I learned from their documentary on Netflix that this started as a poem written by Tionne “T-Boz.”
Last week, I planned on introducing a new Black History Fun Fact Friday. I also planned on revealing the cover to the poetry contest magazine to my social media (which I will do tomorrow, time permitting). This was a busy week for me (more than usual). This isn’t to say that “busy” is a measure of importance, but last week was a hectic one for both my personal and professional life. But also, it was a good busy (more like a focused busy). I got a lot done and gained some clarity. And although I still have emails, I haven’t responded to and travel to prepare for I am sitting down in the few hours I have here before running errands to talk to you guys and send an important message to my email list.
I find that how we direct our focus determines what will show up based on how we have prioritized. Those things we put first or last will naturally manifest in our life and align based on what we give more or less attention. If I know I have coursework due on Wednesday, for example, but I scroll social media until the final hour of when the work is due, chances are I won’t do well, and it won’t be because I am ignorant or incompetent. It will be because I did not set my coursework as a priority this week and give myself time to think through the assignment. Instead, I scrolled social media, which means I have set it as a priority over my coursework and are thus reaping the consequences of that choice. It doesn’t make it social media’s fault, and it doesn’t make social media an evil entity, but it was not the proper decision on this day.
I use social media because it’s an easy example, but I believe this can apply to anything from business practices to relationships and friendships.
What are you sacrificing?
I realized that whatever we pay attention to means sacrificing something else in its place. If we focus too much time on gossip and negativity, we are sacrificing something else in its place. If we spend too much time on social media, we are sacrificing something else in its place. Sometimes the sacrifice is not all bad; it makes sense depending on what is a priority at the moment. Sacrificing an hour of work to sleep and refresh is not a bad thing because, with rest, we can have better clarity to do the job. Surrendering a TV show to post something of value and substance to social media that will help someone else is not a bad thing. You see, I also learned this week that our priorities might change from day to day. What was most crucial yesterday may not be most important today.
From this point forward, I will be more conscious of what I am sacrificing when I am spending my time doing something because I know that whatever I focus my attention will manifest based on those things of which I have set as a priority.
Instead of saying, “I don’t have time,” I will say, “what am I willing to sacrifice to get this done? What am I willing to give up to do this?”
Those are the real questions.
I posted this message to my IG this morning and I thought I would post it here as well. I have added more bullet points after realizing how much this also applies to Indie Authors and our writing careers as well as real life advice.
- Don’t go broke to sit at someone else’s table. Make sure that what you put your money into is worth the investment and not something you are doing to be seen. If you’ve ever observed me in person, you’ll notice I am quiet and laid back. I am not there to see what I can get. I am there to listen, to learn, and to connect so that when I go home, I can implement and apply. The other obvious meaning is, make sure your immediate needs are met before you play. Are your bills paid? Is your family fed? What can you realistically afford? I know social media has made entrepreneurship look glamorous but in real life people have day jobs and responsibilities. People are not winning everyday. Don’t be out here trying to prove a point. Take care of the most important things first.
- “Don’t overpay to play,” also means to me not to overcompensate in the efforts to prove to people who you are. Sometimes I do this. I have a good heart. This is what I know about myself to be true and there’s nothing worse than people not seeing that. What I’ve realized, though, is that I can’t control how other people see me and I can’t “overpay to play” with them. People will see different versions of you depending on who they are, how they feel about themselves, and their philosophy in life. If you try too hard to prove you are a good person it will only come across as fake. Just be who you are, do what you do, and let the chips fall where they may. I also think it’s just as important to realize that we all have traits about us that are not positive. This is important. A person who understands both his strengths and weaknesses is a strong person. A person who can identify his weaknesses without pointing out the weaknesses of others is a stronger person. Realize that you are not 100% together and that people don’t have to like you.
- New Indie Authors, don’t overpay someone to publish your book just because you’re desperate to see it in print. Overpaying could mean a different price depending on each individual’s budget but anything over the $5,000 point is steep. Don’t overpay to play author. While I am not a Traditional Publisher, the traditional publishing route is still a good option if you want the traditional publicity. While many Self-Publishers have gone on to have movies made from their books and have made millions from their books, there are many aspiring authors who are looking to be published traditionally but are not patient enough to go through the process. As a result, they overpay small Indie Publishers to do for them what they could have probably done for themselves. For example, don’t fall for someone promising to make you an Amazon Best Seller. To non-writers, family, and friends it may seem like a big deal and while commendable (I would never downplay anyone’s hard work), it’s not exactly the same as being a New York Times Bestseller. Amazon’s rankings are controlled by algorithms. In other words, computers. Any spike in sells (even if it’s just 5 books sold) can shoot a book ranking up. Sometimes all it takes to be an Amazon Best Seller is to sell 10 copies of your book on the same day. It’s not the same as outselling all the other books in your genre. I’m sorry but it’s the truth and this deception is not only bringing down the value of being a true Best Seller, but is starting to become a red flag to those who actually know how the system works. I applaud anyone who has become a #1 Amazon Best Seller but I caution you not to pay for it. You can become an Amazon Best Seller on your own. It’s not worth $5,000.
- This advice reminds me of the importance of boundaries, limits to where I’ll go. There must be a line that reminds you of your integrity, where you are not willing to go, no matter the circumstances or the price tag because your moral compass will not allow you to. “Don’t overpay to play,” also means to me, “remember your worth.” If you don’t have this mental limit in your mind you will sell out in whatever way it means to sell out. Boundaries go far beyond personal limitations but extend to our livelihoods as well.
We’ve been trying to grow a tomato plant but the weather in Georgia is not warm enough to put it into the ground so it’s still in the original package. The plant is dying as you can tell. It needs to be transplanted to a bigger environment. Either we will attempt to put it into the ground or my husband will put it into a large Styrofoam cup temporarily. (He’s done it before. Brilliant he is with plants.) Just as long as it is removed from its current place to a bigger place, it can survive long enough for us to put it into the ground. This had me thinking about life. Funny how inspiration can come from something as seemingly insignificant as a plant.
There’s a common misconception that fish only grow to the size of the fish tank it’s in. This is not necessarily true. Not statistically anyway. It’s not about the fish tank. The fish will continue to grow just as the plant will continue to grow. However, if the environment the fish or the plant is in does not accommodate it’s growth, both will die. Just as the plant needs to be transplanted to a bigger environment, the fish needs to be moved into a bigger tank as well.
The moral of this story is that, as humans, we are not much different. We do not stop growing but if we are not in an environment that encourages growth, we will be stagnant and, like this plant, can wither away. We wither in various ways. We get sad. We get depressed and, sadly, some of us even commit suicide. Just like plants die and fish die, we die too when we cannot fulfill our purpose. When we cannot grow as we need to, we die. When we do not feel that we have anything to offer the world, we die. This may not be a physical death but it could also be an emotional and psychological one. This can also be a spiritual one.
There’s a quote floating around that says you cannot grow in the same environment that broke you. I don’t know who said it originally but whoever it was, you’re right. Our environments and the people we surround ourselves with must begin, at some point, to take a more important role in our lives. It’s not just about us individually, but also who we surround ourselves with. If you are growing but you have not removed yourself from an environment that does not support that growth, does not nurture that growth, it might stop you from reaching your true potential. The point is this, our environment is not an insignificant part of our lives. It is essential.
This is the time of the year where we step back and analyze where we are and where we want to be. The time where we consider if the goals, we set at the beginning of the year have been realized and if there are any changes or improvements that need to be made. This is also the time of the year when I share with you the lessons I’ve learned from the year. Usually, I do this closer to the end of the month but my family is moving so things are busy around these parts. Last year, I had an entire list of lessons learned. This year, I only have one.
December is when I do a lot of reflection. An entire year has passed. What changed? What remained? What needs to be added onto or removed? 2018 has been filled with amazing growth for me personally as well as professionally. At the end of 2017, I was celebrating my move to Georgia and one of my books in a brick and mortar bookstore. At the end of 2018, four of my twelve books are in three bookstores and I’ve just purchased my first home. I attribute this to learning one valuable lesson. A lesson that I do not think we ever stop learning but that gets easier the more we love ourselves, a lesson that I’ve learned and that I will keep learning, a lesson that has changed my mentality and thus also, the way I do things. To further illustrate this point, let me first tell you about an experiment.
The Asch Conformity Experiment
Named after Solomon Asch, the Asch Conformity Study was meant to study conformity in people (how we behave according to other people’s desires and standards) and was conducted in the 1950s. The participants were shown three lines on a piece of paper and a fourth line. The participants had to simply match one of the three lines with the fourth line. Most of the people were accomplices in on the study with only one or two real participants. According to the study, 76% of participants picked the wrong line after the majority of the room picked the wrong line. The study was groundbreaking in studying conformity in groups and has been repeated many times throughout the years. (You can find examples of the study on YouTube.)
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into conformity by doing what everyone else is doing in an effort to achieve success. The problem is, entrepreneurship is about authenticity and there is nothing authentic about conformity. Everyone wants to be an influencer. The only question is, what are you influencing people to do? Who are you influencing people to be?
We talk about embracing being unique and different but at the same time, we secretly want a seat at the table. At the same time, we don’t really want to be different. We want to be like everyone else because not being like everyone else comes at a cost that we are not courageous enough to pay. It is the cost of standing out instead of standing in. It is the cost of rejection and being misunderstood. It is a beautiful sacrifice that many of us, despite what we say, are not willing to make.
But you can’t want to be like the world and be different from the world at the same time. Either stand for something or fall for anything.
In the midst of the Kevin Hart situation, I think it’s important for us to all remember how important it is to be ourselves and to stand on our own integrity. And if we must influence, I hope it is to influence others to be undeniably and unapologetically themselves.
I. The biggest lesson I learned 2018 is to be fully myself even when who I am is not accepted by others. There are people who will think I’m foolish about certain decisions but it is my decision to make and my lesson to learn. I’ve learned to trust Yah more and to trust his will for my life. To make decisions without explaining myself or feeling the need to defend my position.
…and I hope the same for you.
What I enjoy most about being an Independent artist is the freedom to produce work that speaks to who I am, to not have to pull back, slow down, or sugarcoat my beliefs because of someone else standard. The right and the freedom to live freely in every sense of the word. To be true to myself, to my authenticity and do not have to apologize for it. I don’t have to tap dance around the truth for a check, I don’t have to scratch my hair unless it itches, and I don’t have to laugh unless something is actually funny. I’ve never been part of the “cool kids table” and I am not about to start now. This is freedom.
I hope you walk into 2019 not afraid to shine or to fail, understanding that both experiences shape you. It can be liberating to choose yourself, armed with the power to move forward without guilt, without arrogance, and without pride but with a deep love for yourself that is so strong that you can quickly realize when anyone or anything devalues you, even if that someone is your own self. The biggest challenge is not the war we fight with others but the war we fight with ourselves. To quote the African proverb, “when there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you.” Kill the enemy within. Slay your demons, silence the doubt, and walk free.
Be mindful of how you make people feel because that is what they remember most. Whenever sharing negative experiences be sure there is a lesson to be learned or something to be taught from it. Make sure there is something that you can give back as a result of having shared it. Remember that energy you feed gets stronger. If you feed vengeance, complaints, hatred, and strife, these emotions will get stronger and you will unknowingly begin to project these feelings on others and the feelings you don’t feed like love, compassion, forgiveness, and encouragement get choked out.
Listen to Be Mindful of Negative Feelings now on Soundcloud for more and be sure to subscribe for notification of new episodes.