Building culture and shedding labels

Members of New Direction Coaching Associate speak during Ebony Weekend.


UW-Platteville Communications photo

Early Jackson speaking to his session’s audience.

University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Ebony Weekend hosted several driven speakers, including Early and Cherese Jackson, founders of New Direction Coaching Associates, an organization dedicated to helping individuals improve themselves and others.  Over the weekend, the Jacksons spent a lot of time in the Markee Pioneer Student Center, helping, attending and speaking at several events.

Early Jackson spoke Friday evening about his personal hardships and how he pushed past his difficulties, shedding labels along the way.  He spoke specifically on his personal battle with a stretch of damaging drug addictions, his struggle to overcome those addictions and his path to create a new life.  His experiences as a leader in Desert Storm and his own struggles with addiction allowed him to realize his potential as a life coach.

“You have to find your purpose, your passion.  Everyone leads a different life, a different path, but once you find it, the world opens up.  It turns out that my passion is helping others find theirs,” Early Jackson said.

Early Jackson did not just overcome personal problems. He spoke on his troubles with labels and how they pushed him down, even as he tried to rise above his addictions.  He was treated as a lesser man, seen as an addict and, as a result, that label began to define him.  He finally rose above his addictions when he realized that he had to change to shed that label.

“Once you find your purpose, and know your passion, you have to rise above those labels.  Change starts with the individual, you have to raise yourself to shed your labels,” Early Jackson said.

Early Jackson’s wife, Cherese Jackson, spoke Saturday afternoon. She spoke about difficulties she had overcome, namely abuse in her childhood and the lasting effects on her mental health because of it.  She too, faced labels and spoke about how those labels can be damaging to a person.

“Imagine you’re in a grocery store.  You’re walking through the fruit section, and you see that, instead of oranges, there are apples labelled as oranges,” Cherese Jackson said. “That’d be really frustrating, because you know they aren’t oranges, but it seems like no one else bothered to take a closer look.  Now relate that analogy to labels people place on others, and you can see how damaging they can be.”

She went on to speak about labels being damaging not only to those who are labelled, but also to those that are doing the labelling.  She spoke about how difficult it is for those burdened by a label and those that see a label to get past those assumptions and make real connections.

“Seeing labels, using labels, it’s abuse, and in abusing others, you abuse yourself.  Find strength in the differences of those around you, and challenge them to do the same,” Cherese Jackson said. “You have to challenge those labels, those stereotypes, those assumptions, by being the best you can be.  Raise yourself and make a change, even if it’s one person at a time.”