Exactly one year ago....
A year ago today, I walked into the office of my principal and told him I was resigning, after 15 years in education, to pursue speaking full time. I had booked 4 engagements for the month of August and I knew it would be a disservice to my campus to be out that much during the first month of school. More importantly, I felt I could have a greater impact for others, myself, and family pursuing speaking full time. At the same time, I’m pretty self aware. Even though I never heard it from anyone, I know there was a person or 2 who thought that was crazy to walk away with that many years in the profession lol. And of course, there was risk involved. What if I didn’t get the business? Well, my thoughts were that I had gotten business doing it part time, so I should be able to get more business with more time on my hand to devote to it. Plus, you live once and time stands still for no one. My why was family that I felt I really needed to be able to have a lifestyle so that I could better support their difficult situations, in particular my oldest daughter with severe autism and my mom, who is disabled because of a stroke. My aunt and uncle have been able to help me a great deal with my mom’s situation, but I wanted to do more...definitely grateful for them. Now, was I 100% sure that this was the right decision, that everything would work out? I was pretty confident, but I couldn’t say with 100% certainty……but no one really knows how something will turn out, until they actually do it, right? I figured in some backup plans, just in case I got in a pinch. I could do Uber (which I had done as a side hustle before) or online teaching (VIPKids). I could also sign up to substitute. All I knew was that it was time to pursue my dream/calling/passion, and to be prepared to do whatever was necessary to support my loved ones. Faith without works is dead, right? Faith can’t simply be about stating it, but continuing to play it safe.
Well, a year later, it definitely seems like the right move. I’ve had the opportunity to speak coast to coast (pre-pandemic, of course) and meet so many wonderful people from across the country in my audiences. I’ve been able to take more control in living the life I want to lead in terms of providing and having time for family. I didn’t have to utilize my backup plans. And the best thing is that I did not have to sacrifice who I am or pretend to be something I’m not. I have been booked to speak by people of all backgrounds…..as a black man, originally from Ville Platte, LA, military veteran, with no special titles or accolades, no special connections or hook ups…sharing candidly about my ups and downs in life, hoping to inspire others. Being able to provide a degree of hope for students and adults experiencing challenging circumstances and being in a position to even give back. It has truly been a blessing that, even just 4 years ago, I had no idea I would be experiencing. I encourage you to bet on you, have faith/be prayerful, and, more importantly, do the work!
Some of the places I’ve visited in the past year or so as part of my speaking business (Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, Indianapolis, Iowa, El Paso)