‘Stop playing and get serious’

‘Stop playing and get serious’

Dr. Stedman Graham addressed Beaumont ISD students and faculty in a series of lectures about realizing potential and defining identity, the latter a subject on which he has taught and written books. Graham handed out his best-selling book “Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine Steps to Success” to Smith Middle School students and “Identity Passport to Freedom” to all attendees at the lectures. He discussed with them how they could achieve their goals and, ultimately, greatness — with the proper skills and confidence. 

“Many of us spend years trying to find out who we are and, sadly, too many of us never do,” read a quote from literature provided by Graham’s student identity leadership program. “If we fail to define ourselves, we risk letting others define us by our race, gender and background. We buy into labels that keep us in a box, and as a result of those limitations, we never realize our greatest potential.”

During a presentation at Smith Middle School on April 8, Graham told students gathered from local high schools that they need to establish their identities and know who they are in order to succeed in life. He mentioned the “1 percent,” a term coined by the Occupy Wall Street movement reportedly used to describe the fraction of the population that accounts for more than 40 percent of the country’s wealth or the 1 percent of top wage earners in the country. He said for the students to achieve their goals or to become a 1-percenter, if that is a goal, they have to learn who they are, and they have to work rather than being habitually lazy.

“If you sleep all day, watch TV all day … what happens?” Graham asked the crowd, standing in front of the Smith Middle School auditorium stage with a group of students. “You go on and on not doing anything, and nothing happens. … If you want to be part of the 1 percent, change your habits. … You gotta stop playing and get serious.”

Graham encouraged the students at the program to read and not watch so much television or engage in video games. Holding up a copy of his book, he said, “Educate yourselves based on content (of books in general).”

Graham said the students needed to “compartmentalize” information in order to use the data to realize their dreams.

“You have to know what you want in life so you can organize the information around what you want,” Graham instructed.

When asked what he learned at the event, BISD student Justin Guidry replied, “I learned to think outside the box.”

Graham replied, “Reverse it. Think about what you want that’s in the box and take what’s in your mind and transfer it outside … to the world. You have the heart piece, but what are you missing? The education piece — you have to read.”

BISD said 1,500 students attended the presentation over the course of the lectures. In addition to the students invited to the programs, staff also received leadership training sessions from Graham and parents and teachers attended a district-wide STAAR workshop in March. According to the district, BISD is using approximately $60,000 in various grants to cover the expense of the year-long program, and S. Graham and Associates donated approximately $45,000 of in-kind services and products to BISD.

Graham is chairman and CEO of S. Graham & Associates (SGA), a management and marketing consulting company that specializes in the corporate and educational markets. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Hardin-Simmons University, a master’s degree in education from Ball State University and an honorary doctorate in humanities from Coker College.


Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.