I can’t say I’ve had a rough year. It would be an insult to the blessings that JAH has poured into my life. I never view success in terms of financial gain but life’s opportunities. A lot of men I meet that are in my circle, or circles I am introduced to feel the same way. I work to be a contributing member of society. As a Christian minister, a veteran, an author, emcee, award-winning spoken word artist, and mentor for youth and adults, these are the things that align with my purpose. It’s a daily practice to remind myself of these traits.

In my home office, I have a wall of achievement. When I get too hard on myself, feel depressed, or stuck, I often go and stare at it. A reminder of all we have accomplished and achieved in life is necessary for our mental health. We are in a world where everyone is saying, “multiple streams of income, if you’re broke it’s because you’re lazy, you need a side hustle, you need to be an entrepreneur or you’re not serious”,  it can be draining. Please don’t misunderstand my words. I am a business owner and entrepreneur. While I may net $2K a year after expenses it’s a start. “Insert Nas, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death”.

Lately, I’ve had several conversations with Black men between the ages of 45-55. They are hurting. Some of these men have attained what is deemed required in America to be accepted. Their Ivy League degrees, their prestigious universities, and the MBA designation in their signature block have not filled their heart’s vacancies after meeting the requirement. Though we have Black men who are dominant, and prominent, those numbers are no where near the opportunities that are given to men of other races. I was told by a white colleague on LinkedIn, “Tony, if you keep bringing up color, that’s all people will recognize”. He doesn’t realize that his privilege allowed him to make that statement. Because LinkenIn is a highly professional platform I have shied away from such topics, after all, I want to do what’s required. Recently, I was turned down for a C-Level role. It won’t be the first or the last but it made me contemplate what’s next and is their something more than this.

I have spoken with several of you who have reached for the same heights in your career. Years of dedicated service, outstanding reviews, and leading with heart, integrity, diligence, and human skills, along with other building blocks of performance leadership were essential to this moment. I caution you that even at the C-Level we’re designed to think their is something more. That’s the society we live in, that there’s always something more.

We face the question, Is a black man ever good enough to lead at the C-Level? And it is here I pen my letter to my brothers.

Black men, there is a quote by Frederick Douglas I hate. I know it’s strange for hate and Frederick to go in the same sentence but it’s true for me.

It’s easier to build stronger children than to repair broken men. FD

I hate it because it holds so much truth to how some of us feel. After turning 51 this year, I shared I feel I didn’t wake up to life until 45. Many of you have shared the same feelings of lateness, lack of achievement, not feeling supported, or tired of the hustle that never ends. When seeking higher positions of achievement we have been overlooked, under appreciated, undervalued, and misunderstood. Perhaps there’s truth in all of those things. After all, we are human. However, I want you to do me a favor after this sentence. Pause. Pick up your cell phone. Place it in selfie-mode. Tell yourself, “I love you”. “You are valuable”. “You are appreciated”. “You are loved”. “You are ENOUGH!!!!”. Go, do it! Please. You are made in the image of the Creator. You are powerful. You are influential. You are smart. You are intelligent. You are enough.

We should strive for higher success in this life but there’s one question I want you to ponder. What is your purpose? What are you called to do? Ok, maybe two questions. I don’t mean the cliché of these questions but the actual heartfelt, gut feeling, mind-stirring, contemplative soul searching that requires and answer from you. Opportunities for advancement are wonderful but how does it align with your purpose? A C-Level role is great but how does it align with your purpose?

I care about you brother. I care about your family. I care about your life. I care about your career. I care about your wellbeing. I care about your purpose. I had to come to grips with being accepted, validated, appreciated, and valued should not come from any corporation or person, it has to come from within. Why? Because rejection and disappointment are apart of life. We will give them and we will receive them. I understand the weight that we carry into our roles everyday. I know the struggles when micro/macro aggressions impact our daily interactions in the business world. Through it all I want you to know that you are enough. You are educated, qualified, eligible, worthy, exceptional, brilliant, and exceptional.

You are enough! Doctorate degree, advanced degree, degree, no degree, you are enough. Veteran, soldier, sailor. You are enough. Employed, unemployed, between jobs, retired. You are enough. Confused, depressed, alone, single, married, divorced. You are enough. Adopted, abandoned, foster child. You are enough. C-Level, senior director, director, manager, supervisor, employee. You are enough. Boardroom, server room, mailroom. You are enough.

If you are stuck, confused, and don’t know where to start, allow me to share some ending thoughts.

There will always be something more if you never find contentment.

What’s the one things that makes you smile?

What’s your connection to the Divine Creator and where has that power made you shine?

As I journey with you in this life I want to provide three tools.

Spiritual Being: As a Christian, I grow in my faith daily and if I’m honest, the closer I get to Yeshua the more freer I become in exploring me. I simply know that without Him I am a ship without a sail, and when I feel those moments of career disappointment, confusion, and lacks of clarity, I know I have drifted too far from His presence, His love, and His peace.

The Purpose Path: Dr. Nicholas Pearce is one of this generations most gifted and prolific men. How does a young man with an engineering degree from MIT become one of America’s leading instructors at one of the top 10 universities in the country? He learned his purpose. His book is one of the most inspiring I’ve ever read. If I have been restless in my life as of late, it due to me putting in the work to walk in my purpose.

The Purpose Course: In exploring my purpose, I’m taking an identity trip this year to Ghana, West Africa. I am taking this trip with a gentleman named Linal Harris. Part of my purpose work was taking his course. I received so much clarity from his course where I can name my purpose with clarity. Feel free to view his website for more information.

Pause. Pick up your cell phone. Place it in selfie-mode. Tell yourself, “I love you”. “You are valuable”. “You are appreciated”. “You are loved”. “You are ENOUGH!!!!”.

You are right where you need to be. Life in the moment and enjoy the journey. Yes, it’s easier to build strong children that to repair broken men, but Mr. Douglas didn’t say we wouldn’t do the work. That is my purpose, to use spoken word and storytelling, to help men, women, and young people bound with childhood and life pain to break free from childhood pain so they can start to begin living their best lives. I am not a doctor, I am not a counselor, I am simply a servant of humanity. There are no plugs, no gimmicks, and no fluff. Only a human being who has walked through the pains of life, has endured the pain, and working to walk in the fullness of God’s love and share it daily.

It’s not about the C-Level or higher position, it’s about acceptance and value. Those are things that can’t come from an outside source, it has to be internal. What JAH has for us is for us and if we don’t get promoted, or opportunities then perhaps he’s sparing us a title so we can continue to pursue our purpose driven work. Go, seek your purpose, find your calling, and prepare to be uncomfortable in this growth process. It’s not about the C-Level, it’s about your level. And, whilst on this journey, do one thing on occasion for me.

Pause. Pick up your cell phone. Place it in selfie-mode. Tell yourself, “I love you”. “You are valuable”. “You are appreciated”. “You are loved”. “You are ENOUGH!!!!”.