Revamp their website. Is blogging your passion? Help them set up a blog and create a stronger brand presence. Explode a latent desire of your own to help others!

The Pamela Positive: “Enjoy When You Can, and Endure When You Must”

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“Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”  –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Then, too, there are times to patiently persevere. Not all is easy or peaceful; at times we must stay the course, step by step, like a diligent marathon runner, committed to her course, unrelenting until the finish line.  It might not be a quick race, but more a matter of a marathon.

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a German writer and artist, and a leading figure in German literature. His works include The Sorrows of Young Werther and Faust.  He was highly influential to the 19th century.

The Pamela Positive: “Do Not Fear to Be Eccentric…” – Bertrand Russell

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”

– Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was a British philosopher, logician and mathematician.  He co-wrote Prinicipia Mathematica with A. N. Whitehead, attempting to ground math in logic, and he has had a profound influence on philosophy, mathematics and linguistics.  He was a staunch anti-war activist; he was jailed for pacifism in World War I, campaigned against Adolf Hitler, and was against the Vietnam War.  He also acknowledged that war could at times be the lesser of two evils, and supported World War II, in the interest of defeating Hitler as the larger threat.  Russell received a Nobel Prize in Literature, for writing championing freedom and humanitarian ideals.

Would You Say No To a Text? (Third in a Series of Three)

This is part 3 of a 3 part series that talks about finding and developing relationships you care about when social media can make it confusing to determine which are real. 
As you saw in my first part of this series, being present at lunch can make all the difference. (Read before about my lunch with Steve Mitchell from Ernst and Young, and the gift making each moment about people, relationships and being present. And in the second in our Series, we spoke of “Saying No to Social Media”.
So here’s where we are getting to the crux of what relationships mean in our day-to-day.   I am mentoring a few university students on their projects. Often times, the calls veer into day-to-day questions about values, and what is important in life. These conversations are very sincere, caring as students share their deepest thoughts.
I received this call the other evening from a very smart, engaged engineer who wants to make a difference in clean energy.
“I’m feeling really concerned. It feels off,” he said.
“What’s going on,” I respond.
“I was just realizing I am walking around campus and I know 100 people.  They know me. We say hi and we are friendly and it’s like I know all these people.”
“But I don’t,” he continued.  “At the end of the day, who of these people has my back…?”
 
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He was really worried.
It’s actually a good marker he was worried. For what he was driving at was that he desired substance.  That true connection, that life is about people, relationships and being present. And he didn’t necessarily feel that.  Who would have his back, or, be there for him?
 
Conversations like these show a natural backlash to our texting and social media norms.  They confront what being connected, feeling loved and feeling safe means.  So we have to work on having relationships in our lives that really make a difference. 
 
“Deepak,* you’re having the right thoughts. You’re valuing people and you’re seeking greater connections.  But the question I would ask is not “who has your back,” but “whose back do you have?  Who do you really care about, and of those 100 people, who do you really want a long-term, positive relationship of care and true sharing?”
 
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When we ask how we can care about someone else, we start taking practical steps to connect with them.  We will listen, help them grow and cheer them on.   Now you “have their back,” although I would say you’re seeking a way to connect mind and hearts. We’re not just trying to protect ourselves or others. We are seeking enriching, loving relationships.  
 
This led Deepak to start thinking about who he wanted a deeper relationship with. Maybe that was more lunches, study times, or shared activities with a few people.  It brought relief to his mind. He had a plan on how to care more deeply about others, and how they in turn would do the same.
 
