Pick Your Battles

Whether I’m discussing the relationships between myself and my wife, boss, mother, or friends, picking my battles is one of the most important things I’ve learned since I graduated college (a lesson that I really began developing back in the first semester of my junior year).

Some things aren’t worth fighting over. And some things aren’t to be fought over. I don’t go to work and say what I won’t do (as long as it’s ethical and not degrading). I have a responsibility to do my job. I don’t tell Desirée that I’m not washing the dishes when it’s my night to wash. There are some battles that aren’t worth it (and that I probably won’t win).

Conversely, there are some that must be fought. When something isn’t that big of a deal, let it slide. Because, eventually, you’re going to have something that you have to speak up against and you don’t want to be pegged as someone whose always pushing every envelope you can.

Your pride is important. But know when you need to put it to the side and when you need to say “This is something I won’t budge on.” You cannot not budge on everything and everything cannot go your way. That is juvenile.

 

Make professional development a priority.

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Maintaining Relationships

This past weekend, I had nothing to do and no one to hang out with (Desirée and her sorority sisters took a road trip), so I left work on Friday and hit the road for Charlotte. On my way there, I was posting periodically to my Instagram story and one of my friends of almost a decade, Bianca Payton of S&S Associates, shot me a message letting me know that one of her clients, Opera Carolina, would be having an early screening of “The Girl Of The West” that evening and she invited me to come as a “Tweet Seater” (blogger). I haven’t been to the opera in years but it is always nice to immerse yourself in settings that you aren’t regularly in. Not only did I get to see an awesome performance with spectacular music in an amazing venue (get tickets by clicking here), I was also able to meet some movers and shakers in the entrepreneurial and creative sphere, like photographer and re-branding consultant Josh Galloway and footwear designer La’Cario Sellers, owner of Customs by Cario. After the opera, my LB, author Brady S. Moore and I connected with our college friend, marketing specialist Brittany Maul.  Bianca and Josh met up with us there a bit later and we closed the bar.

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The next morning, after a 2+ mile run on the south side of Charlotte, I went to visit family and then took some time to catch up with my friend and the best barber in North Carolina, Tim Doe of No Grease Exclusive in uptown Charlotte. I had about 30 minutes to kill so I took my camera bag and shot around downtown before grabbing an awesome brunch w/ Brittany at Mimosa Grill. I closed out my trip by trying to catch an NBA playoff game with Sean Johnson of Toshiba Business Solutions, Cory Bennett of XChange NC, Branden Reid of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, and Tony McNeal of Bank of America (I say “trying” because we spent the time catching up and missed the game in its entirety).

Thing is, the game was just wishful thinking. That last chill session with friends is what the trip was about one thing: catching up. As those of you who’ve been rocking with me for a while know, I lived in Charlotte for four years after graduating from UNCG. I loved the city but ended up moving back to Durham to be closer to family. Though the Triangle will always have a place in my heart and it is great for Desirée and me right now, eventually, I hope we get the opportunity to move back to the greater Charlotte area. That being said, though it is years away, maintaining relationships in Charlotte will be key to my success as an entrepreneur. And, though phone calls and text messages are nice, there’s nothing like taking some time to go hang out with those in your circle who are in the physical area that you’re looking to be in. When I came to Charlotte the first time, I had an aesthetically appealing résumé with no experience and I was still developing my network. If I return, I will come with a network that opens doors and experience that closes deals. But to have those doors opened, you have to invest in your relationships on the front end.

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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.

How’s It Goin’ Down?

“What types of games are being played?  How’s it going down?” — DMX

X is one of my favorite rappers.  Those are lines from his classic song “How’s It Goin’ Down?”.  On his most recent album, Drake “borrows” those lyrics for the song “U With Me.”

The song has nothing to do with professional development.  But the lyrics do have something to do with office politics.  Games ought not be played in the office but they are. Politics are going to have a place in the office place for as long as emotions do.  So, until we automate offices, we are going to have, for lack of a better word, pettiness.

My issue with this is, just let me know from the jump.  Take an honest inventory of things.  What types of games are being played?  How’s upward mobility going down?  Because, answering that will let me know if I want to play the game or collect the check.

