Second Chances – Michael Vick to Ted Williams – What a Difference a Week Makes!

January 8, 2011

At the end of 2010 President Obama congratulated the Eagles for giving Michael Vick a “Second Chance” and a media fire storm erupted.  Guess 2010 went out with a bang!  Then the first week of 2011 Ted Williams “golden voice” was discovered and “Second Chance” offers poured in.  What a difference a week makes!

Living in the light of a SECOND CHANCE – I have to honestly say, I was a bit discouraged by the response from the country related to President Obama’s statements about Vick.  Of course, Tucker Carlson’s (from FOX) opinion was shared far and wide that Vick should have been executed.  That’s absurd.  Yet, most of the comments seemed to have a common thread like this comment: “Perhaps the President should praise the many who have committed crimes, chosen to turn their lives around, and still live in poverty.”  It seemed that while folks were warm to the idea of a “Second Chance” there was a underlying feeling that success should allude those who have done wrong.  And, well, Michael Vick’s return to success so soon seemed to be a bit much for folks to swallow.

REALITY CHECK!

Second Chances don’t come easy – don’t come without a great deal of pain – and don’t typically come quick.  Reality is – “Second Chances” generally come – if they are even recognized – after life cleansing experiences that prepare the person for a new way to experience life.  And so seems the story of Ted Williams.   SEE THE VIDEO HERE!

The Ted Williams story – going from homeless to viral media sensation, like Michael Vick in many ways, is unusual.  Doral Chenoweth, a web producer for the Columbus Dispatch is the one who filmed the video that for Ted Williams was life changing.  But the story didn’t just happen the first week of 2011, rather, it was a series of mishaps that turned into the choice that made it happen for Mr. Williams.

According to an article by Jeff Labrecque – this story was almost a non-story.  It was ONE CHOICE that made a big difference.  And before sharing the story, think about those few words above.  It is true – ONE CHOICE – is all it takes to turn your life around or find the power of SECOND CHANCES!  Labrecque’s story reads in part as follows:

He’d (Chenoweth) first encountered Williams, his cardboard sign, and his baritone pipes a few weeks before that when he and his wife were driving past on their way to the store. “He just let loose with that velvety, old-school voice,” Chenoweth tells EW. “We had a good time, but you know, life goes on. The light turns green. I threw him a dollar and off we went.”

About a week later, though, Chenoweth, who’s worked for Dispatch for 20 years and calls himself a modern-day backpack journalist, endured a slow news day and needed something — anything — to shoot. He found Williams at the same corner, and this time when he said, ‘Say something with that great radio voice,” he had his FlipCam rolling. “It was so touching,” recalls Chenoweth. “I thought it was sweet.”

But Chenoweth had no clue he had gold. He felt the video’s ending was awkward and the clip ran a little too long. So he sat on the footage for weeks. Then, on Monday, when he needed something fresh, he dug up the video on his computer and popped in on to the paper’s website. And… nothing special. “It kind of did an average number of hits for a video on our website on a Monday,” says Chenoweth. “But Tuesday, some guy from Ohio State calls me out of the blue and says, ‘Your video is about to go viral.’ By Tuesday night, it was skyrocketing. And Wednesday was just a media frenzy.”

Chenoweth has spent the last few days witnessing Williams’ surreal ride from homelessness to mega-stardom. “It’s probably easier getting through to Obama [now] than Ted,” he jokes, adding that Williams is handling the transformation “like you might expect. He’s kind of excited, frazzled, but sharp all at the same time.”

About to fly home after a whirlwind trip to New York City, Chenoweth was reflective, hopeful for Williams, and still amazed by the events. “Maybe if I had released the video the week before Christmas, it never would’ve gained any traction in the national media,” he points out. “God’s in control of everything and God’s in control of this video. Ted’s got a real good outlook on it and so do I.”

I like what Chenoweth said, “God’s in control of everything and God’s in control of this video.”  Perhaps those words are worth reflecting on.  For those of us who believe in God – and I do – I agree 100% God is in control of everything.  While I have “free will” to make some stupid choices – and I did – God was in control, knowing that I, like everyone, had to experience the consequences that were perfect for me.  Likewise, “Second Chances” don’t come just because, they or the opportunities for them appear when we are ready to make life changing choices.

I welcome Ted Williams unique opportunity for his “Second Chance” and know that his story has inspired many.  Perhaps as we move from 2010 into 2011 – from one decade into another – we will find a spirit of hope and a knowing that when we make the right choices we, too, can find our “Second Chance”!

YOUR COMMENTS WELCOME!

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My path of choices which produced some “negative consequences” and powerful “positive results” is chronicled in my new book – SECOND CHANCES: Transforming Adversity into Opportunity.    If you’d like to read some excerpts click here.  Otherwise, if you’d like to know how to gain your “Second Chance” I, with humility say, I think my book will provide some needed insight into how you can transform your life and choices into opportunity and success.


Second Chances? Barack Obama to Michael Vick – Have We become a Compassionless Country?

December 30, 2010

Well, for a guy who believes in Second Chances (hence the title of my new book – Second Chances) I was shocked and saddened at the media storm or fire related to Barack Obama’s comments praising giving folks – namely Michael Vick – a “Second Chance.”  As a nation have we become so full of hate and intolerance that we no longer can tolerate the idea that “Second Chances” are worth aspiring toward?

So this past Monday the following was reported by the Washington Post – quoted here:

On Monday, the buzz was about how the president had weighed in on the redemption of Michael Vick. Obama phoned the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles to praise the team for giving a second chance to the quarterback, who is again a National Football League star 19 months after leaving prison for his role in a horrific dogfighting ring that killed pit bulls by electrocution, hanging and drowning.

The president has not spoken publicly about the call, though aides acknowledged that it took place. But Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports that during their conversation Obama was passionate about Vick’s comeback.

“He said, ‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,’ ” said Lurie, who did not indicate when the call occurred. “He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”

While I may not agree with a great deal of what the President says – in this case he’s right!  Rarely do those who serve time get a “fair second chance!”  But AND THIS IS IMPORTANT – “Second Chances” are not just about those who have committed crimes and done their time.  Obama’s comment that “we did something on such a national state that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall” is really at the heart of the matter.

But, with such compassion stated by our President – the firestorm begins.

So what’s the fallout of suggesting that it is good to give folks a “Second Chance” – enter FOX News broadcaster Tucker Carlson, who said: “Michael Vick killed dogs in a heartless and cruel way. I think, firstly, he should have been executed for that. The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale.”

WOW – TALKING ABOUT FROM LEFT FIELD (oops I should have said “Right” field for FOX)

Stop!  Media extremism is in play here.  Let’s get the ratings and buzz huh Tucker?  Dumbass statement that Vick should be executed is nothing more than an UNETHICAL PLOY to sensationalize a true heart-felt comment by Obama.  Have we come to be so angry and so hard-hearted that we will take the opposite opinion of anyone who does not share our ideological belief.  Wonder if Obama had said that he felt Vick should be banished to a desert island never to return to the US – would Tucker have then found it in his heart to give Vick a “Second Chance”?  Is it about coverage and opposites – winning or losing – black or white?  Have we fallen that low as a country?

What about “Second Chances” in other areas – love, being a father, recovery from cancer – Is the concept of getting a “Second Chance” becoming foreign to Americans?  Or is it the media that finds that NO SECOND CHANCES make for better ratings?  If it were his child that needed a “Second Chance” I think Tucker’s words would ring hypocritical this week!  Tucker what about it?  Care to comment?

BUT TUCKER’S NOT THE ONLY ONE…!

Reported in the LA Times –

But Bill Smith, the founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in the Philadelphia area, bristled at Obama’s characterization that the Eagles’ signing of Vick was motivated by wanting to give a convicted felon a second chance.

“If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” said Smith, who organized a campaign last season to collect food for animal shelters every time Vick was sacked on the field. “This isn’t about giving anyone a second chance; it’s about who can make the Eagles organization more money.”

Now I’m an animal lover, but the jaded view that it is only about money just doesn’t hold water.  Obama’s point was that Vick is a national figure and that showing compassion and providing a “Second Chance” is something worthwhile.  Vick isn’t the only one who’s been giving a “Second Chance” in life, but he is public.  I wonder if Bill Smith’s grandson (just an example) had been imprisoned for selling drugs and released, would he be in favor of him receiving a “Second Chance”?  Seems to me that for Bill it’s about his passion for animals that his view is so jaded?  Maybe I’m wrong.  Perhaps Bill will comment!

By the way, Bill did a great job making Obama’s point.  “If he couldn’t throw a football, he wouldn’t have had a second chance,” is exactly the point, we need someone as a model of what a “Second Chance” could mean and from personal experience, there are far too few people who will stand up and offer a “Second Chance”.  That’s sad!

WHERE FROM HERE?

First, I’ve been to prison for crimes I committed.  I am not proud of that, but it is a very real fact of my life.  It has been nearly 15 years since my release and yes, I have been given a “SECOND CHANCE”!  For that I am deeply grateful each day of my life.  Here’s an excerpt from my new book “Second Chances” that describes the night it became clear that my crimes were discovered and I had to face the truth that I was (at that time) nothing more than a liar and a thief.  It was the darkest night of my soul…

That night was the darkest night of my soul. That call that I shared didn’t make it better. It didn’t eliminate the consequences. It didn’t remove the pain. Rather, it gave me hope, hope that if I could make poor choices that would, most certainly, bring painful consequences, I also possessed the power to make positive choices with positive results.  His comment to me still resounds in my heart today. He said, “You have made a terrible mistake, but YOU are not a mistake! The choices you make moving forward will define your life forever and provide the foundation for your children’s lives. Think carefully as you make this choice!” 

When he said to me, “YOU are not a mistake,” it hit me─while the past cannot be changed, the life we are given and the choices we make moving forward are the only things that count. I felt a burden lifted. I could not change the past; all I could do was face the consequences. It was within my power to make good choices, now and in the future, that would produce a fruitful outcome. That was my destiny!

Do I believe in “SECOND CHANCES” – absolutely otherwise I would not be here and I AM here for a reason!  Perhaps that is the message that Tucker Carlson and others need to get!  We all, at some point in time, need a “Second Chance”!
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

Does Scott Brown’s Win mean Health Care Reform should be Scrapped?

January 19, 2010

With a decisive win in MA, Scott Brown has taken a Senate seat that was held by Ted Kennedy for decades.  Kennedy, of course, is known as the primary supporter and author of the Health Care Reform bill that is currently before Congress.

Now, President Barack Obama and the Democrats, which held the the 60-vote Senate majority that they’ve relied on to push a historic health care overhaul to the verge of enactment, find that they may see Health Care Reform derailed before enactment.

According to MSNBC – Democrats splintered on how to salvage the president’s top domestic initiative even before the results were official. Republicans said don’t bother: The election of state senator Scott Brown sent a message that the health care bill should be scrapped.

Democrats don’t appear to have enough time to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills — and get cost and coverage estimates back from the Congressional Budget Office — before Brown is sworn in. That leaves House Democrats with the unpalatable option of passing a Senate bill that many of them profoundly disagree with.

“There is only one guarantee — that if we don’t pass something the notion of trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again is a real long shot,” said Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., son of the late senator. “If you understand the legislative process, it’s a lot easier to pass something and fix it later.”

So as the days unfold several questions arise:

  1. Should Health Care Reform be scrapped?
  2. Should Health Care Reform be revisited and move forward more slowly, but with the intention of passing something?
  3. Is Brown’s election a broader measure of Obama’s political support?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


No Negro Dialect – Harry Reid Apologizes! But What About All This “Political Correctness”?

January 9, 2010

So here’s the CNN report today:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday following reports he had privately described then-candidate Barack Obama during the presidential campaign as a black candidate who could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Apparently Mr. Reid’s comments are included in a book soon to be released in journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s new book “Game Change.”

I’m sorry, but I must admit…this political correctness thing is just becoming way too burdensome.  I expect criticism from this post, but it’s getting to the point that a person, especially in the public eye, can’t express themselves without offending someone.  Is it not possible anymore to express your opinion and allow folks to accept you for who or what you are?

LETS BE FRANK!

I’m a speaker.  Over and over I hear about what one should say and how one should say it in front of an audience.  Don’t offend.  Well, I’m becoming more and more convinced that offending is becoming easier and speaking what’s on your mind more difficult.

Reid verbalized what many American’s said about Obama before the election.  I admire Obama’s voice, speech patterns and ability to deliver a speech and inspire a crowd.  Now…here’s a fact.  If Obama spoke like a street thug – be he black or white…he would not have captured the imagination of the American people.  Straight up – Obama did not speak like stereotypical black man and that did contribute to making him electable.

If, candidate Obama, had said in a speech over and over again – “Let me axe you a question…” vs. “Let me ask you a question…” – would he have been elected by the American people?  REALLY…I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK…  But read on…

SO WHAT DO YOU DO?

Fact: I was in prison in the mid-90’s and my cellmate was a young black ma named – Buck.  Buck became one of my closest friends and taught me much…in fact, he is one of the reasons that my prison experience became such a profound learning experience.  Today, when I deliver a speech I often share a dialogue that Buck and I had on my second day in prison.  When I share this exchange…I carry on the conversation just like it happened – speaking and sounding just like Buck.  He sounded like a Black street thug – which is exactly what he was when he entered prison.

I’ve been told – “Oh, you can’t do that.  You’re degrading African-Americans.”

No.  I’m not.  I’m sharing with an audience exactly what happened – tone speech patterns and all.  The lessons I learned from Buck happened, in part, because I was able to learn from his street smarts just as he was able to learn from my education.  Speaking like Buck is real.  What Harry Reid said was real and true.  I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?


The Ethics of Change – A Letter To President Elect Barack Obama

November 5, 2008

Today – the day after the election – we, as Americans, have seen yet another historic moment in a life that has seen many. Those of us with some age have seen the end of wars and the beginning of others; we have seen space travel and a man on the moon; we have seen technology change everything about our daily lives; and we have seen a man rise up and break barriers that once were thought to be iron clad. Mr. President Elect – your election may be historic for African-Americans, but, more important, it is historic for all Americans as we see through you a change of attitude and focus – we see hope in your eyes.

With the above said, Mr. President Elect, I must caution, in the midst of celebration, that we not lose sight ofbarack-obama-smiling what got you there and what your task at hand is. President Elect Obama – we must restore a sense of ethics to this great nation and make choices – tough choices at times – based on sound ethical and moral principles that have guided us for so long.

I, of all people, have no right to lecture you on ethics or change – after all, you are our new President elect. But, like you, I know a thing or two about adversity and obstacles. As a former convicted felon (not something I am proud of) now professional speaker, I have risen above my poor choices from the past and become a voice for CHOICE and ETHICS. Regardless of the choices made, we can moving forward make better choices that will bring about positive results.

You said, “it’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.” Your statement is true…we have turned for too long away from choices that empower people to achieve greatness and focused on what’s wrong and how we exercise our muscle to the detriment of others.

You, Mr. President Elect, are aware of the challenges ahead. Your words reveal it, “For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.” You know, as do we all, that the only way to succeed is to do so by making choices founded on the ethical foundation of our forefathers as they founded this great Nation.

I speak on ethics today, founded on the lessons I learned from not living an ethical life. Perhaps, as a Nation, we have not made the best choices – or even ethical choices. The challenges ahead are significant and you, yes you – Mr. President Elect – will be tempted beyond belief, after all you are the most powerful man in the world. Don’t lose your sense of ethics, sir. Remember your promise! “But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

Regardless of who authored these next comments you delivered – and delivered well – they form a promise of an ethical foundation for your Presidency.

“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.”

Mr. President Elect – we need that foundation that you have stated so well – a foundation of hope and promise and belief that as American’s we can be proud of who we are and what we stand for – that we can be proud to call ourselves American’s here and around the world. You have given us that hope and for that we say – Thank you!

Regardless of political belief, I think we are witnessing the dawn of an new age for America. We will succeed or fail based on the choices we make moving forward. If our choices are based on fear, ego and power, we may find that we will be no better than we have been and perhaps even worse. Those choices and not based on sound ethical principles. On the other hand, if we make choices that foster freedom, opportunity and a spirit of selfless cooperation we might see the dawn of the “Age of Aquarius.”

Let me end with your words…

“America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.”

Read the rest of this entry »


McCain – Obama Dance Off…Business Ethics? – NO… Campaign Fun? – YES!

October 27, 2008

As a 51 year old business ethics speaker, I must say…this presidential election has been interesting.  Not only is it historic but the level of creativity has been over the top.

For the younger generation – history has been made as the first black man in history has won the nomination of his party and is a viable candidate for president of the United States.  And, had it not been Obama chosen, then history would still have been made as the nomination of her party would have been a female.  Either way, this is an historic election.

Likewise, the selection of Sarah Palin as a VP candidate has been attention getting in and of itself.  Should McCain win – many will credit his victory to Sarah’s down home charm.  Should he lose – there is not doubt she will be blamed.  Either way the governor of Alaska has received national attention.

So…with a race that some say is not so close…what can we do to bring some excitement to this race.  Well…here’s a solution.  Click on this next link – give it time to download and enjoy.  As I said, the creativity that has come from all sectors is rather amazing.

Dance off


Politics, Religion and Ethics – Obama’s Presidential Campaign and Messages from the Pulpit!

October 27, 2008

Let me begin by saying, this writing is 100% about law, ethics and the application of the law.  I am in no way, taking a political stand through the content of this entry.  Rather, I am amazed as what I believe is the flagrant violation of the law when it comes to influencing votes in this presidential campaign.

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of ethics is the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.  Now, that definition is broad and clearly subject to interpretation.  However, good and bad must also be judged in accordance with the law.  One might judge a particular action to be good and ethical, but that same action might be against the law.  Hence, regardless of opinion, the action is unethical.

So, what does this have to do with the election?  Well…it is generally presumed to be against the law for a non-profit religious organization to use their pulpit (I use that term loosly) to influence public opinion for election results or outcome.   Non-profit religious organization can lose their non-profit status if they openly work to endorse a political candidate.  This loss could be costly indeed.

So how would one know if such a thing is happening?  Funny you should ask.  But today I received information about the link I am providing.  It was sent to me raising a question as to what my opinion was related to ethics, politics and the law.  What I saw was amazing – a flagrant disregard for the law and the non-profit status at stake.

PLEASE NOTE:  The following, should you decide to watch, is anti-Obama.  The message is clear.  What is more serious is that someone would knowingly and publically risk the non-profit status with such a clear political message.

Judge for yourself.  Here’s the link.  The message is from ATLAH World Ministries and it’s steamy.  Again, I express no opinion other than the amazement as to the message and risk inherent in its delivery.

WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the IRS to investigate the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J. and Rock Christian Fellowship in Espanola, New Mexico.

According to AU’s letter to the IRS, Roman Catholic Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli has published a letter on Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J.’s website and newspaper attacking Barack Obama.”

The letter criticizes Obama for his pro-choice stance and encourages parishioners not to vote for Obama.

AU also wants the IRS to investigate Rock Christian Fellowship in Espanola, New Mexico for posting a large display that encourages voters to support republican candidates over democratic candidates.

In my opinion, what the above mentioned organizations have done is small change in contract to the ATLAH video.

An NPR article states the following:

On Sunday, 33 ministers will take part in a nationwide effort to violate the 54-year-old ban on political preaching and endorse or oppose a candidate from the pulpit. The effort is called the Pulpit Initiative.

Two weeks ago, more than 100 pastors squeezed into a hotel meeting room in Washington, D.C., to learn about the Pulpit Initiative, a brain child of the conservative legal group, Alliance Defense Fund. Attorney Erik Stanley walked them through it.

“If the IRS chooses to come after these churches, we will sue the IRS in federal court,” Stanley said.

Stanley says pastors are fed up. In the past four years, the IRS has stepped up its investigations of clergy. It sent letters to 47 churches, including some liberal ones — not just for explicit endorsements, but also for using code words like pro-choice or pro-life in relation to candidates.

“What’s been happening is that the government has been able to go into the pulpits of America, look over the pastor’s shoulder, and parse the content of their sermon. And that’s unconstitutional,” Stanley said. “No government official should entangle itself with religion in that way.”

HERE’S THE QUESTION FOR YOU – THE READER:  Which is ethical – (1) for the church to follow the dictates of the law and avoid endorsing or disparaging a politicial candidate or (2) to make a “good” decision based on a moral duty and obligation (in the face of the law)?

If you watch the ATLAH video…come back to this site and share your opinion.  Otherwise, your comments welcome on the ethics of religion and politics.