Success Is A Lifestyle

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Doubts

Regardless of what anybody tells you, we all have doubts. Anyone who says otherwise, is lying. Now, the kind of doubts we have, what they look like, when and where they show up, and how much they control our actions and our livelihood is a different story. Nonetheless, we've all got them. No one is immune. Even me, being a full-time professional, clothing brand owner, and speaker, I still have battles with doubt.

See, last week Thursday, I was on a conference call for a potential speaking engagement. A colleague recommended me for the opportunity and of course, they reached out to me. It was for a professional association's upcoming 50th Anniversary Conference.

About two weeks before the conference call, I received a form submission from my website. It was one of the members looking to connect with me. Now I must admit, I had doubts from the beginning. After reviewing the submission, I wasn't sure if I'd be a good enough fit. They pointed out that my target audience was students, but wondered if I could tailor my message to the members of their association. I was immediately swarmed with a rush of doubtful questions, "Can I?! Would I be able to tailor my message to them? How would I do that? What would it look like? What would I talk about? Am I gonna be able to meet their needs? Am I really what they're looking for? What will I say to them? Do I have anything to say to them? I don't know if I'm the right fit. Do they honestly feel like I could do it? Can I?!"

Their organization and conference was specifically geared toward Financial Aid Administrators in Higher Ed. And, while I have experience speaking, and working directly with students in Higher Ed, I wasn't really sure if my experience and perspective would really be of any help to them; or, if it's what they were looking for. On top of that, they'd be celebrating 50 years!! That's HUGE!! I didn't necessarily feel like I was 50th Anniversary keynote material.

Anyway, at the time, I'd been in the midst of other work at my full-time job. So, I didn't respond right away (probably not good for business lol). I also felt like I needed some time to marinate over it. Then, a week later, I got another form submission from the same person!! My anxiety flared up right away, "Awwww sh**!! I forgot to respond! Is that gonna look bad? It's probably gonna look bad. I didn't respond to their last submission, and now they're reaching out again! Damn! That's definitely not a good look. I probably messed it up already. I guess I gotta respond now! I don't want them to think I'm ignoring them. Man, I f***ed up. I probably should've acknowledged the first one right away to at least say I got it. Damn. This isn't a good look." After racing back and forth in my mind, the only way I could think of calming myself down, was by doing what I felt was necessary. I responded.

In my reply, I apologized for the delayed response, and shared that I would love to connect over the phone so that I could get a better understanding of the association, as well as their goals for the conference. They quickly responded back and began to ask questions about how I envisioned tailoring my message, where would I be traveling from, how much my rate was, and what the title of my talk would be. I didn't feel like I was prepared to answer those questions yet. After reading them, I thought, "Should I already know this? I mean, I suppose I should know some of those answers. I mean, I do. Do I? But, I don't even know if I'm gonna be the speaker yet. I haven't even really had a chance to think about what I would talk to them about, or what points I would hit. Is what they have in mind the same as what I have in mind? Is what I have in mind gonna satisfy what they have in mind?" I felt like I still needed more information. They also made me aware that they had spoken to other speakers who offered to do the keynote and another session right after, during lunch. I started feeling even more pressure. I thought, "Well, they've clearly approached other people. I gotta act fast! I suppose if I wanna stay in the running for this opportunity, or get booked, I've gotta be willing to do the same. If not, I'm probably out." So, I told them I would do the same and gave them a price. But, it didn't help cure any of my doubts. I was thinking about it all wrong. I asked that we speak over the phone so that I could get a better idea of what they were looking for. They wanted to schedule the call before the end of the week and it was already Wednesday. The pressure definitely felt like it was on! So, we scheduled it for the next day.


"Even me, being a full-time professional, clothing brand owner, and speaker, I still have battles with doubt."

