"Make A Promise Day" — May 4th

May The Fourth Be With You!

On Martin Luther King Day, Matthew Cossolotto – aka The Podium Pro and Creator of “Make A Promise Day” – Gives a “Standing O” Award to Martin Luther King in Honor of His Historic “I Have A Dream” Speech

Cossolotto applauds King for highlighting the promises of equality and democracy for all citizens made by our nation’s founders

Today, on Martin Luther King Day, I’m delighted to give a “Standing O” Award to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on August 28, 1963.  In presenting Dr. King with this award, I want to point out that he made several references to this country’s “promises” to all citizens, black and white.

In this cleverly argued and extremely effective passage, King makes a humorous reference to a “bad check” marked “insufficient funds” in discussing the “promissory note” signed by the “architects of our republic.”

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

Later in the speech, King famously referred to the “fierce urgency of Now” and then declared:  “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

So I’m very pleased to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a “Standing O” Award on Martin Luther King Day (his actual birthday is January 15th)  for his unequaled eloquence in one of the greatest and consequential speeches in American history but also for demanding that our nation must keep those solemn promises – of equality and democracy for all citizens — made by our founders.

Here’s a link to a video of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” and I encourage you to watch it in its entirety.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbUtL_0vAJk&feature=related

I’m also pasting below the full text of King’s “I have a Dream” speech.  Reading and watching this remarkable speech is a fitting way to honor Martin Luther King’s memory on his birthday.

About Matthew Cossolotto

Creator of “Make A Promise Day” (May 4th), Matthew Cossolotto (aka “The Podium Pro”) is an author, guest speaker, CEO-level speechwriter, and speech coach. A former aide to House Speaker Jim Wright and Congressman Leon Panetta, Matthew also served as a CEO-level speechwriter and communications executive at MCI Communications, Pepsi-Cola International, and GTE. Matthew is the founder and president of Study Abroad Alumni International, dedicated to “building a community of global citizens.” The author of The Almanac of European Politics, HabitForce!, and All The World’s A Podium, he’s working on a new book with a foreword by Jack Canfield about The Power of Making a Promise. Matthew offers his Personal Empowerment Programs — “PEPTalks” — to colleges, associations, and corporations.   Visit www.ThePodiumPro.com.

Here is the full text of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

“I Have A Dream”

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Promise: President Obama Deserves A “Standing O” For Tucson Memorial Speech

President Obama deserves an enthusiastic, nationwide, bipartisan Standing O for his masterful speech last night in Tucson.  I’ll comment at greater length about his speech at some point in the future.  For now I wanted to announce the Standing O Award and highlight one aspect of the speech that deserves reinforcement.

Toward the end Obama went into some detail about the youngest victim in the terrible Tucson tragedy, nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green.  The President spoke of her expectations of our democracy, “undimmed by cynicism.”  Then Obama directed these remarkable words to the audience and the country at large:

“I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.”

And after inviting us to imagine Christina jumping in rain puddles in heaven, Obama admonished us all to place our hands over our hearts and “commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.”

The President didn’t use the word “promise,” but that commitment had the emotional, heartfelt feeling of a solemn promise.  So it’s fair, I think, to refer to this as a promise.  It’s a beautiful, uplifting promise that all of us in the United States should be willing to make.  Our political discourse would certainly be elevated if we all promise to think for a moment, before we speak, about Christina Taylor Green and ask ourselves:  “What would Christina think of what I’m about to say?”  And even:  “Am I behaving in a way that lives up to her expectations?”

We’re all familiar with the expression “from the mouths of babes” … the idea that children can sometimes blurt out important truths that sometimes escape the notice of more cynical adults.  The remarkable, transformational thing President Obama is encouraging us to do is to see our politics “from the eyes of babes.”  And maybe this more childlike perspective will help to tone down the ugly, sometimes violent, rhetoric.  We can still disagree but perhaps with Christina Green acting as a kind of national conscience, perhaps we can be a little less rancorous and, frankly, immature in our political debate.

How ironic it will be if by trying to live up to a child’s expectations we succeed in making our political discourse more mature.

January 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What’s Your Promise?” Interview with Author Chris Cade

Chris Cade

A few months ago, I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of interviewing author and online spiritual entrepreneur Chris Cade.  Chris posted the interview and a nice write-up on his blog.  I posted the interview on my Make A Promise Day website and circulated news about the interview as much as possible.  But I realized recently that I failed to post a story and the interview itself on this blog.  I really haven’t been doing all that much blogging generally but I expect that to change this year.  So I wanted to make amends by posting the interview now.  It’s a really good interview.  Really gets into some interesting and deep ideas about the power of making a promise.  Chris reveals a heartfelt promise that he made in his life, a promise and information related to it that he has never discussed publicly before our interview.

So here’s a link to the article Chris posted on his blog complete with a link to the interview itself.   I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the entire interview.  It’s over an hour long but only because we really got into some very interesting and challenging territory about making and keeping promises.

