Andre Koen: That stuff really makes me sound cool, you know? [laughs] I'm just like, "Ah," which is such a far cry from when I was in high school because I was not cool. Yeah. It's funny. High school has changed so much from when I went. For example, dating when I was in high school was a pretty simple process, right? Dating went like this. [makes scratching noises] "Will you go with me? Check yes or no." But dating now is a lot different because now it goes like this. [makes scratching noises] "Hey, hit me up on MySpace." Oh, some of you don't know what MySpace is, OK. She's like, "Yeah, I know. I know." Well, I hear that you guys have two football games this week. Is that right? Cool, cool, cool. Come on, give it up! Yes! Whoo!
So as we approach these two games, because I think one is like a make-up game. So you have to finish it because the lightning disturbs your game. That's different than when I was in school because we got struck by lightning. That was part of our thing. But I want to make sure that these football players are ready to go for their games this week because we've got homecoming at the end of the week, and we've got this game.
Is it tonight? OK, cool, cool, cool. So what I want to know is if we have some spirit to give them. Do we have a little spirit to give them? All right, all right. So I'm going to ask a question, and like most teachers, teachers have a very specific way that they want the questions answered. Have you found that to be true? Yeah, yeah.
So I'm going to ask a question. The way I want you to answer the question goes like this, "Fantastic! Terrific! Great! All day long, huh!" Now it's extremely important that you bend the knee. The knee must come up at a 90-degree angle when you do that and elbows back. All right? So that's the answer. So can we practice that really quick? You're going to stand up, please?
So here we go. "Fantastic! Terrific! Great! All day long, huh!" All right, good. Stay standing. Stay standing. This isn't church. [laughs] Some of you all don't know about that. All right. That's cool. That's cool. All right. So the question is Raiders, how do you feel?
OK, that wasn't very nice. Where I come from, I live in Minnesota, and we have Lutherans there. That sounded like a Lutheran kind of cheer. Really reserved. There's some enthusiasm, but we're hiding it. We've got to keep it contained.
But this time I want you to cut loose in the enthusiasm and show me how you do it out here in the Midwest in Kansas City, Missouri. All right? So I'm going to ask the question again, and here we go. Raiders, how do you feel? Oh, thank you very much. Have a seat. Have a seat.
Well, it's really interesting how I came to come to Pembrook, and it is the universe talking to me saying, "You're doing some good work." So I want to share a little bit of that good work with you today, all right? Some people say, "Are you a motivational speaker?" That sounds really corny [laughs] if you think about it. But I guess I am. [laughs] Corny that is. [laughs] I'm certainly corny.
But what I've learned and what I've come to understand is that I'm a teacher, and in whatever fashion I operate in the world, I am always a teacher. A large part of being a teacher is also being open to learning new things. So we're going to talk a little bit today, and some of the stuff that I would do if you were my class. So we're going to go through some stuff.
So I'm drawing a giant circle on this paper, and if you can't see it that's fine. I'll show it to you in just a second. But I think you all know what a circle looks like. Is that right? Yeah, OK. Cool. It's funny because a student was asking me, "Well, what's a circle?" because he was trying to be a smart aleck. I said, "It's a square with all sides rounded." Ah, I got you thinking, don't I? All right.
Let's say this is the circle of all knowledge, all there is to know. No, no, no, no. That's too deep. Let's say this is a circle...no this is the pie of all knowledge, all right? I'm hungry. [laughs] So this is the pie of all knowledge. How big of a slice of pie do you think that you would cut of what you know? You know the whole thing? All right. I want to come sit at your feet, all right?
So how big of a slice of everything there is to know do you think you know? A little piece or big piece. A tiny piece, right? Probably so tiny that I couldn't even draw it here, but for the sake of this diagram and this discussion let's say what I know is about this big. This is what I know. That's very generous because I'm not that smart. [laughs] That's very generous.
So what are some of the things that you know? What's that? ABCs. Someone knows their ABCs. What is something else you know? What's that? One plus one equals two. These are things that you know. You know you'd rather be at home right now. Raise your hand, OK? All right. So those are all things that you know.
Now there are also things that you know you do not know. What are some examples of that? Japanese. I already got two. You know you do not know Japanese. Someone else? Quantum physics. You know you do not know quantum physics. So what you know that you don't know, would that be the same size of what you know or would it be a different size? It would be a different size. Would it be smaller or larger? Larger, right?
For the sake of the diagram, I'm going to draw a piece for me that's about that big, and this is what I know I don't know. All right? So that's what I know I don't know. So what is the rest of this do you think? It's the stuff that you don't know that you don't know. What kind of stuff would that be? That's a trick question. You don't know, right? OK.
All right. So don't know, don't know. Now if I am going to have what I call a whoa moment. Did anyone ever see "The Matrix"? Remember when Neo was like, "Whoa!"? So if I'm going to have those kinds of moments in my life, do I have those moments in what I know? Do I have them in what I don't know? Or do I have them in what I don't know I don't know?
Where I don't know that I don't know, right? That's when you have, "Whoa!" You discover something and it changes your whole world, right? Now the process to getting to this don't know that you don't know, what do we call that? We call that learning. We call that learning. So we're all in school right now. What is learning? Educating yourself about stuff. What else? Reading is learning. What's that? Writing stuff is learning.
All right. So here's an example, and from this example you tell me what learning is. It's Monday evening. My sister's cooking dinner for her family. My four-year-old niece walks into the kitchen and puts her hand on the stove. [hissing sound] What happens to my niece? She hurts. She hurts. She has an owie and that kind of thing.
Tuesday evening. My sister is cooking dinner for her family. My niece walks into the kitchen and puts her hand on the stove. [hissing sound] Did my niece learn? No, so what is learning? It is a change in behavior. If I go to an accounting school to learn how to be an accountant, then when I leave I can't account any better, have I learned? No, right?
So we're going to start attacking learning. So we're going to change our behavior. All right, but we got that. So let's go back to this what I know and what I don't know. If I put those two things together, I might call that reality if I put what I know. Like I don't know Japanese, and I'm OK with that. That's just me. That's OK. So that's reality.
We also might call that the truth, right? We might call that the truth. That's just me. That's how things are. The interesting thing, the last three months or so we've been having these conversations about absolute truth. And people have asked me, "Andre, is there such a thing as absolute truth?" I can't really answer that because I'm not sure anymore because I grew up in a time when there were nine planets in my solar system.
So if there's absolute truth, I'm still searching for it. I still want to find out. So the truth, the truth. Now the truth is a funny thing because our truth is based on our paradigms, right? Does anyone know what that word means? Paradigm. Have you heard that word before? Businesses are always talking about how they want to shift paradigms. They want to move paradigms.
Here's an example. Have you ever heard someone say that the glass is half full or empty? If the glass is half empty, I'm said to be what kind of person? A pessimist. A negative-thinking person. If the glass is half full, I'm said to be what? An optimist. A positive-thinking person. Now which of those answers is the correct one for that question? Both. Depending on what? Your paradigm.
So I looked in the dictionary and had conversations about paradigms, and what I found out is that paradigms are simply the way you see the world. The way you see the world is your paradigm, and what you see based on your paradigm will determine how you live your life. So we're going to talk a little bit and examine some ways that paradigms are impacting our lives.
So for those students who have those cards, this would be a great time to go ahead and pass those cards around. So we've got some cards coming around. Once you grab your card, what I'd like for you to do is pay attention to the boxes. There's a rectangle.
If we could pass those out quickly, we can just do a bunch right down the row. Just do a bunch right down the row. What I'd like for you to do is to look at a picture that has a red border, all right? So we're going to look at that picture first.
Feel free to pass those along quickly. If you want to just give people a bunch of those just to pass down the row, that would be excellent. If you just want to give them just a whole bunch right down the row, you could just go right down the row. All right. It looks like most folks have those or they're coming around.
So let's look at this picture with the red border. What is that a picture of? It is a picture of a bird. There is also a man in a boat and what else? And an island with what? Two trees. Right? And little birds or little waves off in the distance. I hear people say, "Oh, I see it. I see it." If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice. So now let's talk about this picture just for a second.
If you haven't seen it, I just want to tell you that there is both a bird with something in its mouth as well as an island with two trees, birds in the background, a canoe, someone in the canoe, and a fish. Now what did you have to do to be able to see those two images? You had to turn it upside down or right side up depending on your orientation. So you had to engage in some type of physical activity to do and see something different.
Now the first part was flipping it upside down or right side up. What was the second part of what you had to do? You had to look at it and engage your mind in learning. You had to engage your mind in learning. Oftentimes we will change what we do, but we won't change how we think. Today I want to challenge you to change how you think because that in fact will change how you live your life.
So let's move over to the picture bordered in green. What is that a picture of? It is "liar" and it is also what? A face. It's the word "liar" and it is also a face. All right? Now I don't know about you, but when I look at this card, when I do this, what I find is that I can see either the face or the word "liar" and I've learned how to flip back and forth really fast. But I can't see both images simultaneously.
I can flip back and forth really fast, but I can't see both images simultaneously. So if I don't see a way to do something, will I see a way? Or how can I see that way? I learn. I have to change what? What I pay attention to. Does anyone know what the pit bull terrier is most noted for? What's the pit bull terrier most noted for? Lockjaw, right? Biting people, lockjaw.
Now what's the great thing about having a dog whose jaws lock? Yeah, if you have a burglar, you've got yourself a [laughs] burglar, right? Now what's the nightmarish thing about having a dog whose jaws lock? It could bite you or your children. Now our minds are just like pit bulls. If we lock onto the wrong thing, guess what happens? We're stuck until we what? Unlock our jaws or look at different things. So you won't see a way until you are able to see a way.
So this is what I'd like for you to do next if you could. If you could just read that sentence to yourself, once you've read that sentence, and it's in red, put your paper face down and put your hand up so that I know that folks have read it, all right? So put your card down and put your hand up. I see one hand. Two, three.
All right, good. You can put your hands down. Thank you. How many people memorized that? Did anyone memorize [laughs] that? No. Oh, she's like, "Yes, I did." Great. Thank you. Thank you. No, you didn't have to memorize it. That's great. What I would like for you to do is to read it again, and I want you to count the number of Fs, as in Frank.
So how many Fs? Oh, you didn't have one, OK. Seven, six, five, eight. OK. So first of all, do we have the same cards or do we have different cards? We have the same cards. So how is it possible that some people are saying six, seven, eight Fs? They have to learn how to count. There's more than one F sound. All right, so I'll let you off the hook.
First of all, you guys aren't stupid, OK? So let me just say that off the top. So if you don't see more, it's not because of that. But what typically happens when I do this experiment with folks is people see Fs as in the word "finished" or "scientific." So they see those Fs. [makes F sound] But oftentimes they miss the Fs in the word "of." And why do you think they missed those Fs in the word "of"?
Because the F sounds like a V. O-F-F is off and O-F is of. Now I don't know about you, but I did not come out of my mother's womb and raise my arms towards the heavens and say, "O-F makes the O-V sound!" Right? That's not what I said. Did any of you guys say that? OK, cool, cool, cool. So how have you come to understand that O-F makes the O-V sound? Your third grade teacher told you. You learned it, right?
So is it your fault that O-F makes the O-V sound? No, it's not your fault, right? It's not your fault. Is it important for you to know that O-F makes the O-V sound? Yes, it is important. Please raise your hand if you were on the committee to set up racism! Is racism your fault? OK, raise your hand if you were on that committee. I don't see a whole lot of hands. Racism is not your fault, but it is your what? Responsibility.
How many people drive? All right. Do your cars have blind spots? Yes, and where typically are those blind spots? On the sides? Where else? Behind you, OK. Underneath and above, right? I like this guy. So our cars have blind spots. Is it our fault that our cars have blind spots? No, but it is our what? Responsibility.
Sexism. Is it our fault? No. But it is in fact our responsibility to do something about it because if we don't take responsibility to do something about those things, then people start to set up visions and goals for us. What's in a hole that's three feet deep? Nothing, right? Or it wouldn't be a hole. Now have you ever noticed in a pothole, if it goes unchecked, unfinished, what ends up in a pothole? Dirt, water, rocks, Doritos bags, all sort of stuff. Right? Yeah, yeah.
So it's important that we have a vision, a place that we want to go, something that we want to do for our lives. One of the ways that we start establishing our vision is by checking our attitudes. Now the funny thing is, when I was a teenager, people would always talk about my attitude. [whispers] "Look. You have a bad attitude." Has anybody ever heard of that before? Yeah. Or "Change your attitude."
I never forget. When my parents sent me to my room, they'd be like, "Go to your room 'til you learn how to act." So I go in my room, and I'd be in there for a while. Then I'd stand out in the hallway and I'd go, "To be or not to be!" My parents didn't know anything about acting. They didn't appreciate that. So I spent a lot of time in my room.
So let's talk about attitude. So what is an attitude? The way you perceive things. What's that? A disposition, how you feel about stuff. I used to think that, too, until I discovered more and I did some realizations and searched out and teased out the information. What I came to understand is, I went to aeronautics, the study of flight, for the answer to what an attitude is.
What is altitude? How high you can go from where? From sea level or the ground, right? Yeah, so that's how high you are. Altitude. What I found out was that altitude is related to attitude. Here's an example of the story. I was flying to New York. I was 13 years old going for a NAACP convention, and it was my first time flying.
The captain gets on the mic and he says, [uses gruff voice] "We're here at 32,000 feet, and on your left-hand side you can see the Statue of Liberty." So I go to look for the Statue of Liberty, and guess what? I can't see it. So I'm like, "That's cool, that's cool because on my way back I'll see the Statue of Liberty."
So I'm in the plane and we're on our way back. The captain gets on the mic. [uses gruff voice] "Here we are at 32,000 feet. On your left-hand side you can see the Statue of Liberty." I couldn't see the Statue of Liberty. Why do you think I couldn't see the Statue of Liberty? I was on the wrong side of the plane. I had a bad attitude.
I'm going to tell you this because this will help change your paradigms and help you change your life. One of the things that people were telling me when they were talking about my attitude, and they didn't even know that they wanted to do this for me, but an attitude is the direction you lean according to your goal.
Here's an example. Saturday night I ask my parents for the car. They say yes. I say my parents have what kind of an attitude? A good attitude. They say I have what kind of an attitude? A good attitude, right? Because we're leaning in the same direction. We have the same goals. We're getting what we want, right?
Sunday afternoon I want to go to the movies and take the car. My father's the minister at our church. My father says what to me taking the car? No, and I say my father has what kind of an attitude? A bad attitude. And consequently he says I have what kind of an attitude? A bad attitude. So what determines your attitude? Your goal. If you change your attitude, if you change your goal, you change your outcome of your life. Correct?
The other thing that often times we get confused about is motivation. What is motivation? It's the drive or the want to do something. Sir, can you come up here just for a second? Yeah, if you don't mind? Let's give him a hand.
So, we are going to do a little experiment. I am not going to embarrass you, hopefully you won't embarrass me, either. OK, so what I am going to do is, I am going to put my hand up like this, and I'd like for you to do the same. And then I am going to push your hand. All right? So I want you to do whatever you would do if someone is pushing your hand. OK? On the count of three. One, two, three. [grunts] OK, stop, thank you very much. Let's give him a hand.
So tell me what just happened. I pushed him, and he what? Pushed back. Now did you know that you do this to yourself? When you push yourself, guess what happens? You push back. And the way that you push back is, first of all, we call that coercive motivation. And coercive motivation is built on two things. It's built on lies, and it's built on fear. And in my house, in my dad's house, what do you think we were afraid of? Going to hell, that was what we were... Every punishment ended with that either denoted or silently spoken, that was our ultimate punishment, right? So he used fear to help motivate us.
When does fear no longer work? When you are not afraid, right? When you're not afraid. I never forget, I had a bully, his name was Jason Clements, and I remember his first and last name, all right?
And Jason would beat me up every day, it was part of our ritual. Some of you all know what I'm talking about. OK. And so, I saw this show, this 80s show called "Different Strokes." And so Arnold, the hero of the show, is having this problem with this bully, the Gooch. And the Gooch is beating him up every day, and so one day he goes to his dad and he says, "Dad, can you help me out. I'm tired of being beaten up by the Gooch."
And so Mr. Drummond sits Arnold up on his lap and he says, "Son, the Gooch is as much afraid of you as you are of him." And he says, "Oh, thank you dad!" And he goes the next day, and he has his backpack, and he gets in line to get beat up by the Gooch, and he looks up at the Gooch, and he says to the Gooch, "Gooch, I'm not afraid of you!" And the Gooch looks down on Arnold and says, "Good, now we can be friends," and then go walk off into the sunset.
So I got my own Gooch, and so I'm thinking, "Hey, I've got a plan." So my plan is, I put on my backpack, and I get ready for school, and I get in line to get beat up by Jason as well. And I stand there, and I look at Jason and say, "Jason, I'm not scared of you!" And hush falls over the playground. And I hear that Clint Eastwood music [whistles] . Goliath has just been stoned by David. I'm like [noise]. And in that whole two seconds that I'm hearing all of these sounds, Jason looks down at me and says, "Good." [makes noise]
But, fear only works until you are afraid, when you are no longer afraid, fear has no hold on you. So motivation, coercive motivation, you push yourself, and the ways that this comes out is people say they have to do things.
Do you have to do anything? No. People say I have to go home and cook dinner, no you don't, let them starve. I have to change the baby's diaper. No, it will fall off.
So people do what it is that they want to do, and when you have constructive motivation as opposed to coercive motivation, you live the kind of life that you want. Now, one of the things that is also really, something that I've come to understand, is that when I was younger, I was taught my past influences my future. Has anyone been taught that? Yeah? OK. That's what I was taught.
What I've came to understand though is that my past, what I used to be, what I used to do, has very little to do with my future. Now this one of the things that is going to twist your noodle. This is going to twist your noodle.
If I was a Nobel's Peace Prize winner in 1974, and in 1984 I go rob a bank, should I go to jail? Why should I go to jail? Because I robbed a bank. What I did in the past, does that have any major influence on what my tomorrow is going to be like? Your past has little to do with your future.
It's what you do today that determines what you're going to be tomorrow. The only time that we really have is right now and today, and we must prepare ourselves mentally for what's going to happen [inaudible 34:46] .
We plant seeds every day. Your teachers are planting seeds every day. In your relationships, you are planting seeds every day, and that helps to build for your tomorrow.
Now, one of the things that, and I meant to say this before we even started, I don't want you to believe one single thing I said. I don't want you to drink the Kool-Aid. I don't want you to swallow everything that I have to offer, because I want you to be critical thinkers.
Now, the interesting thing about being a critical thinker, I was in a conference the other day with a bunch of teachers, and this teacher stood up and he pumped out his chest and he was so proud of himself and he said, "Do you know what's wrong with this generation?"
Now anytime someone starts a sentence with that, you know it's going to be something bad. So he goes on, "Do you know what's wrong with this generation?" And he says, "They have no imagination!" And I just kind of looked at the guy and I was like, "Dude, you are so out of touch." I was like, "Kids have tons and tons of imagination."
How they are able to keep their pants six inches above their knees takes an incredible amount of imagination. But what I told him was, "What I want for young people is I want young people to be critical thinkers." Because when you are a critical thinker, you will understand that sometimes it is OK to wear my pants six inches above my knees. And other times, it's good to what? To pull them up above my butt. Being a critical thinker. Being a critical thinker.
So this is what I would like for you to do. I would like for you to look for three shapes on this card. I want you to look for an arrow, I want you to look for a top hat, and I want you to look for what looks like one of those basketball fingers pointing up in the air, like you have at the games. Does everybody find those? While you're looking at that, can someone tell me how those shapes relate to American history. What's that? Yes.
OK, so the hat looks like Abraham Lincoln. Someone else?
The second one looks like a duck, so he sees a duck in there. All right. So is there anything in that image, in that picture, that can actually provide us with real concrete information. It says "FLY." Capital F, capital L, capital Y. Now, the interesting thing is, some of you see it and some of you don't, and that's OK, you will see it when it's time. So if you look for white letters on a black background, you will be able to see "FLY."
If you can hear my voice clap once.
If you can hear my voice clap twice.
So some of you see it and some of you don't. What made it difficult for those who didn't see it and now see it, what made it difficult for you to see the word "FLY"? You were looking at what? The shapes, the top hat, the arrows. Now, who looks like a really cool dude because he made you look at different shapes?
Is it possible that the people who have told you about the world, who have told you about who you are and what you are capable of, could be telling you things that benefit who? Them. That benefit them.
Now, Andre, how do I know if someone is showing me shapes or if they're showing me what's really there, how do I know that? How do I know what's going on? What was the second thing I asked you to do? Once you found the shapes, I asked you to tell me what? How they related to American history.
Did those shapes have any relationship to American history? No, they did not. How many people thought that? In their head they're like, "Yeah, I don't think this... yeah." How many people said something about it? All right.
Now, the interesting thing is, if we don't take action, if we don't take action in our own lives, if we don't set our own visions and goals, guess what. Somebody will set it for us.
If we don't, somebody else will. So we must ask the questions, we must be critical thinkers, we must analyze, am I seeing the truth, or am I seeing shapes? The last thing I want you to do is to know what you're looking for.
When you know what you're looking for, you are absolutely brilliant. You can take chaos and create order. So if you could, read that green statement to yourself, and when someone feels empowered enough to read it aloud, please do so. Go ahead, do you want to read it, sir?
That's right. According to researchers at Cambridge University, it does not matter in what order the letters of a word are, the only thing that matters is that the first and last letters be in the right place. It is amazing what our minds can recognize. What I'd like you do to for me right now is, if you could, on the count of three, I'd like for you to say your name. All right? One, two three.
All right. Some of y'all didn't say y'all's name. I heard it. On the count of three, I want you to say your name again. One, two, three.
All right. Now what I want you to say is, "Here I am." I want you to say your name, and then I want you to say, "Here I am." Here we go, one, two, three.
Here I am.
Andre's purpose is to reconnect people to their Dignity and Honor in Being Human.