Section 4: LIVING WITH GOODNESS - EXAMPLES
CONTROLLING OUR IMPULSES
Confronting Anger and Winning
Many of us “overshadow” our personal strengths and capabilities with an attitude or way of conducting ourselves that is inconsiderate of those around us. The result is that most don’t enjoy being around us or actually avoid us completely. In this example, Jamyle Cannon learned how to control that side of him so that he could use his God-given skills to help others in some way.
Instead of going and acting on the anger that I had, taking it out on another individual, I had to learn how to process it internally. And to learn how to let go of the things that had happened previously so that I could keep moving forward. I think that's how I came to master my own emotions so that I could be successful.
Strengths vs. Weaknesses
Most of us know our strengths and work to define ourselves with them. We want to be known as the person who makes good grades…the person who leads the student government…the person who kicked the winning field goal…the person whose art hangs in the local library…the person who serves and volunteers to help others.
Sometimes, however, we can become defined by our weaknesses—by impulses that we give in to. Our strengths can be overshadowed when we give into a weakness typically because we didn’t stop and think about what we were about to say or do. In short, we let our weaknesses get the best of us.
We don’t like to admit our weaknesses. We hide the fact that we eat entirely too many sweets when we are stressed. We let jealousy take over when we see someone with better clothes or a newer phone or the latest video game. We let prejudices take over when we see new students coming into our school. Or maybe, like Jamyle Cannon, we have a very hard time controlling our anger.
Jamyle Cannon grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and frequently got into fights. As a child, he encountered poverty and drug addiction in his own home. He became angry about his circumstances. The way he dealt with his hurt was to get into
fights to release his anger about what he was dealing with on a daily basis.
But the fights led to trouble. When he was 12, Cannon had to take court-ordered anger management classes after getting arrested for fighting. But, lucky for him, those classes gradually gave him the skills he needed to walk away from a fight instead of letting his anger control him.
Eventually, Cannon went to college and took up boxing. In 2009, he won the National Collegiate Boxing Championship. After graduating, Cannon served with Teach for America for two years, feeling passionate about the issue of education inequality. In 2012, after earning a master's degree in secondary education, Cannon moved to Chicago and helped found a charter school on the city's troubled West Side.
Cannon’s students lived in neighborhoods plagued with violence, and Cannon knew they would benefit from an afterschool program that gave them a safe space to learn and grow. He started a small boxing club at the school. He found that the students' grades, behavior, and test scores improved as a result of their involvement in the program.
His program, The Bloc, is much more than boxing. The program helps youth learn to control their negative impulses and build upon their strengths. The program provides the kids a place to do their homework before their activities. Tutors are available to help. Each child is also mentored and coached to master a new skill that will hopefully lead to their success.
The youth who have gone through the program have a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent college acceptance rate. Controlling their impulses and building on their strengths has led to new hope for youth who could have chosen trouble as their path in life.
He Overcame His Weakness
Jamyle Cannon knows that controlling his anger saved him from a life of fighting and probably jail time. He had to choose to admit that his weakness was taking over his life and leading him down the wrong path. When he chose to learn how to overcome his negative impulses, he saw how to build his life upon his strengths. He went from being controlled by anger to controlling it and serving others. You can use Jamyle’s example to help you identify one of your weaknesses and make the choices, as he did, that will help you overcome it.
Kids would come to the club thinking they were going to learn how to fight. But instead they learned how to control those impulses and, as a result, they did better in school and in life.
What weaknesses do you struggle with?
Do you often give in to the impulses from those weaknesses?
How have you learned to overcome some of your weaknesses?
Is this something that you need to focus on more in the future?
How can you and I use our strengths to overcome the negative impulses in our lives?