Being true to our ancestors

While transferring files to my new laptop the other day, I came across a file of some of my past speeches.
The vast majority were work related.  Since my specialty is Talent Management, I have an array of relevant speeches.

However, one caught my eye and brought back memories.  As I read it, my eyes become watery.

Memories from the past

The title of the speech was “Being true to our ancestors”.  

 Having been the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Union Baptist Church in Montclair NJ, my proudest moment had nothing to do with that prestigious title.  I was also Chairman of the Education Committee.

Each year around this time of year, we would participate in Sunday morning service.  All the graduating seniors from high school and college students would participate in some segment of service.  These were the best and the brightest of our church.  They are what I would call “Our Greatest Asset”

I grew up in a family of three siblings.  My parents never finished college, but from the time that we started school, my parents would talk to us about going to college.  This was something that they were unable to do but wanted to make sure that we would all go to college.

Generational objectives

One of my father’s favorite saying was that “each generation must do better than the next generation” Each generation must take it to the next level.

My speech was based on my graduation day from college.  The day of graduation, my parents were walking through campus as if they owned it, such a proud look and mannerism has taken over.  They both had bought new outfits to wear and looked splendid.

As the ceremony started, I made sure to pinpoint where they were sitting so that I could wave to them as I crossed the stage.  As my name was called, I looked to the audience and we locked eyes. 

Tears of accomplishments

They were sitting there with tears running down their faces, I too began to tear up but it was not because of tears of joy from graduating.  My tears represented their hopes being realized.  All those years of them talking about the importance of education, they had reached their goal of graduating all of their sons.  I think of that visual when I attend graduations.

When my son and daughter walked across that stage, I too had that same look.  I too shed those same tears.  I too walked around their campus with my chest stuck out.

This week I was notified that I would be receiving the “Strategic Leadership Award” from the World Human Resources Development (HRD) Congress in Mumbai, India in February 2012. 

My thoughts immediately went to my deceased parents and how I wish that they could be there sitting in that audience; standing at the lectern with both of them looking on, with tears in their eyes, taking it all in.

My life has been driven by the title of that speech.

A Debt Owed.

We owe not only our parents but also our ancestors, to do well.  Our history is a unique history in that rights were denied, but we have no excuse now. 

Our career should be driven by the thought of your parents and grandparents looking on as you rise through life at each attainable milestone.

We have so many opportunities, we must prepare ourselves to take advantage of them, and that begins with managing your career as well as your life.

Happy graduation to all the new graduates!

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