J. A. Faulkerson’s PLAYBOOK INSIGHT SERIES: Becoming a Reliable Friend

Hello, everyone.

My name is J. A. Faulkerson, and I’m the author of Young Achiever Playbook: Planning to Achieve.  I released this book in early 2019 in hopes of giving adolescents and young adults some of the tools they will need to lay firmer foundations for prosperous living.

The book is available for online purchase at jafaulkerson.wordpress.com/store.

Today’s topic is Nurturing, the first of four pillars of prosperity.  The other three pillars are Learning, Working and Leading.  Nurturing is based on the belief that people should grow up to fall in love, get married, and provide parental warmth to their children.  To move toward greatness as a Nurturer, it is my belief that we must master three distinct roles, that of Reliable Friend, Present Spouse and Active Parent.  I will share my insights about what it means to become a Present Spouse and Active Parent in future presentations.  However, I would like to take some time now to answer questions related to becoming a Reliable Friend.

I believe a Reliable Friend is someone you can count on to provide meaningful advice, guidance, support, love and companionship.  But in order for me to be receptive to these provisions, I must trust the person delivering them.  I need to know that the person who wants to become my friend is not out to hurt me through the improper use of their words or deeds.

There’s a verse in the Christian bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, that describes qualities mostly associated with love.  But I’m here to tell you that these qualities should also be present in our friends.  A Reliable Friend is:

  • Patient and kind
  • Doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, isn’t proud
  • Doesn’t dishonor you, and isn’t self-seeking or easily angered
  • Keeps no record or wrongs, always protects you, trusts you, and hopes for the best for you

It is my belief that a person develops a desire to be reliable by getting in touch with his/her Selfless Self.  If you’re anything like my younger self, your default response when interacting with others is to focus on your needs while ignoring the needs of others.  But after many years of being focused on my own needs (i.e., acts of selfishness), I started considering other people’s needs, circumstances.  And it was this consideration that caused me to conclude that the thing we all need most are opportunities to live our best lives now while belonging to someone, or something, special.  Reliable friends care deeply about the people they befriend, and are committed to forging shared experiences that enrich the whole not just the parts.

Becoming a Reliable Friend has many benefits.  I’m about to list three here.

The first benefit is that you know your friendships are based on unconditional love, admiration and respect.  Reliable friends don’t care about you because you do X, Y and Z; they care about you because your words and deeds show you’re a decent person, one who is worthy of their love, admiration and respect.  If they did say they care about you because of X, Y and Z, I would consider that the beginning of a toxic relationship.  You don’t need any toxicity in your life, you need more tonic.

The second benefit is that you gain an appreciation for why it is so important to give of your time, talent, testimony and treasure.  Most of the time, when someone references the four T’s, we think they’re talking about philanthropy, the act of selflessly giving of your time, talent, testimony and treasure.  But we gift these things to our friends as well.  The conversations we have, the athletic events that we attend, the vacations that we take are shared experiences that will be with us throughout our lives.

The third benefit is that you set the stage for positive interactions with your spouse and children.  I will offer additional insights about these interactions in future presentations, but the important thing to note here is that we give selflessly to our spouses and children because they are us and we are them.  We create fulfilling lives with our spouses, and we help our children find fulfillment in the lives they are destined to lead.

To access purchase links to my book Young Achiever Playbook: Planning To Achieve, please visit my website, jafaulkerson.wordpress.com/store.

Thank you, and stay well.

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DC Area Author Releases Young Achiever Playbook To Inspire America’s Youths

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 22, 2019

Northern Virginia – Author J. A. Faulkerson announced today the release of the first installment in his Young Achiever Playbook series.  Young Achiever Playbook: Planning To Achieve offers adolescents and young adults practical strategies for establishing firmer foundations for prosperous living, and is the latest offering from Culturally Coded Content, a Northern Virginia-based creative writing and nonprofit management firm.

