Local Coalition Announces 2020 Scholarship Recipients

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

NORTHERN VIRGINIA – The DMV Youth Leadership Coalition announced today the four recipients of its inaugural LEAD RIGHT Scholarship Awards.  The dollar amount for each individual award is $5,000, and this amount is renewable for three consecutive years for recipients maintaining Grade Point Averages (GPAs) of 3.5 or better.

The LEAD RIGHT Scholarship Fund was established in 2019 to recognize, celebrate and affirm Authentic Leadership among underrepresented high school students of color in the Washington, DC/Metropolitan area.  Recent reports indicate that the national college enrollment rate for Black and Hispanic students hovers well below 40 percent, with both tied at 36 percent, compared to 65 percent for Asian students and 41 percent for White students (The Condition of Education, 2019).  These percentages are even lower for Native American students.

This year’s LEAD RIGHT Scholarship recipients include:

ARRINGTON EVANS, a 2020 graduate of Battlefield High School (Haymarket, Virginia).  She will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in Fall 2020, majoring in Pre-Law – Political Science and Government.

 SOFIA POSADA, a 2020 graduate of Washington Latin Public Charter School (Washington, DC).  She will attend Georgetown University in Fall 2020.

KYLE WOODSON, a 2020 graduate of Battlefield High School (Haymarket, Virginia).  He will attend the University of Virginia in Fall 2020 as an Echols Scholar.

ERIC SLEDGE, a 2020 graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School (Manassas, Virginia).  He will attend Claflin University (Orangeburg, South Carolina), where he will pursue a degree in Computer Engineering while playing collegiate baseball.


Twenty-six (26) high school students of color submitted applications to the 2020 LEAD RIGHT Scholarship Fund.  Submitted applications were reviewed and scored by a six-member panel of DMV Youth Leadership Coalition members.  All 26 applicants qualified on the basis of race, ethnicity, GPA and US citizenship.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of the submitted applications came from students of color residing in Northern Virginia, specifically Prince William County, while another 12 percent from Washington, DC and 12 percent from Maryland.  Twenty-seven percent (27%) of the applicants will be considered first-generation college students in Fall 2020.


The DMV Youth Leadership Coalition was formed in September 2018 by the principals of Everyday Mentorship, LLC and ACHIEVEMENT SQUARE Development & Training Centers, Inc. to recognize, celebrate and affirm Authentic Leadership among high school youths in the Washington, DC/Metropolitan area.  An assemblage of concerned adults, its members are committed to preparing tomorrow’s leaders today by hosting community events and offering monetary scholarships that help young people develop better senses of self-identity, self-respect and self-worth while preparing them to be leaders right where they are.

The DMV Youth Leadership Coalition operates under the auspices of ACHIEVEMENT SQUARE Development & Training Centers, Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable organization based in Northern Virginia, in partnership with Everyday Mentorship, LLC and The Brickers Foundation.


Posted in Nonprofit Organization | Leave a comment

Authentic Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re MADE

Toastmaster Dave Zieliniski writes in a November 2015 Toastmaster magazine article that “having the courage to be emotionally open and transparent is a key to being authentic in a leadership role. Authenticity makes you more trustworthy and approachable in any leadership scenario, and that leads to more committed team members and better results.”

I agree with Zieliniski.  Just consider the presidency of Barack Obama, or the business acumen of Oprah Winfrey.  President Obama, the first African American elected to this office, served the USA with dignity, integrity and grace.  And the speech that he delivered at the 2004 Democratic National Committee Convention gave the citizenry a greater sense of where his heart and head are.  Consequently, many of us were eager to vote him into office in 2007 and 2011 because he displayed the kind of humility that all great leaders possess.  From this humility came an aura of selflessness, putting We the People above partisan politics.

Oprah Winfrey was emotionally open and transparent when she told us about being raped as a young child by one of her male family members.  Most of us know that Oprah is a successful journalist/former talk show host who is accustomed to getting into people’s business.  But Oprah didn’t have to tell us about her business.  She could have kept this secret to herself.  However, her disclosure heightened our willingness to watch the Oprah Winfrey Show, when it was on, and watch the slate of programs on the Oprah Winfrey Network and snatch copies of O Magazine off newsstands.  We have come to realize that all of these platforms are reflections of who Oprah is as a person and philanthropist.

Reflecting on Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey’s styles of leadership is somewhat gratifying for me.  This gratification stems from me knowing that these leaders aren’t authentic because they are born this way.  They are authentic because their characters were shaped by the love, and hate, that they received, and continue to receive, from others.

I’ve had to show that I’m a MADE man in my roles as husband, father, youth worker and nonprofit executive.

As a husband, I MATCH my actions with my words daily because I told my wife back in May of 1993 that I will love her until death do us part.  Love is an active verb that is meant to be shown, not just spoken.  That’s why I bend over backwards daily to show her how much I love and appreciate her.

As a father, I ANNOUNCE my feelings to my 15-year-old son when I exude pride toward him for making all A’s on his report card, or disappointment when he fails to complete his chores.  By telling him how I feel, he is able to bring his thoughts, feelings and behaviors into alignment with my emotional state.

When I announce prideful sentiments, my son seems more motivated to apply himself in the classroom, keep his eye on the prize of receiving an academic scholarship to the college of his choice.

When I announce disappointment, my son is forced to check himself so he can turn things around, make more of an effort to please me.

As a youth worker, I DISCLOSE my vulnerabilities to disadvantaged youths when I tell them about my life as the oldest of three children raised by a once-poor, single-parent mother.  They learn how my humble beginnings heightened my desire to help people help themselves.  And I stress to them that I wasn’t impoverished; my mother was.  Being impoverished is a choice that involves doing nothing with the gifts God gives us.  That’s why I applied myself more in the classroom, because I knew this was the only way I could acquire the knowledge and skills to embark on a career.

And as a nonprofit executive, I EMPHASIZE getting things right while acknowledging my mistakes.  When I established my nonprofit organization ACHIEVEMENT SQUARE Development & Training Centers, Inc. back in 2017, I hoped to show more people how to lead independently fearless and empowered lives.  I proposed programs for youths and adults, but we were not awarded the requested $250,000 in grant funding.  My mistake was thinking established grant makers would embrace us, newcomers, with open arms.  But I righted our sinking ship in 2018 when I started developing working relationships with like-minded individuals.  To date, this small coalition of 12 has raised over $12,000 from individual donors for something we call the LEAD RIGHT Scholarship Fund.  And in April/May of 2020, we will award four (4) one-time scholarships of $3,000 each to underrepresented, low-income/first-generation minority youths residing in the Washington, DC/Metropolitan area.

So, remember, authentic leaders aren’t born, they’re MADE.

MATCH your actions with your words.

ANNOUNCE your feelings.

DISCLOSE your vulnerabilities.

And, EMPHASIZE getting things right while acknowledging your mistakes.

Do these four things, and you too will possess the makings of an authentic leader.








Posted in Nonprofit Organization | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Finding Your Purpose, Friendship, Healthy Relationships, Motivation, Nonprofit Organization, parenting advice, Self-help | Leave a comment

University of Maryland, College Park Youth Leadership Symposium Event Cancelled

Friday, March 29, 2019


Washington, D.C. – The DMV Youth Leadership Coalition announced today that its April 20, 2019 youth leadership symposium event at the University of Maryland, College Park Stamp Student Union has been cancelled due to low pre-registration numbers.  Event organizers are currently working to identify an alternate venue for event hosting in the Fall of 2019.

The DMV Youth Leadership Coalition was formed by the principals of Everyday Mentorship, LLC and ACHIEVEMENT SQUARE Development & Training Centers, Inc. in September 2018 for the purpose of bringing the leaders of youth-serving organizations together to collaboratively develop offerings that provide area youths with a more accurate definition of Authentic Leadership.

According to the 4-H National Youth Survey on Leadership (2016), ninety percent (90%) of young people say they are concerned about the future leadership of America, and two-thirds are more confident in the next generation of leaders than in the leaders they see today.  More specifically, the online Harris Poll of 1,501 of the nation’s 9th through 12 grade students revealed the following:

  • Most youth (81%) think leaders today are more concerned with their own agendas than with achieving the goals of their organizations.
  • Seventy-six percent (76%) say leaders are focused on different priorities than what matters most to them.
  • Half of youth rate government and political leaders as having weak leadership (51%), among the highest relative to other groups of leaders examined in the survey. Overall, weak leadership is related to not accomplishing what is promised (59%); not working collaboratively (56%); and not offering new solutions (53%).
  • Most youth (96%) think leadership is important to addressing the country’s most pressing issues; but only one in three young people says they have the skills they need to be prepared to lead.

All donations previously made in support of the cancelled University of Maryland College Park event have been earmarked to support the planning, coordination and hosting of the Fall 2019 event.

To make a tax-deductible monetary donation to ACHIEVEMENT SQUARE Development & Training Centers, Inc.’s charitable oversight of the DMV Youth Leadership Coalition’s efforts, please visit the Organizational Storefront.




Posted in Nonprofit Organization | Leave a comment

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.

Throughout 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 Prosperity – Nurturing, Learning, Working and Leading. After coming to terms with this careerending 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.


J. 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 http://www.jafaulkerson.wordpress.com/store.

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 in support of ACHIEVEMENT SQUARE Development & Training Centers, Inc.’s efforts, visit http://www.achievementsquare.org/give.


Posted in Nonprofit Organization | Leave a comment

Poor Mom Teaches Rich Mom What It Means To Be Successful

This video moved me because it succinctly encapsulates the message I share in Young Achiever Playbook: Planning To Achieve.

A successful life should never be based on what you receive. It should be based on what you give.

Posted in Nonprofit Organization | Leave a comment

Planning To Achieve

How does one plan to achieve?

Well, for starters, you have to see it to believe it.  After you have allowed the sight of your achievements to become real in your mind, you have to birth them into creation by writing them down.  Only then will you be able to say you have taken the first step to becoming an Achiever.

What you need to know is all of us have been wired for greatness by the Creator.  By giving us the free will to work out our own salvation, He is daring us to become more than who we are.  But know this, the nest that we’re in is on the side of a mountain.  And if we don’t learn how to spread and flap our wings, this same mountain is going to become our permanent home.

But if you have stayed with me this long, you must have some pretty strong wings.  They have become stronger because you used them to break free of your doubts and fears so that you can finally see the sun rising and setting on the horizon. Now, you want to get there, where the sun is.  To do that, though, you must learn the mechanics of flight.

The sun that you see rising and setting on the horizon can be anything you want it to be.  But for the purposes of this book, it represents your Adult LIFE Vision in the areas of nurturing, learning, working and leading.  When this Adult LIFE Vision comes into focus in your mind, you will be better able to connect what you’re doing today with what you see yourself doing tomorrow.

But notice what I did here.

I’m not talking about life.

I’m talking about LIFE.

To experience LIFE, you must adopt values that are reflective of your living independently fearless and empowered.

The L in LIFE means you’re active and thriving.

The I in LIFE means you’re not negatively influenced or controlled by others.

The F in LIFE means you’re bold or brave.

And the E in LIFE means you’re enabled or permitted.

Active and Thriving

As the oldest of three children raised by a once-poor, single-parent mother, I could have easily allowed my circumstances to dictate the course of my life.  But I didn’t.  Instead, I came to realize that my mother was once impoverished, not me.  And just like her, I had to figure out how to make a better life for myself.  This required that I make the power moves that needed to be made to position me for any and all opportunities that would come my way.  Only then would I be able to thrive, or ascend to the next rungs on the ladder.

If you’re not moving forward and up the rungs of the ladder, you’re not being active, and you’re not thriving.  The operative word here is moving.  You cannot stand in one place and expect good things to come your way.  You have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone, both personally and professionally, if you want to gain the knowledge, skills and experiences to display mastery as a nurturer, learner, worker and leader.  Without this knowledge, without these skills, and without these experiences, you ability to display this mastery will be diminished, because you have not taken the time to develop a proper framework for achievement.

 Not Negatively Influenced or Controlled By Others

Everyone is susceptible to being negatively influenced or controlled.  You may have friends who want you to drink alcohol or use drugs.  Or, you may have a boyfriend or girlfriend who is pressuring you to be sexually active in the absence of a ring being on it (your left ring finger).  But what you need to understand is you are a thermostat, not a thermometer.  You don’t gauge the temperature, you control it.

Therefore, you should not allow negative outside forces to dictate how you will nurture, how you will learn, how you will work, and how you will lead.  You are the director of your own symphony in these areas, and you should be committed to selflessly showing others how you do what you do.  In other words, because you have been blessed, you should always be striving to bless others for their benefit, not yours.

But what is the standard for determining if something is negative or positive?   That’s a good question.  Well, for starters, you have to ask yourself is this other person’s words or deeds promoting fairness, equality and justice?

Fairness means “impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination” (Merriam-Webster.com).

Equality, or equal, means “like in quality, nature or status” (Merriam-Webster.com).

And justice means “acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good” (Merriam-Webster.com).

