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Khari Jones Jr.

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How your experiences can help you dream up a better vision for yourself.

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.” – Bo Bennett

I’m sure many successful people can attest to the fact that the best visions come randomly. While you’re driving, watching a basketball game, in the shower, or running errands. And, if you ask many of them I’m sure they will say that they made the conscious decision to actually act on the great ideas that they found themselves daydreaming about. When you see the glimpse of possibilities of something you desire, but don’t think is attainable, believe in yourself. You never know, I truly believe a vision is something eminent in a person’s heart that cannot be ignored.

It’s amazing how one thought can get you started on a journey.
The adventure of following visions is an experience that cannot be taught and some of the greatest stories that have gone untold, moreover the knowledge you gain from failures is something unexplainable. What I’ve learned more than anything else from experiences, is that trying something different, making mistakes, and overcoming them gives you the opportunity to dream up a greater vision. This is an insight that is not taught in the classroom.

My experiences with transferring from three different colleges has truly given me the understanding that sometimes things don’t  always work out as planned. But, you can’t dwell on the failure, just move forward and take what you’ve learned for further progression. If you plan, meditate, and execute your goals,  you can potentially change the stratosphere of not only your life, but your family as well. With your influence you will inspire others to pursue their dreams and visions. From these experiences you grow tremendously, and as you grow and continue to have visions, always try to pursue them.

 

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Step outside of your comfort zone, and study abroad before you graduate

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking how things maybe, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson.

Earlier this year I went on a study abroad trip to Thessaloniki, Greece, and it was the best experience that I’ve ever had in my life.  I will be honest, and say that it was a complete cultural shock for me, but fortunately I was able to adjust quickly. Having the opportunity to travel across the world, and get outside of my comfort zone, has changed me in ways that I would have never imagined. The person who I was when I left the United States is definitely not the person who I was when I returned from Greece. And, that is why I am so passionate about encouraging other students to study abroad when they have the opportunity to.  

Greece is a place where they take pride in their country.

Everywhere I went, people were staring, not out of hatred but out of pure curiosity. With that being said,  the majority of the Greek population hasn’t  been to America and have not come in contact with many Americans in their country. Some of the Greeks I engaged in conversation with mentioned that the majority of their people only know Americans from television. So, for them questions were raised like, “What brings you here, are you an immigrant, or what basketball team do you play for?” I could sense from their questions the “foreign stereotypes” that they hold about us as Americans. Outside of our country we feel we are discriminated against as Americans, and one can almost always sense the anti-american sentiment from just talking to people from other countries, but outside of the sentiments are people who genuinely want to learn about the American culture.

For the past 20 years immigration has been a major problem in Greece , due to a rise in the number of crimes committed by immigrants within the country. So, it was difficult for us Americans to engage in conversations with them due to these preconceived notions.

Studying abroad challenges you, takes you out  of your comfort zone, and makes you appreciative of the opportunities you have in your own country. And, from my trip I realized that there are so many things that we need to get educated on to be able to effectively compete on a global scale. Cultural intelligence is a critical component to our success because it allows us to effectively communicate and understand other cultural groups in a workplace setting.

Immersing myself into the Greek culture has increased my desire to want to see other parts of the world, and it has also fueled the fire in me to leave my mark on the world.  It will challenge you, change you, and it will give you the platform to share with others the knowledge you’ve obtained.  If you have any preconceived notions about any countries, go and see for yourself! Because only then will you be able to have an educated and non fabricated opinion about it.  As a college student I want to challenge my peers to really utilize those study abroad resources while you can. It is truly a life changing experience.

What countries have you visited? Let’s talk below!

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How you can apply your “Hustler Spirit” to something positive

50 Cent, once mentioned that there is a parallel between corporate America and the “hood”. There are so many guys in the hood that believe selling drugs, rapping,and having a basketball or football career is the only way to feed your family. In reality, there are so many avenues to build capital for yourself, but we are just blind to it sometimes or not willing to learn. It feels as if we’re limiting ourselves and our capabilities, talents or genes to take different routes in life. I mean, I look at it like this: if you take the same mindset or concept and put it towards pursuing your passion then you can do great things.

