I have been on this entrepreneurial journey for the last three years.
It certainly wasn't something I wanted to do. Growing up, we were a traditional, middle-class Black family who relied on our education to help us secure solid work.
Middle-class upbringing was the norm, and as such, it seemed only fitting that I carry on this economic tradition that has worked for so many decades.
After enduring my long battle with the courts, I found myself trapped between my love for teaching and my fear of re-entering the public school system. I needed work, though, especially because I had a daughter to raise on my own. But the publicity surrounding my case made it difficult for me to acquire or maintain even the simplest teaching positions.
My family and friends "encouraged" me to continue putting myself out there to find "real work." One family member repeatedly told me, "All you need is one yes." But with each rejection, I grew frustrated while my resources depleted. I realized in that moment I had spent so much energy trying to ask other people for permission to be great when all I needed to do was give myself that permission.
So, I began exploring other options. I tapped into the online space and discovered a new way of generating income, one that allowed me to fulfill my heart's desire while also being at home with my daughter. I read the latest stories from professional bloggers, writers, and entrepreneurs, who taught me about the power of the virtual world. I was intrigued by their transparent income reports, which proved that a person could make as much money as one wanted by building an online business.
And that's when I made a decision that, to this day, bothers some family members: I chose to pursue my purpose and dream, which happened to focus on online work. And in 2016, I left my Bay Area home, move to Sacramento where I knew no one, and began building my online empire, one digital brick at a time.
Three years later, I'm still on that journey; and despite the success (and challenges) I encountered, I still have family members who mock or downplay me for my choice.
In this lesson, I will show you how I handle their doubt while remaining steadfast to my purpose. And if you take heed to this teaching, it will empower you to press onward towards your high calling.
Never underestimate a mindset shift.
Creating a new life for me and my daughter required a complete shift in the way I thought. Growing up, I assumed there was only one pathway to success:
...in that order.
I followed most of the script with precision. (I stopped at Step 4, of course.)
But the script didn't teach me how to fight for myself. It didn't teach me how to deal with the law. It didn't teach me how to handle people who wanted to destroy my livelihood.
The script didn't give me the blueprint on what to do when all hell breaks loose. It didn't tell me how to bounce back from media scrutiny and backlash. The script didn't cover the unexpected.
And because of this, I remained lost for the better part of five years after my public hardship. I was confused, frustrated and bitter, wondering why things had not gone according to my plans.
Yet, it was also during this time that I discovered how little I knew about YahWeh and His ways. I like how Job said it: "I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes" (Job 42:5). Before Job had endured his public shame, he knew of God as the one who created the Heavens and blessed him on earth. But it wasn't until AFTER his hardship that he truly knew YahWeh as sovereign.
I can relate.
There's something about hitting rock bottom that causes you to discover the width, length, height, and depth of God. You learn about His nature and ways; and in my case, He revealed Himself as my Defense and Reward.
This new "discovery," for lack of better words, also produced a new mindset for me, one that believed for greater works. I began asking myself questions like, Why worry over the destruction of my previous career, which only helped a couple thousand students, when my lessons and teachings could reach millions? Why become downtrodden because I no longer generate $60,000/year when I could position myself to earn that much in one week? Why limit myself to the Bay Area when I can have influence at the highest seat of power in the land?
Suddenly, my temporary stint with destruction didn't seem so bleak, and I began to see a new vision, one of which you now take part; and this mindset put me on a path that folks within my family still cannot understand. Therefore, they mock it.
Millionaire-thinkers and visionaries focus on long-term results.
For many people who begin life at the socio-economic bottom, working one's way to the top is admirable. In fact, we love hearing stories like these, because it gives other people the courage to pursue their dreams.
But when you begin "in privilege," the expectation is you will remain at this place, no matter what life throws your way. I once believed this theory, until life punched me in the gut; and it didn't help that along this journey of rebuilding, my family wasn't always so supportive.
I can't tell you how often some members speak about my situation with disdain and disgust, never inquiring about the work I actually do or the journey I am on.
Most times, I receive criticism like, "You need to listen and do what I tell you to do, Felecia." Or "I don't agree with what you're doing" or "You're an unstable mother, constantly moving from house to house." Ironically, these comments came from the same family members who, just a decade ago, received thousands of dollars from my paychecks to help them through their own circumstances or in support of their works.
Little do they know that each experience I encountered has helped shape new ideas that proved profitable to my business's growth and popularity.
