As I sit here, some things come to mind…

Many of us live through other people’s experiences. We dislike and fear what someone else dislikes and fears. We ourselves haven’t experienced what they did, yet we embrace the feelings and beliefs as though they are our own. Someone else was harmed by another person, so now we dislike that person for the harm they caused.

Someone didn’t like the food at a restaurant, so we never go and try it for ourselves. A person had a bad experience on their vacation, so we swear we will never visit that place.

That’s why so many people never travel beyond their town, city, county, state, region, or country.

That’s why some people never get on planes, trains, boats, and ships.

We never try new foods. We never read a different genre of books or listen to a different style of music.

That’s why some people don’t pursue educational dreams and career goals.

That’s why thousands of people can’t figure out how to fix their raggedy love life.

That’s why so many of us suffer.

We let other voices dictate to us.

We don’t know the truth but we accept someone’s words as truth.

We don’t think.

We don’t question.

We don’t seek answers.

We choose to exist rather than live. We confuse living with thriving.

When we’re thriving, fear has no stronghold, it has no footing.

When we’re thriving, our experiences are uniquely our own. No one else will have that exact same experience.

We know this.

That’s why two people can sit side-by-side on an amusement park ride and walk away with different experiences. Two people eat the same food at the same time but share different things about the food. One person tastes spices the other one didn’t notice or didn’t know what they were to define them. Two people arguing aren’t having the same experience, they are merely sharing the same space in time.

You have never eaten artichoke but you declare you don’t like it. Never tasted rhubarb but you swear it’s gross. Most likely, because you heard of someone else’s experience, or worse, their uninformed opinions from lack of experience.

How many of you have resolved to settle for a life of seeing the world through the pictures and experiences of other people?

You have to go to know.

People have opinions about cities, states, and countries that they have never visited. It’s hilarious and sad at the same time.

I smirk when I hear people make generalizations about a nationality, race, religion, or gender of people. Do you know every person of that nation, race, religion, or gender? Then how can you say, “all_____people…” or “____people do/say___”? But you don’t know all of them. So how do you know what they all say or do? You most definitely can’t say what one person thinks about all things, so how can you speak about an entire group of people?

I’m guilty of these ignorant statements. I try to catch myself after saying them.

I laugh when I hear or read people make statements about a group of people, yet they don’t know anyone from that group. They don’t know any Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, or Satanists. But they speak as though they do. They don’t personally know any people of African, European, Latin, Hispanic, or Asian descent—but from listening to them, you would swear that they know plenty.

Are all law enforcement officers corrupt, racists, bigots, sexist, and egomaniacs? No. Yet, there are people who see one officer and in that one, they see all. The broad generalization forms and becomes your personal belief system, creed, law.

And your one or few experiences doesn’t mean the totality for all humankind. Remember, those are your experiences, not mine, not your neighbors, and not your child’s.

We speak and act from ignorance. Since we choose not to educate ourselves through asking questions, researching, and stepping beyond our comfort zone, we say and do the stupidest of things.

You become more of what you are against than what you’re for. You are operating from a state of lack. That is a danger zone.

We regurgitate words from religious texts and ceremonies, without knowing their true and full meaning and application. We cling to historical figures and celebrities without knowing the person. Our idolization restricts us from being our authentic self. Our insecurities force us to manufacture false narratives to boost our desired perception. We follow man rather than lead ourselves. Because it’s an easier path and then you have someone to blame other than self.

There’s a reason for these words of declaration:

self-esteem, self-worth, self-enlightenment, self-empowerment, self-acceptance, self-actualization, self-awareness, self-control, self-expression, self-healing, self-help, etcetera.

It starts and ends with self.

We keep expecting others to do it for us. Be the positive change you want to see, stop waiting for it to happen. Take responsibility.

You must lead yourself or you will most definitely be led. And since you don’t know yourself, you will allow someone else to dictate and create your story for you. They will define you. You will allow someone else to determine your worth and value.

Your ignorance comes with a harsh penalty.

