Crisis Response Techniques

I was at an offsite at Google headquarters in New York last week and shared with my peers there a few techniques i’ve used successfully when responding to personal and professional crisis. My recommendations were as follows:

  1. We must differentiate what “actually” happened from the “story” or narrative or perception of what happened. Separate facts from myths

    Facts = 

  • To what degree is the damage

  • What system/ person caused the issue ; who was all involved

  • Who is affected and how 

Myths= 

  • Fear, paranoia, hyperbole, gossip, bias, haste

2. Clearly define which things, should they become true, would solve the problem. What does success look like? 

Watch out for band-aids, which seek to solve problems quickly; instead solve problems deeply. Your solution shouldn’t create new problems and should prevent this specific problem from happening again. 

3. Be cost effective: During a crisis we tend to overspend or overexert to solve the problem because we feel desperate that if we don’t act quickly our life, career, relationships, or reputation will be irreparably sullied. This is usually one of the “myths”. Calm down and put your wallet away! Even though it is an emergency, it isn’t worth selling the Ranch. Find the minimum resource way to resolve the issue - how can we fix this problem with less time and less money?

4. Be patient: rather than scrambling to put out fires asap take 12-24 hours to respond, if possible. That lag time allows :

  1. Space for you to come up with the best solution

  2. Time to gather info and sift between myths and facts 

  3. Time for the problem, in some unique instances, to actually resolve itself 

For a more thorough analysis on your personal or professional crisis, reach out to me or book time on my calendar and we will get after it, together. In the meantime, read up on the fruit of the spirit :) Cheers,


Love in response to Terror

The last time I was before you we discussed 3 different ideas meant to galvanize us towards productive, collective action. I recall that evening, because on my ride home from here I cried tears of joy. Today, our tears are of a different sort. Loved ones were killed in a cold blooded act of terror. Islamaphobic local media request a ban on Muslims and for Muslim congressmen to step down.

Today, I invite you, to ponder three new ideas, that are often conflated as one: Islam, Terrorism, and Jihad. It’s a common misconception that Islamic terrorist wage jihad. But, as I have learned, this could not be farther from the truth. Islam is a religion, whose practitioners, much like Christians, believe in one God, pledge allegiance to one messiah, and submit their lives and their means to the will of that God. Muslims are people, who, like you, want a stable prosperous home; healthy, happy children; and wholesome, safe communities. Muslims are not terrorist, because Terrorism is not Islam.

Terrorism, is actions intended to instill fear, incite violence, or destroy property and life for political purpose. Terrorist use weapons, torture, and other means to confine our freedom and to steal our joy. Terrorism, however, has no face. If I were to mention a plane which, once hijacked, was crashed into a government building, who here could decipher whether I meant ones crashed into the trade towers by Arab extremists or one crashed into the IRS building in Austin by a non-Muslim citizen in 2010. If I were to select at random a mass shooting which pierced the lungs and limbs of young school children this decade, might I happen upon those few committed by Muslim extremist or one of the dozens committed by our non Muslim neighbors which local media neglected to label acts of terror. what we've experienced recently are no doubt acts of terrorism, yet, just as certainly, they are not an acts of Islam.

I have seen acts of Islam though. Acts of Islam are the millions donated to hospitals, orphanages, and food banks in college station, Texas in the past 12 months. Acts of Islam are the volunteers who helped rebuild homes in Houston after hurricane Harvey. Acts of Islam are those who donated blood, clothing, and toiletries to refugees and veterans in Dallas; acts of Islam are two high school sweet hearts falling in love. Righteous, courageous, compassionate service is Islam. Kindness, empathy, and ingenuity are Islam. Violence, Murder, and genocide is terrorism. The two could not be farther apart.

Nevertheless, some still ask, well, what about Jihad? Doesn’t Muhammad and the Quran encourage Muslims to kill all infidels and to die in battle for a fast track to heaven? I saved this thought for last, because Jihad, contrary to what you’ve been told, is exactly the point. Jihad is often misinterpreted in the west to mean “holy war” whereas many in the East interpret it more broadly as “struggle.” Whether this is an outward struggle, against infidels, or an inward struggle against temptations and ego is up for debate. I know jihad as an inward quest to conquer the self and a collective effort to purge our communities of the sins which distance us from God.

My vision for our state is to be a place where people from all walks of life feel supported and destined to thrive; where prejudice is unwelcome, because all people are welcome. This week was a somber reminder that we are not there yet. Social stratification, racial and ethnic bias, and recession continue to occupy the acreage where community, love, and surplus ought to be. To get there, will require Not only the hands and hearts of wealthy Whites and Christians but also the talents and genius of the poor, middle-class, Arabs, Jews, atheists, LGTBQ, minorities, immigrants, and women. Only if all these hands come together might we have the capacity to lift the least among us. If divided, However, we will fail.

