When I was little and occasionally did something wrong and thought it was justifiable my father would say “You don’t know it all. If you keep living you just might learn something.” Well dad, and readers, I’m still living, and below I’ve compiled a list of what I’ve learned this year. Maybe some of you were in my class.
1. "You can’t dream too big.” I’d like to take credit for that quote, but I can’t. In fact if you check the blog next Friday you will read that Jimmy Burks of Common Ground Management said it (and he and his partners said a lot of other great things too). I’ve learned this year that it’s true. I’ve learned that time, energy, and space is finite and must be utilized wisely. But dreams, what can be accomplished with those finite resources, are infinite. Don’t dream with tunnel vision.
2. The power of choice. Phree will does exist and I get to choose how I will exercise it phreely. I get to choose whether I will be proactive or reactive. I get to choose my attitude and how I respond to others and how I respond to life. Few things in life are non options. Few things in life happen to us. When it’s all said and done I want to be able to say that I chose to happen life and life didn’t happen to me.
3. Love > Fear. Love is a powerful thing. When you know you are loved and you love someone or something, you will be surprised by the amount of courage you will amass. I’ve gotten a lot of love from family and friends this year professionally and personally and it’s made ALL the difference. Real love lays a solid foundation. It’s not fleeting and it doesn’t burn out. It’s patient. And you need patience in your personal life and your professional life. Patience ensures continued progress for the process of your passion.
4. Take a chance. I’m not a huge networker. I am naturally a shy person. I hate selling myself and prefer to reserve that for job interviews only. However, in wanting to see Phreedum grow this year I had to learn to just take a chance and get to know people. The interviews that have been posted this year, the first few were entrepreneurs I knew, but as the year progressed I took more chances, attended more shows and events, and just introduced myself to people. The worse that could happen was there would be awkward silence, the best was we’d find something to talk about and I’d walk away with a friend or an interview and this year a couple of times I walked away with both.
5. I am not my business. I know people will disagree and think you and your business, or I and my business, should be one. And that’s cool. I am a part of my business and my business is a huge part of me. However, Ahyana King has been around long before Phreedum LLC. There are days where it needs to be about Ahyana King. There are events I go to and intentionally don’t bring business cards and I don’t mention Phreedum. I think I will always embody the spirit of Phreedum and I will always try to live the Phreedum lifestyle, but I won’t always try to pitch an idea, make a sale, or find an algorithm to exponentially grow my rolodex.
6. The odds aren’t in my favor and I don’t care (most of the time). I’m a black female with a disability in America. I was born with three strikes against me. There is no self loathing, it’s the reality. I’m Black, I’m a woman, I have a disability. Google the stats, they aren’t good. Now add to it “in business”. Now google those stats. Let’s not kid ourselves it’s almost 2012 and discrimination is real and it’s clever. But here’s the thing, and I guess it goes back to lessons 2 and 3, I’m not the least bit concerned. I have a choice to be defeated by the odds. I have a choice to call it a day when discrimination decides to make a mockery of my dream. At the end of the day because I have been tremendously blessed I find that my frustrations tend to simply fuel my desire for Phreedum. It fuels my desire to support small businesses, women, people of color, and work hard to give back and help organizations that work with people with all types of disabilities. As long as I can say I’m a black female with a disability who owns a growing business in America and supports small businesses, women, people of color, and organizations that work with people with all types of disabilities, I have done well.
7. “Team work makes the dream work.” Again, not my own words, but again, very true. It’s important to have a team. It’s been very helpful to have people who know me and who know my vision for Phreedum. The combination is people who are honest with me and can tell me when I’m slacking, when I’ve missed something, and when I’ve done an exceptional job.
8. Exposure exposure exposure. The more I’ve allowed myself to be exposed to different people, music, art mediums, looks, workshops, I have learned so much and it’s allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. Exposure is what has helped me to really believe "You can't dream too big."
9. Be honest. I consider myself a pretty honest person. But I do lie on occasion. This year however I have learned that it is more important to be honest with myself first and then others. It saves a lot of those finite resources I mentioned earlier. In being honest with myself this year I totally revamped Phreedum and what it will look like by spring 2012 will be far from what it looked like in Fall 2008 and it needed that. I was fooling myself not taking time to honestly evaluate and make necessary changes. By the same token my honesty has allowed me to maintain professional relationships with others, spot and end potential partnerships where the potential for profit was so not in Phreedum’s favor, and not waste time with people who weren’t about business (mine or their own).
10. There’s a bigger picture. After a recent interview, the person I interviewed asked me a few questions of his own. He asked me why Phreedum, why my work as a counselor with people who’ve been sexually assaulted and abused, why the interviews, etc. etc. etc. As I responded all of my responses had one thing in common- at the end of the day it’s bigger than me. What continues to drive the work I do 9-5, nights, and weekends is my desire for anyone and everyone who desires to be phree can be phree. I support other artists and small business owners because I realize the power of a dream and the liberty one has when they are allowed to dream and pursue their dream. I am a counselor because I know the power and liberty that comes with being seen, heard, and validated. I know what it’s like not to be phree. I know what it’s like to fight for phreedum. I know what it’s like to be phree. In my opinion next to being loved it’s the best thing people can have. When Phreedum makes its millions it’s bigger than my house and my car and my kids, it’s about his house and her car and their kids.
11. Start. I am a struggling perfectionist on the low and a wanna be psychic. Typically if I can’t see how something will work out well, I’m not doing it. I’m not usually one of those figure it out as you go folk (kind of why "Take a chance" was a good lesson). However, I’m not perfect or psychic. If I ever wait for either nothing will get finished. Sometimes you do have to figure it out as you go and hope for the best. I think this is also where team work comes in. If you start and you get stuck as I have a few times this year, my team has definitely helped me get unstuck and reboot. There are few occasions in life where it’s the “right time.” Most of the time it’s just now. Sometimes now can be as good as a time to start as any other time I try to calculate in my head.
These are only some of the lessons I’ve learned this year and I anticipate learning more next year. This year has been quite a year and I thank you all for being a part of the process and the progress. Have a happy and safe New Year!