Everyone wants the fast life, making quick money instead of taking the time to learn that there’s no elevator to success. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that these individuals have to do what is necessary to provide, but why take a chance on your life? I know from experience and life lessons that it is not worth it in the end. Although there are many gifted “hustlers” out here in the world, there is no longevity in it. I believe there is a misconception with the word hustle. People tend to believe that when you are a hustler you only hustle in the streets, that’s Not necessarily true, you can hustle in your everyday life, whether it’s school, your job or entrepreneurship. We just need to gear our hustling skills into a more positive direction.

As a young kid, the people I looked up to weren’t Martin Luther King or Muhammad Ali (sad to say–but it’s true!). It was guys like Young Jeezy and Yo Gotti that I wanted to grow up and imitate. They may not have been the best influences, but it’s a reality that majority of young African American males are inspired by rappers and sport figures. We see the glamorous lifestyle they live with the fast cars, money, and jewelry. Overall, we are intrigued by their hustling ability and the steps they took to get where they are.That’s the major problem we have in society today, we are so influenced by their culture that we want to take the exact steps they took to get where they are when we know for a fact we are risking our freedom to emulate their portrayed lifestyle. My point is this: if you take that hustling state of mind and put it towards something positive, your chances of succeeding and having long term success will be higher.

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How to change a system that wasn’t meant for us

The summer of 2016 was a wake-up call for many that justice for the African American community would be a long shot. And, it became pretty obvious from the police shootings that killed black men & women without any consequences. Though some may argue that justice was served, it is pretty clear that the consequences don’t equate the crime. A paid leave for a murder crime simply undermines the act, as well as the lives that were lost.

In order to understand the challenges that African-American’s experience, one has to picture themselves in our shoes.  And if they did, would they be content with a police officer killing one of their  unarmed family members? Let alone get away with it and still get paid?

Personally, I couldn’t imagine the pain and agony my family would have to go through if something were to happen to any of the men in my family due to police brutality. The victims’ families should not have to suffer because a system refuses to stand for our African American people. It affects many young men like me tremendously. We go around every day worried about being the next hashtag. The system was built to protect us, not shoot us.

It’s time for a change. I mean some real hands-on change. We have to do something and take a stand. There’s a quote that says, “Stand for something or fall for anything.” That is what we have been doing for so many years–just letting our race get dominated by another race. It’s even worse now because there are black men in positions being used as puppets about the crisis that is going on with our people.

If we look at history, and see what the civil rights leaders did in the 60s to bring change, we can do the same–if not even better. We are more powerful than we think! Coming together as one is the best thing we can do right now. But first, we need to start building ourselves to be economically independent, by delving into fields like law enforcement, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, etc., to be competitive and also to be able to take care and stand for our own. This will give us the power to alter and affect the economy more effectively in cases where justice is not served, like back in the day when the civil rights movement refused to utilize the buses and it affected the whole country financially.

Then, they decided it was time to change the laws. That is what we need to do for us to get their attention. The time is now, if we don’t start soon, we will continue to get oppressed and eventually get back to where we once were–and that is with no rights at all. If we were to do the same thing today, who knows what can happen, especially with the money we are generating as a black community.

We need real leaders to take initiative to make change and not be afraid of the backlash! Just like Martin Luther King, Tupac Shakur, and Malcolm X, three magnificent leaders who used their platform and died for a cause. Those guys were relentless in pursuing change in our world.

These are my thoughts as a young black man.

Black people, let’s rise!

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Why we should all be using our social media accounts to inspire others

Imagine being able to inspire others with your life story. Social media is like one of the best forms of innovation in our lifetime because of its ability to provide all of us with a platform to evoke much needed change in the world. People will follow others for years on social media, witnessing their successes, failures, and inspirations, simply by viewing their posts. For me, becoming an inspiration in my collegiate journey has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done. Using social media as an outlet to share my story is something I embrace. Being born in Chicago, Illinois, there were many obstacles I had to overcome to get to where I am now. And, with one year left of my undergrad career, I have become a young man of purpose.