Leading up to the call, I talked with a few people about the doubts I was having and why I worried about not being a good fit. They tried to help me see that I was just overthinking it, and had more to offer than I thought. A lot of it was my own internal struggles with worth and self-image that I've been working through for some time; and a part of me knew that, but I couldn't shake it. I jotted down some notes based on our conversations, along with what I felt could be pertinent to my anticipated audience. That helped me feel a little bit better; at least for the moment. Then, I decided if I wanted to shake this, maybe I just needed to be more confident and trust myself. I figured, I just need to get on that call, be true to myself, speak from the heart, and from my notes. If it was meant to be, it would be. I started to feel a little more at ease. I think.

Thursday came, and when it was time, I joined the call. There were about 8 of us total on the call; 7 members of the association, including the President, and myself. Things started off smoothly as we did what normal people do when they join conference calls, we introduced ourselves. Next, one of the members gave me a bit of a rundown about the association as well as what they were looking to accomplish. The floor was then, turned over to me. So, nervous as hell, I dove in and did exactly what I said I would. I spoke from the heart and referred to some of the notes I'd jotted down. To be honest, I don't even recall all of what I said. I just know it was honest and true.

Once I finished, the floor was open for questions. At this point, my anxiety started to bubble up again as there was a quick silence that felt like 3 minutes. I could've sworn I actually heard the air waves between us. Finally, someone broke the silence, "I have a question for JQ." Once they asked, I was immediately on edge. "Is what am saying, answering their questions? Am I hitting the right points?" More questions came. As I continued answering, the doubts came in stronger. I thought, "Oh man, can I speak to that? Did I completely miss the mark? I thought I answered that. Am I bugging? I think what I said ties into what they're asking. Did I not make that explicit enough? Maybe it doesn't tie in? They must think I'm just bulls***ing. They're probably gonna think I'm a joke. Maybe I'm not what they're looking for. I'm probably not what they're looking for. They're gonna choose someone else. Yeah, I blew it. They're gonna choose someone else" Even as all these thoughts raced through my mind, I remained honest and truthful as I responded to their questions. At the end, each of the members thanked me for speaking with them, and shared that they would be in touch. I highly doubted that.

As we hung up, my mind kept spinning. "Is what I had to offer enough? Is it what their looking for? Would I be able to execute the vision I think they have in mind? What is their vision? I don't even know if I'm clear on it. I wonder if they felt like I answered their questions. I don't know if I did. I probably just bombed that. Will they pick me? Probably not. It's a wrap." I'd tried so hard to be confident during the call, but the truth is, I wasn't at all. Though I knew what I said was honest, I wasn't so sure that it was good enough for them and that I lived up to the expectations they may have had in mind. I was afraid it wasn't good enough.

But it didn't just end there. That same evening, I spoke with my girlfriend over the phone about my day, and of course, the conference call. I was still swirling in my doubts and feelings so much, that she started to feel them too. We weren't even in the same room! But, we both could feel the weight of my emotions. "Can you get out of that?", she asked. "What do you mean? It's how I feel? You want me to fake it? I can't just fake how I'm feeling. That's not me." I couldn't shake the low and heavy feelings I had at the moment; I felt like a failure. She says to me, "I know you feel that way, but you can't just stay there babe. Sometimes you do that, and it starts to bring me down. I can feel it." I started to feel even heavier. "You should try do something with that energy. Redirect it.", she said.

Now, I started to beat myself up about how low I was feeling and the fact that it was bringing her down too. I hated that I felt this way and I knew it wasn't helpful because this wasn't the first time. Like I said, I've struggled with doubt, worth, and self-image for some time, and had been working through it. Most times, it's hoping that I'll be able to live up to whatever expectations I believe other people have in their minds. Whether it be in a relationship, a friendship, with family, at work, at an event, or just about anywhere. It's like I'm trying to get inside their heads to pull out what they expect from me, and then satisfy it. It's a really exhausting and unrealistic aim. I know that. Nonetheless, I keep trying to shoot for it. There'd been several times in the past when I've processed this experience with my partner and sort of stewed in my emotions.