In this digital world, we get caught up in texting, social media, and simply “waving to 100 people” who we might not really know.  For a true connection in life it’s about people, relationships and being present. How will you connect and care for someone today, offline? Please share!
*name was changed for confidential reasons

Would You Say No To a Text? (Second of a series of three)

This is part 2 of a 3 part series that talks about the influence of social media on how present people are in their daily lives. 
As you saw in my first part of this series, being present at lunch can make all the difference. (Read before about my lunch with Steve Mitchell from Ernst and Young, and the gift making each moment about people, relationships and being present.)
But saying no to text isn’t the only area of which we need to be aware, and even say no to.
92% of American teenagers (ages 13-17) are online every day. In fact, almost a quarter say they are on some type of platform constantly. According to the 2015 report by Pew Research Center, there was one TV show where parents “tested” taking away their teens cellphones for 24 hours. In some cases, there were shrieks, cries and anguish of the teens begging for their phones back. They were overly connected to their phones.
Christine Rosen wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
“A typical teen, according to Pew, has 145 Facebook friends and 150 Instagram followers.  Based on survey data from our lab as well as national statistics, I would estimate that only between 5% and 15% of teens abstain from social-media use.”
But the social media tides maybe changing.  I know some people on my team who don’t do social media, or aren’t that involved. One of my great marketers was 26 and considered “YGen” — and was not on any social media. She simply told me she didn’t have time, and wasn’t interested.
Christine Rosen quotes a woman:
 “I feel like a lot of what happens on Instagram isn’t valuable communication,” said Katherine Silk, 18, who grew up in Los Angeles and is about to start a gap year before heading to Emory University. “I’ll be with friends eating, and they’ll say, ‘ Let’s post this on Instagram!’ Sometimes I feel like saying, ‘you should be talking to me and the other people here, not posting things for people who may or may not care, just so you can get more likes.”
As for the possibility that they are missing out, the social-media abstainers are sanguine. “If I have something important to tell my friends, I’ll call them. That’s enough,”  says Ms. Silk.”
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Just as it’s important to be present with your colleague at lunch, being truly connected is not just online. It’s spending your time in a way that is present with others, not just FOMO.  If you are crying for your phone, maybe it’s time to set up in an in-person with your friend, or friends together. We have a need to connect. Social media isn’t the only filler to that need.
          Connecting is all about people, relationships and being present.  
 
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Would you ‘Say No to Text?” Say No to Social Media?  Tell me what you think.  
 
Christine Rosen is a writer for The Wall Street Journal. Read her article here.

Would You Say No To a Text? (First Series of Three)

This is part 1 of a 3 part series that talks about the importance of being present in conversations even with the distractions that technology can bring like texting and phone calls. 
I was just at lunch today at One Market in San Francisco, with dear colleague Steve Mitchell.  He’s been a leader in new business development at Ernst and Young. Yet for him, it’s not just about new business. It’s about people, relationships, and being present.
 
One of the great things I treasure these days is the quality of relationships with people.  More people are desiring this, too. As Steve and I were at lunch, my phone rang with an important call from my Director of Operations.
I didn’t pick up.
“Don’t you need to get that?”  Steve asked.
I responded that being present with him was my priority.  And after our lunch, my Director of Operations would then be my priority. I believe everyone is important, yet at different times.  
Being at an invited lunch with Steve was my priority.   The only reason I had my phone out, was to take notes from my time with Steve. We were having a great conversation!
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Notes, yes.
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Phone calls, no.
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Texts, no.
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In this day and age we truly must be present. It shows the deepest sense of respect. It’s about true eye connection and deep listening.  In this digital age, it’s probably the most respectful thing we can do, to let another person know we care.
You aren’t shifting around in your seat.
You aren’t picking up your phone for every text.
You aren’t taking the call, or saying “it will just take a minute.”
Because at the end of the day it doesn’t just take a minute. We all know that…. It takes much longer! Then you have taken away not only your time with the person, but also part of the respect, honor in the relationship. Your partner, your colleague, your table mate is waiting for you.
Steve noted this, remarking that few people understand the importance of respecting the other person; how it is the right thing to do. It also builds amazing long-term relationships. Steve and I plan on collaborating in so many areas, and helping each other, that our lunch lasted two hours. We’re excited to work together and help the world in new ways!
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The next time you get a text or a call at lunch, think twice. Will you Say No To Text?
The text might be important. So is the person in front of you. Make each moment about people, relationships and being present.