The Grit Behind The Grind

March 10, 2024

By Nicole

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I wake up feeling ambitious and do something I’ve never done. I decide to pack my suitcase to the max. The big one, not the small one. Maybe I’ll connect with an organization that wants to buy my books? I think, as I toss one book after another into the luggage that serves as my book container for attending events. It takes everything in me to hull the thing up one step after another from the basement; the whole time, I’m praying to God over my back, my foot, and my body so that I don’t have another replay of my prior injuries. But the Father hears my prayers, and I make it safely to the top. That’s one of the benefits of falling. If you learn from the fall, you can prevent it from happening again. I walk and even run a lot slower these days. 

I’m scheduled to attend a career fair for students ages 13-18 that my good friend Alysha Ellis asked me to attend. We are speaking to these kids about entrepreneurship and writing, both subjects that I’ve fallen in love with the last several years. I know it’s a divine assignment, I just don’t yet know how divine.

The drive is smooth, and it’s not until I near the building that I struggle. It takes me three times of circling to finally find the entrance to the garage parking lot. This includes changing my GPS app to a different one entirely. Am I the only one who’s noticed that sometimes one app isn’t up to par? Anyway, I park and roll my 50 lb luggage out of the garage. But guess what? It’s raining. No worries. I don’t have to be concerned about my hair because I’ve got my little wig on, which is really just a fly hat. Have you noticed that? Wigs are really just super cute hats. They’re also hair-protective styles, which I am the queen of, especially when I’m in a workout season like I am these days. 

But as I’m rolling along, I realize my course is taking me upward—not a hill per se, more like an incline. Yet, with the 50 extra pounds I’m carrying, it might as well be Mount Everest. 

Ok, God, here we go. 

I know what this is. It’s game time. 

So often, we don’t see what entrepreneurs are weathering behind the scenes. We catch the successes. We flick through the social media highlights. 

But I’m willing to bet that no entrepreneur at any level skips over the grit of the grind.

I was talking to a good friend yesterday who I highly esteem as an entrepreneur. She is my goals. She’s been in the game a little longer than me and I’ve witnessed her flourish. But when we spoke, she shared something interesting. She had this seemingly elusive dream to hit six figures. And guess what? She did! I was blown away. She was even more amazing in my sight. It’s not easy to hit six figures for anyone, but especially someone who’s building their success from the ground up. But then she revealed the behind-the-scenes and explained that even though her sales were six figures, her take-home income was not. Her take-home income was actually the least it had ever been. I understood what she was saying. In marketing, we can wave around the highlights and boast about the successes, but what is the reality? 

The reality is that six figures is a lofty accomplishment, but there are costs that come along with it.

So, on this particular day, I’m paying my cost. I’m lugging these 50 lbs of books around uphill in the rain. My head is bowed and now shielded by my hood over my wig-hat. My nose is to the ground, and my eyes are pinned to my GPS in hand. Though I’m only a few minutes away, I have to be focused to make it there. 

I’ve been at this for so long, though, that I am not deterred. God has been training me to endure even before entrepreneurship. The road may be rocky, it may feel isolating, it may be uphill, and there may be rain, but none of that lasts forever. 

You just have to get there.

And finally, I do. After a short runaround of searching for the elevator, because there is no way I am walking down the stairs with these books, I do. Then another short stint of trying to find the vendor table that belongs to our group. Then I’m finally settled. I set out my books. I use the restroom (thank You, Lord) I, gobble down my complimentary vegan breakfast (which is always a thing when I’m eating out because I keep forgetting I’m vegan, LOL), and I inhale my coffee. And do you know what? After that, everything is beautiful. Familiar faces pop up, and I have amazing fellowship with old friends. The kids are engaging and eager to learn about being an author. The panel discussion is a combination of fun and purpose. I love being a part of the line-up of other heavy-hitting authorpreneurs. And I realize that it is probably the largest group I have ever spoken to, with about 100 kids in attendance. 

We take turns sharing our experiences with the next generation. But even with all this, one young woman stands out among them all. I lift my eyes and see her near my vendor table. She is gorgeous—a beautiful chocolate vision in a black business suit amid her peers clad in typical jeans/teenage apparel. But not her. No. She did not come to play. 

She makes her way to my table, but initially, I am not there. Alysha is. I come over and catch them in my video as Alysha, without once being asked to, holds down the fort. That’s who you want on your team, folks who just pick up the slack without you ever saying a word. Then I meet Adriana, and it becomes clear she was me 20+ years ago. She is driven, intelligent, and serious about her future, but she doesn’t have examples. Her household is unhealthy. Her parents are unhealthy. How will she make it?

I am her example. She is a godly woman. I can speak to her frankly. I can tell her that my steps were ordered even before I knew how to walk. Click To TweetI can tell her I am the curse-breaker in my bloodline. That where I have made it and where I am going, no one else has been. I do what I have been refusing to do all day to all the kids wanting free books. I give her a signed copy of my book as an example of how I have come so far, so she can too. She is teary-eyed and thankful. She confides about her wavering faith. I tell her from first-hand experience that God is not bothered. His relationship with us is not predicated on behavior. He is on the journey with us. Before we part, she and I take a few pics.

That beautiful moment is fleeting, though. The event ends, and it’s time for me to exit. But guess what? It’s still raining. And guess what? I haven’t sold any books. I didn’t make any divine connection with an organization that wanted to take them off my hands. I’m only four books lighter when leaving and those were all give-aways. I understand this is just a part of the process. I drag them back to the garage, which I now find much easier, but only to learn that the elevator isn’t working. I can’t walk down these stairs with these books! The parking attendant looks at me dumbfounded when I tell her the elevator isn’t working. She is of no assistance. Finally, I find a few stairs that I can safely go down. But I can’t find my car. Even though I’ve taken a picture of where I parked. I’m in C3. Where is C3? I see B3. I see A3. No C3. After I wave him over, a security guard begrudgingly explains I need to go down another level. I do and find my car. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I want to be in my bed, but I have a 3 o’clock meeting I need to prepare for. I’m an introvert, and I desperately need to squeeze in some alone time. Maybe a nap if I’m lucky. Eventually, I’m home. I’m out of the rain. I’m in my change of clothes. There’s food in my belly. I’m thinking about the difficulties of the day. The before and after of the event. The ridiculous obstacles that emerged. But then, I think of her: Adriana.

And I know it was all worth it.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?-Matthew 18:12

 

In other news…Did you know that I just dropped my debut novel When Love Wins? You can check out more here! This time around there is an audiobook in addition to the eBook and paperback versions. Make sure you are subscribed to my email list to catch special offers, discounts, insider information, and more!

Are you on Instagram/Facebook? If so, please reach out. I have a series called “Word of the Day Wednesdays” where I share 5-10 minutes worth of nuggets that are on my heart, which I hope are encouraging to others on IGTV/FB Live! I have these also posted on my Youtube Channel.

And, lastly, if you have read “Stories for the (Urban) Soul, please put up an Amazon review here. I was SUPER encouraged and blessed when a new reader put up her review for my 2nd book which you can view here :).

As always, thank you for your support!

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