Best of 12 on Tuesday


    12 on Tuesday is taking a holiday break, so we’re looking back at the first few months of interviews with the leaders and personalities from Greater Madison and its communities of color. Today we’re recalling where these influential people say they find motivation. Here — in no particular order — are our favorite answers to the question:

    What motivates you more: doubters or supporters?


    Percy Brown, Jr: As a man of faith, I love all doubters and supporters but what motivates me is to do God’s will and fulfill my purpose in life.

    Gregory St. Fort: Supporters. I want to be around the energy of people who want to build with me.

    Rev. David Hart:  I love critics, doubters and haters.  I really do.  I am whatever I am because of them.  They are fuel.  They help me to carry on when I get weary.

    Dr. Ruben Anthony: Neither. In my current capacity, the greatest motivator for me is service. I can work with both doubters and supporters if they are trying to move the community forward.

    I don’t mind doubters because the consideration of differences allows one to think critically about their work. Often your supporters may only tell you what you want to hear. However, I believe that leaders need a system of supporters. We all need someone to have our best interest in mind.

    Gloria Ladson-Billings:  Actually I don’t respond as much to external motivation. My community, the conditions we struggle with, continuing injustice motivates me to attempt to do something.

    Michael Johnson:  I feed off positive energy and thrive on working with those who are supportive and forward thinking. I also appreciate doubters who might be wired to process things more and might be skeptical of projects and people. I like hiring these kinds of thinkers in management positions because they add balance to my leadership. Both supporters and doubters help equalize a leader like me who is fast to move and quick to act. Sometimes doubters can keep you on your game and help you process challenges that your overt supporters may not see.

    Ald. Maurice Cheeks: This has changed during different phases in my life. These days, the answer is definitely supporters.

    Zach Brandon: Doubters, no doubt. Supporters are uplifting and crucial but I have always been most motivated by those that say it cannot be done.

    Mike Martez Johnson: Supporters. I feed off positive energy more than negative energy, although there is something about running your doubters off the field that I do get a kick out off.

    Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff: I need both. Doubters really allow me to be more introspective, question my own thinking, make sure I go back to my morale compass and make sure I have not lost my way. Supporters give me the energy and the drive to keep going.

    Brandi Grayson: Doubters are my motivator. I’ve been told all my life what I couldn’t do by people who said they loved me. My mom told me I couldn’t obtain a college degree at the age of 30 because I had children. I couldn’t go back — how would I take care of my children? I did it anyways. My grandmother told me when I was 7 that I wouldn’t amount to anything. That I would be just like my mother—Nothing!

    The leaders in Madison told me that YGB was using the wrong tactics, and that folks would not listen unless we are and were willing to play the game—which wasn’t true then and isn’t true now. Exes told me that I wouldn’t make it without them. I not only made it—I excelled.

    My church family told me I was too young to be a mom, and I would be a terrible mom, and my daughter would end up another statistic because of the choices I made as a young child. That was a lie. Both of my children are amazing young women. They have endured the flames with me and have never behaved in ways or partaken in activities that would endanger their future—except for being Black.

    All my life I was told my dreams and hopes were impossible—yet each time I created my own reality, and walked in what I believed to be the true, and the results have always been in my favor.

    Doubters give me fuel. They motivate me to prove them wrong. Supporters let me know that I’m not alone and that my tears, my sweat and many sleepless nights do not go unnoticed, and they are indeed making a difference.

    It took me a while to figure out how to get around the emotions and hurt in relations to negativity, doubters and lack of support.

    I found a quote, and I read it every time I experience hurt as a result of doubters and negativity: If everyone is a product of this society, who will say the things that need to be said, and do the things that need to be done, without compromise? Truth will never start out popular in a world more concerned with marketability then righteousness. It will initially suffer ridicule and even violence yet ultimately it is undeniable. All of humanity is living in a dream world, but suffering real consequences. — Lauryn Hill

    Look for more interviews with leaders and influencers next month!