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“In Spite Of”


Last weekend I didn’t publish a blog post, as I had the privilege of being a presenter/facilitator at the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy (FWCA) National Conference at my two-time Alma Mater – The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Because the conference committee had experienced more than a few challenges while organizing the event, the accomplished, yet humble, powerhouse event Chair opened the conference with a very fitting theme – “In Spite Of.” Dr. Menah Pratt-Clark, Associate Chancellor at the University of Illinois, Associate Professor, and fellow graduate of Leadership Illinois, recalled a few of the difficulties the committee had faced but quickly followed with her “In Spite Of” theme acknowledging that in the face of complications more than three hundred registrants had indeed gathered to share experiences, learn, and develop bonds with others who are faculty and/or administrators at institutions of higher learning from across this country – “In Spite Of.”

When Dr. Pratt-Clark opened the Conference, what she did not know is that I had experienced my own set of challenges prior to arriving in Champaign to lead my afternoon sessions on Values Driven Leadership. Indeed I had done my homework and prepared for this conference, of which I was so proud to be a part. But truthfully, the night before I did not know for certain if I would make it to Champaign.  In fact, I had been up the entire night with an emergency at my home as a result of the torrential rains and high winds we had experienced that day. The maintenance person from the one company I could find to show up in the middle of the night didn’t leave my home until 6:00 am.  I had not packed one thing and for certain (or so I thought) was not ready to stand on my feet for hours leading workshops for which I knew the participants had previously paid and more than likely carried high expectations. Needless to say, I was more than exhausted and running on empty. Just thinking about it again reminds me of how life will throw you a curve ball and then provide what you need to turn that curve ball on its head – and just when you need it. My very, very dear friend and colleague who was accompanying me to the conference relieved a bit of the burden when she volunteered to do the driving to and from Champaign. What an on time blessing and the first of many for this weekend. I could at least get an hour or so of sleep – even if it was sitting upright in a car.

In Spite Of

Because of our delay in getting on the road, we arrived at the conference only minutes before the scheduled opening plenary.  But when Dr. Pratt-Clark approached the podium and began to recite how the committee had overcome every obstacle to get us to the opening session I was energized by her very thought – “In Spite Of.” It made me think of not just the night before, but also the many times in my life where I showed up to do a job – In Spite Of. In spite of challenges, setbacks, naysayers, and doubters and even sometimes with doubts of my own, I was, am, and have been an overcomer. And I write today to inspire and encourage you to stay in the game of your life – In Spite Of. If you have a dream, goal, desire, wish, or challenge for that matter, now is a great time to make up in your mind that In Spite Of the challenges, or whatever, you might face you can achieve exactly what you set out to accomplish – if you persevere and stay in the game. All of us have experienced moments of despite, however, but, spite, and although.  In Spite Of those moments, however, you have the ability to overcome, which reminds me of a post I wrote not so long ago on adversity and resilience.

In that post, I wrote that adversity is necessary, as learning, growth and progress are its offspring.   And there is no requirement that adversity be the enemy many of us were taught it to be.   Adversity is opportunity wrapped in different packaging.  It is teacher, and classroom all rolled into one.  What I like most about adversity is given the chance it can become the precursor to resilience.  Adversity is like a force that presses against you to hold you down or push you back.   But my friends in the world of psychotherapy have taught me that resilience is the ability to be knocked down but get back up again knowing in the cycle of life adversity is sure to come.

There is no doubt in my mind that I was knocked down for a brief moment this past week. But as a woman of faith who had done the work necessary to be my best me at the FWCA Conference – In Spite Of – the night before (and life’s challenges in general) I was able “to get up” and One More Time be an overcomer and “deliver” to the point of making a difference in the lives of others. (And that’s really all that counts.) The kindness and generosity of the conference organizers and my friend made a difference. Moreover, I was humbled by the extraordinarily positive responses and feedback of conference participants. I knew then without doubt that a force much greater than me had once again taken me beyond me. Whatever you might be experiencing in your life as you travel on the road toward fulfilling your dreams, remember – you too can be an overcomer (and perhaps you already are) In Spite Of.

williams_geneace09_v3    Until Next Week, Best Wishes on the Journey, Dr. G

Copyright 2015 Geneace Williams


Just Say No!


The popular three-line statement after which this Blog is named was born out of former first lady Nancy Reagan’s passion for discouraging children from experimenting with drugs. Since then, however, “Just Say No” has taken on considerable popularity in an untold number of venues. From credit cards to relationships to the foods we eat, “Just Say No” is a household term that has gained and maintained significant notoriety around the power and importance of saying no. Just googling this simple phrase led me to a website of the same name that is self-described as the “No Community across social platforms.” In short, wherever you find strung together these three one syllable words they are meant to encourage you to say no – where and when appropriate for you.

In reality, however, it is not as easy as it sounds. As I look around the world, I…

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Kindness Bears Fruit


During a recent dining experience, I was favored to share a conversation with the Chef/Owner.  I will never forget how he looked me in the face and with all sincerity said, “Kindness alone saved me.”  Needless to say I was so impacted by his statement that I scrambled for a pen to capture this small but profound account of his life.  In just that moment, he had gained my undivided attention, and I wanted more.  His statement moved me so much so that I repeated it and knew immediately it was “ripe” for my upcoming Weekly Wisdom blog post.  He went on to explain how Kindness was the one thing in life that had permeated him to the very depths of his being.  It was kindness that had led him to change and lead a more simple life.  Kindness had inspired him to both eat and live healthier.  Kindness had led him to a greater spiritual existence, and kindness dictated the manner in which he would live out the remainder of his earthly existence.  Wow – there was so much packed into this small but life-altering testimony.  I could hardly wait for time with pen and paper and the opportunity to inspire others with what I had heard this night.  This small town Chicago suburban “restaurateur” had not only served me great food, but also great lessons for life. So, here it is…


The experience that evening was so powerful it drove me to my dictionary for a closer look.  Classified as a noun, kindness was defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.  In reality, this definition did not come close to capturing the depth of what kindness had clearly accomplished in this man’s life and truth to tell in my life either.  It left a void.  So I turned to the Greek Dictionary where indeed I found my answer.  Translated from Greek, kindness equates to moral excellence suggesting if real in your life kindness will permeate your very existence.  And moral excellence is intentionally setting higher the bar for the manner in which you will live and setting it higher than your comfort zone allowing you to continually stretch toward what is good, just and right as you encounter others.

As I learned from this restaurant owner, kindness is not a matter of how you are served at a restaurant or even that you are served with a smile.  Kindness is a fruit that when properly nurtured, cared for, and pruned, like a healthy fruit tree, can bear life-giving, life-inspiring, and life-transforming fruit.  When kindness exists as fruit in your life, it becomes a part of who you are not just what you do. Kindness is not a box that you can – without more – check completed.  It is more than please and thank you, or being polite when circumstances dictate; more than benevolence, or even philanthropic pursuits.  It is more than patting yourself on the back for lending someone a helping hand.  Kindness is an attitude, belief, and core value.  It is character and integrity.  It is humility and humanity.  Kindness is a difference-maker!  And it reminds me of a quote from my book on leadership that really applies to us all, “Leadership is not advanced by the number of people you encounter; rather, its power is in the depth of the transaction.”  Where do you measure on the making a difference meter?

My hope for you after having read this blog is that you will never be able to view kindness in the same manner and that it will move you to thought AND action. Kindness is a moral imperative for life that reaches capacity within when you so impact the lives of others that they will never be the same as a result of having had an encounter with you.

Quote borrowed from Leadership DASH Breaking Through the Finish Line.

williams_geneace09_v3   Until next week, Dr. G

Copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams

Faith Over Fear

Fear Faith

While attending a Leadership Conference last week, I heard the word fear far more times than I care to remember.   As with all recurring themes, however, it left me thinking “it must be a topic ripe for this week’s discussion.”  I walked away pondering – What is Fear really, and why are we all so afraid anyway?

Fear, I have gathered, is a negative emotion brought on by the threat of imminent danger.  In life, there is fear of people, places or things, broken relationships and what someone else might think; fear of circumstances, change, and, yes, fear of the unknown to name a few.  We tend to fear anything we perceive as a threat, and it appears it is largely connected to what we do not know or, better, understand.

Not being a psychologist, psychiatrist, or even psychotherapist, I do not pretend to be an expert on fear.  Nevertheless, a few things seem clear.  Fear is a matter of perception, and as I have heard most of my life – perception is reality.  Fear traps you in your own body and prevents you from discovering who you really are and the true meaning of life.  Fear strips you of hope and leaves you in despair.  Fear robs you of courage and spiritual victory.  Left unchallenged, it keeps you bound and prevents you from reaching your very destiny.  The fact is, wherever we allow fear a foothold, it will set up residence and stay as long as welcomed.   Make no mistake; fear is not a friend!  Fear causes you to overreact, lash out, and worry about things over which you have little to no control.  Truth told, some of us have feared for so long that we can no longer recognize its behaviors for what they are or amount to – FEAR!