 

Make professional development a priority.

A Bit of Dating Advice for the YP

Who am I to give dating advice?  I’m someone with common sense.  And I realize that, as a young professional, you’re going to want exciting romantic escapades.  But this doesn’t have to be done at the expense of lying.  When I was younger, we would line the ladies to death.  I mean, I had a line for every day of the week and two for Fridays.  But that was when I was in undergrad.  As an adult, you must put away childish things.  Game was the thing then.  Now, you need just to be honest.  We’re all too old for lies.  If you like a woman, stop trying to be so cool.  Ladies, if the guy likes you and you like him back, don’t be so afraid to put yourself out there.  The only (and I mean only) way a relationship will work is if both parties are willing to be vulnerable with one another.  And vulnerability in its truest form comes from honesty.  Sure, get her attention but do it in a different way.  If you think she has gorgeous eyes (and if she doesn’t have a ring on), say “Excuse me miss, I just wanted to tell you that you have lovely eyes.”  Strike up a conversation.  Ladies, if you’re a go getter and you see a gentleman with a nice physique, ask him where he works out.  Once again, strike up a conversation.  We’re all too old to be asking every potential partner if it hurt when they fell from heaven.  Young professionals, let’s grow up.  Let’s tell the truth.  Truth is, you think the person is pretty darn cool and you want to get to know them better.  Not only our foods, but our friendships, must come from organic places.

The Toxicity of Negativity

When I realize that someone or something is toxic, I don’t want to be around it or them.  I mean, there are some people and places that are just plain negative.  And it is toxic, meaning it quickly seeps into your personality if you are around it long enough.  Have you ever met anyone born into a family that is still stuck in the 1950s?  More often than not, that regressive mindset permeates into the offspring and it is perpetuated.  The same is true of friendships and workplaces.  Do you realize that your friends who are always complaining are the ones you call the least?  I used to be that person.  Do you want to know why?  Because I hated my job and I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.  But, I have since realized that, whether I like my job or not, I can address its ills but then speak on how blessed I am in other areas of my life, such as my spiritual, physical, and marital.  See, life happens.  Negativity happens.  But you cannot dwell on it or you too will become negative.  So, when you see negativity permeating into your life, that’s the time to find something that really cheers you up.  For me, even when I’m having a terrible day at work, I go home and I know Desirée will be there.  And, chances are, dinner will be great.  And I may have something really dope to blog about.  And I can figure out some strategy for the church’s social media accounts.  And, before you know it, I’m out of my funk.  You have to offset life’s negativity but, not only that, you have to develop an exit strategy.

Finding something positive in the face of negativity is only the first half of the battle.  Then you have to get away from the bad.  If it’s a work culture that you cannot impact for the better, commit to applying to 1-2 new jobs before bed every evening.  If it’s a friendship that is draining the energy out of you, see if you can either lift that person’s spirits or it may be time to distance yourself.  Even if it’s a marriage (not at all an advocate of divorce), find something to spark the relationship up and seek counseling.  The thing is, you cannot live surrounded by negativity and it not bring you down.  So change it.  Please, and thank you.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Get to Know Their Strengths

Congrats! You’ve newly been appointed the supervisor of a team of people. Or you’ve acquired a new team member. Either way, every person you work with has a set of skills that they bring to the team. But, by introducing someone new to your team (be it a new manager or new employee), more work must be done and it is the manager’s responsibility to complete this task: Get to know their strengths.

As a leader, though you ought to be working as hard as your staff, much of that work comes by way of strategic delegation. But, guess what? If you don’t know who is on your team and what they excel at, you cannot effectively use their skill set to make your organization better. Or, worse, if you misuse/underuse their ability, you will have a disengaged employee who will resent you, as their leader/manager, and who will eventually leave your organization for one that empowers them to be better.

So take some time to, at worst, survey your team and, at best, invite them to your office for a conversation and coffee. It will do two things: make them feel more valued and, secondly, it will allow you to get to know what it is they are interested in. The interview was them trying to get the job. Now your job is trying to get them to stay and maximize their potential.