Which brings me back to Jihad. That inward quest to conquer the self and collective effort to purge our communities of the sins which distance us from God, is what we need in the wake of painful, pitiful acts of terror. Jihad, not against our brothers; but instead, against our prejudice, sexism, hate, crime, poverty, and bigotry of all sorts, is our only hope. Once we purge These evils from our society and likewise endeavor to distance ourselves from our own inner vice, then, and only then might we all be one step closer to democracy, equality, love and peace; One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice and for all.

Thanks

My favorite Poem

If you can keep your head when all about you      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;      If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken, Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 If you can make one heap of all your winnings ; And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings; And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew; To serve your turn long after they are gone,   

And so hold on when there is nothing in you; Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   And—which is more—you’ll be …!

To Friends

To friends who dare to do daunting things, with no clear blueprint, without much support, who fail and err often, yet remain steadfast and optimistic: through sticks & stones, and politics, and sickness, family and foe, business, doubt, ... Keep plowing - please - because uncharted paths are seldom clear and never straight, and those who come after you will depend on your footsteps. Wounds take time to heal; lessons take time to learn; dreams take time to unfold. Fortunately, our time is now. "it is not the critic who counts... but [you] who is in the arena". Keep faith. Keep courage. Keep crying, if you must, but keep plowing nonetheless.

A Note from the Workshop

A note from a workshop this morning: When you ask the janitors at Nasa what they do for a living, one replies "To help send a man to the moon and back." Be goal oriented instead of role oriented. #2018Mindset

Chinquapin Gala Speech

To outsiders, Chinquapin is revered as a private school that caters to disadvantaged youth and affords them a college preparatory education at minimal cost; but while this is somewhat true, to the students, Chinquapin is much more than that.

For us, Chinquapin is an escape from our often wretched home life and for many of us, it is our second home. Personally, having been at Chinquapin now for approaching four years, I can attest that Chinquapin and the people connected to it has truly enriched my life and redirected my future.

When I first came to chinquapin I was unprepared; I didn’t have effective study habits, I got into lots of trouble, I was not yet mature enough to to function responsibly away from home and eventually I was dismissed midway through my seventh grade year. After my dismissal I went to a horrible public school in my neighborhood, that was infested with drugs, violence, and poverty. Before, chinquapin had been my outlet from these conditions, but now that I was back in my neighborhood, it seemed as though my life was headed down hill. This was my wake-up call.    

I wanted to escape. I wanted to succeed, but I knew that I could not do it alone. I needed Chinquapin. Since I had been kicked out just six months earlier, I knew my chances of reacceptance were slim, but I reapplied anyway. To my chagrin, I was not accepted. I could have given up, but this did not deter me, I knew that Chinquapin was my only way out.

At this time my parents had given up on me; they turned their backs, but I worked diligently my eighth grade year, made tremendous strides to build my character, then reapplied a third time for my freshman year, and to my delight, I was reaccepted!

Since then I have  been thriving academically and have been working hard to uphold Chinquapin’s high standards.

But through my journey, what has impacted me the most is the fact that even when my family gave up on me and turned their backs, Chinquapin was willing to give me a second chance. Thanks to that second chance, I have gone from an expelled student destined for failure, to an ambitious student destined for College, and for that I will be forever grateful.

But when I think back over my life and Chinquapins contribution to it I can’t help but think that if it were not for generous people like Jen and Dan, Chinquapin could not have survived for so many years.


Fast Food Prayer

Fatigued and eager for my shift to end, I glance at the clock above the fry station. Six hours down, two hours to go. I have flipped 237 hamburger patties today – although it feels more like a million. The 238th patty lands squarely on the grill. “Everybody get down!” yells a masked man. He points a silver revolver in my direction. I consider ducking, fleeing, diving, but I am paralyzed by fear.

I rarely feel safe in my crime-ridden neighborhood. Of my five closest childhood friends, one is a dropout and drug dealer, two are incarcerated, and the other two were murdered. However, thanks to education, my experience has been quite different. In the seventh grade, I received a scholarship to attend Chinquapin Prep, a college preparatory boarding school for at-risk youth. In addition to a first-rate education, Chinquapin afforded me the place to escape the hardships of my neighborhood, to grow, and finally, to feel safe. However, as an immature seventh grader with unrefined study habits, I was expelled after one semester.

Changed by my time at Chinquapin, I returned home a misfit. I spoke more proper English and spent my time reading and watching documentaries instead of squandering hours with my former friends, with whom I now had little in common. They said I was “too lame” to hang with them. I did not mind. I could not afford to succumb to the deleterious habits that I had watched claim their lives. My goals were to escape my wretched environment, to find positive friends, to feel safe again. So I reapplied to Chinquapin. Rejected initially, I worked more diligently, studied more

thoroughly and prayed more passionately than before for a second chance. After my third application, my prayer was answered.