The last 5 years of my life have been filled with transformation. Coming from where I started, I have truly shown people that whatever you set your mind to, you can accomplish. With that being said, throughout my journey I’ve been able to recognize my growing influence. Whether it’s from family, friends, or just people from my realm of influence, someone is always letting me know they are inspired by my story. They see different snippets from my life, such as my opportunity to study abroad in Greece, leading organizations, or collaborating with other like-minded individuals. These are opportunities that have allowed me to develop and lead well, and over time inspire others. I’ve been blessed to see the opportunity and begin to capitalize on it. Showing my journey from beginning to now has truly changed the perception of many. It has even changed my perception of myself. Sometimes taking a glance back is the best way to continue moving forward.

In college there are adventures and ample opportunities to explore. Taking those opportunities, making the most of them, and showing the world is an experience that can definitely be encouraging to others in ways beyond our imagination. I encourage you to be a positive image on social media. It is one of the most powerful tools in today’s society and it can really help people. You may never know who’s life you’re changing or who you’re pushing to take the first step in their journey. Quite frankly, you never know who’s watching. Just understand this: Your voice matters to someone and your story might uniquely inspire one person. So do your best to truly live and inspire others to do so too!

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Why embracing your struggle can help you reach your goals in life

It is no surprise in the black community that we have been among those who have had it much harder than everyone else to become successful, financially stable, and just the ability to live a well-structured life. Through my 25 years of existence, I have seen many in our shared category become complacent with their lives, about why they have not been able to get an education, advance in their careers, or even take care of their families.

I know history to an extent has put us at a disadvantage, but I also believe this has also given us an enormous sense of self-worth through struggles and life-lessons, which has strength beyond what we can imagine. It also seems that we have become so bent on the negative part of our experience so much that we are beginning to use our circumstances as an excuse to not move forward. It is time for us to take 100% ownership of our lives and stop pointing the finger at people, things, and situations. We have to grasp the mindset that we have more strength than we think we do. Our minds are so powerful and it is important that we do not neglect that.

Sometimes, we forget the concept of turning our disadvantages into advantages. There are tons of successful black people who were relentless in overcoming obstacles–success stories out there that have been in the same predicament that you are in. Eric Thomas, Tyrese Gibson, Oprah Winfrey and many others who turned their negative situations into positives and now they are using their platform or art to inspire others.

How do you think they did it?

It is evident that their relentless pursuit of success was enthused from adversity. They were tired of struggling and used their past experiences to motivate them. They made a DECISION to make a change for their future. I believe that as a community, we can learn from these individual examples and start rising above our situations.

Struggle creates a sense of determination inside each and every one of us. Every time I think about giving up, I think about the times people counted me out, gave up on me and said I would not amount to anything. I think about the times I took a bus two hours to school and back five days a week. I think about where I am now compared to where I once was. For me I know failure is not an option because I know how it feels to be at my lowest point.

And, I am determined not to reach that level again.

I know struggle built this hunger in me that pushes me to want to overlook everything I’ve had to overcome. It has given me a resilience that nothing at this point can deter. Although it was difficult at the time, when I look back struggle is a beautiful thing. This is why I do not mind being transparent about the tough situations I have been through, and the adversity that I overcame because without those struggles I would not be who I am today.

I am still striving to become better, but reflecting on the times when I hit rock-bottom gives me even greater motivation to continue moving forward.

I think the black community should use struggle as its weapon to rise. Struggle is so powerful that it can make you bullet proof to all other life adversities. In a sense, struggle is so unique; it is almost like a gift if you use it. I truly believe struggle builds a burning desire for you to succeed. It creates ambition that you would never have thought you had. Over the years, I have come to conclude that the people who have not had things easy for them, has an advantage to win over others who have had such a path. I would not take my past experience back for anything. As J. Cole would say, there is
beauty in the struggle and I think we as a community have this beauty and are failing to appreciate it.