YAP Front CoverThroughout the pages of Young Achiever Playbook: Planning To Achieve, J. A. bares his soul, recounting how an arthritic hip condition, and the end of his collegiate track and field career, fostered a newfound appreciation for what he calls the Four Pillars of ProsperityNurturing, Learning, Working and Leading.  After coming to terms with this career-ending diagnosis, J. A. vowed to be the kind of man who:

  • fell in love with one woman, got married and provided parental warmth to his children (Nurturing);
  • graduated from college with a grade point average of 3.0 or better to actively pursue and take advantage of educational, vocational and social opportunities (Learning);
  • developed a strong work ethic derived from an entrepreneurial mindset (Working); and
  • influenced the society at large through positive investments of time, talent, treasure and testimony (Leading).

“After making this vow,” J. A. said, “I had to connect what I was doing then to what I wanted to do later in life.  Making this connection was the first step I took to create a Personal Prosperity Plan.  I call it my Adult LIFE Vision.  By focusing my full attention on it, I was better able to identify the things I needed to do to grow the right amount of intelligence, personality and character to be successful at whatever I put my hands to.”

He added, “I’m a firm believer in the old saying, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’  During my TRIO Upward Bound days, when I was a Director, I made sure we engaged our young scholars in activities that didn’t just prepare them for college.  My staff and I also thought it was important for them to envision the kind of adult lives they wanted to lead.  The stakes are even higher for me now, as I am raising a son who I hope will unashamedly embrace all of the concepts outlined in this book.”

J. A. believes we now live in an era where personal achievement is becoming synonymous with the amount of money people have in their bank accounts (and what they do with it) rather than the amount of neighborly love they have in their hearts (and what they do to bless others). He contends that Achievers who are in touch with their selfless selves impartially consider their neighbors needs to become concerned enough to care. “Because they care,” J. A. said, “they give freely of their time, talent, treasure and testimony.  And by engaging in these philanthropic endeavors, they are letting others know it’s not all about them, it’s about us.”

The 121-page book is available now for online purchase as a paperback or ebook through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JAFaulkerson Headshot, 1-2-19J. A. Faulkerson is a Strategist, Author and Speaker with Culturally Coded Content, a Northern Virginia-based creative writing and nonprofit management firm. A Master-level Social Worker who has worked on behalf of disadvantaged and disenfranchised children, youths and adults for over 20 years, he is committed to producing creative works that don’t just entertain, but educate and enlighten as well.

J. A. is the author of Adinkrahene: Book One (Fiction) and Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner COACH (Nonfiction). Adinkrahene: Book One was one of three titles honored at the 2015 Phillis Wheatley Book Awards ceremony, in the First Fiction category. The Phillis Wheatley Book Awards are held annually on the campus of Columbia University as the kickoff event to QBR’s Harlem Book Fair.

To purchase one or more of J. A.’s available titles, or to book him as a workshop presenter or event speaker, visit www.jafaulkerson.wordpress.com/j-a-bookings.

A portion of all proceeds from the sale of Young Achiever Playbook: Planning To Achieve support the work of ACHIEVEMENT SQUARE Development & Training Centers, Inc., a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization.  To make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.achievementsquare.org/give.

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A Lesson on Lordship

54831101-8759-4FB3-ADFB-CC0AA23F6B69-33974-0000226F9FC59B48Here’s what I learned about Lordship from Crossover Church Pastor Tim Seay on Sunday, February 10, 2019:

If you view Him as Savior, you ask yourself, “What did He give up for me?”

If you view Him as Lord, you ask, “What must I give up for Him?”

We need to recognize His Lordship in everything we do. This approach is based on the reality of who He is.

Position for Salvation: Must confess and renounce our sin for it to be forgiven. Say exactly what God says about sin.

Position for Lordship: Must declare that Jesus died and was resurrected for our sin, and because of that, He is Lord. Say exactly what God says about Jesus.

How do we practice His Lordship in our lives?

  • Disciplinary Trials – God has to intervene to bring us back into alignment.
  • Developmental Trials – God brings a trial in our lives so he can advance us. He is trying to get us ever closer to Kingdom Perfection.

Under his Lordship, there is safety (Divine Protection) when we are obedient. We must never get tired of carrying his over-sized Umbrella of Protection (i.e., Cross), or try to reduce its size.

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When You Were My President

Obama Family 3It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter, to you, Barack Hussein Obama, the man who, even now, means so much to so many people.

I miss you.

We miss you.