We spread our ignorance. We deposit it into our families, our children, our houses of worship, our workplaces, and our communities. We manifest the lack we obsess over.

The uninformed are the easiest to recruit, brainwash, and mold.

What you don’t know that you don’t know, can literally destroy you. Those who feel lost, neglected, powerless, voiceless, and forgotten are prey. That is why drugs, gangs (defined by many names), prostitution, and the sort have great prevalence in society.

People are being preyed upon and they don’t even know it. They have no clue that the biggest predators are the ones standing next to them, hugging them, and cheering them on.

You can blame whomever or whatever you like for the person that you are today. Or you can make the decision to intentionally live with a clean slate. You have the choice to write or re-write your story however you please, with your unique experiences. Your learning only stops when you choose to close yourself off from life. You may not be able to choose where to live your life, but you can choose how to live where you are.

You can live in the world and not be of it. You can be like the fish in the ocean, surrounded by salt, but not consumed by their environment.

Think about it.

Last week, I heard a message from Darren Hardy that spoke of this amazing truth. That fish of the sea live in salt water, they breathe and take in salt water. They eat things that are also in the water. Yet they don’t taste like tons of salt. All they do is swim around all day and night in salt water. But we barely taste the salt in them. That is how we should live our lives.

We can live in it but not be of it.

You aren’t your environment, circumstances, or your past. You aren’t the family you were born into or raised by, or the people you associate with.

Unless you choose to be.

You choose to associate with toxic people and behave like them. You choose to live in fear and ignorance. If you live in a “free” and “developed” nation, you choose to not journey beyond your town, city, county, state, or country. You choose to believe what you think, and to entertain the thoughts that surface. How life unfolds is based on the choices that we make.

How will you choose to live your life, experience the world, and see the people in it?

What will you choose to do without thought of your age, gender, or where you’re from?

What healthy choices will you make starting today?

This very moment.

Then do it!

I love you all,

~Natasha

Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Four years ago I participated in an amazing #SisterCircle at Georgia Tech, with the Atlanta-based nonprofit, Sisters of Today and Tomorrow (SOT)—who hosted the event. Here are some pics:

Well, their founder, Carla Morrison, invited me to return this year. Carla knows that I love and live to serve, and if I can make the time, I will never say no. So, I immediately checked my calendar and replied “sign me up!”

So tonight, I will join a jam-packed room of queens and princesses, as we kickoff the Sisters of Today National Leadership Conference.

Tonight’s event, the #LevelUp Fundraiser/Reception is going to be fun. I highlighted the event and my confirmed attendance on my social media…

Then tomorrow, July 19th, I will be facilitating the #SisterCircle with an SOT alum, Idalis. I know it will be fun, deep, engaging, emotional, constructive, and impactful— because I’m still reflecting on the one that I co-facilitated four years ago, so as SOT said on their social media feeds the other day…

I think our circle tomorrow will most definitely be 🔥🔥🔥

To learn more about SOT, to support them through donations or volunteering, or to involve your daughter (age 11-18), please visit

SOT2Girls.org and tell them that I sent you!

Warmest wishes and love,

Natasha

I’m late posting this. I should’ve posted this moons ago, but I didn’t, so here we are today, 14 days later. Let’s just smile and accept it, and understand that this post is about to be long.

It was an honor and privilege to speak at Morehouse College on July 13, 2018 during the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) regional leadership retreat that was hosted by the Morehouse chapter.

As a volunteer advisory council member for the Morehouse NSLS chapter, I was asked about my interest and availability to allow the 100+ student leaders from various schools from around the country a moment to hear my thoughts and opinions about topics surrounding and embedded in leadership.

Wow, they want to actually peer inside of my brain? Are they sure about that? For an entire hour they want to let me loose upon a group of young and seasoned adults who don’t know a thing about me? Are they sure?

Yep, they were sure.

They also wanted to know if I would be interested in being a member of a panel discussion that delved into the topic and process of community engagement and the responsibilities and issues that leaders face when attempting to do good works.

The answer came easily for the panel discussion, “sure”, it’s a 30-minute panel, how much harm could I do? *Smile*

I had to think about the hour-long session. What would my topic be? What would I say? The NSLS hosting committee told me that the skies the limit, and when it comes to the broad conversation on leadership, the sky may not even be the limit—you may extend out toward the galaxy, with the mountain of content you can cover.

So I pondered.

What could I share from my head and my heart with the students that would also allow me to learn from them, at the same time learn more about myself?

That’s how I teach by the way.

As a college professor, my goal isn’t just to share my knowledge and wisdom; I’m thirsty for knowledge and some of the best sources are your students. Where else can you get a room full of people who are assembled for numerous reasons, not tied to an organizational or group goal, and get them to open up and share their thoughts and beliefs in a safe environment?

The classroom is a unique place to share and exchange ideas, experiences, solutions to problems, and more. While my students learn from me, I learn from them.

Each student has their own dynamic story, background, and experiences with success and failure. It’s impossible for educators, researchers and “experts” to know it all—only through hearing, seeing, and recording other people’s experiences can you gather data to begin ‘connecting the dots’.

So as I pondered for awhile about my Morehouse leadership session I considered: what do today’s leaders need to know that was most likely not taught to them throughout their childhood and even as adults?

I emailed the NSLS hosting committee three session topics that I was interested in expanding into full-blown discussions:

  • Fear and failure
  • Responsibility as ethical leaders
  • Your vision, values and how they impact your roles in life

I thought that they would simply choose one topic and then I could run with it. Not! No other speaker was speaking directly about any of these topics, so I could run with any of them. Ah man! Now I had to toss around which topic I was most passionate about.

I chose to blend all three topics into one discussion that I gave the title: “Do NOW What Will Define You Tomorrow“.

I had a super awesome time speaking with the group of men and women that assembled in the classroom that they assigned us to in the Massey Leadership building. I was shocked to see that we ran out of seats and some students chose to remain and stand along the wall to take part in this discussion.

They weren’t ready for me but wow, they were truly receptive to the experience. I’m already an animated speaker, add in a topic that I’m passionate about, and you better hold on tight because it’s going to be a ride that you may never forget. There’s no sleeping when I’m in the room. *Smile*

I try to be as transparent as possible when I speak to people about matters of the heart, and July 13th was no different. I gave them me and in return many of them shared some close, personal stories about themselves.

We discussed our hurts, angers, failures, fears, struggles, beliefs, views, and values. We even discussed the demons within that terrorize us and cause us to be agents of terror within our households, workplaces, schools, and communities.

The morning of the retreat I prepared notes to help guide me and keep me on track. I rarely do this when I speak publicly. I try to just speak from my gut and my heart. I drafted about 6 handwritten pages of notes (written large enough so I could see from a distance). Funny thing, I didn’t even use my notes during my session at Morehouse. But they were always there if I needed backup. I guess I can frame up my notes for a chapter in a future book [*mental note*].

Within one-hour our group went deep, fast, but never drowned in the details and peripheral nonsense that oftentimes blinds us and prevents genuine learning. There was no time for ‘fluff’. We had an hour so we had to jump right in. An hour is nothing when you’re passionately engaged, and before we knew it our time came to a close.

Several students remained after to speak with me. Two remained even longer and walked with me to the Bank of the America auditorium where I would join the panel of esteemed public and private sector leaders.

The panel discussion was awesome. Yep, that’s the word I choose to use to describe the energy, synergy, depth, breadth, and essence of the panelists and the candid conversation that we shared. I know that ‘awesome’ is one of my favorite words, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that the panel was simply that—awesome!

I joined on stage my friends Jerica Richardson [co-founder of HackOut.Ninja] and Cassius Butts [Founder & Chairman of Capital Fortitude Business Advisors; former Regional Administrator for US Small Business Administration (SBA)] along with three of our fellow NSLS Advisory Council members: Oneka Jefferson-Cornelius [Independent Organizational Change and Development Consultant], Robert J. Yancy, PhD [Professor Emeritus, Kennesaw State University], and last but definitely not least, the man “who feeds fish for a living”—Joseph J. Handy, the President and COO of Georgia Aquarium Inc.

