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Career Day (Joyner Elementary School)

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Being a Career Day (6/1/12) speaker in three classes at Florence Griffith Joyner School in Watts and seeing high quality teaching by multicultural teachers was a great pleasure. I gave a few "Pearls"; demonstrations of x-rays, bone models, a brain model, and one of my published books; briefly reviewed my physician and historian education and training; and ended with Question/Answer sessions. Realizing Black/Brown youth rely heavily in life on a philosophical orientation, subjective approaches (e.g. emotions), and group connections, I used symbolic imagery (e.g. stories and analogies), starting with the Tree Concept (to give them a Thinking Tool).

After being introduced by Sharon Bingaman RN (who also drew a picture of a tree on the white board), I told them the single most important thing for getting started on the path of their career was Self-Love. Self-Love, the Seed, involves two things related to the "Fruit". First is not doing anything to harm yourself--for that is harmful fruit. They volunteered not getting in gangs, not taking drugs, and not dropping out of school. Second, do things which give you a delicious "Fruit"--that which you really, really want in life. They volunteered taking care of their family and children. The "Roots" giving rise to the delicious "Fruit" carry the driving force message of your success must be about benefitting other people. Or, as the National Assembly of Black Church Organizations says: "Lifting others as we climb". In order to not get what you do not really, really want and to get what you really, really want requires having sharp thinking skills. The way to get started on being a power thinker is to understand your school subjects. A bonus comes from doing "extra" work to learn more about the subject and see how it is connected to all other subjects--like mathematics, physics, humanities, biology, and chemistry. While in school at about your age, it seemed to me everybody knew things I did not know. Because I really, really wanted to know important things, I would go home; get out the encyclopedias we bought for two dollars at a library's discarded book sale; and read everything on the subject of what I did not know. In this way, I became an "OVERNIGHT EXPERT." Throughout my medical training, it was amazing to see how every part of the body affects and depends on every other part and thus cannot be properly separated into specialties (e.g. brain/mind, heart, or bones). Just as school subjects and all parts of your body are connected, so are you spiritually connected to and dependent on everybody else. These understandings are guides to discovering "the Good Life" and your talent in life.

Since your talent is a special birth gift no one else in the world can do the way you do it, a clue to finding your talent is by watching Bees go from flower to flower. In sucking out the flower's honey juice, the bee gets dusted with the flower dust other flowers need to make new flowers. So bees are helping the flowers while the flowers are helping the bees. Similarly, when everybody helps each other, somewhere inside these relationships you realize where you are best suited to create, enhance, or maintain the most meaningful connections in life. And that may be your talent. Regardless of how you discover it, the purpose of your talent is to help you make a good and comfortable life for yourself and for your family as well as to make a tiny piece of the world a little better. But these three can only happen if your talent is fully developed--and that requires hard work. I learned hard work as a boy doing gardening for my family; for the poor or elderly neighbors; and for pay (which taught me how to appreciate and manage money). In the process, I learned never to think about how hard a job will be or how long it will take. Instead, the job has to be done right away; done "right" the first time; and made beautiful. I would have fun trying to do the job perfectly. If you understand these ideas about the importance of the Seed, you will see how it is a helpful tool in starting to organize and solve any of your life's problems.

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