I returned to Chinquapin with a new motivation – to secure a future with possibilities. The stakes were high. I participated in many extracurricular activities, and quickly rose to the top of my class academically. I grew spiritually and mentally; made long lasting, positive friendships; found my calling for entrepreneurship; and took on many leadership roles on campus. Most of all, I felt safe again.

With my initial goals accomplished, I adopted new ones. I dream to be an international businessman; to create the world’s first cost-effective desalination tank; to play professional basketball overseas; to be president of the United States. With God and education, I feel that there is little I cannot accomplish.

But, between patties, working the night shift, with the robber’s gun pointed at me, my fate seems uncertain.

My heart beats rapidly. Sweat drips down my forehead. I tremble as his eyes bore into me. I am afraid, not only of death, but also that my education and my ambitions will die with me – that my struggle and my growth will have been in vain. I am humbled by my past, proud of my present, and profoundly hopeful for my future. With this in thought mind, I pray, “Lord let me live.”


I sing

As a child, next to being a professional basketball player, I dreamt of being a singer. Daily, I use to stand in front of my bedroom mirror, flashlight in hand, and sing pretending that I was amidst thousands of fans. If there ever were an available audience, I would congregate them into the living room and perform my favorite song, “Ain’t too proud to beg.” It was as if I were David Ruffin live on television singing along side the other Temptations. But really, I was not on TV; the television was behind me. Instead of on stage, I was standing in front of my couch, which had the capacity to seat four adults, unless my uncle Gilbert was present, then it would only seat three. Although I was standing in my living room, in my head, I was in concert, and if I had at least three fans, my show was sold out. Loud and off pitch, I would sing proudly as if that couch were an arena and those three fans were thousands more. Though older, my imagination has yet to diminish. Today, even though in reality I may be standing in the dining hall, if I am singing, in my head I am on Broadway. The lead singer: the center of attention.

For many people, music serves solely as aural entertainment, but for me music is a tool to relieve stress. While some prefer to listen to music, I prefer to sing it. When I sing, I forget all of my worries and enter a fantasy realm beset with bliss. As I recite the first lyric of any song my spirit, as if captured in rapture, is lifted. As breath escapes my diaphragm and ascends, it provokes ecstatic vibrations, which pass through my esophagus arousing my nerves into soothing stimulations, which evoke shivers throughout my being. For me, more than a hobby, singing is a passion. But, timid and afraid of ridicule, in middle school I kept this passion secret; top secret, because as an eight grader in public school, I had a reputation to protect. Between periods, I use to hum tunes under my breath as I commuted to each class. I was always cautious, conscious that I sang quietly so that my voice remained unperceivable to the ears if others. However, in my head, it was as if I was singing into a mike that was connected to a thousand amps. Sometimes in the middle of class, even though my eyes were glued to the chalkboard, in my head I was in concert. I often toyed with thought of sharing my voice with my friends, but I was pessimistic and afraid. “Surely they would laugh at me,” I thought, “I would be made fun of for all of eternity!” Thus, to avoid derision, I continued to sing silently, rendering my voice exclusive for my thousands of faithful fans, whom packed the arena of my imagination night and day.  

As my coyness dwindled, I began to sing louder than my custom. Progress, initially, was slow, until one day. The Day. It happened. I remember it vividly. It was a Thursday after lunch, four minutes before the bell rang. As I did everyday, I sat in my desk, pencil in hand, and sang quietly to pass time. As I sang my favorite verse, unconsciously my voice rose. As the words escaped my lips, I closed my eyes and balled my fists just as I had seen David Ruffin do many times before. When I opened my eyes, I noticed a classmate of mine nodding her head to my melody. My cheeks contracted revealing all thirty- two of my teeth and my soul was illuminated like the North Star at midnight. “She likes it!” I thought. Though subtle, her nod, to me, was her stamp of approval. Instinctively, as if Hercules was manning my vocal cords my voice strengthened and my tone and pitch soared instantaneously. Like plague, her nod had infected me with gusto. To my felicity, others began to nod and sing along. We harmonized the remaining verses in unison; then concluding concurrent with the sound of the bell. How delighted was I that my voice had galvanized my classmates into such a chorus charade! Since then, rather than silently as was usual, whenever the opportunity presented itself I sang aloud, and I have continued to do so ever since. When I am happy I sing to express my joy. When I am sad, I sing to diminish my sorrow. Whether inaudibly or aloud, always, I sing.

To me, my singing is a self-inflicted ecstasy, but for those who listen to me, it is rather vexing. “You can’t sing!” “Shut up!” and “Get a life!” are amongst the many derisive slurs I receive regularly, but rather than capitulating out of chagrin, I sing louder. I am my own radio. My peers’ opinions regarding my singing matter not. Positive critique is not my aim. I sing solely to please myself and to entertain my thousands of imaginary fans, whom, contrary to what my peers say, always demand an encore.