November 29, 2016
Former NFL Player Sean James Talks Education, Leadership and Bullying
Name: Sean James
Profession: Director at Pinnacle Sports, Media & Entertainment / Founder of Be In The Know About Bullying
I have changed/contributed to my industry by: In Wealth Management by fiscally educating African American professional athletes in order to ensure their long-term financial success and stability. In Philanthropy by educating both adults and children on how to be kind, be upstanders, and realize their fullest potential.
What steps can we take, as a community, to educate ourselves and eradicate bullying?
I believe that at the core of this issue are education and effective communication. The most critical step we need to take is to make adults understand what education really means and just how critical it is for children to have. So often I hear teachers and administrators tell me that they simply do not have the time to work on social skills or implement a curriculum like ours. What they fail to realize is that they simply do not have the time NOT to implement it! When you teach children a curriculum that instills in them an inherent respect for themselves and for others, you are paving their path to success both as students and as people. That type of success will manifest itself in the classroom just as surely as it will in the cafeteria or on the field.
Could you explain your motivational speaking, philanthropic and anti-bullying works.
Children crave leadership, structure, and discipline (whether they know it or not). The speaking I do for Be In The Know teaches children how to respond to leadership in order to be leaders themselves. The goal is to give them an education that goes beyond English, history, and math–we teach them how to think about each other, how to treat each other, and just as importantly, how to think about and treat themselves. These are skills that have been largely forsaken in an educational landscape that is lush in testing and data, but largely lacking in personal accountability for behavior. Children are thirsty for that kind of knowledge and discipline, and we provide it for them.
Describe your time as a NFL player and what did that teach you about discipline and teamwork.
It is difficult to isolate what I learned about discipline and teamwork through sports to my short time in the NFL. While, of course, reaching the level of playing professionally for the National Football League allowed me to play at the highest level with the best teammates and opponents in the game, I have been playing football and learning about discipline and teamwork through sports since I was eight years old. That being said, playing football has taught me the value of working with others, more specifically, the value of identifying the unique skills and talents of others and learning how to not only allow my skill set to work in a way that compliments theirs (and vice versa), but also to try and learn from them and make myself better by paying attention to how they do what it is that they do best! As for discipline, I was always told that to be a pro at something, you needed to complete 10,000 reps. That standard and discipline is one that I hold myself to when I learn any new skill set in myself. The determination to win or complete the task at hand, regardless of the obstacles that might be in the way of achieving it, are also disciplines that I possess as a result of playing football from Pop Warner all the way to the NFL.
As a man with a strong character, how do you see your own impact within your community?
I see my impact within my community as being a facilitator who builds leaders and upstanders through education, mentorship, and kindness. We need to realize that no organization, brand or business is better than its people. I take pride in giving our youth the tools and education they require to be better everyday- to know what they know as well as what they do not yet know, as an integral part of true intelligence is identifying what you do not know and seeking out and learning from those who do.
What is the key piece of advice you can offer to younger generation and BE Modern Man hopefuls hoping to cultivate a successful career?
So many people are complacent in a life where they stick to what they know, what they have been brought up thinking or what they have gone to school to do. By having a desire to learn and do more than what is in your comfort zone, you have already set yourself apart. The next step is actively seeking out opportunities and capitalizing on every one, no matter how seemingly small they may appear to be in the moment. You need to build relationships—that is crucial, and you need to have the ability to actively learn from those who are different than you. That is what allowed me to weave between words in my professional life- from the NFL, to the corporate world, to fashion, to philanthropy—I value every relationship, and I am acutely aware that I can learn something new from each one that can further me on my journey.
The Black Enterprise.com team congratulates Sean James for his commitment to advocating for teenage bullying as well as ensuring that we, as a community, understand our economic and buying power in this country. To learn more about about Sean’s efforts, visit www.seanlewisjames.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @seanjames23
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