Broadcast Your Inner Champion – BOOK EXCERPT

SteveBerlackFrontCover2014-12-17

 

BROADCAST YOUR
INNER CHAMPION

A JOURNEY OF SELF-REMEMBRANCE… AND IMPACT!

STEVE BERLACK
Copyright © 2014 Steve Berlack.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or
transmitted by any means—whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or
electronic—without written permission of both publisher and author, except
in the case of brief excerpts used in critical articles and reviews. Unauthorized
reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law.
Cover photo by: Erica L. Spruill
ISBN: 978-1-4834-2058-5 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-4834-2057-8 (e)

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in
this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views
expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.
Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models,
and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.
Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.
Lulu Publishing Services rev. date: 11/24/2014

CONTENTS
Prologue:   The Berlack Method to Broadcasting ……………………………… vii
Chapter 1   Self-Awareness ………………………………………………………..1
Chapter 2   Faith …………………………………………………………………..29
Chapter 3   Attitude & Success……………………………………………………51
Chapter 4   Spiritual Connection & Responsibility ……………………………….77
Chapter 5   Cultural Connection …………………………………………………..95
Chapter 6   Achieving with Others (Team Building) ……………………………109
Chapter 7   Relationship Building (Personal) ……………………………………129
Chapter 8   Parenting ……………………………………………………………..151
Chapter 9   Leadership Development ……………………………………………179
Chapter 10 Community Impact …………………………………………………..193

Epilogue: Connect the Dots…and Broadcast! …………………………………..237
Thanks & Acknowledgements …………………………………………………….251
About The Author ………………………………………………………………….255

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PROLOGUE:
THE BERLACK METHOD TO BROADCASTING

“I cannot help you shine your light by talking about your
light. I can only help you shine your light by shining
mine.” – Steve Berlack

“Who are you?” That’s the first question of the first workshop of The
Berlack Method Personal Development Training Series. I have asked that
question hundreds, if not thousands of times over the years, and I’ve
asked it of children, adolescents, young adults and the elderly. I’ve asked
it of people all over the country from various cultural, ethnic and racial
backgrounds, and of both genders. One thing has become clear. This is an
exceedingly difficult and complicated question to answer. At first, that may
seem counter-intuitive. It is, after all, a simple question. But it is precisely
the fundamental nature of the question that makes it so difficult to answer.

For example, almost every time I ask the question, an audience member’s
initial response is to tell me his/her name. At first thought, that makes
sense. We carry our names with us from birth, and they are our primary
identifiers. We cling to our names as hallmarks of our identity. Although
I agree that our names can be that hallmark, I’ve found that something is
usually missing between the act of stating our names and understanding
what our names represent. For instance, when I hit my audience with the
idea that their names tell me how they’re called, but not who they are,
they’re stumped. It usually goes something like this:

Me: “Who are you?”
Audience member: “My name is Joe Smith.” To the reader: what does this
tell you about the audience member?

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Me: “That just tells me what to call you. Let me try again: who are you?”
Audience member: <<silence>>

I’ve found that many people are stumped because they know neither the
meaning nor the spirit of their names. For instance, my name is Steven
Bernard Berlack. “Steven” means crowned one, while “Bernard” means
strong, brave bear. “Berlack” is the name shortened at Ellis Island by the
immigration officer who couldn’t pronounce my great-great grandfather’s
surname. A youthful Prussian Jewish immigrant, he hardly had the
wherewithal to protest. Therefore, if anyone asks me who I am, I not only
tell them my name, I tell them what it means, and, more importantly,
that my knowledge of what it means impacts me in that I conduct myself
as a man of royalty, and that I see myself as strong enough spiritually and
mentally, and brave enough by birthright to overcome any obstacles that
come my way. My strength and bravery are buttressed by the family history
told to me by my grandparents as I bounced on their knees as a boy.

It is because I am conscious to live in the spirit of my name, both in its
meaning and history, that I am aware of who I am. And it is because I am
aware that I have, to the degree that you may judge, been both blessed and
successful. And so, dear reader, I ask the question of you: “who are you?”
Whether you can answer the question swiftly and with detail, or you find
yourself silent and wondering, this book, like the personal development
workshops that inspired it, is designed to help you explore, identify and
broadcast your answer.

THIS ISN’T A BOOK SO MUCH AS IT’S A JOURNEY TO
REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.

I have become convinced that we spend our lives not discovering who we
are, but remembering who we are. Th e difference is nuanced and subtle, yet
sharply distinct and clear. I was inspired to believe this idea by Jeremiah
1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I
set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” What this says to
me is that there is much more to our lives than what we see, touch and feel
during our lifetimes. We are more than that. Because we are more, there

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are innumerable subtleties and nuances we must explore to fully answer
the question: “who are you?” It was because of this idea that I wrote “Dust
of the Earth,” which you’ll find in the Chapter Self-Awareness. As you read
the chapters in this book, you will be challenged to explore who you are,
think about whether or not you are culturally and spiritually connected
to others, what responsibility you bear for this connection, and how this
knowledge can lead you to positively impact those around you.

There are ten workshops in The Berlack Method, and ten themed chapters
of “Broadcast Your Inner Champion” that correspond to them. They are,
in order:
* Self – Awareness
* Faith
* Attitude & Success
* Spiritual Connection & Responsibility
* Cultural Connection
* Achieving with Others
* Relationship Building
* Parenting
* Leadership Development
* Community Impact

You may have noticed that the themes are ordered to challenge you in
precisely the way I mentioned above. The purpose of this book is to
massage you into asking and answering, chapter by chapter, the following
questions:
1. What do you think about this theme?
2. Why do you think the way you do?
3. What must you explore to discover what you think and why?
a. Daily life challenges
i. Attitudes of family, friends and general society
ii. Finances
iii. Love and relationships
iv. Career

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How did all of life’s challenges impact how you thought and acted?
How does knowing this change how you may think and act in
the future?

If successful, this book will not only challenge you to explore the
questions above, it will move you through the process of becoming truly
self-aware, to fully understanding your perception of your connection
to and responsibility for others, and ultimately to impacting others in a
meaningful and positive way. You will be, for all intents and purposes,
broadcasting your inner champion.

A WORD ABOUT FAITH

The second question I ask in the Self-Awareness workshop is: “To Whom
Do You Belong?” The reason I have for asking that? Simple: I’ve never
known anyone who fully explored who they are without examining
the spirit. While this book does not espouse a particular religion, it
unabashedly explores the role of God in our lives. There have been more
than a few who tried to poke holes in The Berlack Method by mentioning
that they’re not Christian, or that they don’t believe in God in any form.
My answer to them is simple: “That’s fine.” While walking your journey
of self-remembrance, it’s not important that you believe as I do, or even
agree that there is a God. What’s important is that you understand and
can articulate what you believe and why. I was having a debate about God
when the words quoted at the beginning of this book hit me like a bolt of
lightening. I’m not a Christian because I have all the answers about God,
I’m a Christian because I have faith in Him.

In fact, the biggest obstacle I faced in giving my life to Christ was the
battle waged within me about having to “figure it all out.” The intellectual
in me was never satisfied unless I “knew” the correct answers about God,
Jesus, religion, etc. However, as I grew older, I continued to dream about
my spirituality (you’ll read more about that in the epilogue), and I received
countless signs and confirmations about my relationship with God and my
purpose. Finally, one day, while talking to a good friend about this, she
looked me in the eye and asked: “How many signs do you need?” And that

xi
was that. I fell to the floor, prostrated and crying. I’ve consciously given
my life to Him ever since. Notice I didn’t say “I’ve been a Christian ever
since,” because that takes me back to Jeremiah 1:5. I’ve always been who
I am. I’m just on a journey to remember.

No one ever convinced me to become a Christian. The best they could do
was show me who they were, and allow me the space to learn from them
what I could and put away the rest. This book is not designed to convince
you of anything, (how could it?), but to shine the light of my experiences
for you in a safe, non-judgmental way that allows you to explore your
own ideas about spirituality, religion, etc. Your answer to “to whom do
you belong?” is a reflection of your journey, not mine. And your answer
is safe here.

A WORD ON POLITICS

You’ll notice, especially in Chapter 10, that I feel free to articulate my
political leanings. I do so in the same spirit in which I discuss my faith. You
may find that you disagree with my thoughts on all things political, and
my answer to you would be…”that’s fine.” I make my points not because
I’m trying to convince you of anything, but because my political views
are a reflection of my experience…my light. I can only shine my light. If
you disagree, then please know that the same principles applied to faith in
this book are also applied to politics. So feel free! Shout at the book about
why I’m so wrong and about how crazy I am! (I’d actually love to see that)!
Shine your light! If you’re like me, you’ll find that openly articulating your
views within a healthy, respectful debate enriches and crystalizes them in
a powerful way.

And what’s wrong with that?

HOW THIS BOOK IS SET UP

After the prologue, “Broadcast Your Inner Champion” is divided into
ten chapters that align with the themes of The Berlack Method listed
earlier. Although there is a specific order to Th e Method, each chapter is

xii
self-contained, and may be read in the order you wish. After all, this is
your journey. It may be interesting for you to note which chapters interest
you the most. Follow your instinct, and have fun with it.

The themed chapters contain posts from Champion’s Blog, which was
the precursor to this book. “Broadcast Your Inner Champion” aligns the
posts by theme. At the beginning of each chapter is an introduction which
defines the theme and underscores why it’s included in the book. I also
share intimate memories of specific blogs and why I wrote them. I don’t just
write about these themes because I’ve done research and intellectualized
their importance. I write about them because I’ve lived them. To me, it’s
funny how God works. How can I help anyone live a better life unless
I shine my own light? Yet how can I shine my own light without going
through serious life issues and challenges?

This book ends with the Epilogue. In it, you will be challenged to collapse
all of your thoughts about the themes of this book into one answer to
the original question: “Who are you?” Having answered that question,
prayerfully in a refreshing and exciting way, you’ll be ready to explore what
“Broadcast Your Inner Champion” means to you. What does it look like
when you do it? And who benefits?

A WORD ABOUT THE BLOGS

You’ll notice that the blogs are written in different literary styles. Some are
written as prose, while others are written with poetic license. As someone
who writes poetry, I’ve found that my written pieces tell me how to write
them. I hear the rhythm of the poem in my head before I write anything
down. Given the creative nature of poetry, I often find that I must bend
grammatical rules so that the poem comes out as it wants. Sometimes I
have to suspend the rules altogether. I honestly can’t say why this is so, but
as an artist I always listen to my instinct.

When I started Champion’s Blog, I noticed that my tendency was to write
blog posts in much the same way. In fact, a few of the posts are poems
of mine. The best way I can think to describe why I wrote the blogs as I

xiii
did is this: sometimes when I make grammatical corrections to either my
poems or blogs, the results don’t feel right. The message/intent/feeling gets
lost in the grammar. For instance, a piano player may play notes exactly as
they’re written down, and may play them perfectly in the technical sense,
but the music doesn’t illicit the feeling intended. Another piano player
may play the same piece, but hold one note a tad longer, or another note
a tad softer…and the feelings engendered in the listener become powerful
and meaningful.

This book, therefore, is designed so that you read it in much the same way
you would a book of poetry. Within each chapter, the blogs will relate to
one another by theme, but each will take you on its own separate journey
of remembrance, and will prayerfully illicit their own particular feelings/
thoughts within you.

WHAT TO DO

I’ve discovered that my journey to self-remembrance is not just about me.
Many have impacted who I am and my self-awareness impacts the lives of
many. In this light, I ask you to do the following throughout your journey
through this book:
• As you read the blogs: think! How do you feel about what’s written?
• Talk to friends and family about what you’ve read. Bounce ideas
back and forth and continuously shape them through your
conversations.
• Discover how and why you think the way you do.
• Be aware of the impact of others on you, and your impact on them.

I pray that your journey of introspection, connection and impact is as
enlightening and powerful as mine has been for me. And may it bring you
peace, love, joy and understanding that not only improves your life, but
the lives of those around you.
I’ll see you at Th e Epilogue.

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C h a p t e r 1

Self-Awareness

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a
free human being with an independent will.” —
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“But you can’t get away from yourself. You can’t
decide not to see yourself anymore. You can’t decide
to turn off the noise in your head.” — Jay Asher,
Thirteen Reasons Why

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead
us to an understanding of ourselves.” — C.G.
Jung

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A U T H O R ’ S  N O T E S :

According to Wikipedia, self-awareness is the capacity for introspection
and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the
environment and other individuals. That’s quite a mouthful. After reading
that, I spent some time mulling over the intricacies of what self-awareness
entails. What I got from the definition is that self-awareness begins with
examining what makes us tick and why. As human beings we all feel
compelled to find out who we are, where we come from, and why we’re
here. It’s a feeling. A yearning. A desire so powerful that adults who were
adopted as children will spend their entire lives looking for their birth
parents, even if they experienced happy childhoods.

For me, self-awareness is explored in the answer to the question: “Who am
I?” As I mentioned in the Prologue, this question is exceedingly complex,
and has proven difficult to answer for most. I am convinced that the
answer to the question is so important that one cannot become successful
in life until the question is answered. How can I set goals for my life, know
how to treat others, know what to expect from others in their treatment of
me, know my relationship with God, understand my responsibility to my
family, friends and community, or do anything positive in a sustainable
way unless I truly understand and can articulate who I am?

If I am truly more than the name I am called, then how do I find out who
I am? For me, the answer was simple: through my elders. My grandparents
made a point of sitting me on their laps when I was a child and told me
story after story about who they were as people, their experiences, the
challenges they overcame, and even how they met. (Grandpa, of course,
told a very different version of this story than Grandma did. His version
included having to beat her off with a stick when she saw how handsome
he was! Personally, I believe Grandma’s version, but that’s neither here nor
there). Grandpa also made a point of telling me stories about his parents

4
and grandparents, where our family name came from (it was shortened
at Ellis Island), and what life was like for a young, Black male in Harlem
in the 1920’s. I’m still haunted by the image of him standing on a street
corner, knowing he could not cross the street in one direction into one
neighborhood, nor could he cross the street in another direction into a
different neighborhood. The chains that kept him from crossing the street
were not found on fences, but were embedded in his mind by age-old social
codes and long-understood repercussions for breaking such codes.

Of course, other family members and dear friends filled in the picture of
who I am as well. Though I never met my father (he was killed in Vietnam
when I was seven months old), Aunt Margaret, his sister, would regale me
with stories about who he was as a man and a brother. My mom told me
hilarious stories about their relationship. In particular, I loved the story
about one time she and my dad “argued.” She fussed and hissed, (if you
know my mom, raise your hand), and my dad just sat there, growing
quieter by the minute, and giving her a look that said “are you done?”

When Ma told me that story for the first time, I remember thinking
about my dad’s reaction: “Hey! That’s what I would have done! I’m just
like him!” It struck me like a bolt of lightning: they weren’t just telling
stories. They were telling me who I am. They were helping me answer
the question in a way that fully explored the subtleties, the nuances
and the fabric of what I do and why I do it. That experience was the
foundation of my answer. Of course, there were many other contributors
to my continuing understanding of my own self-awareness: my friends, my
various communities, my experiences, my city of birth, and more.

The linchpin of my understanding is the image Grandpa painted for me: the
little boy afraid to cross the street because of the color of his skin. I’ve often
thought to myself: how can I possibly be afraid of the challenges I’m facing,
when I’ve never come across something as humbling and dehumanizing
as that? If he can overcome standing in his own neighborhood in fear, and
all the other challenges of his life, and his blood flows through my veins,
then I know I can overcome anything I’m going through.

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And there it is. Though I grew up poor in The Bronx, I overcame. Although
children I grew up with fell on every side of me to the dangers of the streets,
I triumphed. I was not devoid of challenges. I faced them too. However, I
faced them through the prism of a knowledge of self that gave me strength
and power. I gained victories in life not so much through intelligence or
anything I learned in school. As important as education has been in my
life, my victories have come by remembering the stories of my past. That
is why self-awareness is the first workshop in The Berlack Method, and the
first chapter in this book. Facing life’s challenges without self-awareness is
like sailing the seven seas without a compass.

The Posts

The blog posts in this chapter were almost all the result of serious
introspection. I wrote “Dust of the Earth,” for instance, after reflecting
on the pain of my past relationships. I also found myself going through
a period of harsh isolation from friends and family. I made tremendous
sacrifices when I founded The Berlack Method, and the weight of those
sacrifices (financial stress and a tremendous battle between my faith and
my fear) led to my pushing people away and diving into what I thought
was a safe cocoon. While that was going on, I noticed something strange:
whenever I became really tired and frustrated, someone would call me with
an emergency. Either a family member had died, or a good friend was sick,
someone had relationship problems, etc. I always got those calls at the exact
moment I felt overwhelmed, and I learned two things from that revelation:
one, we’re all going through pains and disappointments in this life, and
two, part of my purpose is helping people deal with their issues through the
lessons garnered from my own pain. That particular epiphany confirmed
my belief that knowledge of self includes understanding of purpose. This
understanding put my issues in proper perspective: they were simply part
of the process of growing into the role God had in store for me. “Dust…”
was my attempt to capture that with words.

I wrote “Minority = Less Than” after many conversations concerning the
term “minority” and what it means. My experience has taught me that
self-perception and self-identification are powerful tools that can both

6
empower and enslave someone. I remark in the post about the many
times I’ve spoken to African-Americans and, whenever race came into
play, perfectly sane, intelligent, confident men and women would drop
their voices to a whisper when saying the phrase “White people.” It would
be funny if it wasn’t such an indicator of the power of seeing oneself as
a minority in a free society. In my humble opinion, seeing oneself as a
minority represents the enslavement of the mind in full effect.

“Th e Antelope and Th e Lion” comes directly from my workshop on
Attitude. It’s an anecdote about the roles of antelope and lions during a
hunt, and how each animal instinctively knows his/her role. We humans
can learn a lot from them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen
people who, due to title, personality, etc., played the antelope role in the
relationship, stood with feet planted firmly roaring fiercely at the lion. And
they kept roaring until they were figuratively eaten alive. Again, it would
be funny except for the dire consequences one can face by not knowing
one’s role….

For Your Consideration

How do you answer the question: “Who are you?” Do you simply state
your name, or do you have anything else to say? What were the experiences
that helped to shape your answer? Who were the people that did the same?
Is your answer a stagnant one, or does it change with time?

These are all questions I suggest you consider as you read this chapter. Talk
to your elders and loved ones. Ask them to tell you their perspective of who
you are. Contrast their answers with your own perception. Are they the same?
How are they different? Then reconsider the question. If you’ve never done this
before, prayerfully this is the beginning of a life-long process that will lead you
to not only knowledge of self, but a true understanding of how you connect to
others and why, your responsibility to them because of this connection, and
the purpose that will lead you to positively impact your community.

I hope you enjoy reading this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Here’s to discernment, and I’ll see you at the Epilogue.

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NOISE

Th is is for anyone who’s ever made a decision…and then heard nothing
but noise.

I am here to tell you that if you ever stand firm in your convictions, if you
ever make a decision based on your morals, standards and faith…then noise
is exactly what you’ll hear.

The bad part is that you’ll hear the most noise from the people closest to
you. T ey will have advice about every aspect of your decision. They’ll tell
you what you should do/should have done/couldn’t do/can’t do/shouldn’t
think about….

Th ey’ll ask you: how could you?/why did you?/how

** END OF EXCERPT **

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