During our discussion we shared our failures, mistakes, past experiences, glimpses into our upbringing, and raw truths that we knew weren’t shared with us during our collegiate years in undergrad. Once again, with limited time against us, we chose not to sugar coat the 30 minutes that we had. We poured ourselves out into the auditorium and crossed our fingers that the students would be receptive.

With this powerhouse lineup, we definitely needed more than 30 minutes to truly engage on a level that the students wanted and needed. This was obvious, based on the fact that students swarmed around us as soon as the discussion ended.

From L to R: Charles Knippen; Natasha L. Foreman; Cassius Butts; Lavonya Jones; Dr. Robert Yancy; Oneka Jefferson-Cornelius; Joseph Handy; Jerica Richardson

We stepped out of the auditorium briefly to take the picture that you see above. Let me put names to faces and faces to names to help those of you who maybe only recognize my face in the picture (well, hopefully you can pick me out of the group *Smile*).

Pictured from Left to Right: Charles Knippen, President of NSLS; Natasha L. Foreman (that’s me); Cassius Butts; Lavonya Jones [Morehouse College NSLS chapter advisor (and the reason that Morehouse has an NSLS chapter) and Program Manager for Student Development in the Business Development Department at Morehouse]; Dr. Robert Yancy; Oneka Jefferson-Cornelius; Joseph Handy; and Jerica Richardson.

After we cheesed for this photo we returned to the auditorium to be greeted by the smiling faces of students who were patiently waiting to speak with us. Thankfully, there was a reception afterwards and that allowed us the time and space to connect with the students individually and in clusters, as they asked and answered questions, and shared how this retreat has benefitted them so far.

Some of the students in my session remembered advice given to me by my doctor, to capture life’s moments through photos so that you can reflect on the past later in the future—so the students asked to take pictures with me. A student by the name of Alexandra (who just secured a job doing research on degenerative diseases so she can one day find the cure to Alzheimer’s-Dementia; a passion we share as both of our grandmothers passed away last December after long battles) asked to take a picture with me and you can check us out below:

July 13th was an empowering day. I thought I would be driving away from the campus at 8pm, at the latest, but I was still speaking to students until 9pm, and then chatting it up until 9:45pm with my friend and colleague, Jerica Richardson (also a member of the NSLS Advisory Council for Morehouse, and a speaker at the retreat).

After 6 hours of talking and standing in those high strappy heels, you would’ve thought I would be completely drained, but I wasn’t. I was pumped, excited and hopeful. The students had a day filled with empowering and inspiring words and messages from sessions on:

  • Building Communities
  • Levels of Engagement
  • Event Management
  • Stress Management
  • Getting the Most Out of College
  • Leadership, A Key Component of Entrepreneurship
  • Do NOW What Will Define You Tomorrow

My gut says that between Friday’s sessions and the following day’s sessions on: Public Speaking; Budgeting; Conflict Management; Team Management; Understanding Bias—along with their participation in community service projects at one of three different nearby sites (two urban farms or the on-campus food donation preparation site), the NSLS student leaders have definitely been equipped with additional tools and resources to be better leaders “who make a better world” as the NSLS motto states.

Hopefully I will be called on again in a similar capacity to exchange information, ideas, stories and experiences with NSLS student leaders. I enjoyed every second!

I would like to thank Lavonya Jones, Morehouse College, and NSLS for a great experience and for having the vision and courage to make this retreat and the college chapter possible.

Thanks to Fred Jones for your constant and unwavering support of your wife Lavonya, and for taking pictures and capturing video footage of the sessions (along with a long list of other tasks that you willingly handled before, during, and after the retreat).

A special thank you to the NSLS students who have contacted me via email and connected with me via social media and my blog. I look forward to tracking with you along these winding paths that await you!

Let’s sky dive!!!!

~Natasha