The first time that I remember having a problem with letting something go was during my early childhood. I fell off a couch, hit my head, cried, got back up on the couch, thought about the fall then intentionally fell off the sofa again because I needed to re-experience the fall. OK, so I was a strange optimistic little kid who always hoped for things to work out in positive ways. I automatically trusted people to do the right thing, and when they did not, I would try to coax the individuals or groups toward positive outcomes.
I’m an eternal optimist. This means that I have always given that benefit of a doubt to other people and situations. Learning when to release me from stuck people and stuck situations has always been difficult for me.
Maybe it’s my Virgo stubbornness, or my father’s motto of a job is never done until it is done right! I had to adjust my need to do things perfectly during my early years because perfection took so much time that it made me appear mentally slow.
I tried to hold on to those that I liked, but some of them did not seem to want to hold on to me. Over time I realized that it was not personal and that people drift into and out of our lives.
The number one thing that I wanted to accomplish starting my high school years was to switch from the band where I played drums/percussion to the football team. Even though my dad was the only parent to attend every early morning workout, I did not make the team. So, I had to reinvent myself, and I became the Sterling High School Sports Reporter! I would call in the results of our games to our local newspapers and the Birmingham News to travel with the sports teams. I described play by play so well that the amount of space little old Sterling received grew through the seasons. My English teacher rewarded me with A’s for my outstanding newspaper work!
Fortunately, investing in people began to have positive results starting in high school, where I ended up being student body President and class Salutatorian! Even though our class was one of the smallest to graduate, we raised more money and participated in more events than larger classes. We attended the state association of Black high schools conference and won two statewide offices.
In 1963 a paradigm shift occurred during my freshman year in college at Prairie View A&M in Texas; they would not let me take my 1957 Chevy to school. For a kid who’d had his own wheels since age fourteen, this was devastating. Plus, Texas had “new” math, so one of my primary strengths needed quick revamping! Releasing became a way of life at A&M. I would not have received my Architectural Engineering degree without it. My time on “The Hill” was the primary molder of who I was to become.
I had a significant advantage over most of the other students because I got to live with my uncle and aunt, Griff and Irma Kendrick. It was like living with TV’s Huxtable family. My uncle, an account in PV’s finance office and my aunt, a Home Economics major, were incredible nurturers of every person they touched.
During my career, I quickly learned that the only certainty was change, so I concentrated on becoming a change agent where release from what was, became a critical skill. As an employee, I would tell fellow workers new and better ways to do things because I knew that I’d come up with even better ideas tomorrow. My employers never knew the many ways I benefitted them. I applied my change agent skills and abilities to other aspects of my life, and I am most proud of helping many organizations move forward!
–William Leroy Kennedy
Beyond his career as an engineer, diversity and training manager, and financial advisor, he asserts, “Getting to teach others about how to become more financially astute has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career.”
While doing all of the above, Mr. Kennedy managed to help raise his daughter and son, six years apart, to become outstanding students with a true sense of community. They graduated from UNC Chapel Hill/Harvard Law School and Stanford/Harvard Business School, respectively.
Many hours were spent working with church, civil rights, and community organizations in an effort to help produce progress. Motivating youth to be all that they can be is a constant goal of Mr. Kennedy.
He is very high on using khanacademy.org as an educational tool that can help all, regardless of age or learning disability, succeed in life. “Every adult and child should visit the site” is his motto.