When you look at this photo, what is the first thing you think? First thought for me: "I'm owning the Distillery District."
I've mentioned before how much public photoshoots intimidate me but every time I look at the finished product, I see myself looking strong, confident and capable.
2016 taught me that.
Lesson 1: " Sell Yourself Because No One Else Will."
This year I took a bold step in branding myself #SlayerOfTheMic. In various posts, tweets, and videos, I professed that I was what events needed. That I was the person who would make sure your attendees left raving about their experience.
Do I have a booking agent? No.
Do I work with a PR company? Nope.
Does someone manage my social media? No way.
If I wanted to get my name out there, I had to hustle. First of all, I needed to believe in my capabilities and that sometimes could be the hardest thing. Research shows that people who are comfortable with promoting themselves are not only more successful in landing a job from an interview, or in my case, being booked for a speaking engagements, but go on to build stronger networks — within their organization and outside of it — and are more successful in business and throughout their careers. The key word here is comfortable. Ask yourself this: Do you know people should hire you or do you want people to hire you? Are you comfortable enough in your abilities to sell yourself? If you answered no to any of these questions, make it your priority in 2017 to change that way of thinking.
Lesson 2: Compare Less, Celebrate More.
This is an everyday lesson. You can be having a grand ol' day and the minute you open some form of social media; you are bombarded with reminders that someone else is doing better than you. Once upon a time, I would totally deny that feeling but then I decided to be honest with myself and acknowledge the occasional feeling of not being enough. In my big Jam bubble, I know I am enough, but that's definitely not an everyday emotion. As a woman in business, media, and education, it's very easy to solely focus on staying on top and running yourself dry. 2016 reminded me that I didn't have to be current 24/7 to be relevant.
Jealousy and envy are natural human emotions to experience. It becomes an issue when you let it consume you. I've learned how to self-reflect in moments like this. I take a moment or 5, to acknowledge why I'm feeling this way (who I'm focusing on, what about it is bothering me, etc.) then take 10 minutes to recognize what I'm doing in my life that needs to celebrated. When I stop to think about my achievements, even the smallest ones, it brings me back to a place of balance. I no longer let the feeling of inadequacy consume me.
Lesson 3: Self-Care is More Important Than My Business.
Once again I found myself this year shaking my head at people who were using their platforms to encourage people to run themselves dry. Why do people believe that this is the best solution to achieve your goals?
Although I wasn't adopting this mindset, I was slacking on showing myself some TLC. I am very fortunate to have wonderful benefits that allows me to go for regular massages. Have I been using them? This is a luxury many don't have and it's actually terrible that I'm letting it go to waste. So, I have a new attitude for 2017 (don't we all the during the first week of January? Haha) From regular appointments, to eating less at restaurants, I understand that my health is my wealth. I've been sharing this message a lot these past few weeks as I know some people need the reminder as well. Just like I said earlier about selling yourself: if you won't do it for yourself, no one will do it for you. The same rule applies for self-care. I don't want to sound like the Debbie Downer of 2017, but our time is not guaranteed. Use the days you have to love and nurture the vessel that is going to carry you through your life adventures.
Lesson 4: Sometimes You Just Need To Walk Away.
My Mom used to tell me when I was younger, "Jay, don't open a present that doesn't have your name on it." I finally understood this lesson this year. I was asked by a friend to collaborate on a project. This was something I felt would introduce me to a new audience and help me grow as a public figure/media personality. There were many signs along the way telling me to STOP. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200, and most importantly, do not proceed as this really isn’t good for your brand. I had so many mixed emotions but didn’t want to let go because I thought that this opportunity would really help me break out (even after everything I’ve achieved on my own).
Well, when the promotional material was set to be released, my jaw dropped. I had to make the decision once and for all, am I holding on or letting go? To be completely honest, I didn’t want to let go because I didn’t want to let the person down. I put their feelings before mine. But in the words of the great Beyoncé, “Tell them boy bye.”
Not every opportunity is a good opportunity and not everything that shimmers is gold.
I was proud of myself for walking away. I felt a pressure lifted off my body and once again I felt in control of my decisions.
Lesson 5: Leap.
Leap, Jam! Leap! This was a constant reminder I picked up from other incredible women I learned from this year. I thank them for being sources of support and encouragement!
2016 has been so rewarding because I took those chances of faith. I understand that this frame of mind isn't easy for everyone. It’s only natural to overestimate the possibility of failure and underestimate our ability to handle the situation should something go amiss. That’s the fear sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.
By learning how to leap, I learned how to ignore the whispers and have enough courage to make choices that can ultimately improve my life. I like to say, if it doesn't bring shame to my mother, go against my values/beliefs, then it's a risk worth taking!
So let 2017 be your year to leap. Look at the possibilities rather than outcomes and applaud yourself every time you take a step. I'll be cheering for you.
Cheers to another year of lessons, of growth, and of happiness!
Jam Gamble - Connector of People, Ideas and Energy