I’ve decided to be the best right-brained leader of an empire ever to walk the face of the earth. I’m serious.
Back story: A few months ago I was approached about being a part of a project that would allow me to use my creativity carte blanche, give back to my community, and perform as the expert in my area of interest. It didn’t take much to sell me on the project because it was right up my alley and it fell in line with some of my major career and personal endeavors. In addition, my potential partner seemed like a stand up person and the holder of a lot of business knowledge that I just didn’t have. The first time we met, it was clear that we had a lot in common when it came to personal views on philanthropy, personal empowerment, and education. Bottom line, we liked each other and the family/soul connection was powerful enough for my sixth sense to not be alerted. The opportunity came at a time where I was questioning whether or not I wanted to work for someone else, and this venture offered a chance to build something from the ground up and build a legacy for my sons and my niece. I had been laid off from the nonprofit gig that I knew I was overqualified for and in an interesting chain of events, I was afforded the time and financial flexibility to explore the possibilities for a while. I thought it a divine intervention to have been connected to a like-minded individual with the business acumen that I thought I lacked. My optimism might have been a bit premature and predicated on the fact that I was functioning under a hope for something to “come along” and place me on my correct career path.
Months of meetings that didn’t produce any tangible action went by and I went along for the ride telling myself that I just needed to be patient and just stick to focusing on my portion of the overall vision. I all but abandoned any other possibilities for earning a living because I thought I’d hit the proverbial jackpot; I’d get to bury my head in the sand while someone else handled the real business. I bought into believing that business was not my strong suit and I had little to no interest in focusing on a bottom line. I wanted to create and help people. There were a few valuable lessons that came in that period. For one, I had been asked a couple of times to think about an annual salary that I felt matched the value of my service. When I hemmed and hawed and avoided the question, I was wisely advised to stop second guessing my financial worth and consider adopting an “eff you, pay me” mentality. I’m the type that does struggle, from time to time, with making sure that I don’t value the material over people. A person’s soul was and still is much more important than money. I was not the cut throat business type.
Another lesson I got was to be decisive. I’m a Pisces through and through and making quick decisions can feel like a gut wrenching task for us. I would be put on the spot and forced to make a decision and be ok with it. Yet another valuable teaching that made it easy for me to remain patient while nothing jumped off.
Then it happened. I found my passion for writing again while I was waiting around for something to pop with the project that I had put my personal interests on hold for. I had discovered my “thing”. The thing that I would want to support myself and my family with. With that revelation and connection, it made business not seem so scary and it required that I remove my head from the sand and take my business seriously. My ability to create became something of value. My reputation, or the way that I see myself as a business woman started to take form. And that reputation, public or not, became important. I started making connections with people that could really help me career wise and when I attempted to utilize some of those connections for the project they were dismissed and placed me in a compromised position with the folks who wanted to help. Although no damage was done, I became very clear that I did not want to attach my name to anything that could ruin my developing reputation. That’s when the real lessons started to kick in and they came with frustration, realization, and ultimately, clarity. As I started to give my attention over to my own endeavors, I started to realize that, “Hey. I said from the very beginning of this joint process that I don’t work for anyone else and that I was understood. But why am I feeling as if I work for someone else? Why am I checking in and adding my expertise and not seeing any result?” The answer was simple: I was building someone else’s dream and I was hogtied not just by someone else’s vision, but their control of the overall concept. I had to answer to another person by default because I had no control over the operations. Now I’m not saying that it was intentional on anyone else’s part, that’s just how it works sometimes, but what started out feeling like a partnership felt like an employer/employee relationship. No bueno. No bueno at all. I had to decide if I was willing to focus the lion’s share of my attention on my team project or my individual stuff. My first inclination was to drop the team thing, but I was stopped by a power higher than myself and I was made to really consider the benefit of maintaining both things. Instead of dropping any one thing completely, I learned that I needed to prioritize. Not just the placement of the overall projects, but what I value within each venture.
And now, we reach the point of it all: I had to learn how to be decisive, place value on my expertise, speak up when I had something to say, and to choose what makes me happy and fulfilled. I had to actively choose me even in a business scenario and not be afraid to say no when I genuinely disagreed. I am worth the respect that I expect and if requiring that makes me difficult to work with, then so be it. I can still work from the heart of an artist that prefers compassionate models of function and still develop the business acumen of a Fortune 500 company.