The word “upleveling” or leveling up as some know it to be called has been on the tongues of coaches and entrepreneurs for a few years now. As a result of talking about doing work that raises the bar and encircling yourself with people who’ve raised their frequency it’s somewhat expected that if you are a creative individual and you produce creative services or products you will be raising your own standard of excellence at some point. But what if while you’re growing and being uncomfortable you have more to say and less people to say it to about what your experiences are like?
When I graduated from college in the early 2000s, I knew people from various walks of life. By the time I was midway into my career I knew people from different parts of the world and industries too; some who were in my field of social services and some from the entertainment industry, as I was gigging in that part of the world for a few years with BET networks and a couple of small indie companies. However, by the time I founded my first nonprofit organization 8 years ago I had my sister, a best friend and some folks I met while networking on my team assisting me with Board meetings, a blog and fundraising. Yet, by the end of the road I had 1 assistant working on the blog and 1 Board member who wasn’t afraid of putting in the work.
Just In 2014 I founded another company, this time a for-profit and in the beginning, I had little idea of what I was doing nor much clarity on how to define it. I was scared. I had just started using social media to leverage relationships and a growing desire to step out on my own and work for myself someday. Over the next 2 years my vision became clearer and so did my business model. I started investing money into it, took several classes at the Small Business Administration and hired some folks to work alongside me while I built this company from a side boutique business to what’s now my full- time employer. As a result, I was occasionally met with jokes and mockery from people about how much I did in a day and complaints in a way too about how limited my time was for socializing and other things. Will Smith said it best recently when he was interviewed on Sway In The Morning. He said ‘sometimes you’re going to have to do what you dreamed of doing on your own, and alone. Later, when people see how serious you are, they will come along.’ I agree. And I’ll add, some of the time.
I’ve traveled along an arduous road to get to where I am, but thankfully the road is smoother these days. Many times over the past several years I’ve not only had friends leave my side but I’ve also had to release a grip on what I expected of other people I cheered on; people I thought were talented, but weren’t ready to go the distance. I’ve had to learn that a lot of this path towards building a legacy is lonely and a lot of people will never understand what you do nor why. That’s alright, they don’t have to. Your job is to find the people who do and go the distance alongside them. It’ll feel better when you do.
If you’re a Creative, ask yourself, where are my networks coming from? Design a strategic plan around the network of people who will inspire you to advance yourself or to mentor you. Schedule time for self-development every single day. If there are gaps, fill them. In each category—lifestyle, education, spirituality, relationships/networks, finances, emotional/mental health and environment—look for places where you can add up to 3 tasks per month to learn something new, or to strengthen something you’re building or to enhance your skillset. In 30 days, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what progress you’ve made. I’ll be holding you to it!
*This blog is about becoming free. It’s a reflection of introspective thoughts and experiences that have crossed miles of self-discovery. I created this blog to inspire others to live life with less self-criticism, judgment and openness to new experiences. May you find that you learn how to live a life by design and on your own terms!*