There is no gray area relative to this triad of ideas.  You have two choices, embrace or shun.  If you choose to shun these ideas, you increase your susceptibility to being negatively influenced and controlled (or duped) by others because now ideology and partisanship drive your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  And when you allow ideology and partisanship to ensnare you, the groupthink that follows causes you to adopt an us against them mentality, and the only thing that really matters to you, them, is being part of a collective that is committed to convincing unlike-minded people to think, feel and behave the way you do.  To win.

But are you really winning when bad things continue to happen to good people.   I say no.  No because these good people want to exercise the same inalienable rights – life, liberty and happiness – that you have been endowed with by the Creator.  Will there be times when their exercise of these inalienable rights infringe upon the exercise of your inalienable rights?  Yes.  But if we are to live in a world defined by our ability to get along, we must do what is morally right relative to fairness, equality and justice.

My religion, Christianity, guides my thoughts, feelings and behaviors in this area.  Whenever, I say this, people tend to think I’m a bible scholar.  I’m not.  But what I am is an adherent to the two greatest commandments that are espoused by Jesus Christ in Luke 10:27 of the Holy Bible – “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  They also think I’m intolerant of people whose thoughts, feelings and behaviors don’t align well with Christian dogma.  Again, I’m not.  I have learned that this intolerance hinders my ability to sow blessings into other people’s lives, as well as their ability to sow blessings into my own.

Does that mean I’m accepting of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors?


But it does mean I will be an active listener who will hold up what they think, feel and do to biblical truths.  And then the love I have for them, my neighbors, will compel me to join them in the struggle to co-exist on common ground, working together to sow and cultivate the seeds of fairness, equality and justice for the benefit of all.

Bold or Brave

Sometimes, being bold and brave is a hard thing to do.  For us married adults, one of the hardest things to do is apologize to our spouses after doing or saying something wrong or hurtful.  For you, young Achiever, it may equate to doing or saying something wrong or hurtful to a friend or parent.  When we find ourselves in these type of straits, we are afraid to step up to the plate to take our swings because we think it won’t end well.  We may feel embarrassed by what we did or said.  Or, we may fear the vitriol that we will receive once what we did or said is revealed.  Know this, though: If you don’t step up to the plate to take your swings, you will never know what it is like to win.

You must win as a friend and parent.

You must win as a lifelong learner.

You must win as an employer and employee.

And, you must win as a servant-leader.

Boldness and bravery stem from courage and confidence.  Courage is what allows you to look your adversary in the eyes.  Confidence is what allows you to take the steps you need to take to turn your adversary into a friend. Bold and brave Achievers don’t go through life thinking they are worse than others.  They also don’t go through life thinking they are better than others.  Because the Creator sought to create using one blueprint instead of multiple ones, they understand they have been endowed by this same Creator with varying degrees of talents and gifts. Therefore, you must reject the negative messages being cast upon you by your detractors, the ones who regularly tell you that you are nobody.  You are somebody, and the level of boldness and bravery that you display in our presence is what causes us to take notice of your unique, yet relatable, brand of existing.

But if you are existing without reaching for the next rung of the ladder, we will dismiss you outright to take notice of the person behind you.

But if you are existing to reach for and pull at the next rung on the ladder, we will consider you bold and brave, offering a hand up not a hand out if and when you request it.

Enabled or Permitted

Your very existence enables or permits you to achieve as a friend and parent, lifelong learner, employer or employee, and servant-leader.  But many of us allow the unenlightened few to distract us from our purpose.  They distract us because we think they have our best interest at heart.

But if they are not reaching for and pulling at the next rung on the ladder, like you, they are living miserably.  Don’t get me wrong, even they have the capacity to change, but if they are underage and using alcohol and drugs, being sexually promiscuous, or doing poorly in school, they just want company.  Nothing worse than being miserable all by oneself.

You, young Achiever, must resist the urge to be partner to their misery.  You were created to be happy while making those around you happier.  This happiness is the engine that enables or permits us to achieve great things as individuals and as part of collectives.  And believe me when I write this: Happiness loves company too.

LIFER Logo, 8-18-18

Posted in Nonprofit Organization | Leave a comment

How To Be a Social Entrepreneur | TEDx Talks

Great presentation on what it means to be a Social Entrepreneur.  Check it out below.

Posted in Andy Stoll, Fundraising & Philanthropy, Social Entrepreneurship | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Know When You’ve Found Your Purpose in Life | SuperSoul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network

Posted in Finding Your Purpose, Nonprofit Organization | Leave a comment

UNDEFEATED: Usain Bolt and His Legacy of Achievement

Achievement Journal Logo RevisedLast Saturday, I learned through Facebook that Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt came in third in the 100-meter dash at the International Amateur Athletic Federation’s World Track & Field Championships in London.  After reading this news, I immediately clicked over to YouTube.  I had to see with my own eyes how a man who has clocked 9.58 seconds over this distance could be defeated in what was being billed as the final race of his illustrious career.

