We meet the world as a blank canvas. And even though our eyes see in gray-scale, we have the ability to create a vibrant masterpiece filled with endless possibilities. But alas, at 5 months when shades and shadows turn into colors to be used as paint, we find our canvas already designed. Taking away from our role as artesian, we find our canvas with broad brush strokes of hegemony, religion, family values, social norms, language, and culture all reinforced by social constructs. When courage allows us to take back our canvas’s design, we awaken our unique genius.

The moment had come when Jared would have to chose between  a life of cowardice or courage- would he continue to paint by numbers or create his own unique design? That night his ringing ears created a pressure causing his eyes to blur. Jared tried to maintain focus but the crowd appeared as a sea of anxious bodies vibrating into one. Finally, he remembered to breathe and knew that this moment- his moment- would transcend him to the next level

Youth Empowerment Session

Youth Empowerment Session with the 4th and 5th graders at N.B. Mills Elementary School


Unbeknownst to him, he prepared for this moment all his life. It started with the cleansing of his canvas. Preconceived ideas of who he was turned him into a fraud; perpetrating this falsehood forced losing situations. Finally, he abandoned the trendy threads and all his bravado and embraced his own style and complex masculinity. Preparing him were cyphers with friends heralding him as the next illest MC. This was the confidence needed for Jared to ignore self doubt.

The lights brighted forcing colors more vivid; he could smell his breath and taste its dryness. The beat from his heart echoed; keeping the pace for the melody that would soon spew from his gut. Stammering at first, the stares from the crowd confirmed what they said was right- “he couldn’t do it.”

Lee Williams Empowering Youth at N.B. Mills Middle school

Lee Williams Empowering Youth at N.B. Mills Middle school

Jared had reveled when friends told him his rhymes were tight and bars sick. He had chosen friends who rolled their eyes at peers who believed Jared was too poor to succeed. His friends’ investment in Jared’s dreams had allowed him to prostrate with pen to pad and write through dark nights. He would capture the crippling pain of losing Stacey to domestic violence and of reminiscent laughter of when Rabbit jumped off the grotto yelling “YOLO” only to belly flop into the pool. He wrote blindly to find his way.

With pants sagging in a time of skinny jeans he stood on stage knowing conformity is not an option. Stage left he could see his friends mouthing his lyrics with gesturing hands shooing him to move forward. And so he did.

He remembered how past moments of greatness conspired to get him here. Jared had abandoned old pastimes and replaced them with writing in the lab and reading pages by Paulo Coelho. Instead of being distracted by noise, he would meditate and adopted the mantra, “opposite of courage is conformity,” by Earl Nightingale. In his new found freedom he  resonated with the quote, “they laugh at me because I am different, I laugh at them because they are all the same.” Once he had accepted his truth he would grow closer to himself and started using words that elevated him, surrounded himself with those who motivated him, saw strength in himself and developed through taking risks.

The crowd exploded at the realness of his rhymes. Jared’s canvas was original and distinctly his own causing onlookers to stop, stare and question how their canvas would look if they dared to be courageous.

Motivational Speakers

7 Things to help you reach your unique genius:

1. Knowing your why. Take time with yourself and discover what inspires you and helps others. Your ‘why’ is your purpose and with it you will find happiness. You cannot move forward without your why.

2. What excites you creates passion.
When you find something that you love to pour into, it will create a strong momentum. This momentum will encourage you, and bystanders, to further develop your genius.

3. Always speak your truth. Never change your opinion to suit someone else’s needs. When you compromise your integrity, it limits your success in believing in self and ultimately distracts you from developing your unique genius.

4. Be open to others’ unique qualities. Accept people for where they are on their journey; otherwise, you may be overlooking learning opportunities.

5. Unique is all good. Since unique inherently implies different; embrace looking, sounding and doing things differently than others. You may be uncomfortable at times but with discomfort comes growth.

6. ‘Uniqueness’ creates balance. Once you spread your wings and have become comfortable in your space of unique genius, you will find a sense of serenity and a community who supports you.

7. Your greatness is influenced by all.  Everything around you impacts how great or ‘not great’ you can be. Be particular about your circle and with whom you share your energies. Those around you have the ability to keep you down or push you above inconceivable heights!