You are great at many things, that does not mean you should do all of them.
These words punch me in the face during an episode of Super Soul Sundays with Oprah. The guest gives an example of playing a guitar. If you pick up a guitar and become good at it, that does may mean you are the next musical sensation or you just love guitars. You could possibly make the best cupcakes on a whim that does not mean you should open a bakery store tomorrow.
You are great at many things, that does not mean you should do all of it.
This is made possible by how powerful your mind is. I dare you to set your mind on one thing you want to this year. If you focus all your energy, it can only get away from you for too long. Remember the universe; the human laws created by God to ensure balance? They are all working for your good.
I am great at many things.
It took the #decade challenge for me to reflect on a couple of them. Take away every negative thing that social media has amplified and you have a source of enrichment. The #decade challenge had us give gory details of the past decade in the hope of inspiring someone else across the world. It is too late to think about privacy and what Amazon, Facebook and Google are doing with our information, so why stop cataloging our lives now? My inspiration for the decade was by renowned director Ava DuVernay who details what paced success looks like with a touch of unquestionable great talent.
When I look back at my 10 years I see a rambunctious young teen racing too fast for her own good and facing a serious case of identity crisis. At 17 years old I walk into a theatre (No America I will not spell it as Theater, how else do you get the flair?). At 17 years old I walk into the Phoenix Players Theatre and try to convince a respectable director that I am the piece that is missing in his directorial career. I am the talent he haz been waiting for. I fail miserably but that begins a beautiful journey of dancing through different media platforms. I miss a few steps and fall face flat but we made it through the decade.
Will Smith has said in interviews that a lot of his motivation comes from the fear of losing everything he has achieved so far. Kevin Hart says the same thing in his latest Netflix Docuseries. I totally understand where that fear stems from. If you grew up in a world where everybody lived off the same script, it is no surprise that any level of success would trigger intense impostor syndrome.
I grew up in Umoja Estate in Nairobi, Kenya. I was quite sheltered an inconvenience I embraced out of fear. My childhood is littered with trauma so when I could get away, I hibernated. Being a loner also makes you the most trusted person in the hood. I was privy to so much and that kept me away from the streets, quite literally.
To date only a handful of us made it out. There is a complacency that comes with living in the hood. The sense of community, knowing how life is going to roll out and having just enough exposure to be cool but a string’s budget to have sporadic fun.
With that chip on my shoulders it was easy to talk myself into being great at anything. I was a greenhorn actor so I worked on becoming the best production assistant. Three years later of balancing school and a part time job at Phoenix Players Theatre, a cash crunch bit and my broke antennae went up. The next opportunity was an internship at a radio station, then a host, back to production assistant, an art director assistant, TV production and literally everything that happens on a TV set I can do. 2016 kicked in and the economy packed her bags in a huff. Budget cuts led to job loss and I was not spared. An ad agency job saved the day but before I could redo my house interior décor, the company shattered. One more try, okay a million little tries and I scored a radio job.
It has been as messy as that paragraph.
I loved all those jobs but I loved to survive too. Make it out of the hood. Pull my mother and cousins with me. Break these cycles and set up the next generation for success with a better chance at self actualization. Hard work is sold as the golden ticket. That has proven to not be entirely true owing to systemic classism and organized corruption. It will take a couple of posts to unpack the rot by the political class in Kenya.
Today I focus on what we can do to achieve greater success with our available resources.
This part of the piece is credited to my friend Seydou. I called him in despair recently venting about how lost I felt. America moves too quickly it’s easy to disappear in the crowd. It was after a day of reflecting on the past decade that culminated in conversations with people who told me that my aspirations need to be ‘adjusted’. I did not pack my bags and leave my mother’s cooking for this.
Seydou listens. Quietly but you can hear him process each word. When he speaks, I have a pen in hand because people say the best things on phone and I am trying to live with more intention.
I have had a decade of scattered opportunities and living flustered because I was working to not be broke, as opposed to gearing towards success. It’s hard to be consistent while crash dieting through opportunities.
Here is how we achieve consistency.
Think with a pen in hand of everything you are good at and list them in the following categories;
- What I am good at and have previously monetized
- Skills that I am actively working on improving
- Things I am passionate about; you could do them for free.
Tie this in with the milk, honey and wine concept. This I learned from one of my many former bosses. Here’s my sample breakdown.
|What I am good at and have previously monetized||Milk||Writing
TV & Radio hosting
Running my mother’s business
|Skills that I am actively working on improving||Honey||New Media technologies
|Things I am passionate about||Wine||Filmmaking
Working with charity organizations especially children
I love tables they make things so easy to understand. Milk is what you need for everyday living. Honey is what you are working on to add more value to your milk. Wine is what needs more time because you can only allocate a limited amount of time. It all leads up to great success spread over time. We are not limited to the nine boxes. There will be unplanned opportunites that will come your way and you will be ready as a result of your relentless consistency.
With a list it is easy to focus and hence be more consistent. I use the word hence a lot. Writing what you are good gives you much needed affirmation. It feels good to know your strengths and kick impostor syndrome out and may be economy can move back in.
It is going to take more than a table to get you consistent. Hopefully this pushes you to the first step of taking your success seriously. Share your experiences with me and keep the momentum.
P.S. It helps to consume content driven towards your goals. To give you a head start, follow Bren and Moe on twitter, they have resources for both higher education and career propelling opportunities. Podcasts like Jesus and Jollof, Dead Ass , Rants and Randomness and Jazzed by Work.
Happy Consistent 2020!