DERRICK Interview with Dr. Michael Wright

blogMAWMichael A. Wright earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work degree from the University of South Carolina -Columbia with research on the organizational innovation of social work schools. Wright has maintained a consultancy practice for more than 16 years. He has logged dozens of professional relationships coaching individuals and consulting with public and private entities seeking to increase capacity, conduct social research, train staff, and grow strategically.  Wright participates on a number of national committees with groups like the Council on Social Work Education. Succeed

D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

My dream is that communities would be built to support interrelatedness. The structures including green spaces, sidewalks, porches; the institutions including assisted living, schools, community centers, and churches; and the people including mixed income, diverse families would be intentionally modeled for self-sufficiency by neighborhood. It is a vision shared by urban planners and creative real property developers who believe in social good.

For me, goals are different though related to my dream. I know that the accomplishment of that dream depends on a multitude of factors. My GOALS focus on ensuring that I am contributing to that future. I have completed formal education. I engage authentically and intentionally with my family and community. I encourage social  entrepreneurship. I share the wealth that I currently have investing in OUR future.

E is for Encourage. What encourages you?

My encouragement is a rather anti-encouragement. My disappointments have led me to question, “What if I was not here-alive in this moment?” The world would be different. From that, I am encouraged to be ME  unapologetically. I am the best I can be. I speak my mind. I am responsible for the consequences. I give generously while always maintaining my priority: 1) Wife, 2) Children, 3) those who Ask, 4) the World that needs.

I am motivated to continue learning by the realization of the needs found everywhere in the world. I endeavor to be the change that I want to see. My quest is to figure out how to cover those needs sustainably. Until I figure it out, implement the solution, and view the successful results, I am not done. I am compelled to keep working on the solution.

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

I am a teacher. I am also a mentor. I have developed expertise as a curriculum specialist by adding a conception of the learner to the exposition of content. My training, classes, or curricula prepare for the student to ask, “What is the point?” This means that the teaching will be more relevant to the learner.

I have developed a systematic approach to mentoring I call the COACH Method. The method expands the reach of individual health and well-being into dyads (groups of two) and, eventually, into multiple groups of two or more. The result of the method is a community of authentic, healthy, active people. The method deals directly  with the challenges that are barriers to this reality like trauma, mis-education, and that nagging feeling of being

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

I realized I was ready for what I am doing now at the age of 13. The teacher for the bible group was absent one morning. I took up the lesson and, instead of reading through it like some teachers would do, I engaged the class in a discussion of the main points. I took cues from the topics they found interesting and encouraged them to share personal, relevant stories.

My next revelation of preparedness came when my wife asked me to conduct a COACH Method assessment on her. Until then, I had not realized what an impression the method was making to her as an observer. I knew, after completing her assessment, I needed to expand the theory and the practice of the method.

I is for Individual. Name at least one person that you know that you feel others should learn about and why?

Pierre Smith is my best friend. I have never asked him whether he feels that I am his best friend. Frankly, that is irrelevant.  He is an constant inspiration for me. Readers will get a chance to learn more about him from a text that I have outlined. My production schedule will have it completed around Fall 2015. His pierre-isms are a constant guide. He is a millionaire, philanthropist, husband, father, community leader, and does each one with wisdom and style.

Another person readers can learn from is Carter G. Woodson, father of Black History week. His book  Mis-education of the Negro is a must-read for scholar Black people and any individual wanting to appropriately apply knowledge in human systems. He communicates that knowing how does not result in people flocking to you for learning nor does it result in an ability to satisfy those who do come to you. Those  lessons keep me learning from scholarship, but also learning the curiousness of people as individuals.

C is for Continue. When you fail, things look bleak or are not optimistic what makes you want to continue?

My “success as my only option” policy can be stated simply, but is the door to a great complexity of emotion management and perseverance. My process is to center. Sometimes, it’s a hug of my wife or one of my 3 kids. Sometimes, it’s playing a game. Sometimes, it’s calling a friend to encourage them. But, centering is remembering why I am here.

My next step is decidedly solution-focused. I ask, “How would I respond to this situation if I was where I want to be?” Usually, my response is, “I would laugh!” That lets me know that the issue is not that crucial. Other times, my response is, “I would write a sternly worded, clarifying letter to get a handle on constructing the narrative.” That is exactly what I do.

If the situation warrants step three, it is a battle for me to allow someone to choose something that is not sustainable for them-against goals they state they want to achieve. Once I ensure that I have presented all the information and options are understood, I have to breathe deeply and allow them to make the choice for themselves. I move on preparing for the consequences should they choose me to help again.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

Authenticity, Forgiveness, and Action are the keys to success. There is just too much that we have been miseducated about, including our own potential to control our destiny. The re-education must be systematic, honest, and reason-based (not emotional). I am working on that book this Summer to be published late 2013 or early 2014-Deceptions, Distractions, and Disillusionment: Barriers to Your Success and Ours (published by MAWMedia Group, my company) ISBN: 978-0-9842170-8-3.

A business model is the lock. Many people have connected with what they want to do, but do not realize that sustaining that activity will require you to make money to support it long-term. A business model can be borrowed, modeled, or created, but it MUST be present if you are going to sustain.

A clear vision is also important. This includes how much money AND difference you intend to make. This keeps you from being the best service provider in the county with the fewest clients because you did not envision a growth strategy that scaled your capacity. If you just want to break even or serve a limit of 10 clients, that is your preference. Just be sure to maintain policies and procedures that support those objectives.

Lastly, I recently learned a new way of thinking about mentorship from Kerry Ann Rockquemore via National Center For Faculty Development & Diversity. I used to think about finding one mentor who could sustain my needs. Kerry Ann suggests considering the varied supports you need and creating a list of 3-5 supportive individuals for each need. This multi-mentor approach fits what I have actually been doing, and supports mental health when you actually write the list of needs and supportive individuals.

Is there anything that we did not touch on that you would like to inspire others with?

A word of advice: Rid “right” and “wrong” from your vocabulary. These words have too long been used to justify your oppression. Instead think of your goal. Ask yourself, “Does the choice I am about to make get me closer to my goal? Does this choice ensure that I can enjoy my success over the long-term?” If the answer to both questions is YES, the choice is sustainable for you, no matter if others cannot see it or understand it. If the answer to either question is NO, the choice is unsustainable for you. Your task in life, your success is to continually make the sustainable choices.

Visit Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW for more information


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