Last weekend I experienced one of the most transformative trips of my life. I’ve traveled quite a bit in my lifetime, but never quite like this. I was chosen to attend the very first My Taught You Retreat in Cancun, Mexico. This experience was curated by Myleik Teele – brilliant brand builder behind Curlbox and the MyTaughtYou podcast – and it was the best way to kickoff my 31st year of life. Not only was I surrounded by nearly 100 of the most powerful black girl changemakers in the country, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I was truly being poured into.
When you craft your life’s work around being purpose-driven and pouring into others, it can leave you feeling empty and drained. Also, as an entrepreneur, I often work in a bubble with very little interaction from people who truly understand what I’m going through as a sole proprietor with children and bills and unpaid invoices and STRESS. It’s a struggle. I left Mexico last weekend with so much inspiration and priceless gems. Here are the top 7 life lessons I learned at the MTYRetreat:
1. Be INTENTIONAL About The Life You Want. (Kahlana Barfield-Brown)
Most of us who are highly successful in one area of our lives (like career, for example) neglect to realize that if we crave success in other areas, we have to work at it. You want a family some day? Ok. Why haven’t you actively tried to find a suitable candidate to create one with? You make more of what you focus your time on. If you’re constantly focused on work then, guess what? You’ll just get more work.
Kahlana Barfield-Brown, Editor at Large at InStyle Magazine, spoke to us about her wake-up call and how she had to literally get herself out of the office and into places and spaces where she would meet and eventually fall in love with her husband. It’s nice knowing that some women who seem to “have it all”, didn’t get it all at once. It takes intention and proactivity for you to develop the life you want. Don’t complain about not having what you want if you haven’t tried your best to get it.
2. If It Don’t Make Dollars, It Don’t Make Sense. (Karleen Roy)
What I love about being a creative is that I’m never bored. I always have a vision, a new idea, an amazing way to put the icing on my entrepreneurial cake. When it isn’t fun is when I’m over budget and I can’t pay my rent. Every creative entrepreneur has been here. Do I launch my next product or do I pay my insurance? The struggle is REAL.
So when Karleen Roy of The Vanity Group gave her chat and said that pulling together the vision for the MTYRetreat was actually the biggest lesson for her to date, I FELT THAT. Myleik pushed her out of her comfort zone by challenging her on doing things that didn’t provide real monetary value. She talked about being a creative and how creativity can sometimes push you WAY over budget. And that’s truly what I’m learning each day and where I have to challenge myself more. Is this thing going to create wealth for me? If not, then why am I doing it? That’s a question I have to start asking myself more in 2018.
3. You Can’t Move Forward Until You Learn To LET GO. (Zim Ugochukwu)
One of the hardest things to do is to let go of something you love. Whether it’s a business or a long-term relationship, letting go is TOUGH but necessary. In order for you to grow, and move into new fruitful chapters in your life – you have to be pruned. Zim, founder of Travel Noire recently sold her company to Blavity. And during her chat she mentioned John 15. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…”
Travel Noire was her baby. And she sold it because she was being called into a new chapter in her life. If you want a life that bears “fruit”, one that makes you happy, serves your life purpose, brings others joy and grows you in ways unimaginable – you have to LOSE to gain.
4. You Teach People How To Treat You. (Luvvie Ajayi)
A lot of the time, especially as women, we accept behavior that we don’t like or appreciate. We allow people to do, say and act in a way that makes us uncomfortable and we don’t speak up about it. Why come?
Everybody’s favorite Nigerian cousin – Luvvie Ajayi – opened our eyes to an important fact this weekend. You teach people how to treat you. Silence around your discomfort is actually saying a lot. If someone does something to you that you don’t like and you say nothing, you’re essentially telling them it’s ok to keep doing it. Another gem – ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Luvvie is unapologetic about asking for pay that is commiserate with her experience. She’s a New York Times Bestseller and that comes with a premium price tag. More than that, she’s comfortable and ASSURED that she is worth it. How much money are YOU leaving on the table because you’re not comfortable asking for what you’re truly worth?
5. Work To Leave A Legacy. (Necole Kane)
What would people say at your funeral if you dropped dead today? Sounds harsh and incredibly morbid to think about, but for some this is a reality every day. During our last night of MTYRetreat, man, so many gems were dropped. One of which came from Necole Kane, founder of xoNecole.com – formerly of NecoleBitchie.
She talked about the fact that both her parents passed away while they were young and that the glaring reality of life’s end is what drove her to switch from gossip blogging to inspiration and empowerment. She didn’t want her life’s work to be something she wouldn’t be proud of at her funeral. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. Live a life that makes you proud and leaves a positive impact on the lives of others. We literally only have one life to live.
6. Choose Collaboration Over Competition. (MTY Retreat Attendees)
The MTYRetreat weekend was like a love fest of black girl magic and power. I have never seen that many women of color, of that stature and presence, come together as the strong forces we individually are. These women came with no other agenda but to build community, share, laugh, cry and grow together. It was absolutely beautiful.
Many of us are in similar lanes, doing similar things, but each powerful in our own respective areas. Each of us unique, but so very much the same. What this weekend reinforced in me, more than anything, is the importance of collaborating and not competing. We are SO much stronger together. We HAVE to stick together – we all we got! We need to be open to sharing knowledge, encouraging each other, bonding and building sisterhood so we can win. If not for ourselves, our families and communities, do it for the culture.
7. The Person You Need The Most is YOU. (Myleik)
I talked about this a little in my “Letter To My Younger Self”. No business partner, best friend or bae can replace what you need the most. Yourself. I feel like I spent so much of my adult life thus far searching and searching for people, places and things to “complete” me. It’s been a long road but I’m starting to realize, with the help of inspirational women like Myleik, how important it is to love yourself first. Myleik shared a story about being terrified of flying to Europe all by herself. Instead, she turned that fear into action, booked herself a first class flight so she’d be comfortable, dove into an amazing book (DVF’s “The Woman I Wanted To Be”) and she grew closer to herself through just this one experience. It doesn’t take a whole lifetime to figure out how to treat yourself right. You can be your own best friend right here, where you are, right now.
Major thanks to the entire My Taught You team for pulling together such an amazing and enlightening experience for all of us. Out of 1,000 applicants, I am honored to have been chosen among the first 95 women to be in the MTYRetreat Class of 2018. Interested in attending the next one? Sign up for updates here: https://www.mtyretreat.com/