"Ok. I won't just sit in it then.", I said. She responds, "Ok, cool. So, what are you gonna do?" "...I don't know.", I said. We both laughed. She then stressed again, that it was important for me to redirect that energy, and those feelings, in order to release them. She was well aware of my struggles and knew it wouldn't benefit me to sit with it and do nothing. "I guess I can go write a song or something." I said playfully. "Oh! That's a great idea! Yea! You should go do that! Why don't you go do that?! Go do that!" We agreed to hang up and I unenthusiastically sat in front of my computer to search for some beats.

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Since I was 11 or 12 years, music has always been a great creative outlet for me. Specifically, I turned to rapping as a way to express what I was thinking, and how I was feeling at any given time. But as I got older, I didn't prioritize writing as much and I did it less and less. It'd been a while since I'd written and recorded some music, but I figured, "What the heck? I NEED to shake these feelings! I gotta do something about them." I cycled through some beats I found online, and eventually landed on one.

I felt like it matched the state of emotion I was in; strong, dark, deep, and reflective. So, I stuck with it. I wanted to be sure I could capture and release what I was feeling inside. And, I wanted the music to bring that out. I put the beat on a loop, opened up a note in my phone, and focused on the thoughts and feelings that were swirling in my head and in my heart. Then, I started writing. I took the same approach to my writing as I did with the call; I wanted to stay true to myself, and speak from the heart. So, I did just that.

I stayed with my feelings and looked for words that I felt captured them, and showed how I experienced them. I wanted to express what it was like for me to always feel the need to meet other people's expectations. I wanted show what it was like to always try anticipating what others are thinking; trying to control what they would think. I thought of the conference call, and what is was like for me before, during, and after it. I thought of other moments in my life when I felt boxed in by the expectations of others. I thought of moments when I felt like I failed, because I didn't do what someone else expected me to. Or, I didn't do it the way they expected me to do it. I reflected on where those thoughts came from. I thought about where those thoughts started. I thought about how they developed. I thought about why I had those thoughts. And, I even tried replaying some of those moments in my mind.

Within a matter of three or four hours, viola!! A song was born! I busted out my old microphone stand that my dad helped me purchase when I was an undergrad in college, the mixing board one of my fraternity brothers gave me a few years ago, and a microphone that I'd been sitting on for quite some time. Now, I wasn't worried about the call anymore. Instead, I was focused on letting the music take hold of my emotions and having fun while I recorded, which I did. When it was done, I felt the greatest sense of relief. I was able to speak to where the emotions came from. I was able to share what I was feeling at my core and explain what it was like. And, I was able to let go of and release what I'd been carrying. It was therapeutic.

See for me, talking typically helps. But, sometimes writing it down and organizing it first, helps me to speak about it even better. And, there's something about grouping words together over music that's magically powerful for me. Sometimes, I physically put pen to paper, and can feel the emotion travel from my heart and mind, through the ink, and into the world that exists between the drums and the lines of a page. Other times, I simply punch in every word on my phone, letter by letter, and piece together the puzzle of my thoughts, emotions, and life with the music. Ultimately, it's my way of talking it out.

Now, I don't share this for any pity. My hope is that if you're ever having struggles with doubt, or anything else, you understand that you're not alone. We all have doubts at one point or another. Even me! And, that's ok. It's normal. We're only human. What we do with our doubts, and our emotions, is what's most important. Because one thing will always remain constant, they will always seek for a way out; a way to be released. Many of us will try to stuff them and ignore them; mainly because we were taught that it was a sign of weakness. We may choose to eat our emotions. Some of us drink them. Some of us smoke them. Some of us allow them to guide and dictate our life, without even knowing it. And, some of us take them out on others. These aren't the healthiest of options and usually don't lead to the most positive outcomes. They even create bigger problems. So, I share this as a way of encouraging you to work through your struggles. Work through your doubts. Work through your emotions, in a healthy way. Release them. Whether you talk them out with a friend, colleague, family member, or professional; whether you write them in a journal, a song, a rap, or a letter; or, if you release them through some other form of creative expression, work through them. It takes much greater strength to admit, acknowledge, own, and face your struggles, than to pretend they don't exist. So whatever your outlet, I encourage you to seek a healthy one and release. Pick up a pen, pick up a phone, pick up a camera, pick up a brush, or put on some music. Perhaps, you too can heal and create something beautifully therapeutic.

