Monday, January 21, 2013

NAH 2nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recognition Program

Below is the speech that I was fortunate to give at today's Norwegian American Hospital 2nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recognition Program.

Good afternoon,

I would like to talk to you for a few minutes about the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

In his analysis of the parable of the Good Samaritan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talks about a shift in thinking – from a “me” perspective to a “we” perspective. Dr. King states, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the Good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

You see, the courage of Rosa Parks, vision of W.E.B. DuBois, the humanitarianism of Roberto Clemente, and the ultimate sacrifices made by John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, Medger Evers, Emmitt Till and, ultimately, Dr. King himself all stem from the timeless concept that, when we love our neighbors as ourselves, we are no longer black or white, Jew or Gentile, Protestant or Catholic, we are simply children of the most high who share the same aspirations for peace, love, and prosperity, for ourselves and those inhabitants of this earth who have yet to be born.

Moreover, Dr. King recognized another truth that transcends the boundaries of time and space – That which we do for ourselves follows us to the grave, but that which we do for others’ lives long after we are gone. So, when you comfort the grieving patient, assist the lost visitor, or aid your fellow co-workers when they are burdened, you are not simply performing your job – you are contributing to the freedom that Dr. King alluded to in the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. You are etching your name in the heavens alongside the saints because you are extinguishing the darkness of hatred and intolerance with the light of love, cooperation, and truth.

Now, more than ever, the world requires us to set aside our superficial differences so that we can create the environment where God’s kingdom may be manifested here on earth. It is possible for us to see this kingdom when we can judge our fellow human beings, not by the color of their skin, how they choose to worship God, or who they choose to love, but by the content of their character. As Dr. King stated, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

So, let us go forth with perfect love, for ourselves as well as our neighbors, and complete the work of lifting humanity to the level of divinity that is our birth right. Let us perform this work so well that, as Dr. King put it, “…the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” Let us perform the labor of uplifting humanity with dignity because all such labor should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Most importantly, let us rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. When you can look to your left and your right and have just as much, if not more concern for the person that you see because you see the reflection of our common parents in them, we are not far from the day when all of God’s children will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Thank you for listening with your hearts as well as your ears. May God continue to bless all of you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

7 Strategies for Developing Successful New Year's Resolutions


...Happy New Year!

I know, I know. You're saying to yourself, Mr. Jones, you're roughly 24-hours behind everyone else in expressing your optimistic overtures to the masses for the impending calendar year. As the old saying goes, better (a day) late than never!

As I watched the runners prance by in their new cold weather gear or the young lady that took a cigarette out of the pack and then placed it back in before tossing its contents in a trash bin, it reminded me that this is the time of year that we resolve to make changes that we previously did not have the patience/will-power/money/time to do in the previous year.

You aren't alone in this endeavor. I've resolved to gain 10 lbs in muscle, run at least 1 marathon in 2013 ( I ran the Chicago Marathon last October), convert this blog into a video format, and to build an impenetrable wall of self-confidence and love around myself.

It's easy coming up with things that we need to change. We see them everyday in the mirror or hear about them frequently from our current and former romantic partners. The hard part is establishing a strategy that increases your chances of sticking to your New Year's resolutions so that you can check them by this time next year (or later this year if you procrastinate like me).

Instead of being self-righteous and giving you 7 strategies for making successful New Year's Resolutions, I'm going to use myself as the example in demonstrating these strategies. That way, you can hold me accountable just in case I fall off the wagon.

Why am I Doing This?

Everyone wants to lose a few pounds or update their wardrobe but in order for a New Year's resolution to stick, it has to be something that impacts something that is deeply valuable to you. For example, one of my goals is to gain 10 lbs in muscle. I want to do this so that I'm strong enough for my return to competitive baseball in a few months and, more importantly, so that I can power through the last 10-miles of the next marathon that I run. Both baseball and running are activities that I enjoy, not just for their physical benefits, but also for their emotional and spiritual benefits in my life.

What Exactly Do I Need to Do?

I know that I want to gain 10 lbs of muscle this year but just knowing what I want to do will not help me to accomplish it. I need to make a very detailed plan to help me accomplish this goal. For example, I should eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight each day. I should eat protein after every workout and add Casein, a slow digesting protein, to my pre-bed meals. The devil is in the details and maybe that's why debauchery reins in our society!

Write It Down!

A study conducted by Stanford University found that writing down your goals increased the probability of achieving them by 70%! I'm not sure this method works with winning the lottery or dating that supermodel though. Don't just write the goal down. Jot down some words that describe how you'll feel when you accomplish the goal. Sprinkle them throughout your home and office to remind you of those great affects you have to look forward to. For example. when I succeed in gaining 10 lbs of muscle, I will feel accomplished, confident, fit, healthy and sexy!

Create a Successful Environment

We all know from other experiences in our lives that where we do something is just as important, if not more important, than what we do. You want to design your environment(s) so that it's hard not to accomplish your goals. Some tools that you can use are calendars and charts to plot your progress, hire a trainer, start a blog, or enlist a group of family and friends to act as your cheerleader/coach.

One of my goals in 2013 is produce more video posts on this blog. I plan to do this by creating a detailed list of potential topics each week and narrowing the topics down to one or two that I will produce video on. I will also need to update my audio/visual equipment to make producing and sharing content easier. I will also elicit the opinions of my friends and family to see what topics they're interested in seeing discussed on this blog.

Multi-Tasking is for Future Failures

The theory that working on multiple tasks at one time makes you more productive has been dispelled by several recent research articles. Taking on more than one thing at a time can make you unfocused and severely sabotage your end goal. Instead of trying to increase the frequency of your workout regime while you also try to quit smoking and eliminate junk food from your diet, pick one of those goals and blitzkrieg it like Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf!

My primary goals for 2013 all revolve around fitness so I'm going to focus on those since I've already made considerable progress in the previous year. If I feel comfortable with my progress, then I will begin to expend more energy on my video blog. If my fitness goals begin to falter due to my commitment to video blogging, then it'll have to go on the back burner. Success at one goal is better than mediocrity at a ton of goals.

Focus on the Process, not the Desired Result

Everyone has the initial excitement when they begin a new endeavor, but the real test begins when things are harder than you anticipated or you don't achieve the success that you were expecting. You can beat these feelings by focusing on the journey and not the destination. If your goal is to lose weight, focus on doing a little more every time you go to the gym instead of looking at the scale with shock and disdain once a week.

For my goal of gaining 10 lbs of muscle, my criteria for success can't just be whether the sleeves on my t-shirt can hardly contain my massive biceps. I have to gauge the fluctuations in my weight, my diet, and any other environmental factors that may affect the end goal. I also have to remain cognizant of the fact that gaining 10 lbs in muscles is not something that will happen overnight. It's a marathon, not a sprint so my expectations should be cropped based on this premise.

No One's Perfect

Last time I heard, Jesus was dead and hasn't come back as of yet. We're all human, thus, we're all fallible so don't let failure negatively affect your end goals. So what if you didn't make it to the gym on time. How about 5-minutes of stretching? So what if you slipped up and had that cigarette? How about a stick of gum the next time that you need a fix?

Failure should be viewed as a positive, not a negative because it builds resilience. I may forget to have a protein shake after my morning workout but I can still make up for it with a couple of chicken breast at lunch. As the famous baseball player Babe Ruth once said, "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."

Portions of this post were taken from