Today I have my first “motivational” speech to a room of about 30 Black elderly women. I was asked to speak by my board member as well as the president of this social club, who heard me speak somewhere and liked what I said. I typically speak on politics or social issues, so this was new for me. But, at the end, I was overwhelmed by how well it was received. I had women coming up to me with tears in their eyes, telling me this was exactly what they needed to hear. I am still processing it all, because I feel like this was a milestone. Here is the text of my speech, although there was a lot I included that was very improvised. I wish it had been recorded! Anyway, here is the original speech:
When was invited to speak on “success” and “liking what you do”, I got a little nervous. I wasn’t sure if I should tell you how hard it is to overcome your own fears but I didn’t want to do a “self help” oversimplification and tell you “it will all work out”. So, I decided to tell you my story. Because I’ve found success and I do believe that me loving myself a key to my success, but I had to redefine what “success” and “self love” meant in order to get here.
I grew up afraid of everything. Shadows, mascots, carpeting with too many colors…I mean I was afraid of anything that looked bigger than me, louder than me, or smarter than me. But being asked to be here made me reflect and ask myself….what DID I do to get here? Because sometimes things just happen, and so often we don’t take a breath long enough or deep enough to realize how precious each moment is and to marvel at how far we’ve come. We are far more courageous and successful than we give ourselves credit for, especially as women.
So preparing for this speech, I figured out 7 key steps that I took to learn how to love myself, love what I do, and find success at it.
1. Find your squad – The team of people who influence my life is directly related to my success as well as contributors to my confidence. I learned that holding on to toxic relationships, or anyone who tried to diminish or compete for my shine did not deserve to be in my shadow. Your true squad will hold you to your values from a place of love and genuine commitment to helping you live your best life.
2. Know your values – I value people over profits, so I’ve found a career that allows me to build relationships and help make life better for people. I don’t want to work anywhere where I just get a paycheck, especially if me getting that paycheck harms someone. Living authentically takes courage, but in order to like what you do, you have to feel “good about it” and feel like it feeds your joy and not just your bank account.
3. Chart your North Star – One of the things I admire about any celebrity is that they all seem to have their hearts focused on one thing. Knowing where your own north Star is helps you always reorient yourself whenever life tried to throw you off course.
4. Accept that you don’t know it all – I am stubborn, I’m an only child, and I have a hard time being told “no”. However, I also know that I am smart but I don’t know everything. Sometimes being told no, or facing a road block, is just a way of being told that there’s something more you need to learn about yourself or about the situation. Again, life happens and lots of thing
5. Pride isn’t your enemy, but humility is always your ally. Being proud of yourself doesn’t have to also mean that you are prideful and bragging. Finding a balance of sharing your strengths with confidence, and encouraging others to lead from their strengths and well.
6. You are already enough. I have always held on to a specific Verde in the Bible that shared that we are all created in God’s image. For me, that means that all the love, wisdom, and Grace that is true about God can also be true about me, if I choose to walk in that truth.
7. Choose courage, don’t be fearless. Fear is a completely normal response to dangers, sometimes fears are very rational. But, God has not given us the spirit of fear, so living in fear is never a good place to stay. If a lion walks into this room, it would be completely normal to be afraid. But sometimes, we mistake kittens for lions and we forget God can pull us a out of any lion’s den.Choosing courage and moving forward in faith keeps is always on the path to success.
Every birthday, I make a commitment to myself that I use as my “North Star Goal” for the year. This year, my commitment is “I am a commitment to living a life of unconditional self-love, authentic relationships, calculated courage, and radical wholeness.” I encourage all of you to make a commitment to yourself, embody that commitment in all that you do, share your commitment with your accountability squad, and know that no matter what, you are created in God’s image and you are already enough.