Posted by: universitymindlab | August 19, 2008

The Importance of a Positive Contribution

The Importance of a Positive Contribution

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Each of us has a meter inside, where we consciously or unconsciously measure the balance of give and take that exists in our relationships. Whether dealing with business or social relationships or with family members or friends, we all gauge the level of positive reciprocity that exists.

To judge the balance of give and take in a relationship is not selfishness. It can be, but in healthy relationships it is natural to want to do our fair share; especially if we truly appreciate and value the other person or institution.

We make sure that we are a team player at our businesses or jobs and show up on time and add value to collaborative projects. We also make sure that colleagues or higher-ups are not left ‘holding the bag’ or have to clean up our mistakes. In social relationships we make sure we are friendly, ensure that we show up for parties or special events and alternate who picks up the tab for lunch or dinner. We also check up on friends and acquaintances when we haven’t seen them for a while.

With family, the same principles apply. Calls, visits, invitations to dinners and watching kids in an emergency all fall within the realm of maintaining balance.

If you are conscientious of your need to maintain the give and take balance in relationships, congratulations! However, from time to time, we need to review all of our relationships to see if we are providing positive contributions or if we are taking more than we are giving.

If we are accepting more than we give then we must re-balance that relationship. Sometimes we aren’t mindful of a co-worker that we always allow to handle certain difficult tasks because they “do it so well.” Or a mentor who always provides references, advice and introductions, but only receives a big, “Thank you so much!,” in return.  Or a family member that is depended on too much and sometimes not even thanked because of the idea that is what brothers, mothers or aunts do.

Seeking a give and take balance is the best way to keep relationships thriving, healthy and to ensure growth for everyone involved. Have you contributed to your relationships lately?

Posted by: universitymindlab | August 16, 2008

Your Meditative Moment

Your Meditative Moment

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

It can be any time of the day and a place of your choosing. Many people choose an early time in the morning. I prefer later in the day. My time, place and meditative action is a hot steaming bath, usually in the afternoon or evening. After a long day, a grueling session of my passion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or for no reason at all, it is my moment to wind down and relax. I use this time to reflect and think about anything I wish without having other stimuli competing for my attention.

Our days are often filled with activities that require us to concentrate on every other issue except our own. However, it is important for us to have a quiet time where we can do some of the following activities:

Meditate to relieve tension or stress

Devote thought to an issue, problem or concern


Visualize our future

Plan our next day; or just

Enjoy private and personal time

It is a very rewarding habit to cultivate. I have used my own personal meditative moment (long hot baths) since I was a teenager and the dividends have been immeasurable. I have read countless books, thought through a number of issues and have come up with numerous plans for my future. My meditative moment also puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Although it is common for me to spend an hour in my meditative moment (and two is not out of the question), you don’t have to spend nearly as much time. However, choosing some activity such as meditation, yoga, or sitting in a quiet room can help you clarify your thoughts, gain insights, set yourself on the proper path and help you grow in ways that routine day to day activities don’t allow.

Have fun….

If this post has provided inspiration or motivation, leave a note. I am always glad to hear from you. Also, you are welcome to share how you take time out in the day to meditate or reflect.

Posted by: universitymindlab | August 13, 2008

Professional Development

Professional Development

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Whether we are in a rut, doing okay or performing exceptionally well in our profession, we are always on a trajectory. In order for that path we are taking to continue to rise or soar, we must continuously fuel its progression.

Our skills and talents can only bring us so far and in many fields with the possibilities of big rewards, coasting is not an option. Even doing everything we are supposed to do such as showing up everyday, going the extra mile, being a team player and completing all tasks competently is not enough for those who are trying to take their career and life to the next level.

That is where professional development (PD) can play a major role. PD can take many forms and does not have to be extremely expensive. However, as many inspirational writers have stated, such as Ernie Zelinski, Jack Canfield and Robin Sharma, you should look at PD as an “investment” not an “expense.” Further, we all maybe aware of PD, but the question is do we really see the value of it or have a plan to use it to our advantage?

As a professor, there are always opportunities for me to improve. I have been at institutions that offer departmental colloquiums where faculty and grad students give talks concerning their research, speakers always visit the campus and courses are always offered (usually free) to help improve performance or even to obtain another degree. However, I have to go beyond this in order to remain viable as an academic. There are conferences to attend, associations to join, journals to subscribe to and books to be read. It doesn’t stop there as information pertaining to what I do can be located anywhere; so to be the best I can be I must ferret it out.

The same applies to other professions and any area in which we strive for excellence. To be average we just have to show up, keep our heads down and finish tasks assigned. To be great we must not only take advantage of enrichment opportunities offered by the “job,” we must also seek out opportunities that we aren’t forced to attend and that may cost us time and money.

To become good in your field, professional development is necessary. To become a leader or expert in your profession, it is a must!

Get your copy of  the e-book Super YOU! 101 Ways to Maximize your Potential!

Posted by: universitymindlab | August 10, 2008

Enjoy the Amenities

Enjoy the Amenities

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Every community has amenities. It is up to us to discover and use them.

Many of us live in neighborhoods where we could rattle off the amenities. Some of us may have to think a little but could come up with them if we had too. Front porches, patios, yards, sidewalks, bike trails, ponds or lakes, tennis and basketball courts, gyms, swimming pools; you get the picture.

However, how many of us fully use these amenities to our advantage?

In our haste to make a living, take care of our families or a myriad of other responsibilities, our surroundings may not be our primary focus. But enjoying the amenities we have available greatly increases the quality of our lives. When choosing a place to live we often do so based upon the amenities. When we tell people about where we live, we tell them or show them all that our neighborhoods have to offer. Since we are paying for it, why not enjoy the wealth we have chosen and benefit fully from our investments. Further, enjoying your amenities makes you feel wealthy. If you have never taken advantage of them, you have to experience them to know what I am talking about.

Additionally, enjoying the amenities increases our fun meter. Who can’t enjoy relaxing on their porch or patio, riding bikes on paths or trails, a golf game, shooting some hoops, working out in a weight room, or taking a leisurely stroll? Children aren’t the only ones who can have fun.

Also, by using your amenities, you can socialize, meet new people and create new relationships. This helps to forge a sense of community as well as belonging. The only way to really build human relationships is to get out and socialize, which increases our opportunities in many areas.

So enjoy your wealth and increase your quality of life by enjoying your amenities.

I’ll see you outside.

Posted by: universitymindlab | August 3, 2008

The Power of Focus

The Power of Focus

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Recently, we bought a pool table for our new home. I have always wanted one and moving into a new house presented the perfect opportunity for creating a billiard room.

Now, I haven’t played pool regularly all my life. As a kid, I sometimes played at recreation centers. In the Army, I occasionally played in the barracks. It was always a ‘toss up’ on who would win whenever I played. However, at this stage of my life I wanted my win-loss ratio to be different. I wanted to see what would happen if I focused on playing at least two games, at least 5 times a week, over a significant period of time.

I decided I would test out my experiment against certain family members who I recalled thrashing me in an outing to Dave & Busters (D&Bs) a few years ago. (I’m a regular Count de Monte Cristo). To keep track of my progress I designed a simple system to record how often I played.

After a week of practicing, I saw no progress and actually lost most of my games. After two weeks I noticed improvement. —– I am proud to announce that, after two months, I had a group of people over to play pool, including most of the group I lost to at D&Bs and I beat every last person and didn’t lose a match the entire night.

Now, Of course I won because I have a pool table in my house (the majority of my guests do not).

Of course I won because I played at least two games a day (5 days a week) for two months, while other people concentrated on other things.

However, the important point is that I focused on this outcome. I came up with a plan and visualized myself winning. Further, I only spent 15 to 30 minutes a day practicing. Enough time to have fun, but not long enough to feel like a chore.

I concentrated my energies on a task that was important to me. Yes, I have witnessed this at times in my life in other areas, but I wanted to conduct the experiment with our pool table because I knew that within my social circle, I could quickly measure the results. I practiced every day in small spurts which paid off in big personal dividends.

Imagine what could happen if we continually applied focus to the most important areas of our lives.

Coming up with a plan and applying concentrated effort until you achieve your objective is the key to success. Not losing sight of one’s vision and applying focused action to make it happen is a valuable habit to acquire.

All I can tell you is that it felt great. I am a more competent player and others acknowledged my new prowess. I can also carry that confidence into other areas and I can also guarantee that it increased the desire of my guests to raise their own level of play.

For me, it was playing pool. For you it may be a sport, a class in school, a task at work or your career in general.

Make a Plan – Continue to Focus on Carrying it Out – Enjoy the Benefits!


If you enjoy or are inspired by these writings, leave a message. I am always glad to hear from you!

Posted by: universitymindlab | July 29, 2008

Life Ratings Scale

Life Ratings Scale

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Sometimes we may have a feeling that our life isn’t quite where we would like it to be. However, we might not be able to pinpoint the source of our dissatisfaction. All we know is that our level of happiness and enjoyment of life isn’t quite where it should be.

A good way to pinpoint this dissatisfaction so we can begin to effectively deal with it is to create a Life Ratings Scale.

Put simply, a Life Ratings Scale (created by Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.) requires you to create a list of all areas in your life that you consider important to having a life of quality and enjoyment. Next using a Likert-type scale from 0 to 5, with 0 as extremely unsatisfied and 5 being very satisfied, you rate each of the categories.

By using this technique you can gain a very clear picture of where your areas of dissatisfaction lay. Then you can begin to come up with ways to address them.

A sample Life Ratings Scale can be:

Family Life    0    1    2    3    4    5

Health           0    1    2    3    4    5

Finance         0    1    2    3    4    5

Spiritual        0    1    2    3    4    5  (or Religious)

Emotional     0    1    2    3    4    5

Job/Career    0    1    2    3    4    5

Hobby          0    1    2    3    4    5

Friends         0    1    2    3    4    5

Home           0    1    2    3    4    5

City              0    1    2    3    4    5

(Some categories in my own personal Life Ratings Scale are: Writing, Reading and Research.)

Once you create your most important categories and rate them you can further break them down to isolate key areas you would like to target.

For instance, “Finance” could be broken down into:

Income            0    1    2    3    4    5  (Passive)

Income            0    1    2    3    4    5  (Salary)

Savings            0    1    2    3    4    5

Investments     0    1    2    3    4    5

Checking          0    1    2    3    4    5


The category “Health” could be broken down into

Weight             0    1    2    3    4    5

Muscularity      0    1    2    3    4    5

Diet                 0    1    2    3    4    5

Exercise          0    1    2    3    4    5

By clearly defining regions of dissatisfaction in your life and then isolating exactly what ails you, you can then create a program or make the changes necessary to improve your enjoyment of life. Periodic checks (every month, 3 months, 6 months or year) using the same techniques can let you see your progress.

I created this process for my usage and it helps me to maintain my own current level of happiness. It is a wonderful tool to help you make any adjustments you feel necessary in your life and I recommend it to all.

Happy Ratings…

 (Life Ratings Scale was created by and is the copyright of Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.)

If you find this useful, leave a message. It feels good to know that I am making a difference.

Posted by: universitymindlab | July 26, 2008

What’s Your Hook Value?

What’s Your Hook Value?

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Even those of you who are not business professionals have probably heard a lot concerning branding and marketing. However, questions that apply to corporations and businesses can also be applied to our personal and professional lives.

Think about your friends and associates. Each one probably has a very useful function. One person may bring fun times and jokes. Another may keep ‘juicy’ secrets you have to get off your chest. Another may always be willing to play a game of tennis, a few holes of golf or run a trail with you. Another may always be in the know about what’s happening in your locale.

On a slightly more serious note, why are people attracted to you? What makes people want to work or conduct business with you? Why would people want to become apart of your inner circle or you to become a part of theirs? What makes you memorable and makes people excited to see you? Why would someone want to have the insert your name experience again?

In other words, what is your hook and how do you use your hook(s) to improve your business and social relationships?

It is really rather simple. To attract, gain access or to be invited again into the business or social circles you are interested in, you have to develop the character traits or qualities that other members will consider valuable to their group. By understanding this concept and increasing your ‘hook value’ you can increase your current worth to groups you already belong to and ones you are seeking to enter..

Your value can be applied in numerous ways. It could be:

Specific Knowledge – Humor – Loyalty – Clutch Performer – Creative Input – Overall Intelligence – Charm – Conversational Ability – Inside Information (legal) – Athletic Ability – Leadership Skills – Networking Ability – Public Speaking Ability – Writing Skills – Marketing Skills – Organizational Skills – Charitable Mindset

Any of these characteristics could be your ‘hook.’ They can be natural talents that you further develop or non-talents that you cultivate. Either way, if used sincerely and when it counts, your hook should bring more values to others and your own life. Thereby increasing your options in many areas.

Use your ‘hook’ to your advantage.

Posted by: universitymindlab | July 23, 2008

An Idea Book

An Idea Book

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

Most great artists, writers, comedians, movie producers, etc., when interviewed about how they come up with such great ideas, give many different answers. Ideas come to them while driving; while asleep; watching people while sitting on a park bench and the list goes on. However, what they say next is almost universal.

As soon as they can, they write their ideas down. They keep a pad by their bedside or carry around a small notebook at all times. I like to refer to it as an idea book. The concept is very simple. Great ideas can come at any time. And they can slip back into the ether just as quickly as they arrive.

The refrain from our most celebrated citizens has never changed: Write your ideas down. Keep notes. ‘Some of my greatest work has sprung forth from ideas I had in the middle of the night.’

So I have a question for you.

Where do you keep your idea book?

An idea book doesn’t have to be just for writers or comedians or celebrities who make their living by being creative. An idea book can be useful to anyone in any field and in any area of life.

We all have thoughts about how to make something better; a revolutionary way to complete a task; or an idea for an outstanding product or service. We may have ideas that are totally unrelated to anything we are currently connected with, but have the potential to change our lives.

Leonardo da Vinci carried around and had many notebooks in which he scribbled down his many different ideas and thoughts. Some of which were too advanced for anyone to grasp in his day and time. But for a mind so brilliant and always busy, we have to wonder how many times this practice helped him to keep track of some important idea or essential task.

(Leonardo) Note to Self: I have an idea for a painting of a lady with an impish smile.

We may not be as artistic or such a creative genius as da Vinci, but our ideas have merit. Every thing we use today comes from an idea someone else had.

If you don’t already, get into the habit of keeping a pad or notebook handy to record your great ideas. You never know how it might help you to contribute greatly to your own life, a family member, on the job, to a local business or some institution that serves us all.

Keep a record – Build on it – Reap the benefits

Happy writing….



Masters, D. (2002).  Renaissance Man. In  (Ed.), The Renaissance:
    Stories in History
(95-106). United States: McDougal Littell.

Posted by: universitymindlab | July 22, 2008

A New Way of Measuring Wealth

A New Way of Measuring Wealth

By Bakari Akil II, Ph.D.

If wealth is only measured through what we want, then we will never be wealthy.

For instance, imagine a person who is single; lives in a 3000 sq ft home; has a car that’s paid for; little to no debt and an $80,000 income. They are able to meet all of their monthly obligations and still put a substantial amount away for retirement and savings. However, they are very unsatisfied with their economic life.


Because they want to live in a 6000 sq ft home; make $500,000 a year, drive a Bentley instead of a BMW and vacation in Rome and Prague instead of Las Vegas and New York. Their preoccupation or obsession with what they want and can’t afford (at the moment) doesn’t allow them to see the wealth they possess. They often put themselves down or feel inadequate because they have not accumulated a certain level of resources. This brings me back to my opening statement:

If wealth is only measured through what we want, then we will never be wealthy. 

Now let’s look at wealth in another way. What if we measured wealth according to being able to afford what we need? And this statement is not to belittle the desire for whatever level of wealth you would like. However, my needs are food to eat; beverages to drink, a place to live, transportation, clothing and the well being of my spouse. In my case, I can meet these needs for an extremely long time. Of course, I have a standard of living that I apply to this basic outline of needs and it’s a standard that I am very comfortable with.

So the question is, how well we can meet our needs? That is the true measure of wealth.

If you can meet all of your needs, then you are wealthy, Period!

How long you are able to meet your needs without working also determines true wealth. I am all for increasing the amount of resources that flow in, in order to do fabulous things. However, not recognizing the wealth we already possess and how able we are to take care of our real needs does an injustice to our psyche and self-esteem. Further, not acknowledging our ability (e.g., resources) to meet our needs (and in some cases, extraordinary ability to meet our needs) doesn’t allow us to take advantage of the wealth we already possess. The quest to leverage our current resources through debt and unchecked spending to buy goods and services places us at a disadvantage and doesn’t allow us to exploit what is available if we lived within our means.

Many of us are already extremely wealthy and just don’t realize it.

Until next time….


If you enjoyed this writing, leave a comment. It is always appreciated.

Posted by: universitymindlab | July 18, 2008

Three Outcomes to SuperYou!

Three Outcomes to SuperYou!

By Dr. Bakari Akil II

Imagine waking up one morning and suddenly realizing that there was something unique about you that hadn’t existed the day before. So different that, fundamentally, you weren’t the same person. Perhaps it is a talent or skill, your physical appearance or a personality trait such as humor, charm or an outgoing personality.

Do me a favor. Think of an outcome (goal) that if you really focused on achieving it, it would change how you view yourself and perhaps how the world views you. It can be something  you were puting off, have always dreamed of doing, or something you think you couldn’t possibly do (but could if you really tried). Jack Canfield, author of “The Success Principles” describes these types of goals using a football metaphor. It is the difference between goals that will get you 5 or 10 yards and goals that are like the ‘long bomb’ that score touchdowns, turns games around or end games.

I’m talking about goals that, if you could achieve them, could transform your life, but in a good way. I challenge you to try this. Think about 3 outcomes that if you achieved them could change your life for the better. They can be short-term, mid-range or long-term outcomes.

My three goals were long term and I’m still working on two of them. They were:

1. Obtain a Ph.D.

2. Blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (see JiuJitsu365); and

3. Start a clothing lifestyle line (yes, a clothing line!)

I obtained the Ph.D. so I have two more to go before I create another list. And as you can see from my list, whatever outcome that would make you feel like the SuperYou doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. It’s according to your tastes and desires.

Here are some examples to set your mind churning:

Learn CPR – Obtain a whole new Wardrobe – Lose 20 to 30 pounds – Take up a new Sport (and learn how to play well) – Learn Gymnastics – Change Careers – Go back to School – Write Comedy – Become a Mentor

Whatever it is, have fun.  You can even just choose one life altering goal. Just pour your all into it and experience a new future.


If this post has caused excitement in you, leave a comment. It is always great to read comments.

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