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Archive for the ‘Legacy’ Category

What separates great leaders from average leaders? Is it years of experience, a degree from a top-notch university, or an impressive title?

It’s none of these things.

Lead from Within

Lead from Within

The difference between average and great leaders begins long before they assume the mantle of leadership. In fact, you can be a great leader even if you do not have a leadership title or position.

How is that possible? Because great leadership begins from within. It begins with who you are. Who you are when no one else is looking. Your core values and how you act on those values will distinguish you as a leader—every single time.

How do you know if you have what it takes to be a great leader? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you value most about yourself?
  • Do you go along with the crowd—even when you know in your heart that you should choose differently?
  • Do you consistently look out for the best interests of others?

Great leaders have these things in common: self-awareness, core values that guide their choices and actions, and giving to others what they have received. Great leaders are also intentional. They look within first and are focused on living with purpose and passion.

So, ask yourself: What one thing can I do today to be more intentional?

May you enjoy the blessings of increasing your awareness each day… and reaching out to help someone else do the same—just a sampling of the many blessings of leadership.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about leaders you admire—in your family, in your community, or at work. Use the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html. Have a fantastic week!

Pass It On!

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To Celebrate Life, Love, Moms, Motherhood, & Valentine’s Day

Letter to My Mom, Mildred Blackmon McEwen

Give her roses while she can still enjoy them. ~ Earnest McEwen, Jr. (my father)

Dear Mama ~

It isn’t your birthday or Mother’s Day. Christmas is over. Epiphany, too. It’s the beginning of a glorious New Year… and I’m writing this letter to honor you. I want to thank you for the singular blessing you’ve poured and continue to pour into my life: you!

You are that blessing. Your life is a poem, a mighty spiritual, a testimony of gratitude, faith, and love. And this letter is a celebration of you.

Your road has been long; your journey has not been easy. Bigotry and prejudice fortified you, teaching you how to love even more deeply and how to see not just with your anatomical eyes, but also to see with the eyes of your heart. Greatest of all, you relied on God’s love and strength rather than your own. In this you gave me the gift of faith and unconditional love for myself and others.

You also gave me what my sister-friend and fellow poet Nikky Finney would say is the gift of being “a woman with keys.” A woman with keys moves in a particular way and she has a responsibility, an obligation to help others find theirs, help them move through their rooms, cross their thresholds, unlock their windows and doors on the journey to claim their promise.

I remember as a little girl, you gave me the precious gift of encouragement. When you said over and again, “Be all that God intended you to be—no matter what, come what may.” I now offer that gift back to my daughter, other family members, my students, clients, and friends.

I remember your humility and sacrifice. For many long years you and Daddy toiled and sacrificed so that my sisters and I could have a better life than the ones you’d known. I remember your and Dad’s Mississippi stories of struggle and strife, of Dad’s deep longing to go to college to better himself and improve our lot, of him working as a janitor at Ole Miss and there, by the grace of God, William Faulkner came into his life and paid for Dad to attend Alcorn A&M College, with no strings attached. I remember you working as a teacher and cook in the nursery school to help make ends meet, Dad’s working at low-paying jobs even with his college degree. I remember you both standing on your rock-solid values of hard work, gratitude, faith, love, and integrity.

I also remember the profound lessons you taught me—to lend others a helping hand, to be of service to others… your constant reminders to do something with my time, to make myself useful. Even if I was already occupied doing something! Today your words echo in my soul as the voice of legacy. Early on, you taught me, Doris, Annie, Debbie, and Vera that you make a living by what you choose as your work, and you make a life by what you do for others.

I remember when I asked what compelled you to go along with Daddy’s “impossible” dreams, you said, “I loved your father and I believed in him. More importantly, we had an abiding faith in Almighty God, and He never gave us more than we could handle, and His grace always saw us through.” Even when you didn’t have any idea of how our family would make it, your love and faith sustained you.

Thank you for giving me a legacy that values education, character, as well as loving, lifting up, and helping others with no strings attached. Thank you for painting on the canvas of eternity with your unshakable belief in the nobility of the human spirit, for painting with a palette imbued with the qualities of humility, faith, love, triumph, and the capacity to treat every human being with dignity and respect. Through you, I have a small glimpse of God’s magnificence, devotion, and triumph.

Because of you, I know—deep in my bones—a few things: if you want change, you must stir the waters and be willing to get out of the boat. If you want change, then you have to invest your heart and soul in the generations to come. I also know that each person must live the legacy that God has intended just for him or her, which means that you can’t hide your light under a bushel. You have to dare to wear your soul on the outside, and keep on keeping on—no matter what, and we have to pass it on by building sturdy bridges for others to cross.