In the interview you’ll hear me mention the fact that Jack Canfield is writing the foreword to my forthcoming book (working title:  I Promise — The Two Magic Words That Could Change Your Life and Transform The World) and talk briefly about the promise John Assaraf revealed in his interview for my book.  I also quote several promises from the Optimist Creed composed by Christian Larson.  You can obtain a free copy of the Optimist Creed on the Optimist website.  You can also print out a free, slightly revised version of the Optimist Creed that appears on website of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret.  Go to the Visualization page.  Note also that I am including the 12 promises that appear in the Optimist Creed in my 30-day “A Promise A Day” program that I launched on January 1, 2011.  Please follow me on twitter (www.twitter.com/makeapromiseday) to receive my daily Tweets of what I call Personal Empowerment Promises (PEP).  There’s a PEP Talk in every Tweet!

Enjoy the interview with Chris Cade.  Please follow me on Twitter … and retweet if you like my Tweets.

To Your Promise!

Matthew

January 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matthew Cossolotto’s “A Promise A Day” Program Launched on Twitter January 1, 2011: 30 Days to a Promising Future

Happy New Year everybody!  I’m really excited about starting off 2011 by launching this brand new “A Promise A Day” program.  The timing couldn’t be better.  The idea is to start off the new year with a 30-day program of positive, Personal Empowerment Promises (PEPs) to help all of us (myself included) build momentum toward a terrific, successful, prosperous year in 2011 … and beyond.

In case you missed them, I’m pasting below the first five promises of the year … the first five promises in the 30-day program.  For the moment, I’m calling this “A Promise A Day:  30 Days to Promising Future.”  But I’m considering another title for the program:  “A Promise A Day: 30 Promises That Could Change Your Life.”  At some point soon I’ll decide which title I want to give this exciting program.  If you have any thoughts about which of those two titles you prefer – or if you have another suggestion completely — please leave a comment or send me an email.  I’d really like to hear what others think.

I launched the program on Twitter (follow www.twitter.com/makeapromiseday) in part because I liked the idea of keeping each of these promises very short.  Twitter requires you to stick to the 140 character limit.  There are pros and cons to such short posts – or Tweets.  I also wanted people to be sure to focus on and savor each promise in turn … and not be tempted to move on quickly to the next promise in the sequence.  So these promises will be unveiled one at a time on Twitter.  I’m going to post them in batches of five on my blog to help people who miss the Tweets as they appear come up to speed quickly.

During the course of the 30-day program I will offer some additional words of explanation and when the program is completed I plan to compile the set of 30 promises into a short publication with a bit more explanation about how to make the most effective use of this powerful collection of 30 promises.

As you’ll see, several of the 30 promises come from Christian Larson’s remarkable collection of promises that became known as the Optimist Creed (www.optimist.org).  And just to give you a heads up, later in the program there is a group of 10 promises that spell out the 10-letter acronym “SUCCESSFUL.”  I’ll be highlighting those 10 promises in my forthcoming books and other publications, in various videos, presentations and workshops.  Sometimes I refer to this as my “Top Ten list of Promises for a SUCCESSFUL Life.”

What should you do with each promise in the program?  For starters, read it to yourself several times.  Think about it.  Repeat it out loud. Write it down a few times as well. Writing it 10 times is good habit to get into.  After the 30-day program you can go back over the collection of 30 promises and consider which ones you want to incorporate into your daily routine going forward.

The idea is to get into the habit of repeating a number of these Personal Empowerment Promises on a daily basis … in the morning and at night just before bed.  Select those promises that resonate most with you.  However, I encourage you to retain all ten of the promises in the SUCCESSFUL acronym as your core group of promises going forward.  Then add several additional promises from the collection of 30.  You can certainly include all 30 promises as part of your daily practice.  You’ll be able to read all 30 to yourself and out loud several times a day in just a few minutes.

All of these suggested promises are really positive affirmations that have that extra power of the word “promise” behind them. Making a promise … using those two magic words “I Promise” … creates a stronger heart-connection than traditional affirmations or even goals.  As I frequently say, a promise is like a goal on steroids.  A promise has emotional “stickiness” that has staying power over time.

As Jack Canfield (co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series: www.JackCanfield.com) writes in the foreword to my forthcoming book about the power of making a promise:  “With a promise your heart and emotions are fully engaged.  Because of this, a promise is what I call a personal empowerment ‘twofer.’  It combines The Power of Intention with The Law of Attraction.  And that is a very powerful combination indeed.”

And John Assaraf (www.JohnAssaraf.com) best-selling author of Having I All, wrote this about my Make A Promise project:  “I agree completely with [Matthew] that there is something uniquely powerful about making a promise that goes beyond traditional goal-setting.”

Here are a few prominent examples of the power of making a promise:

  • Nancy Brinker, author of Promise Me and founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, promised her sister and breast cancer victim Suzy that she would help find a cure.
  • Bill Clinton made a promise to Chelsea that he would watch his diet and take care of his health.
  • Oprah made a promise to Nelson Mandela that she would build a school for girls in South Africa.
  • Al Roker made a promise to his dying father that he would lose weight.

Christian Larson appreciated almost a hundred years ago the importance of stating positive affirmations in the form of a series of promises.  I’m continuing and expanding that Larsonian insight, enshrined as it is in the Optimist Creed, with this 30-day program.  Think of these 30 Personal Empowerment Promises as mini-PEP Talks you can use every day to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind, heading in the right direction this month, this year, and in the years to come.

Personal empowerment is the gift that keeps on giving … for a lifetime.  This “A Promise A Day” program of 30 Personal Empowerment Promises is my New Year’s gift to you.  Please feel free to share these promises with your friends, relatives, and colleagues.

To Your Promise!

Matthew

Matthew Cossolotto’s “A Promise A Day Program:  30 Days to a Promising Future”

(First five Personal Empowerment Promises appear below)

January 1, 2011 — Promise #1:  I promise … To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. (From Christian Larson)

January 2, 2011 — Promise #2:  I promise … To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet. (From Christian Larson)

January 3, 2011 – Promise #3:  I promise. . . To savor every moment of life, appreciating that time is my most precious, non-renewable resource.

January 4, 2011 – Promise #4:  I promise … To be the change I want to see in the world.

January 5, 2011 – Promise #5:  I promise …To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best. (From Christian Larson)

January 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Article Published About Turning New Year’s Resolutions Into Promises

Making Resolutions That Promise Results

What’s in a word? When it comes to those heartfelt New Year declarations, says one author, it could make all the difference. 

By Tom Bartley | December 30, 2010  

http://yorktown.patch.com/articles/making-resolutions-that-promise-results-2#c

May all your troubles last

as long as your New Year’s resolutions! — Joey Adams

The time has come to turn our back on the final ticks of a spent year and embrace the shiny hope of a new one. We resolve—and earnestly mean—to do better in our 12-month opportunity for renewal. But those New Year’s resolutions, they tell us, simply go in one year and out the other.

So, how can we improve the odds that we’ll live up to them?

Simple, says author Matthew Cossolotto of Yorktown Heights. Don’t make resolutions. Make promises instead.

“The word promise is important,” he insists. Accorded the respect denied resolution and imbued with a backbone that resolution has yet to achieve, your promise represents a “heart-centered commitment” that creates an emotional attachment, especially when made to a loved one. “We grow up knowing that a promise is something special. A promise is something we’re predisposed to take seriously.”

Cossolotto sees little value in making a resolution. “People don’t take it seriously,” he says. “So what’s the point in doing it?”

To underscore his conviction that promises carry a power all their own, Cossolotto is seeking to have May 4 formally proclaimed, “Make a Promise Day.” So far, the onetime aide to congressmen like House Speaker Jim Wright and Rep. Leon Panetta, now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has received a warm reception from his hometown Yorktown town board. And he’s just beginning. Declaring, “Today, Yorktown; tomorrow, the world,” Cossolotto plans further appeals to higher levels of government. Indeed, given his choice of date for “Make a Promise Day,” Cossolotto may have his sights set even higher than this globe. “May the 4th be with you,” he says.

Cossolotto’s book HabitForce! is a testament, he notes, to a promise’s power. When his mother, Virginia Hope Butler, was dying, he recalls, they were discussing HabitForce!, which at that time was just a manuscript in progress. For many writers, manuscript-in-progress can be shorthand for project-never-completed. But Cossolotto promised he would not only finish the writing but also dedicate the book to her and get it published. “Her face lit up,” he says, recalling his mother’s reaction, smiling through her pain. “‘You do that, Matthew,’ she said. ‘ You do that!’ And I’m proud to say I did. I think she’d be proud, too.” 

Today, Cossolotto is focused on his forthcoming book, The Power of Making a Promise, which he will discuss at the John C. Hart Public Library in Shrub Oak Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. He’s also scheduled to appear at the Mount Kisco Public Library Jan. 15 (11:00 AM) and the Mount Pleasant Public Library in Pleasantville Feb. 5 (10:30 AM).

To make good on your promises, whether of the New Year’s variety or any other, motivational speaker Cossolotto recommends a seven-step program:

1.     Commit emotionally, by making the promise to someone you care about. 

2.     Be specific. Promise to lose 10 pounds, not just “some weight.”

3.     Be selective. Limit promises to the handful of things for which you are willing to put your integrity on the line.

4.     Start small. Tackle a few things you can accomplish rather than risk breaking a promise.

5.     Write it down.

6.     Make it public. Publish your promise on a blog, Twitter or YouTube.

7.     Follow through. Make good on your promise, for yourself as much as for others.

# # #

About Matthew Cossolotto

Creator of “Make A Promise Day” (May 4th), Matthew Cossolotto (aka “The Podium Pro”) is an author, guest speaker, CEO-level speechwriter, and speech coach.  A former aide to House Speaker Jim Wright and Congressman Leon Panetta, Matthew also served as a top speechwriter and communications executive at MCI, Pepsi-Cola International, and GTE. The author of The Almanac of European Politics, HabitForce!, and All The World’s A Podium, he’s working on a new book with a foreword by Jack Canfield (co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series) about the power of making a promise. Matthew brings his Personal Empowerment Programs — “PEPTalks”— to colleges, associations, and corporations.  Visit www.ThePodiumPro.com and www.MakeAPromiseDay.com.

January 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment