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

There’s a quote by an anonymous author that perfectly describes the relationship between fear and faith. It reads:

Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there“.

When we walk by faith, fear has no place near us let alone in us.

It’s like the deadbeat loser who rings your doorbell and sees through the window Mr./Ms. Awesome walking towards the door to answer. Deadbeat loser isn’t going to wait and be confronted by awesomeness. Deadbeat loser doesn’t want to be further embarrassed by the lack he/she possesses, so they quickly run away from the front door and they dive into the nearby bushes to avoid detection. The deadbeat loser is no match for Mr./Ms. Awesome.

Since I was a small child I’ve been reciting the famous quote, “fear is false evidence appearing real” and in many instances I’m able to face my fears and walk through a situation. There are some instances that involve creepy crawly bugs where I haven’t yet walked with faith to stare down those fears. But I’m getting there [*smile*].

There are times in my professional world as well as in my personal life where I’ve allowed fear to conquer and enslave me. I’ve been running from some major fears for the past few years and now they have grown so large, and I’ve been running for so long, that I’m tired of running. I wasn’t made to be a punk. I wasn’t raised to be a punk. So why am I acting and living like one? Fear is a punk yet I’m allowing it to have dominion over me, how idiotic is that?

Yesterday, I finally made the decision to stop running and to instead turn around and walk towards my fears. I’ve decided to face each and every one of these fears that have been chasing me.

What’s the worst possible outcome of my challenge? I know for a fact that none of my fear bullies come with a death penalty, so maybe I get a few bumps and bruises, or I fall down and get injured—all that I need to do is get back up, brush myself off, and keep on swinging (translation: “fighting”). I have enough faith to believe that I can at least do that. I’m not sure if I will be victorious but I’m willing to fight anyway. “…Faith of a mustard seed…” isn’t that the minimum of what Jesus said we need?

Fear is like kryptonite, it’s present and part of the environment that we occupy but if not managed and properly handled, it can destroy you.

When we walk with faith in our heart and mind we have a reinforced armor of hope, courage, and confidence. Fear can’t handle faith. Fear can’t penetrate that armor. The only way that fear can conquer us is if we take off the armor or never wear it.

So rather than continuing to run from our fears, why don’t we put on our armor and walk towards our fears! That my friends, was a statement not a question. Consider taking at least one step today and see if you can get a reaction from the deadbeat loser who’s standing at your door.

Have a super awesome day!

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Earlier this morning I wrote a post for my Breaking Bread With Natasha site. The message hit me so beautifully hard that I felt compelled to share excerpts from it here with all of you, as the message applies to all of our life struggles.

Please take the time to read this pointed part of the message below. I hope that it helps someone as it has definitely helped me today:

When I selected today’s scripture I decided to include a visual, and of the images that I found the waterfall was the most moving in my opinion. Why? Because imagine being on a lazy river or even one with rapids, what you can see around you and ahead begins to compute in your mind your confidence to handle these things.

It’s the waterfall that we don’t plan for.

We haven’t a clue where it is, how steep it is, what’s at the bottom, and if we can survive the fall.

That is life.

My life for many years was a river, sometimes a smooth ride and then there were moments of roaring rapids. Then in 2017 I found myself approaching a waterfall. I didn’t plan for the waterfall. I didn’t see how close it was until I was already nearing the edge.

That waterfall was my divorce.

No matter how hard I tried to swim in the opposite direction or swim to the banks of the river, the powerful water dragged me to that waterfall—and over the edge I tumbled.

I didn’t know how steep the fall would be, what was at the bottom of the fall, if the water was shallow or deep, or if I would survive the entry into this pool below. I had a piece of debris that I clung to as I tried to keep my head above water. My eyes grew bigger and bigger as I approached the waterfall. I was so focused on my ability or inability to swim, but quickly I had to remind myself that it’s less about me and more about God.

I had to put my confidence in God because I know that although I’m a decent swimmer, I’m only capable of doing what I do because of Him, and I can only get better through and by Him. I also know that when I panic my only thought is how to get to safety and out of the water, and I’m sure that in my panic I make the process more difficult because I’m focused on self, not on God.

God brings calm. He brings clarity. He brings strength and determination. God makes a way out of no way.

I went over the edge of the waterfall and although fearful I’m confident that God will always protect me. I’m confident that all of the bumps and bruises in life can and will be healed by God. I’m confident that He has greatness waiting for me and all I have to do is remain connected and faithful.

It’s important to try and ignore the temptations that lure us from God. But understand and believe that God’s Hands are still upon you and can save you from those temptations—He will show you a way out. It is always our choice to take the way out or remain in the snare.

So as you journey on your river are you solely relying upon your abilities and self-confidence, or are you secure with God-confidence (or as my friend Marshawn Daniels calls it, “Godfidence“)?

You will know for sure when you approach the waterfall.

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

I want to thank my mom for sharing this clock with me and my sister last night.

Please click on the clock and watch it transform from the past of 2017 to what the future holds in 2018. We have a lot of chapters and books of life to live. How do you choose to live yours?

My present and future is bright. My life’s storm is over. I’m claiming the blessings God has selected just for me. I’m determined to live my life fully and intentionally, without regrets and with a focus to stare down my fears as I seize each victory. I’m believing and speaking into existence that 2018 is my year to shine!

What are you speaking into existence this year? What are you staking your claim upon in 2018?

~Natasha

Copyright 2011-2018. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Children are huge dreamers before adults destroy their imaginative spirits and tell them to start thinking smaller, to start being “realistic”. The huge dreams of a child is exactly where God wants us to be. There is no fear connected with dreaming big and setting goals to attain what we desire. There is fear in thinking small. The most successful people in the world open their minds to what most people would consider the impossible, the inconceivable, and the insane.

Think of President Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Mary Kay Ash, Bob Johnson and others who had big dreams and didn’t stop thinking, pushing, and working even after those dreams materialized. Even after they passed away, King, Jobs, and Ash’s legacies continue to live on through the work they started…their passion serves as the fuel for their mission. Their brand continues to grow.

We must realize that our actions and lack thereof impact us and others for generations. The native Americans have a saying that every decision we make today impacts seven generations of the future. So consider the decisions you make each day. Make sound decisions but don’t limit yourself in fear. Allow yourself to dream big and have the intense imagination that you did as a child. Free yourself!

Picture by SoggyPigeon at soggypigeon.deviantart.com

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved. 
Excerpts of this thought were first drafted for Breaking Bread with Natasha on WordPress and Blogspot.
Artwork source: soggypigeon.deviantart.com

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

My dad used to say, “when a dog barks whistle” meaning don’t run in fear–face it. But he also didn’t say “go find the dog”. You must be smart when dealing with high intensity situations. When fear is chasing you down, face it, but don’t go looking for opportunities to be attacked…just because you hear a barking dog doesn’t mean you should walk over to the fence with the sign that reads, “Beware of Dog” and then hop the fence.

When fear is chasing you, face it but don’t add ‘bullets’ to the ‘gun’ being pointed at you. Think and act strategically, intentionally, and courageously. Leverage your strengths and weaknesses, and gain the upper hand as you are prepared for the blind spots in life. So when that dog barks and you whistle, and it comes charging around the corner ready to attack…you will also be ready.

-Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Paradigm Life. All Rights Reserved.

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

My dad used to say, “when a dog barks whistle” meaning don’t run in fear–face it. But he also didn’t say “go find the dog”. You must be smart when dealing with high intensity situations. When fear is chasing you down, face it, but don’t go looking for opportunities to be attacked…just because you hear a barking dog doesn’t mean you should walk over to the fence with the sign that reads, “Beware of Dog” and then hop the fence.

When fear is chasing you, face it but don’t add ‘bullets’ to the ‘gun’ being pointed at you. Think and act strategically, intentionally, and courageously. Leverage your strengths and weaknesses, and gain the upper hand as you are prepared for the blind spots in life. So when that dog barks and you whistle, and it comes charging around the corner ready to attack…you will also be ready.

-Natasha L. Foreman, MBA