In just a span of 1 week I watched 3 people who are in the public eye take a blow to their career. I am always watching as God continues to elevate me so that I can learn from others. Sometimes people walk a path so that you do not have to walk that same way. If God presents a lesson, learn from the lesson. The following are lessons that I learned from Umar Johnson, Kim Burrell and Mariah Carey…
- With Dr. Umar Johnson I learned not everything requires a response. If you spend time chasing everything that is said about you, you will never reach your destination. Keep your focus on your purpose. People often wonder why I don’t compete or why I’m not concerned about other poets. I am so focused on what I have to do I honestly don’t have the time, energy, inclination or concern to be focused on someone else. Focusing on my career is a 24 hour a day job. I don’t have time to wasty energy hating on anyone else or to be concerned with why someone dislikes one of my poems or me. I am on a mission that is God approved and quite frankly the approval of someone that is not a part of my well being, will or purpose is not needed. I am already approved.
- Do not supply your critics with fuel. In this case Dr. Johnson made the video, posted the video and basically invited the world in to criticize him. He gave people the ammunition they had been waiting for to say, “see I told you, etc. etc.” Do you know how many people are salivating for a moment just to say, “I told you so”? Don’t get it twisted everyone is not pleased with your success. But you should know that already. If you don’t let me remind you people pretend well and not everyone smiling in your face is happy that you are succeeding. To add insult to injury, Dr. Johnson made yet another video criticizing those that shared the video. How do you blame people for sharing something you put online? That is the nature of the World Wide Web. It’s an open source for information and before you can blink, information is around the world. Had he remained quiet they would have nothing to talk about. Don’t supply your enemies with ammunition and then ask, “Why did you shoot me?”
- Don’t gratify your ego momentarily for something that can last eternally. Dr. Umar’s video was nothing but ego. My dad used to always ask me, “But what part did you play, Hannah?”when I would tell him about a situation that I was involved in where tempers may have flared. Ultimately, when I thought about it I did play a part and most often it was ego that got the better of me. In this day and age, ego can cost you and cost you big because things are forever imprinted online. Dr. Umar is attempting to raise money for an all Black school for kids. Suppose he has a huge funder that Googles his name and this video of him in a rage pops up and the funder decides they don’t want to be associated with that? A moment of pleasing your ego can cost you a lifetime of hard work.
- With Kim Burrell I was reminded to walk in love. With many issues that I deal with in social justice I have to remind myself often that I have to come from a place of love. My job is not to create further division but bring about peace and unity. This is difficult at times because sometimes it is so easy to say all these people get on my nerves, or I can’t stand all these people when in reality is never ALL these people. In the majority of poems I speak a hard truth but I always try to take it to where we could be or leave the listener or reader thinking, “What could the world look like if we just attempted to love one another?”
- Assume anything you say outside of the confines of your home will be taped. Technology is everywhere. Be mindful of your actions and attitude at all times. (Thank goodness there were no camera phones when I was in college, etc.) The person you cuss out today may be the very person you need tomorrow.
- With Mariah Carey I learned to stay prepared. Things happen. A microphone will go out. I might forget my words to a poem (yes that happened to me before) the point is to suck it up and keep going. Find a way to make it work. Practice as if something will go wrong. Can you improvise, do you know more than one poem by heart? If you don’t have your poem memorized is it on your phone AND printed on paper with you? How prepared are you for the mess ups and slips ups? Can you fall down a flight of stairs like Beyoncé and keep on going?
- Own it. While people in Mariah’s camp have come out and said she was sabotaged Mariah got on her Twitter and said Shit happens. Sometimes it is what it is. Sometimes you minimize the damage by just owning it. I can’t remember who said it but someone said, “It’s never the scandal, it’s the coverup that causes the problem.” How different would Bill Clinton’s legacy have been if he said, “Yeah I did it and it’s a marital issue between me and my wife.” The problems arose when he attempted the cover up. I respected the Mariah said shit happens. Life happens to the best of us. The mess up isn’t the problem it was the lack of recovery and defeatist attitude that sealed the deal. Sometimes it is not about how you fall but how you recover.
- Stay humble. In all things stay humble. Life happens to everyone. Will we always be on our best behavior? Of course not. If technology was around when I was younger no telling what would be on camera that I said or did. I thank God for mercy, grace and growth. I am reminded even as God takes me to higher heights to stay humble, allow God to elevate and always remember where you came from and who helped you along the way. A self made man is a self made mess.
In all things there is a lesson. Look out for them, live, learn and grow.
Love you all!
Have a Happy New Year!