Redefining Normal

“Consistency is as important as quality.” — Unknown

Normalcy is a figment of your imagination. Well, maybe not your imagination right now but it can be. Right now, society tells us what is and isn’t normal. The narrative has, as of late, been that life should be easy and carefree. We should all be living the lavish pseudocelebrity life because we deserve it. And I’m not saying that you can’t work your way to the point that you deserve it but everyone is not deserving of it. And, what happens when people get things that they didn’t work for? Generally, they misuse them and/or lose them.

So, today, I challenge you to train your mind to redefine normal. Train your mind to know that the “new” normal way to get to success is to sacrifice and to grind when it’s least comfortable. The perfect example was this morning, when, for the first time ever, I had to get up at 5:00AM, get dressed, and drive 13 minutes away to get to my new gym. But, that’s not the kicker: It was 11°F and it was my first real leg day in months. Now, for my readers who live in other parts of the world where that’s average for winter months, I know that’s no biggie to you but, for those of us in North Carolina, we don’t really experience that often. I would’ve much rather gone back to my bed and acted like I didn’t hear the alarm. But, today, I redefined my normal. I said “This is what has to be done to get the results I want. Laying in bed and redeveloping a six pack only happens on television.”

Get up today and do what you have to do in order to succeed ethically. It’s not going to be given to you and your first swing may not be a home run but, if you keep chipping away at the raw stone, eventually, you will have created a masterpiece.

 

Make professional development a priority.

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Five Years In

Today, I am honored to say that I’ve been building this blog for five years.

That’s half a decade!

In that time, I’ve had a number of professional successes and learning opportunities. I’ve gained life experience, gotten married, and taken chances. I’ve moved from minimum wage to straight commission to salary to better salary. I’ve been an entrepreneur and an employee, sometimes exclusively, currently simultaneously. I’ve gone from having little to having an overflow. I went from looking for an exit to being at a place where I’m looking for a step up.

Early

The Daniels Daily Reader has gone from one consistent reader who now has a blog of her own (and, in an attempt to slightly embarrass Mrs. Daniels, a new last name since five years ago) to hundreds of subscribers, followers, and readers daily. It went from being a free blog to a sizable investment in my business goals. And, possibly most importantly to me, I’ve inspired others to begin writing about their passions. You don’t have to be a writer to write, but, once you begin writing, at that moment, you become a writer.

Thank you all for reading, engaging, critiquing, subscribing, and for just being a part of my journey in professional development. You may not know it but every comment, every hit, every like and share lets me know that my writing is impactful. This has been a great five years and I look forward to sharing many more with you all.

Since it’s the fifth year, here are links to the top five posts of all time:

The Art of the Pocket Square
Where to Shop: The 10 Best Stores for Finding Affordable Men’s Style
Italian, English, or Modern Cut?
How To: The Job Seeker’s Attention-Getting Email Signature
How To: Tie an Eldredge Knot

Though the content and format of The Reader has evolved, the message remains consistent: Make professional development a priority.

Finish > Fast

On Monday, it was raining cats and dogs in Durham from before sunrise to well after sunset. I woke up and said I’d get my Monday miles in that night. When that night came, I said “It’s still raining too hard. I’ll take today off.” The problem is, I had committed to myself that I would workout 6 days a week and Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are 2 mile days. So, at 11:09 PM, as I was reading and writing, I decided I would keep my promise to myself. It was still raining and, though I absolutely hate running indoors, I didn’t feel like dealing with puddles, slips, nor falls. So the treadmill it was. I did 1.25 mi. indoors and ran in the rain for the final three-quarters of a mile.

You won’t always reach your goals when you set out to. But every minute we’re on this earth is another opportunity to get back on track and do what you’ve been placed here to do.

Another lesson: Just do it, no Nike. I ended up running anyway, right? You’re going to have to get that degree one day anyway. You are going to want to start that business at some point. Go ahead and knock it out now. Waiting is only going to make it harder.

 

Make finishing a priority.

My Formula

Though I’m not yet “successful”, I am working toward success and I’m getting glimpses at it. My formula has been simple and will remain that way: create so much dope content consistently that, once you are discovered by an entity bigger than yourself, your body of work will speak for itself.

 Whether you see it every night or not, the moon does an amazing job of consistently taking the place of the sun in the sky. Some nights you see it in all of its magnificence. Some nights, you catch a sliver. Other nights, it isn’t seen at all. But it’s always there, doing its job because there are those nights when it really gets appreciated for all that it is.

I’m trying to be like the moon. I’ve been blogging for nearly 15 years now, jumping from platform to platform as my vision changed. For the past five years, I’ve been working on this, The Daniels Daily Reader. What once was a professional development blog for millennials is now a lifestyle blog for young professionals, touching on everything from business dress to leadership to issues facing society. I’ve written over 1,100 blog posts on this site and, as of late, 95% of the photographic content found on the blog is my own. My writing, my photography, and my points of view have matured since I began this blog but The Reader has always rested on two key characteristics: consistency and quality.