Here's mine...

With grace

 JQ

 
 
#Worthy30

As I reflect on turning 30, there's a lot that goes through my mind; sometimes more than I believe I can actually capture in words. About a week ago, I was driving back to Binghamton from New York City and found myself reflecting, which for me, can sometimes be dangerous. I found myself thinking about what I thought I would have accomplished by the time I was 30 and where I thought I'd be.

Totally not there yet!!

I then started thinking about the people around me whom I admire, where they are, and what they've accomplished at the age of 30. That's where the real danger came in. As I traveled on Interstate 380W and thought about these things, I could feel myself sink into a pit. A really dark pit that can be extremely hard to climb out of if you go too far down. A pit of comparison. I began comparing myself and felt like I was 10 steps behind everyone else. Turning 30 is such a milestone and I would have thought that I'd be so much further along in my life. I began to question myself, my future, and my worth. Like I said, it's a really dark pit to fall into.

I immediately recognized where I was headed mentally, and the need to shift my thoughts. I said to myself, "I really don't need to travel down that road. I been there before. And, it ain't pretty!" Next, I thought, "Why don't I just think about the things that I do have, am grateful for, and focus on that?" I figured that would help redirect my thoughts and stop me from diving further into this pit. I started to make a list in my head: my parents, my brothers, my nephews, my extension family, my friends......... As I made this list I then thought, "Oh wait! What if I wrote about 30 things I'm grateful for at 30?! Sort of like my own 30 for 30! That would make a really cool post for my website!" I was excited. "It's been sooooo long since I posted anything. This would be perfect!! Plus, most people say Dirty 30, but I wanna switch it up and do something different." So, I started to make a physical list on my phone (Side note: I don't advise making lists of any kind while you're driving. Especially between 65 and 80 mph on a highway! Just saying).

A few days later, I sat down to write. I started with some of the items I remembered off the top of my head, without looking at the list on my phone. I started with my parents, then my brothers, then my nephews. As I wrote, I felt like I was onto something. But as I continued writing and got further down the list, I could feel myself getting stuck and overthinking. I became so concerned with my word choice and "What would they think about it, if they read it?" I scratched out words, thoughts, sentences, and emotions all because I suspected that it might not be well received. I was no longer writing from the heart.

I put the pen down, took a break, and figured I'd come back to it another time. Then, I shared the idea with my girlfriend. I shared the concept and my struggles with it, figuring she might have some insight. After a few suggestions and a couple questions, she helped me to realize that I was stuck because I entered into a cycle that I far too often subject myself to. A cycle that often propels me into a spiral of thinking, which usually leads to doubt, second guessing, and the devaluing of my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. I began placing other people's thoughts, feelings, and opinions before my own. Getting stuck in my writing was just another manifestation of an internal struggle I've been battling for quite some time now.

Don't get me wrong, it's ok to put others first sometimes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being selfless. However, it is mentally, physically, and spiritually unhealthy to always place the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others before your own so much, that you no longer acknowledge, honor, respect, or even know your own. It's a disservice to yourself to place others before you to the point that you forget about your own value and worth.

I found myself so overly concerned with what my parents, my friends, my family, and anyone who read it would think. I was trying to write in a way that would appease them. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I didn't want to leave anyone out. I didn't want to gloat, boast, or throw anything in anyone's face. I didn't want to rub anyone wrong. But, what about my thoughts? What about my feelings? What about my opinions? The writing was no longer about me. It became about everyone else. I had totally tossed those aside. But, it was supposed to be about me. It was supposed to be my reflection.

