You Never Know

When I attended the Launch Your Business Boot Camp in Atlanta (see my May 16 blog post), I had many wonderful encounters. The most amazing one came when a young woman let me know how I impacted her life.

Several years ago, I was an admissions officer for a private secondary school. One of my responsibilities was to talk with students of color about their educational options. This woman remembered me from a visit to her NYC middle school. She told me that visiting secondary schools changed her life, as did attending the school that she chose (not the one I recruited for). I was amazed that she remembered me, including my name, after so many years. That brief encounter broadened her perspectives and led to personal and professional paths she may not have chosen if it hadn’t happened.

You never know how actions that you take for granted impact others. I have been an educator for many years. I sometimes run into students who tell me that lessons I taught, readings I assigned, or conversations we had clarified their understanding of themselves or their purpose in life. I am grateful for such revelations and humbled because I know that I did not seek to make an impact. If there was any seeking at all, it was to connect, to communicate.

Like most people, I wonder what it would mean to make a big splash or grand gesture that transforms people’s lives. Meeting the young woman in Atlanta reminded me that in our everyday encounters we touch others in meaningful and unexpected ways. No splashing. No grandiosity. Just everyday amazing.


Getting it Right, or Not

I spent the weekend with a hundred or so Beautiful Black Women at the Launch Your Business event in Atlanta. Rosetta Thurman’s Happy Black Woman tribe, of which I am a member, is a group of supportive, motivated entrepreneurs. Some of us are at the beginning of our journey. Others are successful leaders of six- and seven-figure businesses.

My primary takeaway from the three-day seminar is to do something every day that helps build the business, even a small thing. That might seem like a no-brainer. Still, this advice is difficult to follow if you are hampered by perfectionism, which I often am. Revising a website means doing cosmetic surgery on every page. Writing a chapter means putting the right words in the mouths of the best characters to speak them (and describing an ideal setting to support this brilliant dialogue). Doing a small thing is tantamount to doing nothing if your goal is to create a dynamic website or an exciting book.

Perfectionism requires knowing every step of the pre-defined journey and being prepared for every eventuality – before you take the first step. It is easy to procrastinate if you put that much pressure on yourself. What if you take the wrong turn? Deviating from the path is often perceived as taking a wrong turn, getting lost, failing.

At the Launch Your Business event, several women spoke about a shift in their direction once they started the process of building their businesses. Openness and flexibility, which are difficult for a perfectionist, led them to their real passions and ultimate success. But they had to take the first steps, whether or not they knew where those steps would lead and they had to be open and flexible enough to know when a change in direction was leading them to their true journey, their true purpose.

A mantra in the Happy Black Woman tribe is “Start now. Improve later.” It’s a principle that leads to having faith that every step is a meaningful one, perfect or not.