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Values-Based Transformation

Written by: Rich Parsons. Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


If attempting a change just for the sake of change, or to meet another’s desire for change, it is likely that whatever change or transformation is achieved will be short-lived…unless it is based on a true value within.

Let’s make it a little more personal just to get to the heart of the matter. Place yourself in the statement above. Take a few minutes to do a little reflection into the past and see if you can find instances when an attempt to change did not take root and why that was the case. Perhaps in your moment of reflection, you found examples of a positive outcome. If so, what do you feel was the reason for the positive results? I imagine, somewhere in the reason lies some alignment to a value that is engrained within.

I know that in my own life, there are many examples of ill-fated attempts to change, but there are also some great examples of change that were values-based, which allowed for a positive outcome. I’d like to share a little about one such instance.

When embarking on a transformation, whether personal or professional, a values-based approach is likely to bring about the best results. Values are a strong catalyst for beliefs, actions and thereby results. ‒ Rich Parsons

My Story

Some know of my transformation in the early-90s, but, unless you have heard my story before, you are likely to be reading about this for the first time. I will give the shortened version of the story, but I certainly welcome further connections to discuss and share more details about my life transformation.

A little back story for me…I grew up in North Carolina, playing wiffleball and baseball, trekking about in the woods, riding my bike, running around like crazy…really doing what most kids of my day did in the country. Also of note, I was a preacher’s kid for the majority of my formative years. I will say though, that I was not what some would consider a “redneck” or anything like that. I was just a middle-class kid from North Carolina.

Fast-forward to late-1991/early-1992. I had just entered the United States Air Force and headed off to basic training in San Antonio, Texas, then to technical training in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was during this time, being amongst a very diverse group of people, that I started to notice something about myself, but was not really able to pinpoint exactly what was going on. Having completed technical training, it was time to move to my first duty location, which was Andrews AFB, Maryland, just outside of the beltway of Washington, DC. WOW! I thought basic and technical training were diverse, but being in our nation’s capital was a real eye-opener for me…it was ultra-diverse, a mecca of diversity. It was not long after arriving at Andrews AFB that things started to become a bit clearer to me.

Something was Wrong…Really Wrong

It was during the early days of my time at Andrews AFB that I realized that…I was a racist. Not the extreme type that you might immediately think of since I grew up in North Carolina, but a racist nonetheless. I was treating people of color and others that were different than me a different way than those that were similar. I recall an instance in a shop that I worked in where some co-workers and I were joking around about crashing a party that one of our supervisors was hosting over the weekend. It was not long into the conversation that one of the guys piped up and said that it was not a good idea. Myself and a couple others were the “new guys” in the shop, so we were not aware that said supervisor was not really fond of white dudes and unlikely that I would be welcomed at this party, at all. Yes, he was a racist as well, if not overtly then certainly covertly…much like me. I was not all that fond of “black dudes,” and it is likely that somewhere along the way, my words, actions and/or demeanor indicated such. He was discriminating against me, just as I had done to so many others. I can’t say that I enjoyed it very much.

Time for Change

It was around this time period that I really began to think of how I treated others, especially those of color, and how they must’ve felt when I discriminated against them, overtly or covertly. I asked myself questions in an attempt to figure out how this happened. I asked myself, “How did I get this way?”, “Why am I feeling this way?”, “What’s wrong with me?” I grew up in a Christian home with values instilled in me, or so I thought, to accept everyone and treat others as I wanted to be treated, etc. My father and the rest of my family were not racists, so how did I get this way?

What I found during my growth journey was that those values were there, but there were also some outside influences from my environment, people I hung around with and society that had some impact on me. I had allowed those other influencers to shape a part of me and start to skew my deep-rooted values.

To make a long story a bit shorter, I will summarize a bit of what happened from that point on…with encouragement to connect with me to get more details.

I made a conscious effort to reconnect with the values that I knew were inside of me. The value of relationships and connection with people.

I was determined to not let the sins of my past dictate the outcome of my future. I had allowed my prejudices and the subsequent discrimination rob me of friendships and relationships for too long. It was time to change…to TRANSFORM. I began to place myself in situations that I would’ve previously not allowed myself to be in. I started to intentionally associate with people that I would’ve previously not allowed myself to truly interact with. I formed relationships that were beneficial to my growth as a human being.

There is more that I would love to share, but for the sake of your time, I will simply end with this. It was not enough that I simply began to tolerate others, as that would’ve just let the door open for all the trouble from the past. I had to make a transformation to truly accept others, love others with the brotherly love they deserve and treat everyone with respect. Had I not transformed my life, I know for sure that I wouldn’t have had a successful 27-year military career, filled with many fruitful connections, and had the opportunity to impact the lives of thousands of people around the world. God had a plan for me, and it was NOT to be a racist, rather a light to others and enjoy a prosperous and hopeful future.

For other writings on Transformation and Values, check out these links…

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Rich Parsons, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Rich Parsons applies nearly 30 years of leadership expertise in the military and civilian sectors to develop entrepreneurs and professionals so they can show up at their very best every day. Rich helps clients get unstuck and stop hitting walls that prevent their ability to accelerate progress towards their goals. He founded and launched a magazine, called Your Success, in which he helps entrepreneurs increase credibility, expert status and exposure to more than 120k potential readers.



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