Tag: Life Is Not Complicated

Stop giving people permission to hurt your feelings.

I believe that adults who have experienced some of the worst life has to offer-whether it be in their personal, professional, or even spiritual lives—know that things will not always go their way and people will disappoint. Most times, people are only looking out for themselves or they associate with you because of what you can do for them. Pragmatism ain’t always pretty. The problem many of us have is accepting this reality. Truth is, when things do not go as we expected or people hurt us, we are not so much angry at the offenders for revealing who they are; we want to kick ourselves because they are not who we wanted them to be.

The need for validation is debilitating. There is a big difference between valuing the opinions of those we trust and who have our best interests at heart, and needing your boss, your friend, your mate to approve everything you do for your accomplishments to matter. That is an emotional vice-grip that will ultimately choke the life out of you. To give anyone that much power over your feelings and your reason for being is tantamount to selling your soul to a buyer who will never appreciate (nor care about) its value. It’s a waste of your time and effort.

Never surrender who you are, what you achieve, what you are capable of to the care of others. Own your individuality, what you create and the magnificent person you are destined to be. People cannot take what is wholly and unquestionably yours. No one can rearrange the steps God has ordered. Master becoming confident, independent, determined, and downright fearless. Stop throwing the word friend, sister, brother, “ride-or-die” around arbitrarily. Everyone has not earned those titles. Know the difference between a true friend, acquaintance, co-worker. Be careful who you allow in your circle.

No, it will not be easy. But it is possible and it is necessary if you are ever going to be free. You may bend, you may even crack, but your innate strength (much of which may be untapped) will never allow you to shatter or break beyond repair.

There are people in your life who genuinely care about you. They are the ones who are present when you are doing well and they are the ones who come through when you hit rock bottom. The others, just happen to share the same air. Never make them the breath of life.

Note the difference.

Life Is Not Complicated, who are we to judge the Rice’s…

There is nothing I can say that will add anything to the ongoing debate about the Ray and Janay Rice incident that has been holding our timelines, twitter feeds, sports shows, news broadcasts, online publications, magazines and newspapers hostage as we ride the wave of this latest trending topic.

Rice Press ConferenceI have never been one to condone a man putting their hands on a woman. I personally do not excuse violence of any kind. No human being should strike another human being, period. I wasn’t raised that way, I don’t think that way and I do not associate with anyone who thinks that is ok. That is not the respectful man my Momma and my Grandmother taught me to be. However, they also taught me not to judge. They taught me that what happens between a man and a woman in their marriage (or any relationship) is between THAT man and woman. We can “would have, should have, could have” all day long. In the end, one thing is certain: No one has any idea what Ray Rice was really thinking when he committed such a horrible act and no one (no matter how much you speculate, relate, associate or commiserate) has a definitive, unbiased, without a doubt clue what Janay Rice is feeling or thinking but Janay Rice.

Judge Jury ExecutionerThe bottom line is he did a terrible thing to the woman he says he loves. She forgave him. They say they want to heal and move on. What more do we want? I don’t stand in judgment of people because I am not perfect. And one thing is for sure… at one time or another I was forgiven for one thing or another and was grateful for the opportunity to move on with my life. I will wager many of us can say the same thing. Now imagine, if after committing whatever egregious act that required forgiveness, the entire world wanted your heads on a platter and your life sacrificed? What if every time we did something wrong, society could play judge and jury and condemn our souls to eternal fire. I mean seriously, there would be no one left in the world!

For me (and this is just my opinion, not a judgment, not a denouncement, not vilification, nor am I condoning anyone’s Rice Familyactions)… I really hope these people can find some kind of healing and resolution. They have a child. And once we all move on to the next trending topic, that little girl will still be in the midst of a very painful existence that will only get better if this family is allowed to get on with their lives. No one can tell Janay what to do. No one can tell Ray Rice what to do. These are grown folks that will do what they feel works for them. Instead of judging them, thank God you are not dealing with their pain. In other words, let’s get back to focusing on our lives so we don’t lose track of what’s happening in our backyard and end up creating our own personal crisis!

With all that said, please…if you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence or any form of abuse (man or woman), I urge you to speak up and find someone (friend, family member, pastor, spiritual adviser, doctor, law enforcement official, domestic abuse hotline, priest) you can turn to for help.

Life Is Not Complicated, I saw God. And it only cost me $7…

 

I just settled in at home (and finally my own bed) after a long business trip in Las Vegas. While I enjoy my role as a union delegate for SMART – Transportation Division (formerly United Transportation Union) and I get a great deal of satisfaction being an active part of the collective bargaining process, it can be exhausting. I know a lot of you can relate. The hectic daily lives we lead take a toll on our minds and body. And if you are like me, there is always SOMETHING to do. Phone calls, productions, management, promotions, relationship, fatherhood, mentoring…it never ends because the journey toward a fulfilling, successful life never ends (at least it shouldn’t in my opinion).

Vegas 1I stayed at Caesar’s Palace Casino Hotel in the heart of the Vegas strip. Walking back and forth through the casinos, dodging thousands (literally thousands) of people on the street to find a meal that would not cost me a month’s mortgage, breathing in second hand smoke and hearing the deafening bells, whistles, alarms of the slot machines all while surrounded by the tense faces of gamblers praying for the jackpot, that one big win that will change their lives…if it ever comes, I thought I would go crazy. I needed an escape!

I drove 22 miles. I left the above scenario in the rear view and made my way to the Red Rock Canyon National Vegas 2Conservative Area. As I approached the landmark site I felt the difference almost immediately! I paid the $7 to enter and began a 13 mile scenic drive that transformed my focus. For the price of a bagel on the strip, I was surrounded by God’s work! For the cost of a small Starbucks coffee I felt his presence in the most spectacular scenery! The rock formations, the amazing colors of the mountains, the massive landscape reminding me how big and how awesome God is! It was a much needed reality check and a reminder, the important things in life, the moments that have the most meaning and power do not cost much (If anything at all). Some folks are so busy trying to fill voids and insecurities with material Vegas 3possessions and trying to keep up with the Jones’ by wearing uncomfortable “Red Bottoms” and buying mansions and luxury cars they can barely afford, that they don’t even realize the feeling they get from these trophies” is temporary. Meantime, in one simple, inexpensive drive, I gained perspective, understanding, deepened my faith and most importantly gave my mind and body a much needed rest.

Vegas 4I’ll take all that over a momentary, materialistic fix any day. When you can wrap your brain around what truly matters in life, that is when you really begin to live a life that matters.

 

Life Is Not Complicated, depression is more than having a “bad day”

Robin WilliamsI realize, with this post I probably won’t say anything more or different from everyone else who is remembering Robin Williams (who sadly took his own life). What I believe is so difficult to comprehend is how a man who brought us so much laughter and happiness, was himself in so much hopeless pain.

I am surrounded by comics. I love my artists. We are sincerely like family. And I have had some deep, personal conversations with a few of them who have shared that what we see on stage, on t.v., in the public eye, is only an escape. One artist told me “Ironically, comics are probably some of the most tortured souls you will ever meet”. Another explained, “It’s like I am in this constant fight with my flawed brain, and some days I’m afraid my brain will win”. I share this to say, I am not speaking as some distant, uninformed outside observer. I know what it is like to love people with this illness. There is no greater pain.

The chapter on depression was one of the most difficult for me to write in Life Is Not Complicated. I thought about this excerpt when news of Robin Williams’ death crossed, and I realized, depression knows no bounds. Athletes, politicians, actors, teachers; no one is immune to this oppressive illness. So many lose the fight.  Depression Collage

Depression hit very close to home for me:

If we fail to look beyond what is right under our nose we may miss an opportunity to understand and help someone whose pain lies beneath the surface.

Case in point: a stunning revelation from one of my best friends unleashed a reality check so powerful, it sent shock waves through my emotions, and I am not an emotional person. The epiphany redefined our friendship.

It occurred about a time that I noticed he was just not himself. Typically gregarious and affable, there was something a little off about his behavior. He seemed disconnected and uncharacteristically sad. I had not seen him in some time and just assumed he just had a lot on his mind. He was just promoted to a management position, recently bought a new house and was just promoted to a management position, recently bought a new house and had been blessed with a new child. That’s enough to make anyone a little stressed out. One evening, I received a disturbing phone call. The bartender at a local spot my buddy and I frequented, especially during football season, urged me to come immediately because my friend was dangerously intoxicated and insisted on driving home. I promptly beat a path to our hangout, confused and concerned that someone I would trust with my life, had obviously lost all regard for his own. Back in college, if anyone had exhibited this kind of behavior, this guy would have read them the riot act. Recklessness was never part of his repertoire. When I arrived, I pressed him for an explanation. I was hoping it was something as simple as stress from work or a misunderstanding at home. I could not have been more mistaken. He sobered up a bit, and we talked. I found out why his behavior had become so erratic. The revelation hit me like a freight train. He admitted that for much of his adult life, he suffered from clinical depression, and the illness had become unmanageable. The blank stare on my face clearly said it all. I had my very first, personal introduction to this crippling illness.

It was important for me to write about this experience, because I now know depression is a very common form of mental illness. You never know who may be suffering with the condition. Because of the stigma attached, you may never realize that mood swings, constant unhappiness and feelings of despair belie a very serious chemical imbalance. By not telling me right away, he did not give me the information I needed to understand or help him. I could not have his back because I did not know what he was facing. As it turns out, we helped each other. I took a step back and admitted I needed to be a more understanding person; I needed to be less “black and white” in my approach to life and people”. ~Life Is Not Complicated, You Are: Deliverance

All I ask is that if you feel you are falling into the darkness please find someone, anyone who wants nothing more than to show you light! Rest in peace Robin Williams, I pray you have found the peace that eluded you so mercilessly in life.
In the company of greatness

Life Is Not Complicated, LeBron wasn’t worried about “door money”…

12lebron-3-articleLargeI have been reading the flood of comments about LeBron James’ decision to move back to Cleveland and finish his career with the Cavaliers (A move he eluded to in interviews a couple of times). While it caught sports fans by surprise, I have to say I can hardly blame him. Because as LeBron stated in his letter to Sports Illustrated, his life is bigger than basketball. I imagine he wants his legacy to be bigger than basketball.

At some point in any adult life, we have to understand that business decisions cannot be made with an emotional bias. LeBron is clearly a young man who has matured. While I have never doubted his business acumen, I do see extraordinary growth in his stream of professional consciousness. LeBron, in my humble opinion, looked past the immediate gratification, ahead to the long term ramifications. Instead of opting for the quick fix, following the status quo, or submitting to the will of GM’s, coaches, fellow players, and the almighty dollar he chose instead to lay a foundation that would not only benefit him, but the city of Cleveland for generations to come. LeBron James remembers hardship. He remembers what it was like to watch a single mom struggle. He knows how important it is to respect where you came from, versus where everyone thinks you need to be. Much like in my book, he applied the principles of Purpose, Foundation, Legacy, Success. No man is bigger the game, but make no mistake about it…some decisions are!

We think too much about profit. The money. The windfall. If I hear the term “Stop BS’ing and let’s get this money” one more time my head may explode. There is so much more to being successful, relevant and impactful than getting rich. As a promoter who has worked hard to build a reputation as a reputable businessman, I call this “worrying too much about door money”. In other words, people worry more about how much profit they will score at the end of the event, instead of focusing on how to create a brand with so much appeal and draw, it will turn into a constant source of revenue based on the quality of the show. We focus too much about “What’s in it for me now”. Yes, another ring for LeBron would be outstanding. But nowhere near as significant as driving the economy of the city you grew up. Sure driving sports cars up and down South Beach and poppin’ bottles and “turning up” sounds appealing (to some) but that is nothing like being an engine of revenue that will benefit an entire state.

We need to get our priorities in order if we are ever to progress past our present circumstances (whether they are favorable or not). Get back to business as it should be. Clear thinking, careful planning and a focus on long-term results. Leave the obsession with “door money” to the short-term thinkers.

Life Is Not Complicated, freedom is not free…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Declaration of Independence

happy-US-independence-day-1Before you head out to the beach, the amusement parks or the neighbor’s bar-b-que (Still waiting on my invites by the way!), I just want to remind you to take a moment and appreciate Independence. Yes, I am fully aware that many of these “holidays” are derived from circumstances that were unfavorable to far too many. Rather than get all into the historical atrocities that preceded this day, I really want to focus on the outcome (for today). Freedom and Independence. Moral standards to which the United States should strive.

As a spokesperson for USA Cares Texas Region, I encounter many service men and women (active and retired). Their bravery and selflessness remind me every day that we live in a country, a great nation (that I was proud to fight for while serving in the Navy during Desert Storm) where weUSA CARES MILITARY PIC are free to speak and to act without the threat of censorship or punishment. We are all afforded the opportunity, by virtue of our Independence to seek out, work for and achieve an education, a job, a family, a role (or voice) in government and practice whatever religion we choose. Do you have the slightest understanding how fortunate we are? Right now, as we prepare to begin our day of rest and relaxation men and women are guarding our freedom on the front lines of battle. Our armed forces are putting their lives on the line to ensure that what we say, write, do and or believe are protected. Because as you are well aware, people have been killed for practicing the very liberties we sometimes take for granted.

I am the last person who will ever believe we should forget that our history is marred by inhumane injustices. And I know many of those injustices exist today to varying degrees. I share some of my own challenges in Life Is Not Complicated, so I have a personal perspective believe me! However, I refuse to let anyone make me a prisoner of the past. Ignorance is what holds us back. Independence gives us ALL the freedom to be great. To make a difference. To begin a pattern of progression our children and grand-children can emulate and build upon.

I sincerely hope you all enjoy your day with friends and family. Whether you celebrate the birth of our nation or are just relieved you have a day off from work remember that both (our Independence and that job) are just some of the blessings that should not be taken for granted, ever. Be safe everyone!

Life Is Not Complicated, success should not cause amnesia…

Carlos BillyAt any given time I can be in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas and of course H-town. While I try to find enjoyment in every trip for the most part I am laying groundwork. Planting seeds. Networking. Closing deals. I do not waste any time. I don’t moan about all the work I have to do because I prayed to God to make my business successful. I don’t gripe about all the people I need to talk to because at one time in my life I asked God to open doors and put the right people in my path. I don’t hate going to work because as I recounted in Life Is Not Complicated You Are, after being unjustly fired, for 3 years I had to fight to be reinstated while doing everything in my power to support my family.

My point is, people forget. They forget what it was like to not have something they desired and how grateful they were when (after making all kinds of promises to God and anyone that would listen) they finally received the blessing. They forget that there was someone there (maybe one person, maybe a few), who sacrificed some time or effort to get them to the next level of their lives. Folks do not stop and think that nothing in this life is owed to anyone and neglect to appreciate that when we wake up God has granted us another day to do better, to be better. When some people get happy, they forget to stay humble.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating success. Some see it as bragging but those of us who understand that it does not SOL VPscome easily know acknowledging the good in our lives is perfectly acceptable. But we have to keep in mind all that good fortune comes with a lot of responsibility. As much as you may think so, it is not all about you. Last week, I received two important emails. Two of my mentees (who had been struggling with life decisions and personal issues and were tempted to give up until we discussed alternatives) wrote to let me know that because of my support and my advice and the faith I had in them, they overcame their challenges and are now on their way to realizing their goals. Meantime, during a conversation with someone I love dearly yesterday, I learned that the reason she is motivated and refuses to fail is because I refuse to let her waste her time (or mine LOL) on nonsense. I push her to be a successful comic and businessperson. And she in turn does the same for deserving people in her life. My VP’s each reached out to me, thanking me for opportunities I have given them to achieve their individual successes. Ironically, I am the one who is eternally grateful to be surrounded by and working with such tremendous talent.

Opportunity is yours for the taking. If you do not work hard for what you want do not blame others when you become a prisoner of your passivity. If you choose to pursue your dreams all I ask is, the next time you are down on your knees pleading for whatever it is you want and the Almighty eventually grants your wishes, remember that feeling. That’s what will keep you humble and grateful.

Life Is Not Complicated, dying should not remind us to honor the living…

On May 28, 2014, people of all ages, genders, religion and socio-economic status lost a universal icon.

Dr Angelou 1Before going on to glory, Dr. Maya Angelou touched the nation in ways too profound and too numerous to describe in a short blog. Attempting to do so would slight the memory of a woman whose contribution to society was larger than her magnificent life and as deep as the words she blessed us with through her poetry and her vivid narratives. The passing of the writer, civil rights activist, actress, dancer, director, academic and U.S Poet Laureate made national headlines as people across the U.S began sharing stories of how this remarkable woman inspired, encouraged and motivated them. Too bad it took her dying for social media to shift their attention away from the bizarre, foolish and mundane topics that dominate our consciousness every day.Dr. Angelou 2

I think it’s unfortunate that reports about Dr. Angelou’s health suggested that we were on borrowed time with this legend yet we did not duly honor her while she was here to enjoy it. It’s a sad sign of the times. I’m pretty sure that in the coming weeks her books and her poetry will fly off the shelves or be downloaded at a furious pace as if we are trying to make up for lost time having missed an opportunity to acknowledge one of God’s most perfect gifts while she walked among us. I am happy Dr. Angelou has gone on to a better place. Part of me believes deep down, she noted how shallow and distracted and numb to responsible thinking we have become; that she was all too happy to leave this foolishness behind. Inasmuch as she worked to make a difference, at her core she was always different; that is because she never settled to just be; she always strived to BECOME. Become smarter, greater, stronger, better.

Dr. Angelou 3Maya Angelous’s death summons up a painful reality: we have lost sight of the people and the experiences that shape us. We have stopped focusing on what matters and traded our common sense for drama that has absolutely nothing to do with improving our lives. When did we as a society, as a people, just stop striving to make a difference? When did we give up on progression? When did we resign to simply be average, to just exist instead of live? Why do we rush home to watch reality TV but when Mom, Dad, or grandparents call, we send them to voice-mail because we “don’t have time right now”? When did “turning up” at the club begin trumping going to church and family dinners? When did we decide it was more important to be our children’s friends than it was to parent and raise adults who respect their elders and themselves?

Dr. Angleou stopped trending on social media days after her passing, yet 2 weeks after a noted couple said “I do” in I know whyEurope, I can’t escape the pictures and the “sightings” and the entertainment buzz surrounding nuptials you weren’t even invited to much less remotely affected by. Meantime, I spoke to friends who read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” so many times the pages of the book are worn and their lives are forever transformed by Dr. Angelou’s stories. Yet Dr. Angelou’s words are relegated to pithy status updates and memes that barely register amid the glare of nonsense.

I have lost the most important people in my life. I will never again have an opportunity to tell them how much they mean to me, how much they contributed to my life, how grateful I am that they love me and support me and teach me. Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets. My loved ones knew how much I adored them. I just want to remind all of you, tomorrow is never promised. Ever. From a Dr. Angleou to a dear family member, God does not play favorites. When it’s time for Him to call them home, he will do so without hesitation. Don’t be caught off guard, with unspoken words and feelings, wishing for that one last time.

Life Is Not Complicated, principles don’t change, people do…

Aldine ISD police say a 16-year-old student at Nimitz High School was so upset with his substitute teacher for taking his phone, he pushed her onto the ground. My question is, what made this kid think that kind of horrible behavior was anywhere in the vicinity of okay?

My momma did not tolerate bad behavior; not from me, my siblings, her students or any other child within striking distance of her piercing gaze and tough reprimands. Parenting was non-negotiable. If she said “do it”, I answered “Yes mam”. Same with my Dad and my grandparents. It was about respect. It was about teaching me the principles and values that make me a productive, contributing, solid member of society.

Inaugural Swearing InFrom the moment I could even understand what “respect” was I knew it was not a choice but the ONLY option. I knew being a good kid did not make me corny or nerdy or a momma’s boy; it made me a good kid, period. That carried over into my teenage years and into adulthood. Discipline, preparedness and commitment to excellence was reinforced while I was in the military, however –bottom line- it began at home. It continues in every aspect of my life. I practice it in business and in my personal life. I learned early on that principles never change. People do.

