Another #GreatRead for the month! This month, I’m sharing motivational speaker Trent Shelton‘s book (written with Lou Aronica), “The Greatest You: Face Reality, Release Negativity, and Live Your Purpose.”
I’ve featured some of Trent’s motivational videos on Imperfectly B before and have been watching him for some time now. As he shares in this book, his story hasn’t been without its share of adversity. After playing football for many years, he was eventually signed to the NFL and was cut and rejected by several teams. He tried to keep his love of the game alive, but it just didn’t pan out the way he planned. In the midst of this, he was smoking, drinking, and partying all of the time, among other things, to try to numb the pain. His life was all over the place.
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
— Audre Lorde
It’s been a long, LONG while since I’ve done a Great Read. A really, really long time. I’ve been reading now and then but not as regularly as I’ve wanted to. I began reading Elaine Welteroth’s memoir, More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say), at the beginning of the year. Yes, I’m just now finishing it. I’m working on getting my reading back up. Judge me not. But I’m getting back to them and I also want to put them on YouTube as well soon.
Anyway, for those who don’t know who Elaine is, she is known for her journalistic work, particularly in the beauty world. After stints at Ebony and Glamour magazines (among other publications), Elaine became the Beauty & Health Director at Teen Vogue in October 2012, the first African-American in the magazine’s history to hold this title. Four years later, she became editor-in-chief of the magazine at just 29 years old. After resigning from Teen Vogue in 2018, Elaine moved to LA and signed with the Creative Artists Agency LLC. She’s since written this book and has been a judge on Project Runway.
Her memoir details her story from the very beginning of her journalistic career and the lessons she learned along the way when it came to her personal and professional life.
As I’ve written before, I absolutely love the style of motivational speaker Eric Thomas. Known online more so as ET, he dishes out powerful words of wisdom and has no cut cards! His intense energy coupled with his real gems of inspiration is perfect motivation. (I encourage you to subscribe to his YouTube channel!) When I discovered he had written a book about his own journey and the lessons he learned along the way, I had to read it for myself!
The Secret To Success gives readers insight into how Eric grew up and how he was able to overcome how own mistakes and failures. Those very same mistakes and failures allowed him to grow into a speaker who has inspired millions around the world with his teachings.
As a teen, Eric moved out of his parents’ home. From the book, he no longer wanted to deal with his stepfather, deciding to go his own way. His way ultimately left him homeless and a high school dropout. As he moved from house to house for shelter, ET quickly saw that navigating this life wasn’t as easy as it appeared to be. However, his journey ultimately shaped him into the man he is today.
A major lesson that ET learned was to be around people who challenged him to be better. A close childhood friend, Bill, made him see that he could be more than a high school dropout. ET had way more to offer than that. His girlfriend (and eventual wife) DeDe also pushed him to get his GED and come with her to college. While ET was afraid to start over in a new city, DeDe told him flat out that she was not going to be in a long-distance relationship with someone who didn’t have a plan for his life. Eric quickly got himself together, got that GED, and headed to college to be with the love of his life. It was all because he had the right people in his corner that wouldn’t let him settle for mediocrity.
During his time at college, the motivational speaker helped to start a Christian ministry, Bell Tower Ministries, designed to help students academically and spiritually. It was with that ministry that he began to hone his public speaking skills and creating programs and messages that would truly impact people. He learned quickly that it took a strong work ethic to get ahead, and that you needed to take advantage of opportunities when they first pop up.
Though Eric didn’t finish college with DeDe, they did get married, and he knew that he would have to provide for her. So, while working on his ministry duties, as well as teaching a free GED program, he also got a job at Olive Garden to help pay some bills. I saw that he did what he had to do to grow and get to where he wanted to be, which was to ultimately to help inspire more people through his personal testimony. He also went back to school years later, getting his bachelor’s degree and eventually working his way up to a Ph.D.!
I’m always slow to read books with everything that I have going on. That’s why I always give myself a whole month to get through one. However, this one, I couldn’t put down; I finished it in about a week and a half! This is someone that I listen to and watch regularly, so to be able to learn how he made it this far was great.
