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    Failure is a Building Block to Success!

    Failure is not the final. Failure does not mean you are an embarrassment, and it does not mean that you are unworthy of good things. Failure is not your identity. Much of Doug’s success stems from his beliefs about failure. Mistakes are part of progress. They teach you; they move you forward. Disappointments inform better decisions. Failure is clarity, an education. It is data on how to make healthier changes.

    Doug’s life is an example of how to turn these hardships into hope. Rising above adversity starts with your foundational beliefs about yourself. The mindset of success is not something that you are born with; it is something that you cultivate. Doug’s mother – “Mamma Luff” – nurtured this winning mentality throughout his life. She has always been his faithful advocate, the consistent voice of encouragement and truth. “The me I see is the me I will be” is Mamma Luff’s signature phrase that resonates throughout Doug’s story. It means that the way you see yourself is important. The vision you have for your life will become your trajectory.  The vision that people speak over your life impacts you, too.

    Mamma Luff was a hardworking single mother who always knew that her son was meant for more than the poverty he grew up in. Even during the times Doug hung around negative people and toxic friends, she believed in him with unwavering confidence, which made Doug want to grow into the person his mother always knew he could become.

    One of his greatest desires is to make his mother proud. Her voice was more important that the voices of the others that told him he couldn’t; her voice was more prominent than his insecurity and self-doubt. Eventually, her voice became his inner voice that insisted: “You can do this!” In fact, is the very thing that eventually impressed former President Bill Clinton so much: “[Doug] had a mother who helped him to believe in himself.” (Watch Me Rise, 215).

    When Doug joined the breakdance community of troubled kids who were also from unstable home environments, his mother still firmly held that Doug needed to go to college. Despite his troubled past and even though none of his friends were on the same path, she knew that college was his opportunity to build a better life. Her conviction allowed Doug to come to believe it as well. He believed it so fervently that he did not give up on his dream when his high school guidance counselor told him that “you’re just not college material” - even after Doug tried to meet with him three separate times. Those harsh words could have defined him. He could have accepted it as the truth. But he knew his truth, the identity his mother had spoken over him. He did not let someone else’s opinion become his reality.

    The setbacks were not the end of the story; after each one, Doug chose to continue towards his college dream. The happy ending was not as straightforward as making one decision – to go to college – and seeing it happen. There was not just one turning point, but several moments when Doug rededicated himself to his college dream. He imagined how to create a better future for himself, and saw that education was a way out of poverty.

    After the devastating responses from the guidance counselor, he looked for another way. He got a higher-paying after-school job, which brought more resolve and further confirmation that college had to be the next step. His determination and focus changed how he filled his schedule and how his friends and teachers saw him. With his family homeless and caring for a newborn sister, Doug still did not give up. He could have made excuses, but instead he took control of his future by meeting with a counselor at an Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) Trio program for low-income, first-generation college students. He qualified for the program and they made a plan. The general dream of going to college had now been turned into an actionable approach. He did the research, he filled out the forms, and he got the scholarships. Then, the acceptance letters came in from all five schools to which he applied. They affirmed what Mamma Luff knew all along: Douglas Luffborough is college material.

    Doug attended his top college choice: Northeastern University. He overcame difficult roommates and temptations to party in order to make the most of the opportunities that were now available to him. He became a resident assistant (RA) by his sophomore year, participated in the Cooperative Education “Co-op” program that allowed him to receive work experience in his field of study, and was a member of the choral society. All of these experiences led him to one of the most pivotal moments in his life: becoming the student commencement speaker at his graduation, preceding the keynote address by President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

    Doug was an unlikely candidate for public speaking. He was held back in the third grade, where he developed a stuttering impediment. His phobia of reading in public continued into high school to the point where reading aloud in English class produced so much anxiety that he asked to go to the bathroom to avoid doing it. And yet, after finishing his audition for commencement speaker at Northeastern, Doug reflects, “There was no trace of the stuttering impediment that plagued me…It was not an overnight transformation, but this was when public speaking became natural to me, as natural as breathing.” (Watch Me Rise, 181). Now, Doug is a heart-inspired public speaker whose words have moved a multitude of people.

    Success was built upon what once seemed like a failure. These “failures” were completely redeemed. Each moment of adversity clarified what actually mattered to him. With a redemptive perspective, failure can fuel your future. Failure is only the end of the road if you believe it to be. You can train your mentality to not let failure have the final say. Find the positive outcomes of every negative situation. This does not invalidate the struggle or the suffering, but it liberates you to become better than you were before.   

     There is purpose to suffering if you stay in it just long enough to let it shape you. Then, let it go. Grief will leave its mark, but also honoring the experience of your emotions will lead to real freedom. The disappointments that you will inevitably encounter are not about getting stuck in the sadness, but learning to move forward anyways. It’s okay if your only forward motion is stumbling an inch; you are still moving in the right direction. We are not in this life only to experience happiness but to pursue purpose. Beyond the disappointment, there is a way forward. There are lessons to be learned. There are opportunities to grow, if we can adjust our perspective to see them. The beginning is going to be messy. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You will fall down, but you always have the choice to rise – again and again and again.

    How have you overcome failure or disappointment? What doors did it open for you? What keeps you moving forward?

    We’d love to hear your responses in the comments! If you’d like help processing what is going on in your life, please feel free to email Dr. Luff at


    Social Worker's Review of Watch Me Rise!

    As a social worker for 33 years I have heard many tragic stories. Doug Luffborough’s book Watch Me Rise about his life story was heartbreaking but so inspirational to all. He gives hope to everyone and teaches us never to give up no matter how devastating the circumstances and to ignore the negative people that get in the way of our success.


    I personally know his mother, who he credits his success among other positive influences in his life. I encourage everyone to read his book as it will make you a better person regardless where you are in your journey.


    Thank you Doug for having the courage to face the world against all odds and to share your life challenges and triumphs with all of us. You have certainly made a difference in my life.



    -Della A. Riolo, LCSW, Las Vegas, Nevada


    Superintendent, Adelanto Elementary School District Endorsement

    “We had Doug present at our “Administrative Kick off Day” at the beginning of the school year. Doug is an exceptional speaker and professional development trainer. Doug’s story and ability to connect with our administrative team kicked off our school year in the best way possible.  We are very grateful for the God given talents that Doug possesses—it is a gift that has inspired our team to do our best.” - Dr. Edwin Gomez, Superintendent, Adelanto Elementary School District


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    5 Keys to Effective Leadership: The P.O.W.E.R. of Leadership


    I know, I know - another piece on effective leadership?! The truth of the matter is that everything rises and falls on leadership - so, the more we can discover, the better. More importantly, being an effective leader who listens more than speaks, gets things done without demanding requests, and has both the fortitude to keenly see the forest and the trees is (and always will be) in high demand throughout any sector.

    Taking personal responsibility for growing your leadership style and ability requires understanding 5 keys to effective leadership. I call it the P.O.W.E.R of Leadership! We all have power but often we don't use it effectively or when we do, we use it in the wrong way. The P.O.W.E.R of Leadership is about taking personal responsibility for growing yourself first as a leader in order to grow others and your business. Start by exercising your P.O.W.E.R. of Leadership!

    1. P - Purpose Driven - I'm sure you have heard this: "If you don't know which way to go, any road can take you there!" It all starts with knowing and understanding your purpose in life. What do you want to do? Where are you trying to go? Start by setting personal and professional goals and holding yourself really accountable...insanely accountable. When I was young I wrote three goals that I wanted to achieve more than anything on an index card. I kept that index card in my wallet as a daily reminder of where I was going and the goals I wished to achieve. Over 35 years later, I still have an index card in my wallet with new goals that I am 100% committed to making happen.

    2. O - Opportunity Chaser - Every day, opportunities come your way to reach your goals but the challenge is that many people don't see the opportunity within their problems and life challenges they face. Think about how you can turn a disadvantage into an advantage. How can you use past pain in your life to now liberate yourself and others? What opportunities have come into your life that you brushed off as another task or just another thing to do without recognizing that the task was really a set up for a dream deferred. The key here is perspective and realizing that opportunity is there for the taking for those who see it! When opportunity the door!

    3. W - Willingness to Go Solo - "You can't soar like an eagle when you hang out with turkeys." I have met so many talented people with great ambitions and the only thing holding them back is their "friends" - those they associate with. Show me who you hang around with and I can show you how far you will go in life. Hang around people who lift you up and don't bring you down. Hang around the right people who make you feel good about who you are and the gifts you bring into the world. Hang around people who pat you on the back rather than stab you in the back. Hang around people who celebrate you and not just tolerate you. In order to go to the places you have been destined to go, you have to be willing to do things that other people just won't do. And do it over and over and over again, until what you do becomes who you are and who you are becomes what you do! Don't be afraid to go solo and leave some friends and family members behind. It is your life, your dream, your destiny. Make it happen even if you are standing all by yourself.

    4. E - Enthusiastic Spirit - Have you ever seen someone walk into a room and people naturally gravitate towards that person. Be someone people want to be around because of your enthusiastic spirit towards life. This type of person sees life with the glass half full and always has a positive outlook on life regardless of their current situation. They are relentlessly positive in all they do and the way they see things. The saying is true "that your attitude determines your altitude" in life and no one enjoys hanging out with a negative person, a whiner or a complainer. Those type of people are kill-joys to positivity but someone with an enthusiastic spirit brings light into any room. They can make even the hardest conversations comfortable. My philosophy is that when I leave a room I want people feeling better about who they are and on fire to achieving their dreams than when they walked into the room.

    5. R - Relationship Builder - One of my mentors once told me that the greatest deals in America are made on the golf course! Mainly because only a certain type of people play golf and you have two to four hours of uninterrupted time to build relationships with those you are playing with almost instantly. You never know who you may meet, the reasons why you met, and how you may meet them again in the future. I don't believe that you meet people by happenstance, but, rather because for one reason or another their destiny is tied to yours and vice versa...even for just a season. Building solid, strong, and trustful relationships is key to your success. What qualifies me to say this is the fact that I have messed up many relationships on my journey to figuring out how to do it right. What you know gets you in the door, but, who you know keeps you there! What relationships in your life need to be restored? What relationships in your life need to be further developed? President Theodore Roosevelt once said that "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care!"

    Start off 2015 with deciding to use your P.O.W.E.R. of Leadership in all areas of your life. Of the 5 keys above which one(s) do you do well? Which one(s) do you need to work on? Take action today by practicing your P.O.W.E.R. of Leadership on a daily basis. For over 15 years I have used the keys above to grow myself as a leader and take those I have managed to the next level.

    Continue to Rise!