Mother, thank you for being a diva in my life, for not merely talking about blessings… but for being the blessing, and for passing it on!

Love and honor, your daughter Gloria

Pass It On!

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In just a few days, we will pay tribute to an American legend – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Around the world we will celebrate his legacy, even as our own legacies continue to intertwine with his.

Even now, I imagine Dr. King’s presence… and I hear his marvelous voice beckoning us to lean into our deepest calling, which is to serve. “Anyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Storyteller and author Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that “One of the most calming and powerful actions [we] can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show [our] soul.”

In our ever-shrinking global village, standing up and showing your soul is not a luxury. It is an imperative.

In my latest book, Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, I discuss what it means and what it takes to stand up and show your soul… so that we might co-create the kind of world that we want to pass on to our children and our children’s children and beyond.

As we remember Dr. King and celebrate his legacy, let us also remember to celebrate ourselves as we stand up, serve, and be the change that we want to be in our world.

Pass It On!

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Gratitude. God is awesome. As 2011 closes, I give thanks for the many blessings received & shared with you, my community of family and friends. In May, I celebrated with my daughter as she completed her MFA at Boston U. She now enjoys a wonderful position as head of a Boston College’s costume shop, and she continues to expand her portfolio  of exquisite designs. I’m blessed that she’ll be home for the holidays.

Joy. I continue to lean into my ministry in communities near and far, and at my home church and others that call. This summer, I was blessed to visit Ghana, a ministry of learning and teaching with 23 seniors and juniors from University of Washington. My latest book, Pass It On!, will be released next year. It’s my first book for children, and I look forward to writing more.

Light.  In this holy season, I pray for those who are without shelter, food, or a community of loved ones; I pray for those ravaged by war, trafficking, famine, dislocation, flood, sickness, and spiritual darkness. As well, I pray for our service men and women who have returned home from Iraq, specifically for their smooth re-entry with family and community. For some this can be a most difficult transition. I also pray for those who are still serving us at home and around the world, those who are unable to be home with their loved ones during this special time.

May God’s glorious grace, love, and mercy enfold and comfort you during this Holy Season and throughout the New Year.

One Heart ~ Love and Joy, Gloria

Pass It On!

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In his letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul declares that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Anthurium

More recently,  South African theologian and missionary leader Andrew Murray describes faith as a sixth sense. “Just as we have our [five] senses, through which we hold communication with the physical universe, so faith is the spiritual sense or organ through which the soul comes into contact with and is affected by the spiritual world.” Through this spiritual organ, we have the privilege of communing with the mystery and magnificence of God.

As Paul assures us, the marvelous tapestry of faith is threaded with confidence and evidence of the invisible.  To be sure, this faith is also threaded with fear, doubt, confusion, and, ultimately, surrender.

As our world becomes more chaotic and uncertain, we are called to be ambassadors of light, love, and faith. Ask yourself: What must I let go of, so that I can lean into faith that is confident and sure?

Sending you love, light, peace, and joy in this holiest of seasons.

Pass It On!

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I’ve heard Wintley Phipps sing Amazing Grace many times, so much so that his astounding singing and insightful commentary have become inseparable. Wintley’s stirring offering of this spiritual is a classic, a marvelous gift of legacy living. Listen and be blessed.

Pass It On!

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Fall is my favorite season, a time of bounty, beauty, turbulence, transformation, perpetuation, and possibility. It’s also a season that invites solitude, reflection, and gratitude.

During this season of Thanksgiving, give thanks for persons who have called your name, even if you weren’t aware of them doing so. When others call your name it is a way of acknowledging you… all of  your unique gifts, skills, and talents, which comprise your signature presence.

When others call your name, it is part of a larger pattern of recognizing the importance of an individual and the collective of which we’re all a part. It also recognizes our interconnectedness to one another and all of life, as well as our responsibility to care for one another and our planet.

As we’ve learned from so many cultures where hospitality and harmony are of utmost importance, I cannot exist with you, and you cannot exist with me. In many African cultures, this kind of innate interdependence is an aspect of the spirit of “Ubuntu.” 

When we deeply understand our interconnectedness, we understand the soul of leadership. In Western culture, we sometimes call this stance servant leadership.

As you prepare your heart for your Thanksgiving celebration, reflect on and count your blessings. Be sure to include persons who have come into your life – however briefly – who have extended a kindness to you… a loved one, a friend, or even a total stranger.

This week, take time to fill your heart with and reflect on these questions: Whose am I? Who supports me? Who do I belong to, and who belongs to me? Who has extended graciousness and blessings to me? Who do I extend graciousness and blessings to? Whose name will I call today?

Pass It On!

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