I recently returned to Chicago from a trip to Los Angeles, a trek I make at least once per year. Usually, I travel to L.A. for USC Homecoming, and my trip is usually full of fun and very little relaxation and reflection. This trip, however, was different. My purpose for traveling to L.A. was primarily for business purposes. I also went to celebrate my 10 year anniversary as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. with my line sisters (Delta Known As “Sands”). As I reflect on my time leading up to this trip, my experience while there, and the follow-up resulting from the trip, I am left with three thoughts: (1) Luck is where preparation meets opportunity; (2) relaxation and rejuvenation are imperative for productivity and creativity; and (3) the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
1. Luck is Where Preparation Meets Opportunity
It is rare that I feel lucky – aside from that occasional near death experience, and even then, I consider that a blessing and not luck. Rather, my “luck” is the result of preparation, which allows me to take advantage of opportunities. I am a planner, always have been, always will be. Planning helps me feel secure on my journey. It allows me to always know what I am working towards, and to be able to make informed decisions about the various opportunities that I am presented with and that I seek out. My personal and professional strategic plan also allows me to see potential obstacles as opportunities. My Sands, whom I will call “Amazing Ace,” and I were talking about a possible opportunity and she expressed to me that she was genuinely impressed at the way that opportunities materialize for me, and how they all seem to fit within my bigger picture goals. After a pause, I said that the way that opportunities fit into my bigger picture goals are largely deliberate. Although I cannot predict every single opportunity that comes my way, my planning and actions steps are strategic. I have a written strategic plan that spans 7 years. It includes big picture goals and action steps for accomplishing those goals. I encourage you to consider strategic planning for yourself, similar to the way in which businesses engage in strategic planning. After all, you’re not a businessman, you’re a business, man.
2. Relaxation and Rejuvenation are Imperative for Productivity and Creativity.
I do my best work and have my best ideas while I am quiet and in a relaxed state. While I am capable of, and often excel in, engaging in critical analysis while juggling many responsibilities, I have been deliberate in trying to condition my body and mind to do the hard work of serving the people and myself. I have returned to running and have recently taken up meditation. I am by no means where I want to be with either, and I find myself consciously working to keep my mind on the task at hand. However, I am aware of my constant multitasking, analysis, and just plain old worrying. Although I went to Los Angeles for business purposes, removing myself from my daily environment in Chicago forced me to take care of me. I have always known that I often have some of my best ideas while traveling, and I always achieve an impressive level of focus when I am away from home.
Therefore, periodically, I try to get away, even if my “get away” is a 3-hour drive to Indianapolis (I’ll be there in two weekends) or a 2-hour drive to Milwaukee. Realizing that I cannot always get away, I will continue practicing meditation.
How do you relax and rejuvenate in order to replenish your creativity?
3. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
You know what they say: Practice Makes Perfect. It’s cheesy and quite clichéd, but very true. You want to be a better writer, you must write (and read). You want to get a certain score on your LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.? You want to pass the Bar Exam? You better dedicate yourself to sitting down and focusing on studying for that exam, including doing practice questions and exams.
During my L.A. trip, I had my first professional photo shoot. I was a little awkward in the beginning. Let me stop playing. I was very awkward and unsure of myself when the shoot started. I did not know how to move, where to place my hands, when to smile, when to “smize” (always), or how to make sure my shoulders were back and my midsection was sucked in to oblivion. About halfway through the shoot, however, I became more comfortable. Part of my rising comfort was that I changed out of my business suit and into casual clothes. I also began to rely more on the photographer’s expertise and reminded myself that every photo does not have to be perfect. I am a novice in this arena, and I am allowed to make mistakes. More than anything, however, the longer I stood in front of the camera, the more comfortable I became in exposing myself, and the easier my smiles, smizes, and laughs came.
Practice, especially while on-the-job, makes perfect.
Now that I have done one photo shoot, I am eager to do more, and I look forward to sharing my photos.