Lesson on Lessons: What 2017 Taught Me
For me, 2017 was about alignment, being in the right position, doing the right things with the right people at the right time. Easier said than done! Being in the right position has everything to do with living out the plans and purposes that God has for our lives. It’s just like a key.
Certain keys fit certain doors, and for a key to do what it is purposed to do—unlocking doors—then it has to be in exactly the right position. If the key is out of place, it simply will not turn to unlock the door.
So, that’s how this year was for me. I went back and forth with God about whether or not I really wanted to “line up” for those “next level” doors to open in my life. Going to the next level sounds good, right? We always want that “new thing.”
But what happens when God tells you to let go of certain friends, relationships, thought patterns, offenses, and habits for it to happen? That requires patience and humility, but it also requires some “inside” work.
So here are the top 10 lessons my life and business taught me in 2017 while I was doing some of that “inside work.”
1. Vulnerability is Power
It’s only when we tell God what hurts that He can heal us. Avoiding Him when you “feel some type of way” only delays your maturation and professional progress. We have to remember that God is not like people and He is always ready to love us and comfort us when things get tough. Being guarded will only lead to more suffering and less than satisfying results. So, when you feel God knocking at your door, hurry up and let Him in. And let Him in all the way.
2. Perfection Paralyzes Productivity
If you wait until everything is “together” before you take action in your life or business, you are going to be left behind. The people around you will be building their lives, and you will still be building your “perfect plan.” We are not perfect, which is why we need Jesus! Step out on faith and if you miss the mark or make a mistake, simply go back and fix it. Sometimes, it’s our desire to have everything “right” that makes everything go wrong. Be mindful not to miss out on the timing or rhythm of God because you are waiting for what you “had in mind” to come full circle.
3. Everyone Needs Deadlines
If it doesn’t have a deadline, then it’s not a real goal. When you don’t set limits to how long certain achievements should take, your dreams end up in outer space. Meaning, they are just floating around in the “I sure hope God does this for me” galaxy, but they have no actual direction. Dreams need direction and they also need deadlines.
4. People Will Copy You – Be Okay With That!
They watch. They hate. Then they copy. While you are creating your ministry, business, album, new book, dream life, or whatever it is…people are going to copy you. Even though this can be irritating, don’t take offense. Sometimes, it will even be the people closest to you that do this. It’s not personal—most of the time. These individuals are listening to you share your vision and hear you brainstorming all day long…so subconsciously they adopt your language, ideas, concepts, etc. as their own—even though they are not. Most of the time, they don’t even know they are doing this. They are simply trying to be great! They see you doing your thing and they want to do theirs, but they don’t know how to discover their own unique voice, ideas, etc. If you are willing to humble yourself and not get all fleshy (church folks know what I mean by that), you can help them discover their authentic voice, gifts, and talents. You might be saying to yourself, Really Ashley? How can I help them? But you can because clearly you figured something out and that is exactly why they are copying you! Lastly, it takes two to make a thing go right…so they have to be humble enough to listen and learn from you too.
5. Stay Lit
Burnout is so real. You can be in a room doing what you love to do and feel nothing. Sometimes the environments we are in drain us of our energy without us even knowing it. The only way to recover from this is to plug into the source—God. Be intentional about increasing the level of intimacy in your relationship with Him. Read your Bible, journal, join a small group…do whatever you need to do to stay connected. The closer you are to Him, the more energy and wisdom you will have to accomplish all that your life and business demands.
6. Back, Back, Forth, and Forth
I don’t know if you remember the R&B singer Aaliyah’s hit song “Back and Forth,” but I was doing a lot of this in 2017. My past, certain people, and relationships kept trying to take me “back, back” and God kept trying to take me “forth, forth.” The more you grow spiritually, the larger the gap will become between you and those that are not doing the “inside” work to mature in Christ and in life. If you keep looking behind you to entertain the mentalities, behaviors, and attitudes of the individuals that are on that level, you will never be able to rise up high enough to enter into that place where God is calling you to. Look, if you decide to lower your wings to help someone get into the sky…make sure they are willing and ready to fly. Real Talk!
7. Celebrate Your Wins
Celebrate the little things! As an entrepreneur on a multifaceted path, I find that life in general moves so quickly. Quicker than I am comfortable with a lot of the time. I find myself going from one accomplishment to the next without ever celebrating the gains in-between. Celebrating your success and the successes of others will give you the motivation you need to keep going when you are simply “over it.” So, celebrate you wins—no matter how big or small. They all count. They all matter.
8. Friends, Fans and Followers
God will send all three. Our job is to put people in the right categories. It’s like the video game, Tetris. As the pieces (people) are coming down (into your life), you have to keeping adjusting them until they are finally secured in the right space. This is true for life and business. Having people in the wrong positions is extremely problematic. Discovering where people should “fit” in your life and business requires earnest prayer and patience. Our human reasoning is not enough to make these decisions. Tap into the power of God and let Him help you make the adjustments.
9. Embrace Opportunity
Hallelujah! God will open doors for you. However, many times, they are not the doors that you expected or feel qualified to walk through. Be open and embrace the new opportunities that He presents you with. Remember, God knows what He is doing with your life. Align yourself with His will and not just with what you want. This is critical to the overall success of your life and business. Whether the doors that He opens are big or small, exhilarating or intimidating—walk through them with integrity and by faith, knowing that God has your back 100%. If you handle the little things well, God will bring you into a whole lot more.
10. If It’s Not A Match, Move On!
When you hire someone to work in your business, but you find yourself running into the same issues with that individual over and over again, express your concerns honestly. Give them several chances to make corrections. However, if you start losing time and money because of their unwillingness to make the adjustments—let them go. Keeping people on your team longer than you should is counter-productive. When you discover that individuals are unable to uphold the company standard or lack the integrity or appropriate work ethic required to move the vision forward, make the adjustments. Delaying these decisions will only lead to the decline of service that you are trying to provide to the individuals that God has entrusted you with. Set clear expectations ahead of time, but most importantly uphold them.
So, there’s my top 10! I hope you got something out of it. If you did, I would love to hear your biggest takeaways or comments. You can post them below.
Oh! And whatever 2017 taught you, make sure you remember it…because you’re going to need it for where you’re going!