When my parents divorced, I made this plan (at the time I didn’t know it was a plan); I’d live with my mom first, then, when the time came, I’d ask to live with my dad. This plan would allow me to have the best of both worlds and learn necessary lessons I would need to become the best man I could be.
My name is Terrence John Bradley and this is my Crystal Stair.
My dad, before I was born, was a professional basketball player and my mother was a hardworking entrepreneur.
So what lessons would I, or could I, learn from either of them?
It was with my mother who taught me what it meant to be grounded in family, to be sociable, and to be inspiring (I have 32 cousins, so being sociable was nearly inevitable). Growing up, my social nature reserved me a spot in the disciplinary dean’s office. However, knowing the limitations of peers with discipline records and a mother with a “play no games” attitude at home; I shifted my radical edge to sports (for the time being).
As an entrepreneur, my mother showed me first-hand what failure looked like, because it happened again, and again, and again. I never knew what kept her going, but I knew she never gave up. I’d watched her command rooms with hundreds of investors, and stun audiences with her authenticity. Her tenacity and drive inspired me to pursue Global Business Leadership at the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University.
It was through her I learned that success is an ongoing mission. You may have reached one of your goals, but you can always go back to the drawing board and create another. Rinse and repeat until you run out of goals (which never happens). She taught me that being present wasn’t nearly as important as showing up. Whether it was a brief conversation or a company-wide decision, those who actively engage in this world will find deeper meaning in the mundane. That guidance is something that I carry with me everywhere.
…now on to My Plan Part 2: – Living with my Dad
“I don’t call you son because you’re mine, I call you son because you shine. You’re a Bradley…don’t ever forget that.”
When my father repeated that to me growing up, I would feel meaningful, like my name carried weight, and it did. It was the simplest phrase with the most powerful of intentions, to instill in his black son that he had value and worth. He’d also tell me “Everyone is playing their own selfish game, and you’ll have to find your way through this chaos of selfishness while taking care”. You have to go out and get what you want, but you should remember the values you have been taught in the process.
What may seem like harsh advice was actually a statement of love. He wasn’t angry or disheartened… he was simply being real, as many black fathers must be with their sons.
He, having been drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1983 and subsequently playing overseas, knew a little bit about making a way for himself. For that reason, I was inclined to adopt his aspiring mentality to accomplish my goals. In doing so, I developed an alternative relationship with risk and failure, one of acceptance. Most of the lessons I received were in the context of basketball: Self-Motivation, developing my Purpose, Encouraging Inclusivity, etc. It was our easiest way of communication.
On Black Men
As a black man striving for excellence, we hold obligations to our families and our culture, but the most significant is our commitment to ourselves. The growth process of a Young Black man takes endurance to remain focused, refinement to further growth, and poise through your practices. I wouldn’t hold the motivations I have today without the wisdom I have received since birth, I am blessed. Liberating your CORE being requires a level of honesty, most can’t imagine. There is nothing easy about realizing that you’ve been the one holding yourself back this entire time… that your lack of self-discipline has impeded your progress. It is a process we must all go through. Hence, I believe learning is stronger than knowledge, that perception is more potent than reality, that vision is more powerful than actuality. Call me crazy.
**In my best Alex Trebek impression**
Inspired by This ancient Greek philosopher who coined the statement: “we don’t know what we don’t know (read that again)”. Fittingly, he remained engaged in his studies and later became one of the most significant contributors to moral philosophy…
If you answered, “Who is Socrates?” you would be correct.
At times, we are called to experience beyond what we know, it happens all the time in practice. That is why our willingness to be present at our highest capacity is so important. God’s creation is a delicate balance, an although we may never experience all aspects of life on earth. a more holistic approach is to absorb each moment of life, as you would Michelangelo’s episodes of the Genesis, atop the priceless Sistine Chapel ceiling – Vatican City, Italy. We are all painting our own episodes as we progress through our phases and guess what, young black man? You get to paint in living color.