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As JAY Z recently said, "You can't heal what you don't reveal." So, as I reflect on my 30 years of life, where I am, and what I've accomplished, I acknowledge that of them all, I am thankful and grateful to have recognized the need to acknowledge, establish, and accept my own worth. I am thankful and grateful to have grown in soooo many ways, with the help of so many people, and plenty of experiences. But, I am thankful to accept my journey. I realize that it's really important for me to remind myself that I am enough. Perhaps you, like me, need to remind yourself that you are enough. Because no matter what we do or don't do; no matter what we say, or don't say, we are worthy. We are worthy of happiness. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of life.

There will be people and circumstances that will try to convince us otherwise. There will be moments that will challenge this notion and make us question it. It's up to us to set boundaries and parameters for ourselves, that will protect our worth and our value. If we don't, no one else will. And, if you don't place value upon yourself, no one else will. As I began my 30 journey, I look to remind myself more and more of my worth. I am worthy. I am worthy of my own thoughts. I am worthy of my own feelings. I am worthy of happiness. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of life.

This is my #Worthy30.

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JQ Comments
Own Your Impact!

Have you ever had someone thank you for being there for them? Have you ever had someone tell you that you've truly meant a lot to them? Has someone ever said that you truly helped them to change their lives, or that you've had a significant impact on who they are and what they've become? If you have, that's flipping AWESOME! My advice to you is.....OWN IT!

OWN YOUR IMPACT!

I say that because it's something I've noticed to be a reoccurring theme in my life. It's something I've found myself being reminded, scolded, and pressed to do. The lack of it has affected my personal and professional life in different ways. However, I am working to improve it. Countless times, I've had students, friends, family, partners, and colleagues share with me how significant or impactful I have been in their lives and the lives of others. They've said to me:

"JQ, you've really been there for me." "Yo, you're a big reason why I've made it this far." "Thank you for all you've done. You've really helped me a lot. "Speaking to you helped me change perspectives on the way I look at my life." "You really connect with students in a way that's inspiring."

Here's the twisted thing about that. Those are ABSOLUTELY all the feelings and emotions I want to create in the world!! But most often, I don't believe it. I don't believe that I've done those things. I don't believe that I've been that significant to others. I don't believe that I've had such an impact on their lives. A lot of times, I brush it off. Granted, I say thank you of course. But somewhere inside me, I find it difficult to take ownership and responsibility over the impact they say I've had. Sometimes, I'll even outwardly deny it and say, "Nah, that's all you. You did that."

Why? That's the question I haven't fully figured out yet. That's the one I continue to explore. But, here's where the lesson comes in. Here's what I've learned; it isn't until recently that I've discovered the power and the need to take ownership and responsibility of our impact and significance in the lives of those around us.

A spur of recent conversations have connected some dots for me and helped me recognize that refusing to claim ownership and responsibility for our impact is truly detrimental, for 2 reasons:

1. It doesn't negate the impact:

Just because we don't take ownership or responsibility for having left a mark, made an impact, or being significant in someone's life doesn't change the fact that an impact was made. Often times, I try to downplay it in order to deflect the responsibility. But, that doesn't change the fact that impact was made, significance was created, and the experience was instilled. If we don't choose to claim responsibility for it, that doesn't mean it didn't happen for the other person. It doesn't mean it isn't something real for those individuals. However, what it DOES do, is lead into the second reason why we must claim ownership and responsibility.

2. It risks creating a negative impact:

Attempting to negate our significance and impact in someone's life only amplifies the risk of leaving and creating a negative one. Here's why; if the person sharing that you've made an impact says you've been someone significant in their life and you deny it, or fail to claim ownership of it, you devalue their experience. You take away what they've experienced and, in some ways, communicate that what they believe isn't real. There's no way that's a good thing!

Also, there are probably people around you who watch and observe the level of connection, impact, and significance you carry with others. Some of them may even wish or desire to have the same level and degree of impact or significance that you have. It isn't out of spite. Nor is it out of jealousy; they simply would like to know that they too, matter to people. And, I believe we all do truthfully! So, these folks observe the impact and significance you have, admire it, and wish they too could have and feel that.

