October 23, 2010
Mind, Body, and Soul of Personal Responsibility
In this period of increased educational abandonment, health-care chaos, and religious paradox, the idea of personal responsibility reigns. These challenges elicit opportunities for individuals to nurture themselves and subsequently decrease their dependence on external forces to do so.
As Father’s Day nears and America prepares to celebrate men who take responsibility for their families and children, we should also celebrate men who encourage, inspire and empower people to take responsibility for themselves—their mind, body and soul.
Mind. “The success of a life is determined by where you end, not where you start.” This philosophy fuels Dr. Steve Perry’s desire and determination to transform the lives of poor and minority children by making college education accessible and attainable. Dr. Perry’s own life is a testament to this principle. He was born into poverty to a 16-year-old mother, but he took personal responsibility for his own life and altered his mentality to overcome odds and succeed in the face of prejudice and negative stereotypes. He received his masters in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and his undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island. But perhaps his most notable accomplishment is founding Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, which US News and World Reports named as one of America’s Best High Schools. Since the school’s inception in 2004, 100 percent of graduates have gone on to attend competitive four-year colleges. Dr. Perry seeks to empower each of his students to become skilled information processors and agents of social change. He holds the same goal in view for the Black community. In Dr. Perry’s Essence bestseller, Man Up! Nobody Is Coming To Save Us, themes of individual accountability and open-mindedness permeate the pages as he reminds Black people that “we have the power within ourselves to change our circumstances.”
Body. Individual accountability is also a theme for Shaun T, renowned fitness trainer and choreographer. He has created number #1 selling fitness DVDs, including “Hip Hop Abs” and “Insanity” for individuals to get fit at home. Shaun T received a BS in sports science with a minor in theater and dance from Rowan University. He began his career working as a fitness specialist for companies like WYETH and Equinox before putting his dance talent to work. Shaun T believes taking care of the body is of paramount importance, and his videos offer quick tips for people to engage their muscles without being in a gym. In an interview with blackvoices.com, Shaun mentioned that one of the most enjoyable aspects of his job is to see and hear about people transforming their lives through fitness. In the interview he recalled training a client who, after two months, lost a considerable amount of weight and subsequently gained an equal share of confidence. That confidence allowed his client to take on tasks he didn’t feel comfortable doing before the weight-loss. Ultimately, Shaun T’s workouts are created to help people sculpt their best bodies. Achieving desired results, though, boils down to personal responsibility, dedication, and drive.
Soul. David Anderson knows all about drive—an impelling, innately-acquired interest or longing. His story shares a similar theme to that of Dr. Steve Perry’s and demonstrates that the soul of who we are can transcend obstacles and adversity. Anderson navigated the urban life of Chicago without much direction as he grew up in an abusive home with a mother who suffered from schizophrenia. He eventually went on to college only to leave a few years later to take care of his younger siblings. But through all of this, he never took his eyes off Harvard and a corporate finance career, and in 2009, the seeds of faith and determination began to take root. In this year, Anderson was invited to study at Harvard University for graduate studies. In 2010, he was elected to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, co-pioneered a half million dollar law firm, interned with Goldman Sachs and received the Thurgood Marshall Department of Energy Outstanding Achievement Scholarship. Anderson is committed to giving back to his community using his unique story to encourage people to take personal responsibility for themselves, discover their passions and hold tight to their dreams. He often speaks to audiences about using their inner light to navigate through life’s mountains and valleys to reach success. Anderson believes Booker T. Washington accurately expresses his sentiment with the words, “Success is not measured so much by the position that one has reached in life, but by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”