The Official Blog of Mike Rayburn

[dt_gap height=”10″ /][dt_divider style=”thin” /][dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Ferguson, Michael Brown, and Becoming A Virtuoso

“Each person must live their life as a model for others.”-Rosa Parks

As a keynote speaker and writer I exhort people to make the choice to Become a “Virtuoso,” to create and live their highest vision of themselves in every area of life.

So, what in the world does Becoming a Virtuoso have to do with Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO?


In this tragic series of events we have seen a poignant display of the consequences of choosing less for ourselves, for having a limited vision of what all we can become, and for playing small. I feel for Michael Brown, so much so that I want his death to teach us something.

Michael Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson robbed a convenience store (Michael Brown video), stealing cigarillos – a pathetic little crime – daring the owner to stop them. Michael was an immature little boy in a very large man’s body terrorizing a local business. He wasn’t stealing to feed a family, he was the classic bully. And from the video it’s pretty obvious this was not the first time he’d acted this way.

Evidence and witness testimony shows that when confronted later, an unarmed Michael Brown attacked Officer Wilson, tried to steal his weapon, and the altercation ended with Wilson fatally shooting Michael Brown.

Regardless of your opinion of the Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson, what I know for sure is this: Michael Brown was not being his best self that day, nor do I believe he had for a long time. Change any one of Michael Brown’s choices that day for the better and he’s still alive.  I suspect there had been a long series of poor choices, poor influences and actions that brought Michael to this place. I may be wrong but hear me out and then comment.

Did anyone show Michael Brown that his value as a person doesn’t come from ego and bravado, but from what Dr. Martin Luther King called “the content of his character?” Did anyone, beginning with Michael’s family, friends, and teachers, ever show him that he was capable of so much more? Did anyone ever, dare I say require Michael to live to a higher standard? Did anyone mentor and model for Michael what adult behavior is and it’s infinite rewards? Did anyone try to show Michael the beautiful Michael that God still sees?

Or… did his school let him slip through with passing marks for merely showing up and not bothering the teacher (as I watched many in my school do)? Did authorities in his life allow, condone, and even reward poor behavior? Did friends support and bow to his bully behavior rather than require more and try to lift him higher?

I recently spoke at an event with Magic Johnson who said this: “All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.”  It’s a simple point that is largely missed.
(Magic Johnson quote)

Now, to extrapolate, when certain protestors burn down their own neighborhoods and ruin local businesses in protest, and when certain leaders cry out for social justice while themselves pre-judging the situation and never addressing Michael’s own behavior, are they not validating, even encouraging behavior similar to Michael’s by others? Where is ANYONE asking each of us to live to a higher standard, just because it’s right?

When we expect, require and inspire little, that’s exactly what we get.

To be clear, most protestors and a few leaders have non-violently expressed their opinions on both sides, which is the only hope for real solutions to the larger problems this tragedy exposes. Unfortunately, those leaders are few and rarely given media attention.

I do know this: When we do not expect and require a child’s personal and moral best, we set them on a path of mediocrity, sub-standard life, or worse. And when we do not require the best of ourselves we force society and others to make up the difference.

God gave us the gift of free will. That means we’re free to be awesome, or not. Free to be responsible, or not. Free to rise above, or not.

This is why I ask people to make the choice to become a Virtuoso – a Life Virtuoso. I ask you to take responsibility, to create and live your highest vision of yourself, in every area of your life. And I ask the same of myself. I’m not saying that I am a Virtuoso and Lord knows I mess up more than most. The key is for us all to aspire to more for ourselves, and inspire more in others. That is the path of Becoming a Virtuoso.

Rosa Parks quote
Dr. Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech:

To join Mike’s “Virtuoso Community” which launches in January, sign up on Mike’s email list and you will be notified. Email list click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *