We all have challenging days. It happens. But be mindful of them and try not to put negative energy out to the world.
Yesterday, my morning was filled with the homelessness that has come to characterize Durham’s downtown. Over the hour that preceded my 9:45 haircut appointment, I came in direct contact with four brothers who looked like me in need of financial assistance. It was an exhausting start to what would turn into a less-than-productive Monday. Toward the end of my work day, I began typing out a blog post that, though relevant, didn’t come from a helpful place. So, I saved it in the drafts as opposed to putting those vibes into the world.
I knew what I needed. First, I needed to read Galatians 6:9. Secondly, I needed my favorite meal. Aware that I had a bottle of wine and a quality grass-fed organic steak sitting in the fridge, I decided to stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a potato and some green beans. That night, I did no work and I hit reset.
Today, as I sit on the patio of this market, I am hopeful. I believe that the people in need I saw yesterday will have a better tomorrow. I am convinced that the direction of America will adjust for the better, if not immediately, at the right time. I know that, tough as life may be, we were all put here to help someone else in some way. All of these things were realized because I made a decision to do what I needed to do so that I could be happier. You know what it takes to make yourself smile, so do it. If you are capable of reading this post, you are capable of making yourself smile. I believe that.
Make rediscovering hope a priority.
This is a real quick, but necessary, post.
Today, my father-in-law called me and asked if I had a moment to chat. I said yes and he put me on the phone with a well-known local photographer. My father-in-law had known him for a couple decades and thought the two of us should connect. After about a 10 minute talk, the photographer asked me to text him and we’d set up a time to grab coffee at my co-working space. I texted him, he sent me his e-business card and I replied with mine.
I say all that to say, in a day and age where it is very easy and inexpensive to connect with people and share information, make sure you’re making it easy as possible for them to remember you. This is where you can tell them those things you want them to remember about you. If you want them to be able to connect with you on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, you can add that info. If you want them to have your mailing address and birthday, you can add that in as well. And make sure it has a decent photo, if not a professionally done one.
Create a functional e-card and use it. It’s a brand enhancer.
Make professional development a priority.
As I look across social media, I see plenty of people who call themselves entrepreneurs/brands/creatives taking content from those who created it. I’m not talking about reposting content. That’s cool. Honestly, I love seeing my stuff shared and reposted, especially by people I’ve never met. And, sure, I like being tagged in those instances but that doesn’t always happen, so I’m cool with that. What should never happen is my watermarks being removed from my work and the same goes for any artist. We’re not out here putting our time into creating branded work for the brand to be erased. We’re creating content for exposure so that we can live sustainable lifestyles putting quality out for the world. But, when I look at some profiles and see work that has obviously been cropped so that the poster can seem that much deeper or more talented than (s)he is, I lose some respect for that person. And, if I like some content that I see has been cropped, I at least work to find the original. That’s the least I can do to show appreciation to the creator. We’re too old to take stuff we didn’t come up with and try taking credit for it.
Make giving credit where credit is due.
“I have failed more times than I have succeeded but my successes outweigh my failures because I didn’t give up. Count it all joy.” — Deryle A. Daniels, Jr.
Sometimes we get down on ourselves because we see (and feel) our failures much more strongly than our successes. And we count our failures more than we celebrate our successes. Seriously, do you celebrate every e-mail response you get from a potential client or only those e-mails that notify you of a payment being made? Do you jump for joy with every passing day that you keep a job or only when you get a new one? But we sulk every time someone responds saying that they decided to go with another candidate for a position we interviewed for. We feel that much more. But we don’t have to.
Let’s start celebrating our small victories. Enjoy the moments that aren’t usually enjoyed. They matter too. And, let’s be honest, isn’t that one exceptional victory, like getting the right job or finding your life partner, worth all the minute losses, like getting passed up for the wrong jobs or dating all those incompatible people?
Make counting your victories a priority.
I’m a believer in prayer. Lord knows I am. But it’s cold outside. Real cold. There are people who are hungry, have no shelter, and are poorly clothed. If you have a coat or jacket that you don’t wear, I challenge you to take it out with you tomorrow and give it to someone. But don’t just give it meaninglessly. Ask them their name. Find out who they are and where they’re from. Maybe buy them a meal. And not a $0.99 cheeseburger (unless that’s what you can afford). Get them something you would eat. Actually, sit and share that meal with them. Remind them that that they are human and that you do see them, no matter how many people may have walked or driven by them that day without even acknowledging their humanity. Never forget that you could be that person one day. I hope you’re not, but go a couple months without a check and, at the same time, lose your support system. It can happen easier than you think.
Let’s not be so busy that all we have time to do is pray. Prayer works. Prayer plus action works faster.
Make doing something a priority.
Yesterday was the day that America honors the life and sacrifices made by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the world’s most impactful leaders. As opposed to being a day off, it is supposed to be a day of service. But that leads me to ask a question of us all: What are we doing to help humanity on a regular basis? Could you imagine what your relationship would be like if you only celebrated your significant other once or twice a year? How would you feel if your parents had only acknowledged you quarterly? They would just be meaningless displays from people looking to check off a box.
Just as people need to be loved every day, we should be doing something good for someone else on a daily basis. Maybe it’s letting the person at the stoplight know (s)he left the gas tank open. Maybe it’s stopping by your local co-op to grab a hot meal for the homeless person on the corner. Maybe it’s donating some money to keep Bennett College open. But we have to do something if we truly want to honor the legacy not only of Dr. King but the spirit of what America claims to be. And everyone shouldn’t know you did it. Just do it. If you are recognized for it, great. If you’re not, great. Either way, you did something beautiful for someone who can do nothing for you except pay it forward.
Oh, and, by the way, I found that cool graphic by following one of my favorite accounts on Instagram, The 9 to 5 Podcast. Check them out by clicking here.
Make embracing a spirit of service a priority.
Today, I have to ask you a critical question: Are you offended by my voice or my volume? This morning, I had a breakfast meeting with my friend, fraternity brother, and photography client Greg E. Hill. Now, I’ll admit it, Greg’s voice carries. So does mine. So do the voices of a lot of people when they’re discussing things that they are passionate about. Greg and I were talking about goals for 2019 and how we could work together to accomplish something bigger. Toward the end of our breakfast, an older white man stood up, and, as he walked by our table, said “I guess I’ll move to a quieter section.” It was obvious he said it with the intention of being heard by us because he glared at us after he said it. He proceeded to move to a table about 25 feet away, directly beside a fairly loud group of older white women who were laughing about whatever joyous stories they were sharing. Needless to say, he didn’t choose to relocate again.
My question to you is, whenever you choose to boldly stand and relocate, do you do it because of the voice or because of the volume? Do you find offense in the blackness of my voice? Keep this in mind as you move because, if it is the voice that offends you, maybe you should bite your tongue because, if it’s not coming from a place of love and it’s not constructive, you should likely keep it to yourself. But, if the issue is actually volume, which most people can adjust much more ethically than their voices, we’re all adults and it’s very easy to approach someone and say, “I’m trying to enjoy my coffee. Could you speak a bit more quietly?”
Then again, looking at the side of town we were on and the demographic make up of the restaurant, maybe the “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killing Us” patches on my jacket combined with G’s black-on-black attire and natural hairstyle was more problematic than anything we said at any volume.
Make taking an honest inventory of your motivation a priority.