Your provision will come from the most unlikely sources.
For the longest time, I struggled with my family not supporting me this entire journey. I asked myself questions like, "Why isn't this person celebrating my virtual ministry the way I celebrated his work?" Or "Why is this family member treating me with contempt when I was there for her when our community knew about her issues?" It was hard to conceptualize, and I will even admit that it stirred a bit of anger and animosity within me.
After dealing with this for a few years, I realized something profound: Often times, we believe the ones we helped along the way are the same ones who will help us when we're down. But that's not how things work.
Quite often, when you're doing well for others, you cause the spiritual law of sowing and reaping to work in your favor. YahWeh never tells us when or through whom our harvest will come; but He never fails to deliver what we need, often causing other people -- whom we've never helped -- to give into our bosom. (See Luke 6:38.)
I remember sharing this same idea with my kindred sister, Shemica. Years ago, she was hit hard by the Recession. She lost everything, and it took her many years to recover. When we first met, she and I were on this journey of recovery. Our spirits were instantly connected, and we often shared stories that related to one another.
Like me, while she tried to bounce back from her financial trouble, family members looked down upon her because "she wouldn't do what they said" to get back on her feet. She had a dream of using her gifts, talents, and education to work as a career counselor to folks; and yet she was struggling with her pathway, which her family and friends did not hesitate to highlight.
Not only that, but she had a desire to find a mate who would love her; and eventually, she wanted to become a mother. In the three years we've known each other, we both watched as our family members confronted our passion and purpose with disdain and doubt. Again, this proved even more difficult to handle mentally, because when our family members were in trouble, we were there for them.
Our hardships produced in us new ideas to empower women like us.
As Shemica and I continued along our journey, we decided to work together. We pulled our resources, as limited as they were. We found a house where we could rent out separate rooms at reasonable, monthly rates. And we quickly began building community with other single women and single mothers in the neighborhood. (This new system of living inspired Killingsville, a new business model that helps single women and mothers thrive via communal living.) Before long, we both realized our stories were similar to other folks.
In many cases, the women we connected with had a desire and passion to write and publish their stories. As a book publishing expert, my work proved valuable to this network. Before long, I began acquiring new contracts from this community, not to mention I had a group of women who assisted me with raising Aaliyah.
In essence, I created a new family for myself, one that valued my intellect and expertise. I could freely share my life and story with this new, tiny community; and it was liberating. At a time when I had nothing -- no job, no home, no car, just a couple thousand dollars in my account -- I formed what became the catalyst for my online business and ministry.
Ironically, this was at the same time I completely disassociated myself from my blood family, who despised my new direction. And as hard as it was for me to do that, it was also necessary for my mental health and well-being.
Here's how I dealt with family and friends who didn't support my mission.
Quite often, when we look to pursue our passion and purpose, we want approval from the folks who helped us get our start. My family was crucial to my early development. They celebrated my accomplishments as an educator and college graduate. They loved when I brought home those checks. Life was "easier" and much more predictable back then.
Yet, at the same time, I was not functioning fully in my purpose. I was doing what other people wanted me to do. I was focused on other people's opinions about my decisions. In many cases, I was unhappy with myself, because I knew there was more.
So, I made the choice to leave everything: father, mother, sister, former in-laws, and others. I cut the cord and determined I would make this dream of mine a reality. I didn't want to force myself to be in another classroom where another student could harm me. I didn't want to deal with the oppressive school system. I wanted nothing to do with that world.
I wanted to write, to teach, to empower, and to start my own school. I wanted my own books, my online reputation reclaimed, and my name appearing before kings.
In truth, I wanted more than what I had prior to my public hardship (my court case); and the only way I could achieve it was to forsake all for the call and the vision.
Here's how you can deal with people who doubt your purpose.
Always remember that you will never satisfy everyone. You're only responsible for honoring the One who called you.
This is a lesson I remind myself daily, because with each new level I encounter, the old criticism from family members emerges. If I allow their unsolicited remarks to seep into my mind, it will affect my heart and my work. So, I cut it off immediately until such time when I am able to be in their presence.
I'm incredibly focused on my work, and you should be, too. And if you're looking for assistance in this area, especially if you desire to build a business or ministry around your story, let's connect. My world-class training program, LiyahAmore University, will show you how.
Until next time, Beloved, be blessed! Be encouraged! You got this!
And as always, let's grow together.
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