Are you listening to your instincts? If you follow an internal compass that guides you to places only you can see, the chances are that you and instinct share an intimate relationship. Instinct gives you the courage to respond to a higher calling because it is part of a larger purpose for your life.
When my family and I lived in Mexico, I read TD Jakes’s book Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive. This book became one of the resources that helped me make sense of my family’s decision to leave the US for a life abroad. I am rereading it this week and finding it relevant to my life in Antigua.
Last Thursday, it happened again.
I experienced deep instinctive feelings about my work. In a conference room, I saw ten males of color studying for an upcoming medical school exam.
I invited the group of men to meet with two other faculty members and me as part of an initiative called Men’s Cave Mentoring. Our sessions are organized to include thirty minutes of valuable conversation, followed by two hours of structured study time. I headed home last week after our meeting with an incredible sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
The students were on point! They showed up on time, engaged in the conversations, and maximized the study time to reinforce medical concepts. It is clear to me that this group of young men is receiving value from this program.
My leadership instincts tell me that I am part of a team that is making a profound impact on the lives of these students. Jakes describes leadership instincts as an inherent ability to achieve an objective without the need for instruction.
Possessing leadership instinct is an ability to lead others from skills cultivated within your soul.
The structure for the Men's Cave Mentoring sessions came from my organic ideas. Each meeting begins with a check-in process where faculty members and students share their reasons behind pursuing doctoral degrees. Next, we review the guidelines that include being authentic, showing respect for others’ opinions, and taking ownership of the curriculum. Before the students receive two hours to review content, we discuss a topic related to healthy masculinity, success, and academic achievement.
Last week, we explored the process of creating positive habits. I talked about some of my habits and shared the insights indicated in last week's blog post. This component of my university responsibilities feels divinely aligned with my reasons for earning a Ph.D.
Obtaining an advanced degree has expanded my ability to influence measurable change in the US and now abroad.
Before moving to Mexico in 2016 and Antigua in 2018, my work with schools and the African Brazilian martial art of Capoeira enabled me to create mentoring relationships with young people in Chicago. Earlier this year, I published a book about my work with Black males in Chicago. The Men’s Cave Mentoring initiative is aligned with my instincts.
In 2018, I accepted a position as an assistant professor at a Caribbean medical school. When hired, I embraced my responsibilities to teach and to advise students. Within several weeks of my start date, I had a memorable advising appointment.
One student, an African-American male, came to the department to meet with me. We talked about some of his triumphs and challenges that came along with attending medical school. He opened up about some of his relationships and how they interfered with his ability to focus. I listened to his concerns, gave him some advice, and played the conversation over in my head after he left my office.
From that conversation, my instincts told me to do something to help him and others like him to maximize their learning potential. After that appointment, I began offering Capoeira classes on campus. The classes started as an opportunity to share my passions for the martial art, dance, acrobatic movements, music, rituals, and communal philosophies of Capoeira. It also served as an opportunity to expand my advising services outside of the department.
Men and women took the Capoeira classes. As classes became more popular, and I had additional interactions with the young men, I decided to add another layer to my services. This awareness led to a conversation during one of my department’s weekly staff meetings.
Together with two other professors, we chose to invest our time into a dynamic program that we called Men’s Cave Mentoring. Through an email, we announced the initiative. We invited all faculty members and students who identified as male to attend.
This program did not exist before I came to Antigua in 2018, but my instincts and the positive feedback I receive from students confirm it is worth my time and efforts. Men need spaces where they can engage in productive conversations about healthy masculinity. We must be willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable if we desire to realize our full human potential.
Today, I want you to listen to your instinctive voice.
Think about the activities that you enjoy.
Ask yourself the following question.
How can you use your unique talents, skills, and abilities to improve the life of someone else? Through this contemplation process, you will discover your instincts, and the only thing left is to take action.
Learn more about how to follow your instincts by picking up TD Jakes’s book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive.