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Every once in a while you discover a book that can be a road map to how you should try and lead your life. Recently, I discovered Reverend Al Sharpton’s autobiography, "The Rejected Stone."

The reverend was one of black leaders of the NAACP along with Martin Luther King who were trying to bring a sense of equality to the United States. They succeeded in guiding their people from the outhouse to the White House with Barak Hussein Obama the first black American President.

At age 10 Al decided on his career to be a preacher. He espouses the concept: ‘that you can not arrive someplace until you determine the destination: next you have to determine the cost to ascertain if the goal is worthwhile and attainable. What are your intentions for your life and are you willing to pay the price to get there? The destination determines the cost; the cost never determines the destination. You have to ask yourself: who you are and do you have the ability, work ethic and willpower to succeed?'

Al grew up deep in the hood without a father surrounded by all of the temptations and traps that came with the environment, yet he decided to be different from the culture after he decided on his destination to be a minister.

Whatever your politics, you must find your own comfort zone and stick with it. Do not let other people talk you into what seems like a more appealing lucrative career. If you succumb to the allure of money and or prestige, the rewards will never be quite enough if it isn’t your passion.

If you espouse to be a leader you must accept the reality that people have the right to expect you to be different caring for the well being of others. Being a leader is hard, whether your leading country, a community, a company or a family. You are going to need vast reserves of discipline, patience and love if you are going to make a difference.

Do not rest on your laurels of what you have achieved looking backwards and not to the future. Check out your car’s review mirror; a tiny reflection of what was behind you compared to the wrap-around front window of the panoramic view that is on the horizon.

Try and be authentic, to be real and be yourself. My teenage clients whose families have large acres of farm land laugh when they speak of, "big hat, no cattle." People will accept you and your mistakes much more readily if they feel that you are being real. What they won’t accept is a phony. You can not convince people to follow you if they do not think that you believe in yourself.

If you live in community you have a responsibility to be a positive role model to children helping, teaching and mentoring them to succeed. To those who have been privileged to have been fortunate to have been successful much is owed.

There is a section on discipline and consistency that deals with obesity among the black population of the US of A. One day his granddaughter asked Al; "why are you so fat?"

Part of the persona for black clergymen was to be overweight. Historically blacks ate soul food, fried chicken/grits and fries that was the norm for the slaves in the South. Working in the fields in the heat they could lose over 4000 calories. In the world of cyberspace it is hard to burn calories connected to your computer. One day he discovered that he was 300 pounds and decided to take on a life of discipline and consistency in regard to his health. "If we are going to insist that our lives have merit how are you going to preach that all life has value and not be concerned with what you eat?" You can not say it is alright to kill yourself with diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and obesity and speak about the sanctity of a human life.

Reverend Al decided to put his mouth where he preached and lost 100 pounds in one year. "Even though he is getting older he feels great."

My granddaughter, Mushie, taught me that: we do not have to be perfect. Having the ability to risk failure often times is a great lesson towards success. As the sages teach us: "nothing ventured nothing gained."

If you are most fortunate to leave a legacy behind being remembered as selflessness and advocating for others to make a difference your memory will endure after you are gone. Your time here on earth is limited; "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, to-day we call the present because it is a gift." Your legacy can not endure if measured by only material things that you leave behind. Ask yourself;` if your life has been worthwhile and if the world is a little better place then you found it?

I thoroughly enjoyed Reverend Sharpton’s book and highly recommend it to those of you who want to be proactive and may need help finding the path leading to a positive future.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com