From 2008 to 2016, you served as our 44th President. And you did it with a tremendous amount of humility, dignity and grace. But, in 2017, many of us Black Americans were scratching our heads, asking one burning question: What did we gain from you being the first, Black President?

A lot?

No.

We got Donald Trump.

Donald being elected President last year was a glaring reminder that there is a segment of the American populace that never saw the content of your character because they couldn’t get past the color of your skin. They thought your being The Leader of the Free World was an aberration, made possible only because both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 were perceived as flawed, Republican candidates. But they were wrong. You were elected President twice, as a Democrat, because, even though you would readily admit that you possess flaws as well, you represented the hopefulness we Americans needed at the time to begin a dialogue, one that would ultimately lead to a better understanding of how our inability to get along across racial/ethnic lines prevents our nation from becoming a more perfect union.

But as I type these words, I find myself wondering if the unenlightened few who voted for Donald even want to get along with the rest of us. They seemed to embrace him without reservation when he asserted that you were born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia, not America, offspring to a White American mother and Black Kenyan father. I get that you wanted to prove them wrong by producing the long-form birth certificate that showed you were born in Hawaii, something no other American President has been asked to do, but you must admit, even that wasn’t enough. Now that you’re no longer in office, Donald is going out of his way to sully your reputation, undo all the executive and legislative good Democratic lawmakers and you did on behalf of all Americans, which includes the ones who didn’t even vote for you.

There is no need for me to recount your accomplishments. Just complete a critical analysis of everything Donald has been trying to undo since taking office. Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Revocation of the executive order allowing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Blatant disregard for American citizens’ right to protest peacefully. And signing into law a consequential (and highly controversial) tax reform bill.

Donald is quick to tell us he wants to make America great, again. But his incessant attacks upon your legacy are evidence that you, along with at least seven of the 43 presidents that preceded you, were intent on adding to America’s greatness, not take it back to a bygone era marred by prejudice, racism and discrimination. I want you to know that your efforts are appreciated, not just because you led responsibly, but also because you made it clear through your words and deeds that all of those Democratic accomplishments corresponded nicely with your cabinet’s efforts to fairly administer passed laws, regulations and rules. Donald can’t compete with that because someone forgot to tell him there’s no I in team.

But I digress.

When you were my President, I felt even better about the Black skin I am in. I’m not going to lie; it was great seeing someone who looked like me take up residence in the White House. You knew all eyes were on you, but you didn’t use your notoriety to enrich yourself. No. You used it to encourage us to turn toward each other, not away.

Yes, you said the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri had a right to peacefully voice their concerns about police brutality against Black and Brown Americans, and the unfair sentencing of members of these same groups within the American criminal justice system. To this day, it’s no secret that you support Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, his taking of a knee, for racial, social and economic justice. But that’s what good men do. But Donald didn’t become President because he was good, or popular. That honor was bestowed on Hillary Clinton. That’s why he only champions causes put forth by his Republican base, individuals who lack the enlightenment to see the dying breed of bad apples in our police departments, understand the profit motive that leads to the profiling, incarceration and murder of disenfranchised and downtrodden Americans.

After Heather Heyer, our White sibling in the struggle, was murdered in Charlottesville, Virginia by a White supremacist, Donald seemed to shower more praise on the Tiki Torch-bearing protesters than the brave Americans who stood against them, against prejudice, racism, discrimination and hate. But Donald knows nothing about American history, and the historians in his inner circle failed to brief him before he addressed the media in the aftermath of Heyer’s death. One has to wonder if he would have suggested that the Tiki Torch-bearing protesters were protecting their heritage if he had known the first Confederate monuments were erected between 1890 and 1950 (the era of Jim Crow segregation) to make Black Americans feel less than rather than equal to their White counterparts.

When you were my President, I was able to see Black love done right. While my 13-year-old son is able to see my public displays of affection for his mother in our home, it has been refreshing to see the same phenomenon displayed by a Black couple from the confines of the White House. But First Lady Michelle and you weren’t performing before a Black audience only. Truth be told, you weren’t performing at all. What you were unknowingly doing was reframing the negative narrative that unenlightened White Americans have been writing about us Black Americans since 1619, when our ancestors were ripped from Africa and shipped as cargo to Jamestown, Virginia.