Usain Bolt Last 100Most track and field aficionados know Bolt’s start is not the best, and last weekend, it was terrible.  American Christian Coleman, world renown for his blistering starts, pressed the pace from jump, leading all competitors for most of the race before being overtaken in the final five meters by his compatriot Justin Gatlin.  And while Gatlin’s winning time of 9.92 was much slower than Bolt’s world record, he was the one who left these world championships with a gold medal dangling from his neck.

NBC Sports announcer Ato Bolden, a former world-class sprinter himself, was quick to question Bolt’s rationale for not retiring after winning gold last year at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.  He suggested that Bolt’s legacy would be tarnished, that it was a mistake for him to pursue another world championship in 2017.  A loss could potentially deny him the kind of endorsement deals offered to noteworthy champions, he said. Before this race in London, Bolt had been undefeated in major sprints with Olympic or World championship implications.

Gatlin BowBut I disagree with Bolden.  Usain Bolt’s legacy isn’t tarnished.  If anything, this loss will embolden him in his pursuit of greatness outside of athletics.  And as I watched Justin Gatlin pay homage to Bolt with a respectful bow, it became increasingly apparent that he will always be considered track and field’s G.O.A.T., greatest of all time, long after his records of 9.58 in the 100 and 19.19 in the 200 are broken.

Usain Bolt demonstrated grace and humility in the midst of his defeat.  He commended both Gatlin and Coleman for running great races.  More importantly, he never attributed his loss to injury or lack of preparation.  He lost.  ‘Nuff said.

There are three things we Achievers should take away from Bolt’s loss.  They include the following:

  • Defeat is nothing more than a temporary setback.
  • We are defined by our lifetime of achievement, not singular moments.
  • We are the authors of our own success stories.

Defeat is nothing more than a temporary setback

We all experience gains and losses.  That’s part of life.  Usain Bolt lost the final race of his career, but because he’s like us, he has also experienced other forms of loss outside of the athletic arena.  But these losses don’t keep good men, good women, down.  If anything, they make us better, stronger.  Every defeat, every setback, is meant to be a lesson just waiting to be learned.  And as we step into futures of living independently fearless and empowered, we take pride in knowing we can never be defeated if we’re still inching closer to the finish line.  It has been noted by an unknown poet that the race doesn’t always go to the bigger or faster man, the race sometimes goes to the man who thinks he can.  Ultimately, it’s about finishing what you started.

We are defined by our lifetime of achievement, not singular moments

Usain Bolt burst on the scene at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Games.  Since then, he has rewritten the record books, setting individual world records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and working with his Jamaican teammates to do the same in the 4 x 100 relay. And as memories of what Bolt accomplished on the track become more distant, we will come to consider them singular moments in a life hopefully well led.

Yes, he will be able to secure major endorsements because of what he accomplished on the track.  We consumers will buy any product or service that he promotes due to the appreciation we have for the way he entertained us before, during and after each of his races.  But we must always remember that Usain Bolt’s achievements are no different than our own.  Because they are no different, they also require that we identify ways we can use them to enrich other people’s lives.  When all is said and done, we should all want to be remembered as individuals who uplifted others through positive investments of time, talent and treasure.

We are the authors of our own success stories

A person is not considered successful just because he or she achieved fame, fortune or celebrity.  Success is measured by one’s ability to keep a roof over his or her head, food on the table, and clothes on his or her back.  Therefore, we all should wake up each morning excited about the lives we will enrich, the places we will visit, and the things we will create through sheer grit and determination.

My waking moments are also spent paying homage to the God who sees fit to allow me to take my next breaths.  I implore you to do the same.  Because it is he who allows us to breathe, it is imperative that we receive the personal revelation from on high that allows us to define our purposes, our reasons for being here.  Once these purposes have been defined, we must recognize the important role we play in making each other’s stories more compelling.  Gatlin did that for Bolt by serving as a formidable opponent.  And even though Gatlin got a leg up on Bolt in his final race, you would be hard pressed to dispute what Bolt was able to accomplish as an elite sprinter over a 10-year span.  

Thank you, Usain, for inviting us to the trackside parties that ensued after each of your spectacular performances.   You will be missed but not easily forgotten.


Posted in Athletic Achievement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment