If someone were to ask you how to live an awesome life, many would start with the how to's of spreading kindness and compassion. All of this requires positivity, even in the face of true negativity--which can be hard to muster.
But that's exactly what Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson just exhibited. The two black men who were recently arrested in a Starbucks for just being there, just settled with the company and the City of Philadelphia in an uplifting way.
The two men will work with the city and a non-profit organization to establish a $200,000 grant that according to city spokesman Mike Dunn will, "establish a pilot curriculum for public high school students to develop the skills necessary to pursue their dream of being entrepreneurs."
That's right. These two men could have held out and sought to maximize their personal gain, punishing Starbucks and Philadelphia as much as possible in the process. Instead, they chose to turn the caustic event into an opportunity for students to pursue their dreams.
Robinson indicated on Good Morning America on Thursday that the grant will also teach about etiquette, literacy, and money management basics. Thus the two men's overall objective was achieved as they stated that all they wanted was to turn a negative into a positive.
Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney showed his appreciation for the emotionally intelligent tack the two men took:
"This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would've resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved."
What makes this settlement so remarkable is that these Robinson and Nelson did something that we all could learn from when it comes to turning a negative situation into a positive one.
They took "response-ability".
You own your response to a negative situation. Period.
You might not be responsible for the negative situation but you're responsible for what comes next. Robinson and Nelson clearly owned how they were feeling and made a visible choice to turn the negative situation into a positive by negotiating a settlement that benefited a "greater good".
I pride myself in being a very glass-half-full kind of person. But if I'm honest, I'm not sure I would have been as successful in suppressing my anger over this unacceptable situation. I'm not sure I could have moved quite so fast to steer things to such an uplifting outcome.
Some might argue that the two men may have inadvertently taken this particular story of blatant racism out of the spotlight too fast--that a drawn-out legal battle would have better-advanced discussion on the issue.
I don't see it that way.
Starbucks had already moved quickly to affect change with a new training program (which is at least a positive start) and the incident has been all over the news since it happened. I think the two men simply took advantage of an avenue to affect more positive change, immediately.
The bottom line is that the two men who entered a Starbucks store on April 12th couldn't have possibly predicted what would follow. But they absolutely controlled what would happen next--and modeled positivity in the process.
While drinking your morning coffee, think how you might approach your day the same way.