Our downplay of it, our lack of ownership, our refusal to claim responsibility for it may create the impression that we take it for granted. It may seem that we treat it as insignificant, as if it were meaningless. All the while, there are people who wish and desire to have that very thing! They wish to carry significance for someone; to know that they matter. They wish to be able to impact others in the ways we do. But, here we are acting as if we don't? Treating it as if it means nothing? Treating it as if we don't care for it? Not taking ownership of it because we refuse to believe that we can do such a thing?

That can't be good! Taking for granted that people have been impacted, changed, and influenced by us in a significant way? That's something great! That's HUGE!! Other people would kill to know what that feels like; to know they've mattered to someone.

So...

I'm continuously working to OWN mine. Even recently, I've received a bunch of positive feedback and thanks for having shared my thoughts, listening, providing feedback, and creating some form of impact in the lives of people. To all whom have been recently or otherwise touched and moved by me in some way - thank you!! Thank you for allowing me to impact and be significant in your life. Thank you for letting me in. To those whom I may have left a negative impact, my sincerest apologies. I never realized what I was doing and I'm still working to fully OWN MY IMPACT. It's a process. Equal, if not greater, thanks to those whom have seen my lack of ownership and have pushed and challenged me to do so. It is much needed!! Thank you to those whom I have conversed with about this struggle and have helped me to connect the dots. We never succeed on our own.

In summary, I share all this to say that we MUST take ownership of, and responsibility for, our impact and significance in the lives of others. The truth is, everything we do impacts the world around us in some way. It may be directly or indirectly. Either way, not claiming ownership or responsibility doesn't negate the impact. It only amplifies the risk of leaving a negative one. Therefore, I advise:

Thank you Leah E. Shaw for the constant reminder. And, this photo of your Shawesome sweater course! :)

OWN YOUR IMPACT!!

~ JQ

A Shoe Dog for Success

Awesome read!! I highly recommend it!

About 2 weeks ago I started reading Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight. Now, the reason I started reading this book in the first place might be obvious to many of the people who know me. For those who don't, I LOOOVVEEEEE sneakers! I really do! I have an affinity for them as art. They're aesthetically captivating, have stories behind them, and carry a cultural significance. Therefore, I collect them, follow websites about them, talk to friends about them, and take photos of the ones I own. I even have a ritual for whenever I purchase a new pair (yes, I'm weird like that).

Any-who, I love sneakers. Naturally, a memoir written by the creator of Nike would intrigue me. I wanted to know what his story was. How did he start Nike? Why? What was the experience like? What did he learn? What did he struggle with? How did he deal with those struggles? I got that and MORE! I've gotta give a BIG shout out and thank you to my wonderful RA Staff members for having given me the book as a gift at the end of this academic year. I initially was going to store it with the rest of the books I packed up to move from my apartment, but something about the cover, the swoosh on the front, and the story that lied within those pages kept calling me.

I picked up the book and truthfully COULD NOT STOP thumbing through the pages. Page after page Phil recounts his early days out of Stanford Graduate School for Business, the "Crazy Idea" he had while in grad school, his backpacking through Europe and parts of Asia, his shyness and awkwardness, his fears, relationships with friends, family, coaches, business partners, and of course; the triumphant struggle and success of his journey – starting what is now known to be one of the largest sporting goods companies and brands across the globe. I just simply could not keep my hands and eyes off the pages. 

Not only did I truly appreciate reading Phil and Nike's story, but I also very much identified with him. I appreciated his candidness about always feeling he could do more and at times over think it. Whether it was with his business or with his family, he always felt he could do better. It was amazing to see how this translated into his work. Often times, he would obsessively try to prepare for a meeting and essentially over prepare. He would then come to discover that he didn't even have to go that hard. I can't begin to count how many times that's happened to me. There have been countless moments when I frantically scramble to be as prepared as possible. Or, I over think how prepared I am, or am not, for a meeting. Then I get in there, and it turns out I don't even use a 1/4 of the information or knowledge I was just obsessing over. It was cool to see that I wasn't the only one, and that a person such as Phil shared that experience.

In Phil's memoir, he also briefly discusses the concept of being a "shoe dog". To be a Shoe Dog is to truly have knowledge, love, appreciation, passion, dedication, desire, and fire for shoes. And, it's not only about the aesthetics but the functionality, the makeup, the design, the quality, the impact on sports, the performance, the results, the culture, EVERYTHING! According to Phil Knight, a Shoe Dog truly believes in the potential of the shoe, dedicates themselves and makes all sorts of sacrifices to ensure its successful design, enhancement, performance, quality, impact, and results. This is who Phil Knight is, a Shoe Dog for Success.

After finishing the book, sitting back, and reflecting on it, I found that Phil Knight and his Shoe Dog concept truly embodied the very same Successful Is A Lifestyle philosophy and principles I frequently talk about. Now granted, I will admit that perhaps Phil Knight came from some positions of privilege that enabled him to be Successful, which many of us may not have. However, I believe that the spirit, mindset, and work ethic he embodied are crucial pieces for a Successful Lifestyle: 

1. Think Yourself Into It

First, Phil wanted a Successful sporting goods company. He believed he could create it. At the age of 24, right out of graduate school, Phil recalled his "Crazy Idea" to import quality running shoes from Japan, break into the American market, sell them in the United States, and start his own sneaker company. In order to make it happen, he had to first believe that it was possible. And, he did! Phil had even done research and a class assignment on the whole "Crazy Idea". Despite the fact that his dad wasn't entirely sold on the "Crazy Idea"; despite the fact that his classmates hadn't given much of a response or praise when he initially discussed the "Crazy Idea" during his class presentation, Phil believed in it. He believed it was possible and worth a try. He began to Think himself Into It!

Whatever form of success you seek to achieve; you have to Think Yourself Into It. You must believe it is possible. Envision it for Yourself. There will absolutely be haters and naysayers. There will be people that try to discourage you. There will be tough times and moments where you might doubt the possibility of it. But, trust your vision! Believe in it! Have faith that it can and will happen!

2. Put In The Work

Next, Phil had to actually Put In The Work. Of course, no matter how much he believed his "Crazy Idea" was possible, it would have never come true unless he took action, remained disciplined, made sacrifice(s), and did what was necessary for it to become a reality. He asked his parents for permission to go on a backpacking trip around the country, through Europe and parts of Asia – knowing that he intended to visit Japan and meet with a manufacturer. While on the backpacking trip, he even left one of his good friends behind. They no longer desired to travel anywhere else and stayed in Hawaii where they were at the time. Phil took off without him. After getting to Japan, he met with some Americans who advised him on how to go about getting started. He followed their advice and called a manufacturer. He set up a meeting with them and cut a deal. When the shoes arrived, he physically went door to door selling the shoes and building a name for himself, the shoes, his company, and his brand. Phil made the trips, made the sacrifices, took out the loans, switched the banks, worked the long hours, and took every chance necessary for his company to exist and thrive. Phil Put In The Work!

You must Put In The Work! Of course, what it looks like will be different for each of us. But, it's important to recognize what they are. What are the sacrifices we need to make? What's the research we need to do? What are the classes we need to take? Who do we need to talk to? What are the moves we need to make? What's the Work we need to Put In? Then, as Nike proclaims, "Just Do It!"

3. Build A Team 

In my opinion, this is the most important piece! Lastly, Phil surrounded himself with the right people. These were people that would help him manage the company, manage it's expansion, and assist him with its success. Who did he seek or gravitate towards? Other Shoe Dogs! Coaches, runners, salesman, accountants, lawyers, manufacturers – anyone who had a passion, burning desire, and absolute belief in what he aimed to create – these are the people he sought after and made a part of his Team. Phil had people working with him that also believed in the future of the company; people who were also willing to Put In The Work and make the sacrifices. He had people with the same, if not stronger, work ethic. They all wanted to achieve the same Success together. They pushed each other, challenged each other, supported each other, shared with each other, and trusted each other. This Team helped Phil expand across the U.S., run the company, create new ideas, and even keep it alive during times of hardship and struggle. Phil knew he would need to Build A Team. So, he did!

This is crucial for any Success. As reflected in Phil's acknowledgements at the end of the book, Nike would not have existed and succeeded without the Team of people around him. He would not have succeeded without the Team around him. His memoir, this book, would not have existed without those same individuals and without the Team who helped him to share this story. We must surround ourselves with the right people. Find people that will challenge us, support us, encourage us, share with us, and people that we trust. Find people that want the same Success we seek. Find people that have the same passion, desire, and work ethic. Find people that have the same belief and vision we have. This is the group that will help us celebrate the good times, and help us push through to survive the tough times. Build A Team!

The iconic Air Jordan XII "Flu Game"; marking Michael Jordan's historic 1997 NBA Finals performance despite having been ill with the flu. If that ain't dedication, heart, and grit, what is? (Yes, I own this exact pair)

In summary, Phil Knight was a true Shoe Dog for Success. His life revolved around what he envisioned and wanted for himself. He wanted a Successful sporting goods company. He believed he could create it. He was willing to put all he had on the line for it. He took risks, almost lost his house, and even sacrificed working regular 9:00 - 5:00 jobs until he fully stepped out of the regular workforce to dedicate more time to his "Crazy Idea", his brain child, his company. He surrounded himself with others who had the same belief, work ethic, and vision. So, it's important for us to remember; no matter what form of Success we aim to achieve – whether it's a "Crazy Idea" or not – we must Think Ourselves Into ItPut In The Work, and Build A Team in order for it to actually happen. Phil Knight, his memoir, and Nike are a clear example that Success Is A Lifestyle!

So really ask yourself, are you a Shoe Dog for Success?

JQ Comments
Sorry, Not Sorry

Photo cred: Tanyah Barnes

No matter how much we try, how good our intentions are, or how hard we aim to protect against it; none of us can guarantee that absolutely no one will be hurt by us as we progress and pursue our success. It's a side effect of life that in some ways is unfortunate. 

We can't guarantee that when we decide to choose what we want, choose what we need, choose what we feel is best for us, that others will NOT be upset, NOT be disappointed, NOT be sad, NOT be jealous, NOT be frustrated, NOT be offended, etc. There's just NO WAY for us to absolutely control how others interpret and react to our choice to succeed. At the same time: 

NONE OF US ARE WITHOUT ERROR. 

I'm not saying that it's ok to hurt others. I'm not saying that in choosing success, we choose to hurt others. What I'm saying is; even if we have no malicious intent what so ever, even when we try our hardest to explain our rationale, even if we make every effort possible to protect against causing harm, there is NO WAY to ABSOLUTELY guarantee that no one will not be hurt in some way. 

To all those whom I may have hurt along the way; to all those whom have been upset, disappointed, sad, jealous, frustrated, offended, etc. Sorry, Not Sorry

Sorry to those whom I've genuinely hurt. Sorry to those whom have been on the unfortunate receiving end of my choices. Sorry to those whom I have disappointed by some of my decisions. Sorry to those whom have felt or feel a sense of sadness because of the error in my choices.

Not Sorry to those who feel jealous of my progress. Not Sorry to those whom are disappointed because I didn't choose what they wanted for me and unrealistically expected me to choose. Not Sorry to those whom have felt sadness because I chose to pursue what they once hoped for but never did anything for. Not Sorry to those whom have failed to see where I was headed and what was needed to get to that point.

Perhaps there's a lesson for each of us to learn in these circumstances, myself included. I can only ask my Higher Source for forgiveness, pray that I absorb the lessons, and pray for those whom I've hurt. Know that as you succeed, there will be pain, both for you and for others. Know that some of it will be a result of your error. Also know, some of it will simply be the reaction of others, which is founded in their own experiences, lack of progress, and choices.

Stay True, Stay You!

JQ

Photo cred: Leah E. Shawesome