*Dr. Velva Burley Flowers, founder and chief empowerment officer of The Flowers Institute in Southfield, Michigan, strongly believes that the game of chess mirrors the game of life.
She feels that in both chess and life, one has to make precise decisions about his or her current position, while strategically thinking several moves ahead about how to best win.
As in chess and life, opponents stand in the way of one’s goals, and continuously make counter decisions and moves in an attempt to evoke detrimental results on his or her adversary. In essence, each move that a person makes carries either a positive or negative consequence related to the overall chance of winning or losing the chess game of life.
With the strategical dynamics of chess in mind, Flowers recently authored a book entitled, “Choices: Making Moves to Win!” Published by Professional Woman Publishing Company, the book, according to Flowers, is written to teach young teens, especially African American male teens, about making the right choices and moves in a complex society that often presents barriers and roadblocks based on gender, age and color.
“The idea for the book was dropped into my spirit many years ago,” recalled Flowers. “After meeting my husband, he shared with me his experiences of graduating from high school, going to college to earn a degree in engineering, and returning home to work as a professional. He talked about how he stayed connected to people from his childhood, some of whom were not going in the same positive direction that he was headed. ”
Flowers described how her husband made a poor choice with a childhood friend. The choice, said Flowers, resulted in her spouse being found guilty of felony degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, but was eventually freed based on overwhelming evidence of his total innocence.
“After learning about his unfortunate circumstances, I began to think how one choice, one wrong move, could result into something that could change a young life forever,” Flowers said. “Seeing that many young black males in the inner city communities of this country make many decisions every day, I wanted to write a book that would help African American male teens deter from self-destructive choices and behaviors, in order be successful against the odds.”
Thus, Flowers assembled 15 young black males in metro Detroit, all between the ages of 14 and 18, to contribute one chapter to the book. Their writing touched on respective problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, peer pressure, and societal issues that often place African American male teens at high risk. Flowers arranged for the youth to interview other African American adult males for the purpose of learning more about the adults’ life experiences, choices, thoughts, and ideas as black men in America. As a result, the 15 young men made some astute observations that’s shared in the book.
Flowers is no stranger to facilitating life altering and empowering endeavors. Through her Flowers Institute, she facilitates programs designed to equip, educate, and empower people, particularly youth, to reach levels of greatness by making positive choices. Flowers’ book, “Choices, Making Moves to Win,” was written from the blueprints of a curriculum that she created and facilitates by the same name. She continues to teach it in urban and suburban public schools and community centers in the United States.
Flowers is also a professional human resource trainer and empowerment coach that facilitates national adult leadership development programs and workshops for companies and organizations throughout the United States. Her services have been retained by such entities as Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Bristol Myers Squibb, and more. Yet, empowering young people is extremely important to Flowers.
“It is my goal that young people will learn more about making wise choices in every aspect of their lives,” said Flowers, who also serves as campus pastor at Detroit’s Third New Hope Church’s northwest campus. “Like the game of chess, young people must know how to think three and four moves ahead in their lives. Like the game of chess, life carries consequences with each choice made. It’s important that our young people make the right life moves in order to win.”