Friday, April 22, 2011

Nothing Is Right or Wrong that Thinking Doesn’t Make It So

A friend of mine, Joe McQ, tells the story about hanging on to an old chair that he, for some reason, just couldn’t live without. While his wife would carry this old chair out for the garbage men to pick up every year during spring cleaning, Joe would seem to always get home just before the truck arrived. Joe would jump out of his car and lug this old chair back up to the attic and again convince himself that, some day, he would have time to restore it.

This poor old chair had been painted a few times during its life. The places where the paint was chipped, he could see about four different colors underneath. The covering and padding were once in pristine condition but now was torn in many places with the springs beginning to pop through. Joe’s wife would try to understand why this chair was so important to her husband, but Joe never seemed to have a very good explanation and even couldn’t recall where or how he got the chair. All that mattered to him was the thoughts of one day bringing this damaged chair back to its original condition. 

The day finally came when Joe decided to fix up his beloved chair. He brought it down from the attic and dusted it off. He began to remove the old covering and padding. Joe sanded off several layers of paint until reaching the wood. Having removed all the stuff put on over the years, Joe was able to view this chair as it was originally designed. He discovered that this chair was made with high quality wood and spectacularly constructed.

Joe loaded the chair into his car and drove to a local furniture restoration shop. The gentlemen at the shop listened to Joe’s story of the chair -- how he had saved it from the dump many times and explains to his wife the importance of rescuing this seemly worthless chair.  After briefly inspecting the chair, carefully examining it from different angles, the owner of the shop offered Joe $3,500 as is. Joe was shocked! He couldn’t believe that this chair had sat in his attic year after year and that no other person saw its value. The shop manager showed all the details of the chair and explained its history. The chair was designed and constructed by a well known craftsman, who offered a lifetime guarantee for all his work. The craftsman’s products were in high demand and every piece constructed was a one-of-a-kind work of art.  

This is really the story of most of us. We have allowed a lifetime of troubles to collect on us. We have used numerous and various substances to cover all of the resentments, fears, humiliations, regrets, etc in our lives. After several years of trying to cover up our flaws, with various substances we and others are unable to see our worth, value and original purpose.

It is way past time for us to change our thinking about our own lives. If we think we are a certain kind of human – like worthless, of no value – then we act based on that thought.

You Are Not What You Think You Are – But What You Think – You Are!

That’s right! If you want to change, you first have to change your thinking. You cannot be a different person thinking the same things. You cannot remain the same thinking differently. Again, if you want to change who you are, the first step is to change your thinking.

When Joe’s wife looked at the damaged old chair, her first was, “what a piece of junk!” Her thought led to her act of dragging that piece of junk out for the garbage men. Although the truth was that chair was very valuable, her thinking controlled her actions. Thinking is a very powerful force. It is very difficult to change someone’s thinking and most times someone’s thinking is much more concerning and dangerous then their actions.

The Act of Rape

For instance, several years ago a friend, Ron, and I used to conduct lectures in a men’s prison. Ron, who had been in prison eight times during his life, would get everyone attention and explain what the lecture was about.  Because the lecture’s topic was about alcohol and drugs (about 85% of folks incarcerated have an alcohol and drug problem), Ron would ask how many of the men were locked up due to alcohol and drug related charges. Most nights everyone raised their hands. I recall a man in the back roll not raising his hand one night. Ron spotted him and asked why he was in prison. The man reported he had raped a woman and did not have a problem with alcohol or drugs.

I was sort of shocked and surprised he admitted to the crime of raped, but relieved he was caged up, at least for that moment. Now…stay with me here, I plan to make a statement that may be unsettling. There is something that is worse than the act of rape. That something is – his thought process prior to that act! If that man leaves prison with the same thinking that resulted in raping a woman, I fear his violent acts will someday follow. Reminder…you can’t be a different person thinking the same things. You can’t remain the same, thinking differently. Changing behavior begins with changing thoughts.

You Are Not Limited By Your Ability – But By What You Believe (Thinking)

Our world has been greatly altered by some simple beliefs. Remember when some folks believed that the world was flat. That belief was very limiting for that specific community. Do you recall the time when there was a belief that some women were witches? They were tied to a stake and burned to death. If the community was not sure if a woman was a witch, in order to make sure, the community would tie stones to the suspected witch and throw her into the nearest river. If she was able to save herself – she was a confirmed witch resulting in being burned at the stake! This was when the term “no win situations” began. The thinking and believe systems during these times were very disastrous and limiting. Thinking and beliefs finally changed in this community resulting in changing behaviors.

Before the Wright brothers there were many books written about how humans would never experience flight – it was a right given only to birds. Very intelligent, educated people tried to develop aircrafts that would take flight and they all failed. The Wright brothers, who were bicycle repairmen and high school dropouts did not read these books. They believed they could fly! The Wright bothers had very limited education and experiences but their belief system and thinking were very strong. Their belief system overcame their limited abilities.

What is Believable is Achievable

Sayings like that are so corny. I hate even using them. However, this is a powerful statement. Go back to the story of the rapist. He openly admitted what he was able to achieve, I’m sorry to say. I am also sorry to say that the prison system probably did not work to alter his thinking, but probably made it worse. That’s another story.

Every successful person I know has a strong belief and thinking process. Success, whether it is in business or overall health and wellness, begins with how it is thought about. Folks who think that they have value and worth – do. Just like Joe’s old chair, we too were produced by a master Creator. Once we believe this and think of ourselves as having high value, we live as we were originally designed. Thinking positively and having a positive outlook on life greatly benefits our overall health and wellness. Once we begin thinking positively we will be positive. And the best news is that we each have a lifetime guaranteed by our Creator.

Peace, DAP

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Native American Students Suffer Social Injustices: The Higher Educational Ponzi Scheme

Social Justice: Equals being treated equally

Can’t Let It Go!

The more I research and think about the drop out rates for Native American students nationally and more specifically in the State University of New York (SUNY) system – the angrier I become. Discussions about national stats can be reviewed in many places in this blog and beyond. The stats related to SUNY Native American student drop out rates can be viewed here.

Basically, since 1984, Native Americans in the SUNY system lead all groups in drop out rates. Year after year, decade after decade (it appears Native Americans will again have the highest drop out rates in 2014), this one particular group of students, while consisting of low overall enrollment numbers, have departed from SUNY colleges without interference or seemingly without any concern from SUNY leaders.

Why I Can’t Let It Go!

The SUNY statistical department was able to respond to my simple enquiries in a matter of minutes. I asked about student drop out rates and while we were talking on the phone I was forwarded an email with various data. Has anyone at SUNY asked or looked at this data? If not, why not? If so what happened?

The SUNY provide some Fast Facts about their students, like graduation rates. It is reported that 6-Year (2009/10) SUNY graduation rates for all SUNY students is 62.3%, compared to National Public Universities’ 55% and National Private Universities’ 65.3%. Native American SUNY students have a 46.8% graduation rate.  There is a little note indicating that 89% of Baccalaureate students entering in fall 2003 had a successful educational outcome (i.e., graduate, transfer, or continue to be enrolled). Would you care to guess who the remaining 11% of “unsuccessful educational outcome” students might be?

Time to Act!

Maybe SUNY’s Board of Trustees are not aware of this problem. I have submitted my concerns to the board and asked specifically to have these concerns directed to board member Gerri Warren-Merrick who is the current Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. I am confident that the SUNY Board of Trustees, once made aware of this decades old issue, will want to address this problem instantaneously.

The Educational Ponzi Scheme

Native American students who enroll at a SUNY college have experienced social injustices. Whilst they successfully enroll and pay for an education, over half of them, more than any other group in SUNY, leave before graduating. The SUNY colleges have had a nice run of ignoring this problem. It is like a SUNY Educational Ponzi Scheme. The SUNY colleges will eagerly take 100% of Native American’s registration costs, student fees, tuition, etc., knowing that more than half of these students will drop out before benefiting from these payments.  In order to support the continuation of the Ponzi Scheme, new “suckers” have to be recruited and enrolled. Would you pay a large amount of money and enroll into anything that has a success rate of less than half?

Conclusion -- But Not Letting it Go!

It is time to act! Either fix this problem or admit it is not a problem! If there is an admitted problem then there should be planned and purposeful SUNY system wide retention strategy for every Native American enrollee. If it is not a problem then so be it. Native Americans can consider enrolling in a SUNY college fully informed. The majority race seems to be doing just fine in SUNY. Maybe if that becomes a problem -- then there will be a problem!

Peace, DAP

Friday, April 8, 2011

Top 5 Viewed NACWR Posts and Updates

The NACWR Blog began 11/11/10. There are some simple stats showing how many folks view the blog, which country they originate, and which posts they view. As of today there are 32 posts, 33 now, submitted to the NACWR blog. There have been a total of 2,844 views, with an average of about 500 views per month.  The majority of views come from the U.S., followed by Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, and Germany. Posts can be viewed without clicking on a specific post, for example you can read this post just by entering this blog. Below are the posts that folks specifically clicked on to read. The top five viewed (clicked) posts are:

#1  The INDAN is DEAD in You  175 Views

This post resulted from reading materials on Indian boarding schools and the news of a congress person being shot in the head – strange mix of events! It seems that the congress person who was shot survived and that tragic trauma has not killed who she already was. Although the congress person will, I assume, be traumatized for the rest of her life, she (e.g., who she was prior) was not killed. She will, I assume, need much help to recover and will always be impacted by this event. The trauma that was tragically inflicted on Native Americans who were forced to attend boarding schools has carried on to present day. UPDATE: This post was picked up by other blogs and on-line news outlets. The congress person is still recovering from her tragedy and so to are Native Americans!

This post resulted from reading several news articles about the problems of bullying and noticing the uneven standards applied to bullying. I tried to make the case that American school systems and its teaching methods are designed for the majority and that Native American students who attend these systems are being bullied. UPDATE: This post was picked up by other blogs and on-line news outlets. This post had the most comments and seemed to get some folks a bit angered. Also, as the result of writing this post, the U.S. school system has not changed one bit! 

This post was a simple story about how porcupines huddled together to saved themselves, although by joining together their quills poked each other. It is a sweet story and I believe why it is in the top five was mainly due to the photo of the cute baby porcupine!

This post resulted from working and hearing about folks who mentor newly graduated PhDs who end up doing things that are less than honest followed by slandering the university and others in order to distract from their own lack of integrity. Some of the comments seem to indicate that the story is about me. I can neither confirm of deny these comments! UPDATE: Truth will find its way.

This post is about NACWR starting a study abroad program to Ireland. The overall goal of the program is to address Native American college retention. Native Americans have the highest dropout rates both nationally and within the SUNY system. It turns out that studying abroad improves overall retention rates as well as creates personal & professional improvements. UPDATE: I am leaving for Ireland today in order to begin setting up the program. I will travel to Cork and Galway in order to find the best accommodations, learning opportunities, adventures, etc. I will be sure to report my findings when I return.

Peace DAP