LegacyThe past few weeks, social media has been a slide show of prom and graduation pictures and videos as teenagers prepare for one of the most important stages of their lives. Some go off to college, others enter the military, and others still go right to work. For many, this will be their first opportunity to live without the constant supervision of parents, grandparents, extended family, teachers and even neighbors. Parents and caregivers, let’s prepare our kids to rise up to the responsibility by ensuring they use what we teach them at home, in society. Arm them with the principles, discipline and the pride they need to stand out, not act out and encourage them to always be at their best. That includes respecting authority without being passive, having ambition without being cut-throat, confidence without being arrogant, and pride without being an egoist. If we don’t teach our children how to deal with authority, adversity, challenges and yes, success, we set them up to be outcasts instead of standouts.

GraduatesCongratulations to all the grads. You have every right to be proud of your achievements! However (parents and teens) as you take the time to pick out the perfect suit and gown, post pictures and videos… make sure you are celebrating a life that you have helped prepare to flourish long after the pomp and circumstance fades. It all begins at home.

Life Is Not Complicated, social media shouldn’t be your personal diary…

Never apologize for the good in your life. People who try to make you feel badly because you have been blessed are consumed by self-loathing. Wear your accomplishments proudly, be it your career, your relationship, your children, your success. True friends will bask in the glow of your shine, not pray for darkness to fall. Life Is Not Complicated: Success

“The best way to stay in your relationship, is to keep people out of your relationship.” Ice Cube

Jay-Z-proposes-to-Beyonce-at-the-Met-GalaI am not going to give the entire Solange/Jay Z debacle any more attention than it is due. I only mention the incident because it speaks to much larger issues I have tried to address so many times however, for some reason, are not taken as seriously as they should. This may ruffle some feathers, but as with Life Is Not Complicated You Are, my intention is only to help anyone I can avoid (and deal with) pitfalls that can stand in the way of living a peaceful life. Sometimes, we create our own obstacles!

SHOWBIZ Insider 1Praying , hoping, wishing, expecting or making light of the demise of a successful couple is not sexy. In a society where divorce is far too prevalent, success among certain races is overtly scrutinized, instances of single parents have become way too common and the very fiber of the family is dangerously frayed, we should be rooting for couples to thrive. I will never find the trials and tribulations of other people’s lives entertaining. As someone who has been through his fair share of challenges (if you’ve read the book, you know I am not exaggerating), I would be none too pleased to know that my tragedies were laid bare for the delight of folks who more than likely do not have enough going on in their own lives, so they choose to live vicariously through mine. That kind of betrayal and hateful behavior is inexcusable and breaks down the principles of humanity that are so lacking in our society.

That being said, if you (the general populous) do not want people regaling others with tales of your discontent, keep your private life private. Everyone does not need to know how happy or unhappy you are in your relationships or at your job or with your children. Before social media, people seemed quite content with dating, working, building careers and businesses and living their lives without broadcasting each intimate detail of their existence to millions. And I am not talking about promoting your business or events or accomplishments in order to drive growth. There is a big difference between incorporating social media as a billboard for your business and using it as your private diary. One enhances your reputation and the other could potentially destroy it.

Ladies, stop thinking because your boyfriend or husband does not broadcast your “relationship status”, it is because he is 1350409147_barack-obama-michelle-obama-lgup to something. Gentlemen, stop wondering why your lady is not building you up as “King of the World” on a social networking site. The only people who should know what is happening behind closed doors are the people living within the four walls. Trust and respect who you are with and live your lives accordingly. No, I am not proclaiming that I am an authority on how to live life in the public eye. On the contrary, I do the best I can to keep my personal life where it needs to be, personal. Everything is not for everybody. I have seen way too many families, couples and friendships fall apart because the sanctity of those relationships were compromised because of gossip, folks being messy or individuals sharing pain with the wrong people. Friends, family and anyone reading this blog, I urge you: Before you sit down and type out a knee jerk diatribe of emotion and feelings that reveal way too much about your current situation remember: you never know who is reading, watching, taking notes and hoping that downfall you choose to broadcast leaves you flat on your back and whimpering in pain. Resolve today to never have your humiliation, integrity, reputation, and/or future sold to the highest bidder (who, oftentimes, is the Devil) for some undisclosed amount.