Fear - shutterstock_135691010

But if you no longer want fear to stymy you, perhaps you have stumbled across just the right post to help you turn your life’s page from fear to a more powerful force.  For in reality, stripped of its perceived power fear CAN be defeated.  You have the power to change your perception and correspondingly your reality.  Yet there is only one thing I know powerful enough to defeat fear.  That one thing is faith, and it starts with you not the paralysis that has stopped you in your tracks.

Instead, make up your mind you will work toward fearless.  That is – you will fear-LESS.  However, before you can master fear-less, you will have to decide to become more faithful.  What I mean is – faith-full.  You must fill your life’s cup full with faith – believing that what you cannot currently see or touch can and will become reality.  Even so, you must remember – Faith without works is dead.  To arrest fear and allow faith to lead, you must take ACTION daily.  You must become faithful in telling fear no.  And when fear says no, say yes.  Change your attitude from negative to positive.  When you don’t feel like doing something you know you should do, do it anyway.  When negative thoughts invade your space and discourage you from the positive opposing view, think positive anyway.  When fear suggests you will fail at something about which you are truly passionate, try it anyway.

Give yourself a healthy dose of positive reinforcement by adopting affirmations that encourage you wherever you are in life and through whatever you are facing. Take the passion, courage, and resilience I have championed over the past few weeks and add faith.  And when fear comes as a threat to maim you, as it surely will, be prepared to believe and practice faith anyway!

williams_geneace09_v3  Dr. G

 Copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams

Resilience Trumps Adversity


Over the past week, I have had the privilege of sharing in conversation with a host of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life.  I am always in awe of the opportunity to dialogue with others about things that matter, as this is “the” place where authenticity and vulnerability meet growth and development.  It is a place where I can get real with an-other, and they with me.  In turn, we can both close the exchange inspired to learn and grow and grow and learn.   And wherever you find real growth, learning, for sure, is lurking somewhere in the background.

In my quiet time since then, I have reflected again and again on those recent conversations.  Quite frankly, they reminded me of last week’s blog.   If you have not yet read last week’s post, it is worth the read.  Suffice to say I talked about courage and getting outside of comfort in order to head in the direction of true purpose.  Yes, so much talk about passion, courage, and purpose might inspire you; but the truth is it cannot and will not lead to overnight success.  In fact, “On the road to success, purposeful living is always met by adversity.”  And so this week on our wisdom journey we meet adversity head-on.

As I think back to those conversations from last week, a few things stand out.   They all had one thing in common; everyone – bar none – was facing adversity of one sort or another.  And everyone – bar none – was impacted by the shear weight of adverse circumstances.  But this week, I dare challenge you to embrace adversity and see it in a light different than before.

Adversity is necessary, as learning, growth and progress are its offspring.   And there is no requirement that adversity be the enemy many of us were taught it to be.   Adversity is opportunity wrapped in different packaging.  It is teacher, and classroom all rolled into one.  What I like most about adversity is given the chance it can become the precursor to resilience.  Adversity is like a force that presses against you to hold you down or push you back.   But my friends in the world of psychotherapy have told me that resilience is the ability to be knocked down but get back up again knowing in the cycle of life adversity is sure to come.

Resilience - shutterstock_178125515

This fact harkens me to Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Physics – “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  That is how I see adversity and resilience.  Adversity knocks you back or down, but resilience picks you up and moves you forward again.  Make no mistake – resilience is not automatic.  It comes with time, effort, work and resistance.  Developing resilience means every time you are knocked down by something in life you get up stronger and more determined than before.  Resilience means you learn your weaknesses or the things that slow you down and adopt or develop tools that will help you overcome and get back in the game.  I encourage you to not allow circumstances to dictate how far you go in life and what you are able to achieve.  Once you jump off the cliff of comfort into unknown but exciting and purposeful work as I suggested last week, be prepared with tools of resilience, as Adversity is sure to meet you in your new and unfamiliar surroundings.


 Copyright © 2015 Geneace Williams

About Dr. G

Geneace Williams, J.D., Ph.D.

With more than two decades of helping clients develop legal and business strategy, Geneace Williams is a trusted advisor offering innovative leadership counsel. She has a long history as a leader and in managing conflict and crises through critical and strategic problem solving. Dr. G (as she is affectionately called) is the President of OLW Communications, Inc., a Leadership Strategy and Consulting firm.  She is also an author, speaker, and coach.  Having spoken in diverse venues around the world, Dr. G’s strategies for leadership have positively influenced many.