I am a new person.
Over the weekend, I had the privilege of being in the inaugural (alpha) class of the Hive Global Leaders Program in San Francisco. Organized by Adam Pumm and Ryan Allis with help from an awesome team, I joined 34 other amazing purpose-driven leaders and social entrepreneurs from/ties to the US, India, Nepal, Russia, France, China, Rwanda, Vietnam, and Korea. This entry won’t capture the magic of those 70 hours properly, but let me tell you how it transformed me:
On the first full day, we were challenged to find a way to affect change for 1 billion people. And we did an exercise on empathy starting with yourself and continuing through to your family, then community, then nation, then religion, then our species, then to all species. But an interesting thing happened. I realized that I couldn’t get past my community (the black community) to the United States. I just couldn’t do it. And I couldn’t do it because I refused to love a nation that didn’t love me back. It was pain, and that pain was holding me back from reaching the 1 billion person goal. My heart was now truly open. Before this realization, I could never even imagine making global change, and it set the stage for more changes.
As many of you know, I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. One of the Hive Global Members is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. And he’s Vietnamese. Not, “half black, half Vietnamese.” Straight up Vietnamese. To be honest, when I first saw it on his bio, I was shocked. This can’t be real. It must be a typo. If we had met when I crossed in Spring 2000, I would have instantly shunned him. No questions asked. But as learned more about him, and heard him explain “why” he made the choice, I began to feel the love I have for any other frat brother. Race was no longer a factor.
Later, we discussed having these professional and personal “circles” of things we are doing. And in a perfect world if you are living a purposeful life, these circles should overlap. You should be impacting/affecting change in personal and professional lives. Now, it feels good to create better lives for 1 billion people globally, but what good does it do if you don’t affect the people closest to you. And while I do a decent job of trying to impact my family and friends, I often get so wrapped in “saving the world” work that I lose sight of helping those closest to me.
One of the many cool things the Hive team did was to bring in a yoga instructor to start off each morning and a deep tissue masseuse. I struggled a ton with the yoga, and during the massage I had a hard time completely relaxing while breathing in. I’m just too damn tight. I can’t relax. And it manifests itself during public speaking, dancing, having fun, etc. Not being able to relax is negatively affecting the ability to reach my potential. Huge breakthrough.
By the time we headed to the group dinner on Day 2, I had spent 48 hours around 35+ people who were living their purpose. And I could start to feel it. Everyone was so supportive and willing to help. During a specific conversation at dinner, it hit me that I no longer see these people as being from other races. While they looked differently, we were part of the same family. I loved them. We were one. We were the same souls around a campfire.
First for the first time in my life, I felt at home among people that didn’t look like me. There was no need to assimilate. No need to change my speech pattern. My choice of words. My dress. I could just be myself. And being myself gives me the confidence I need in realizing my potential to change the world. I am a new person.
I am Hive.
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