So, when Corey Freeman, Creative Director of LionsHead Media, approached me, said he’d seen my work and and presented me with the opportunity to work with his company, I thought “Wow. Writing on this channel for five years and now, my shot is here? I’m ready.”

I have a body of work. That body is so extensive, I am going to be able to use it to create a book without having to come up with too much additional content. And, as I continue growing, writing, and gaining more exposure, I know that what develops from this picture will be bright.

Consistency + Quality + Opportunity = Success


Make professional development a priority.

Meeting Ms. Issa Rae

This weekend, I had the opportunity to collaborate with LionsHead Media, a black tech company out of Durham, and photograph Issa Rae of HBO’s “Insecure” as she spoke to an auditorium full of students at North Carolina Central University. Kicking it backstage with Issa (like we’re best friends, right?) was nothing short of inspiring. This young lady is doing exactly what I want to do in a lane that’s different from my own, but the same principles are applicable. She has taken a corporate web platform (YouTube), created an unmarketed but very real aspect of black culture in “Awkward Black Girl”, and developed such a cult following that she was able to author a NYT bestseller, pen a deal with HBO, and take everything that she’s learned to an HBCU campus in order to inspire the next generation of young black creative minds.

It was super dope to be able to connect with her backstage chatting with her about her come up, getting an autograph for my wife, and listening to Corey Freeman, Creative Director at LionsHead Media, explain to her the impact that Durham’s Black Wall Street had on the United States. Additionally, I was able to create content off the personal interaction as well as capture some awesome photographs of her that I couldn’t have gotten without having the access I got through LionsHead. But the most powerful things I got from the conversation between NCCU student Christina Boyd-Clark of LionsHead Media and Issa were these five quotes that I was able to jot down in my notebook in between snapping. Take them and allow them to inspire you as you work to further your brand and your community.

“(The stereotypes that the media shows) are valid black experiences but not the only black experiences.”
“In this day and age, there’s no excuse not to create.”
“Where’s your content online?”
“I get a lot of inspiration just by living life.”
“(Success) depends on talent and consistency, but consistency more than anything else.”

All very simple concepts but I chose them as my top quotes because it shows that, in this day and age, the formula for success is not rocket science. It’s just about taking care of the basics and doing so consistently. You have to provide a different angle that isn’t already out there. You have to be putting yourself out there. You have to live life and interact with people in order to create. And you have to go hard regularly. So do it and maybe one day I’ll be photographing your speaking engagement.

IssaC.PNG

Once again, major shoutout to LionsHead Media for the opportunity to meet a young lady who is working to change the conversation around black lifestyle and what is seen as the norm within our culture. We’re not all gangstas, charismatic entertainers, welfare moms, and bad b_____es. Some of us are awkward and insecure and oddly funny folks who don’t like seeing the same person in the hall three times in a work day because how many times can you really say “Hello”?

 

Make professional development a priority.

The Name of the Game

Consistency.

That’s the name of the game.

Welcome to 2017. No one knows me for being a blogger exactly. My brand doesn’t rely on the fact that I have a professional development blog. There are millions of “bloggers” across the world. But I can’t think of many who are daily bloggers. Consistency is what keeps people consistently seeking me out for advice, speaking engagement, and professional development services. I have a track record that shows I’m always learning. Every day, you can learn bits and pieces of what I learn.

Now, consistency is usually seen as a good thing but it could be a bad thing too. The question is, “What are you known for on a consistent basis?” Are you known for keeping your word? For making good decisions? For being disciplined enough to do the tougher things? Or do you begin things and then quit? Do you give just enough effort to get by? Are you consistently inconsiderate?

This year, focus on being consistent in the right things and nonexistent in the wrong ones.

In each instance, consistency begins with a single action and, from there, it is continued.

 

Make professional development a priority.

 

What You Won’t Do Is…

What you won’t do is maintain an incredible physique without eating right and working out. You won’t keep an exemplary marriage without communication and compromise (quick shoutout to my gorgeous bride on my 1,0v3 post). And you won’t have a thriving career without consistency and ideas. Consistency has accomplished much more than an idea ever will. True, without an idea, there is no reason to remain consistent. But without consistency, you should have just given the idea to someone else. Anyone could have your great idea. Anyone could have accepted your good job. Anyone could be exclusive with your amazing significant other. ANYONE. But for you to selfishly take claim of anything as your own and not follow through is both disrespectful to and inconsiderate of your fellow human being. So, please go out and dream and birth ideas and fall madly in love with whatever you’re passionate about. But, if you’re not passionate about it, let someone else have it. Please. It’ll make the world a much better place. This is applicable to everything from relationships (both platonic and romantic) to professionalism. Remain consistent in what you do. And, when you find yourself slacking off (as we all do at times), remember that you took this opportunity/idea from someone else who would have appreciated it just as much, if not more, as you did when you first got it.

Let’s work.

 

Make professional development a priority.