As summer is making her exit, I’ve been trying to take full advantage of the last few weeks. I rarely watch television, but I binge-watched a few things recently. Two programs in particular got me thinking a lot about the importance of having a vision.
One was Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready, which is on Netflix. They Ready is a set of six female comedians that Tiffany has known over the years in the comedy industry. They all started out on the same grind 10-15 years ago, and Tiffany would always tell them that when she made it she would put them on.
The Netflix series is the manifestation of that promise. Talk about being a good friend.
The other thing I watched was the five-episode Free Meek series on Amazon Prime, which is based on: (1) the rapper Meek Mill’s life in and out of the criminal justice system for more than a decade, and (2) current efforts to support criminal justice reform because of experiences like Meek’s:
These are wildly different types of programs, but one consistent theme stuck out to me about both of them. Both Tiffany Haddish and Meek Mill had and still have a very clear vision of where they are going long before they could see any of it.
All six of Tiffany’s friends from They Ready told similar stories about her–especially about how she would say, years ago, that when she made it big, she would shine a spotlight back on folks who hadn’t made it yet. Today, the things that she envisioned have happened and continue to happen. Tiffany’s rise to stardom from poverty, foster care, and divorce is pretty amazing, and to hear that she had the vision long before she could see any proof of it inspires me each day.
At 9 years old, Tiffany became the primary caregiver for her four younger siblings after her stepfather tried to kill her mother, who was mentally ill. At 12, they were placed in foster care and separated. Her youth included academic delays, sexual assault, and homelessness. Talk about a rough start. Tiffany began working as a comedian in 2005 and just continued to work toward her goal until everyone else knew what she had known all along about her work.
Meek Mill’s family and friends told similar stories about him. They recounted how, as a young kid, he was laser-focused on his vision of becoming a successful rapper. Even with his troubled history with jail, the Drake beef, drug addiction, and everything else, he continues to bounce back some kind of way. He is relentless in the pursuit of his vision and setbacks seem to only be temporary with him.
A few examples:
- At 32 years old, Meek has spent a reported $30 million on attorney’s fees over the years–this would break many folks in the entertainment industry. But, Meek continues to get opportunities and has an estimated net worth today of $14 million.
- In 2015, Meek had a very public rap beef with Drake, the most popular rapper on the planet at the time. Nearly everyone thought Drake ended Meek’s career with two diss records. He was a laughingstock across social media, the internet, and television. But, by the end of that same year he was on the short list for an Oscar nomination in the Best Original Song category.
- In 2017, Meek had been on parole for a decade, and he was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating his parole. While he was in prison, his story garnered national and international attention. He ended up getting support from a number of high profile people, including Michael Rubin (co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers) and Jay-Z. These efforts helped get Meek released after five months.
- After all of this, he released a new album in 2018, Championships, that debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200.
It’s like this dude has 9 lives. No, 90 lives. He seems so focused on his vision that nothing will stop him from pursuing his rap career goals.
These two stories make the importance of vision all the more real for me. Tiffany and Meek created huge platforms for themselves literally from the ground up. Despite what you may think about Tiffany or Meek’s art, comedy, or rap lyrics, there’s no denying the fact that they manifested some huge experiences in their lives.
This reminds me of a quote that I keep on my phone and look at nearly every day – positive thoughts attract positive results.
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This philosophy is why I feel so strongly about creating a vision for my life, business and brand, and why I encourage people who follow and work with me to do the same. I wrote my vision down and I read it every day, and at this point I can nearly recite it from memory.
Committing to it, in both memory and practice, has helped me reset countless times when I feel overwhelmed, out of control, or too busy. Nearly every time I feel this way, it is because I’ve gotten too far away from the vision I’ve already set for myself.
I definitely feel overwhelmed trying to fix the problems of other people. I am still reminding myself every day that other people’s emergencies do not have to become my own.
I certainly feel out of control when I’m working on projects and other things that I do not feel passionate about. While I’m not down to zero on this yet, I get better each day about saying “no” to protect my time, energy and vision.
Busyness is something that I’ve wasted a lot of time with. I used to think busy was an indicator of success and something to be proud of, but now I think it is usually the result of poor planning and/or procrastination.
When I really look at where I spend my time each day, the times when I feel the most busy is when I’ve clearly been distracted by other things. Or, when I’ve procrastinated entirely too long (which usually means I should have said “no” to start with). So, saying “I’m busy” usually means “I really didn’t want to make time for this so I waited until the last minute” or “this isn’t really my area of interest, passion, or expertise.” For these reasons, I work each day to remove the sentence “I’m so busy!” from my lexicon and tell the truth about why the situation is what it is.
The reason is almost always because that thing is not part of my vision (though it is definitely probably someone else’s!). One of the greatest things about writing my vision down is that it shows me clear paths for when and where I should say yes and no to things.
If you’ve never tried to write your own vision down, here are a few questions you can answer to get started:
- What do you want your life to look like?
- What do you want your “brand” to look like?
- What do you want your company to look like?
- What do you want your energy to look like?
When you answer these questions, get outside of your usual location. Go to some quiet, peaceful place and let yourself daydream without being limited by whatever is happening in your life today.
If you’d like more strategies on how to create your vision, consider going through the Create A Vision mini-course. I’ve been doing this for years and it has truly kept me grounded in what I want and un-distracted by everything else. It is free and less than 30 minutes long in total.
Have you created your own vision? If you’d like feedback, I’d love to provide some! And, I know the other folks reading this can learn from your experiences. We are all in this together.
I always say that I’m on a mission to build a nation of good people with dynamic personal brands and successful businesses. We can learn from each other on this journey, particularly when we have accountability partners. This is why I am building a whole nation of them.
You can connect to the the private community I’ve created to provide support and encouragement along the journey–online and via app. Check us out at programs.shontavia.com or via the Mighty Networks App.
Download the Mighty Network app by clicking here. Once it downloads, click “Find a Mighty Network” and search for Shontavia Johnson. You’ll find content there that I may not share elsewhere.
Thank you so much for joining me on this roller coaster of an experience. I am eternally grateful that I get to do this work with wonderful people each day.
Let’s make it happen,