Thanks to Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre in the late 1970s, the term “drinking the Kool-Aid” most often has a very negative connotation for most people in this country. While I don’t want any of my dear readers getting caught up in no crazy cults with animal sacrifices or groups where you have to wear purple Nikes and are promised a trip to the Starship Enterprise, what if you actually found some Kool-Aid that you liked?
I’ve done a ton of work with a global training and development company for almost four years now. For the most part, my involvement with this company has been PHENOMENAL. Through this work, I’ve had the AMAZING opportunity to see my life in a different way and take bold leaps of action in my career, in my dating life, and even in my faith. Even more awesome is having the opportunity to coach eight other people through this work and support them in making a difference in their lives, too. Coaching other people to their greatness has been the absolute best thing that I have done in my 34 years on the planet thus far.
But despite all the benefits that I get from this work, I never tell ANYBODY what I am doing. It’s like I’m on a special covert mission to conceal this important part of my life. I know that part of the reason that I keep this part of my life on the down low is because there aren’t a lot of African Americans involved in this work and there is a specific language around empowerment that honestly sounds a bit kooky to the outside ear if you are not familiar with it. (No worries, it’s still English!) And this organization has had quite a bit of finger pointing in the past around people claiming that it’s a cult and that there must be an awful lot of Kool-Aid drinking going on. I loved the work that I was doing, but I was skittish to share for fear of being labeled a Kool-Aid drinker.
I just started my newest program with this organization this past weekend, and I finally got SUPER clear that their sole mission is to “empower and enable people.” After four years, I thought, “If this is what this organization represents, then this is some Kool-Aid that I can get down with!” My life mission is to empower, inspire, and to help people create new worlds with words, so why they heck wouldn’t I want to be connected with an organization that has a similar focus?”
I began to see that in order to be successful with any group, there’s a certain amount of Kool-Aid drinking involved. If you are going to be an elite navy man or woman, you have to drink the U.S. Navy Kool-Aid. If you are going to be an effective educator, you have to drink the Kool-Aid for your school district. There’s NOTHING wrong with drinking the Kool-Aid as long as it’s some Kool-Aid that you can get down with! At the same token, you don’t have to drink every glass nor do you have to get upset if somebody doesn’t approve of your flavor. That’s the beauty of life is that there is more than enough different kinds, colors, flavors of Kool-Aid to go around. I tend to gravitate toward the Kool-Aid that represents empowerment, optimism, faith, and love. But I can also appreciate folks whose Kool-Aid packets lean toward fantasy, criticism, analysis, and exploring darker sides of life. Heck, I might even take a few sips if you ask me nicely enough. But I always strive to RESPECT other people’s passions and enthusiasm about their Kool-Aid even if it clashes with my love for cherry- or pink lemonade-flavored optimism.
Now that’s I’ve made you thirsty for artificial coloring and water, what’s my point? If you have found a church, social group, Greek organization, or community league that truly resonates with who you are, DRINK THE KOOL-AID AND BE PROUD, DAGGONE IT! If there is one thing that I have discovered in the past four years is that absolutely loving something and simultaneously worrying about what other people think about it is sheer MADDNESS! Find your Kool-Aid and be PROUD.
Since I entered my 30s, two organizations have played a HUGE role in the woman I am becoming. One is my church, Alfred St. Baptist Church, which has provided a spiritual foundation and community that I absolutely cherish; and the second is Landmark Education, which has given me the tools and the community to take on my life with POWER. I have no qualms about telling people I am a member of Alfred St., and I typically extend at least three invitations to random strangers to join me for worship each week. But I have shied away from telling anybody that I am an emerging leader for Landmark Education for fear that somebody will judge my Kool-Aid. Well, that ends today. Most of my Kool-Aid drinking these days is Christ-focused or empowerment-focused and as of this moment I am absolutely, positively sure that these are two brands of Kool-Aid that I can PROUDLY and CONFIDENTLY get down with.