But what did they hear, what did they see, when your faces flashed across the television screens. They heard, saw, a Black couple living and loving out loud. There were the fist bumps during your acceptance speech, your kisses to the top of the First Lady’s head. There were the interviews in which you praised the First Lady for being an exceptional wife and dedicated mother to your daughters, Malia and Sasha. And there were those moments when you applauded your life partner for sharing her concerns about men who think they can grab women and girls by their genitalia and get away with it.

That’s why I am so upset with those White Evangelical Christians who voted for Donald in 2016. They excoriated you for your evolving positions on homosexuality and abortion while accusing you of endorsing policies that infringed upon their religious liberties. Their assertions are mind-boggling, for it let’s me know they don’t understand the difficult hand American presidents are dealt.

American presidents can’t allow their decisions to be guided by their strong feelings about two or three issues. Their decisions have to be constitutionally based, and they must protect every American citizen’s right to life, liberty and happiness. Thus, these protections must be extended to adherents of other religions as well. You can’t support infringement of Muslim’s religious liberties because you mistakenly believe their religion runs counter to Christianity. That’s wrong. When White Evangelical Christians behave this way, they become hypocrites, not fully understanding what it means to practice what they preach.

And that takes me back to the Black love that the First Lady and you did right. However, this is where I choose to focus less on the black and more on the love. White Evangelical Christians didn’t vote for Donald because he is Christian; they voted for him because they have been conditioned to esteem their Whiteness over their Christianity. You knew this. That’s why you spent eight years walking a fine line when you addressed us from the Oval Office, the Rose Garden or the West Wing. You knew that they refused to love and respect you because of your blackness, even though your words and deeds showed that you are, and have always been, a part of their family, their Christian brother. For this, I say shame on them. Because when you were our president, your words and your deeds showed that you love your God and you love your neighbors, which just so happens to be the two greatest commandments of the Christian faith.

But if we Americans were honest with ourselves, we would conclude that your time in office allowed us to finally establish a benchmark for what it will take for us to become a more perfect union. To many Black Americans’ dismay, you chose not to focus most of your attention on issues that only had relevancy to us. You were thoughtful in your approach; making sure that the legislation you signed into law benefitted all Americans, not just a few. Unfortunately, the unenlightened few who voted for Donald in 2016 failed to recognize the method behind your generosity, the immensity of your love of country.

Sad?

No doubt.

But moving forward, we must believe that more of them want to reject Donald’s divisive rhetoric and spiteful actions to join the ongoing crusade to make America’s better great.

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COMING SOON: J. A. Faulkerson’s “The Bear on My Back”

The Bear on My Back Promo

The sport of track and field has been good to me.  It is what kept me moving forward and upward at Dobyns-Bennett High School and the University of Tennessee when I could have easily chosen mediocrity over excellence.  So when I sat down to write my latest novel, The Bear on My Back, I set out to craft a story where what happens off the track is just as exciting as what happens on it.

This next statement emerges from the admiration I harbor for my characters.  You’re going to enjoy the story lines that I have created for Jason Black and Mitch Newman. These brothers, both elite sprinters, become entangled in situations that I dare say the average person would be hard pressed to overcome.  These situations require that they make the kind of choices that enable them to get their lives back on track.  And with both of them endeavoring to compete in the 2012 London Olympic Games, for the title of “World’s Fastest”, the stakes are high.

I’m still mixing in essential ingredients, but, soon, I will be placing the cake in the oven. Thereafter, I will be icing it up, relying on an artist friend to provide the window dressing it needs to motivate you to give it prominent positions on your bookshelves. When it becomes available for purchase later this year, it is my hope you will purchase online copies from my Amazon Author Central page , or in person at one of my public events.  Without you, I would not be able to live This Writer’s Life.

As always, thank you for your purchases, but, more importantly, your thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,

100 BM Photo 2

J. A.

Real Men Doing Real Work

L.I.F.E. PRINCIPLE # 4: Be a leader who associates with winners not losers.

dr-king-2

As a youngster, I became enthralled with the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  And as I matriculated to and through college, I found myself making frequent visits to the John C. Hodges Library’s audio-visual department to watch, and re-watch, Eye on the Prize documentaries. To me, Dr. King was the ultimate leader – my hero – for he led a movement that laid the groundwork for Black Americans, and other persons of color, to gain equal rights and protections under the law.

