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My mom taught me to believe in myself, stand for something, and not let anyone treat me less than my worth --- as defined by me. Following my mom’s guidance was not always easy, but it was always the right thing to do.
My beliefs and values led me to make some tough decisions during my professional career, such as:
* Leaving a government contract due to not being assigned any work and wasting government resources;
* Refusing to change audit results to meet a client’s financial and political needs;
* Addressing egregious workplace abuse after a colleague was basically told to shut-up and not to say another word during a meeting with a large audience.
My ability to make these decisions during sometimes very stressful situations taught me a lot about myself, my character, and my belief system. I learned that my beliefs are part of my core being and are not dependent on trying to satisfy others’ opinions, indecision, or decisions made to appease others to allow inappropriate behavior to go unchallenged.
The interesting outcome is that while remaining true to my beliefs and myself, I was able to discover and pursue my ‘true’ calling, which is to help, teach, and inspire others. I have always liked to teach others, however, my ability to impact others wasn’t realized until after a project team meeting I had with my staff to collaborate and develop a strategy to resolve some system testing and implementation issues. After this meeting, an employee of mine told me that I reminded him of some inspirational speakers. The next day or so, the employee brought me some Digital Versatile Disks (DVDs) to watch. After watching the DVDs, I told this employee that I could do better than at least one (1) of the speakers, and as good as another. My employee then told me, “I know…”
A couple of months later, an e-mail was received from a fellow American University (AU) alumni asking if anyone wanted to be on the other side of the classroom. I saw this as a sign; therefore, I decided to pursue the teaching opportunity. A few months after my conversation with my employee who told me that I inspired him, I was teaching college students --- and I have taught individuals in college, schools, and jails ever since that time. This illustrates that sometimes others see things in you that you don’t see in yourself. This last sentence is even more significant in that my first grade teacher sent a Happy News Telegram to my mom (Thanks for keeping it!) which she wrote, “Stacey is my right arm! He helps everyone and is an inspiration to those children not as gifted.” Someone has probably told you that you were good at something too, but you haven’t pursued it. What’s holding you back from taking that chance?
By being committed to my beliefs and dreams, I was able to discover a joy that I didn’t know I had in teaching that cannot be described by words. Each time I teach, I get so lost in the experience that I forget the time, place, and sometimes other priorities --- to the chagrin of some of my students. Nevertheless, I know that I make a difference for the individuals that I
reach, which makes me much happier than the generous salaries I received while managing technology programs.
This semester my ability to impact others manifested itself in the unsolicited conversations with, notes, and e-mails from some of my students. Their communications demonstrated that passion comes through in one’s teaching, excitement about the things one is doing can be contagious, and the importance of giving someone a hand-up and not necessarily a hand-out can be life-changing.
Being committed to one’s beliefs can be challenging; however, knowing who you are and the ability to be ‘true’ to yourself is priceless --- although not always easy. Each of us always has a choice, but sometimes we are negatively influenced and impacted by our desire(s) to please others before doing the right thing for ourselves first.
It can be difficult to stick to your beliefs and follow your dreams, but there is a lot of value in the journey and being ‘true’ to yourself. By following and being ‘true’ to your beliefs, opportunities may be discovered, created, or developed that may not
otherwise be realized. By not wavering on my beliefs, I am experiencing and realizing my passion to teach, which is manifested in my teaching, writing, and community outreach.
Follow your beliefs to discover, experience, and/or build your dreams and/or your passions, as your beliefs, dreams, and passions deserve to be pursued, developed, and realized by you.
Remember to follow your passions and … Be your best!
award-winning educator, mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author/writer, program executive, and radio host