Dr. King is the reason I decided to pursue degrees in Social Work. Like him, I wanted to help people help themselves. But as mobilizing forces seek to convince young people that their future is bleak, I’m calling on Real Men like yourselves to do more to help them become the kind of leaders that articulate more hopeful narratives about their futures. In the words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, we must keep “hope alive” through our righteous words and deeds.

As a Huddle Group, you must show young people what it means to be leaders in their homes, schools, workplaces and communities. They must know that leadership in these arenas is not predicated on one’s racial/ethnic identity, or political party affiliation. It is based on doing the right thing relative to fairness, equity and justice.

What our young people must understand is they live in a country where citizens have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. From these inalienable rights come values. At times, our self-righteousness as human beings causes us to impose our emerging values on individuals and groups that nurture. learn, work, lead and even pray differently than us. But we’re only right some of the time. For this reason, we, both the young and the old, have no right to tell other people how to live their lives. We can provide a gentle nudge, or two, but we should never get them to do our bidding through coercion. True leaders are quick to acknowledge this fact, opting instead to humbly work with like-minded people in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities to maintain bonds of peace, havens of tranquility.

Your Huddle Group should develop lesson plans that require young people to study the lives of leaders both past and present, from all racial/ethnic groups, both genders. After this study has been completed, they should be asked if they consider themselves to be leaders. The introverts will undoubtedly say no, the extroverts yes. But then you’ll have to reel them back in, asking follow-up questions about how they’re leading. Most will probably give you examples of how they’re leading positively. But when you dig a little deeper, they, and you, will discover they’re nowhere near being the righteous leaders we need them to be. Their lack of growth in this area should be attributed to their peer influences.

Believe it or not, the peer dynamics that we see in their world are driven by common goals, similar objectives. Achievers, young people who are living independently fearless and empowered, want to be successful by establishing educational and vocational foundations that allow them to maintain positive relationships while simultaneously imprinting their legacies on the society at large. The Slackers, on the other hand, have a difficult time envisioning their success, resulting from their preoccupation with the here rather than the there.

For this reason, they risk not graduating from high school and college to secure employment that pays a livable wage.

For this reason, they risk not developing marital relationships that withstand the test of time.

For this reason, they risk bearing children out of wedlock, thus robbing the born children of opportunities to bear witness to marriage done right.

Getting young people to embrace the leader within should be the primary objective of your Huddle Group’s efforts. My TRIO Upward Bound staff and I accomplished this by offering a series of life skills workshops (on Saturdays) that forced our scholars to get in touch with their selfless selves. They were then encouraged to become Servant Leaders by helping each other achieve the program’s B or better standard in all of their classes. While my staff and I went to great lengths to ensure our scholars were successful as individuals, I took more pride in letting our scholars know when the program’s collective GPA was B or better. The latter just meant that the vast majority of our scholars were handling their business in the classroom.

When I attended Body of Christ Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, I had the honor of serving as one of the co-chairs of the church’s Warriors Rites of Passage Program. This program was our Iron Man Ministry’s outreach to boys between the ages of 10 and 14, and our goal was to mold boys into men.

Through bi-weekly Saturday meetings – which lasted about two hours – we men shared our hearts for God and L.I.F.E., taking our young charges under our wings, and helping them develop a leadership mindset. Most of the boys we worked with didn’t know the first thing about being leaders. They were immature and undisciplined. But through our instruction and guidance, they seemingly gave more credence to the incessant tugging of their consciences, which told them to do right by themselves and others when they wanted to do wrong.

Visit any school in America, and you will hear school administrators and teachers talk about student involvement in service learning projects. When young people are involved in service learning projects, they learn invaluable lessons from the giving of their time, talent and treasure. Consequently, because learning is a lifelong process, it is important that your Huddle Group commit itself to developing Servant Leaders during constituent engagements. Your Huddle Group must convince them that leadership is the highest calling, and, consequently, they must adhere to a moral code governed by their love for God and neighbors.

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From Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H. 
Part Two: Real Men Doing Real Work
Click here to purchase Part One only.
Copyright 2016 Jeffery A. Faulkerson.  All rights reserved.