It also reminded me that nothing worthwhile in this life comes easy or overnight. You have to be honest with yourself about the effort you’re putting in towards your goals and dreams. You can’t just kind of want it. As ET says, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.” Reading this book showed me why that phrase was so important to him and made me turn up the heat on my own goals.
“Power is the strength to face the things you may be afraid to do and then doing them anyway. Power is no regrets. Power is pushing forward. Power is making the tough choices in your life, and even if you fall or fail, having power allows you to get back up and try again.” —La La Anthony
Long before her stint on Starz’ Power, La La Anthony was a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment business. I grew up watching her co-hosting MTV’s TRL and hosting other shows, as well as starring in movies and TV shows. On the interviewing side, I loved her classy interviewing style, while still managing to keep control during shows. So, of course, when I heard she was coming out with a book detailing rules to success, I had to order it.
La La’s The Power Playbook: Rules for Independence, Money, and Success, offers a lot of great advice in finding success in your career, finances, and overall life. Looking at my Amazon history, I bought this book three days after it came out, and I finally picked it up to read three years later. I’m a mess, I know. BUT, once I did start reading it, I couldn’t put it down.
Many people want to feel a sense of power in their professional and personal lives. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be in terms of a supervisory role, but just having control of your own world and being able to execute your own vision for your life. That can be working your way up the ladder at a 9-5 or starting your own business. That can be having a set game plan for your family. It can also be (and honestly should be) having a good work-life balance. Having a better handle on your life is powerful. In order to have that power, though, you have to not only know what you want but be willing to go after it with full force.
In the book, La La speaks on how she had to figure out what she really wanted for her life and move with purpose. She saw her worth professionally and began grinding even harder and asking for what she wanted. Where she saw she needed practice (like with acting), she put in extra time behind the scenes. She made necessary changes to progress professionally, and it paid off. Over the past few years, she’s not only been acting, she started her own cosmetic line, she had her own reality show, and she wrote her very first book, The Love Playbook. She’s a busy lady!
However, she also wrote about the importance of still putting herself first. She needed balance before she ran herself into the ground. So, she began exercising and eating better, taking her life into account first. Because if she wasn’t okay, her family nor her career would be. “If you don’t put yourself first, you cannot build a solid foundation for your life,” La La stated. She also spoke out on being gracious to others, no matter how much power or clout you have, as well as being grateful for the life and blessings you have.
I really liked this book and liked reading more about La La’s rise in the entertainment business. I always respected the way she moved in the industry, so getting these tips from her in The Power Playbook was inspiring. I encourage you all to pick up your own copy of this great read!
I’d be lying if I said I was fearless. I’m not. I think that “fearless” people are either lying to themselves or are reckless, honestly. We all come across fears in our lives. Some of us let it hold us back, while others drum up enough courage to power through it.
I just finished reading late author and psychologist Susan Jeffers’ book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Pretty good concept, huh? It’s been over thirty years since the book’s release, and Susan’s message still rings true.
The big idea of the book is looking at how you think of and handle fear itself. There are all kinds of fears, right? Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of starting over. But the truth is, fear is always going to be a part of our lives if we’re consistently growing. If you’re not battling some kind of fear, you’ve pretty much gotten stagnant. Fear will most certainly pop up whenever we’re trying our hands at something new or taking a risk. But what ever happens, and whatever fear pops up, YOU CAN HANDLE IT. That’s what Susan talks about in her book. Check out one of her past interviews below!
In her book, Susan breaks down the following levels of fear (surface stories, generalized fears, and underlying fears). She also gives readers some real truths about fear as well (courtesy of Reading Graphics):
Here are some things I got from this breakdown and Susan’s book. One, other people have gone through and overcome the exact same fears I have. I’m not alone in it. That fact alone made me feel a little better. When things are happening directly to you, you often feel like nobody else in the world understands. Reaching out to a select few about my fears and hearing their experiences and encouragement helps me to power on.
Two, there’s NO WAY of avoiding my fears if I want to grow. Sure, I’d be comfortable staying in the same spot, but I don’t get better at what I want to accomplish. I don’t become who I’m meant to be. The same goes for each of you!
Three, somehow, someway, if I step up to the plate, I will find a way to get through it to the best of my ability. Win or fail, it’ll be over with just as soon as I start. Case in point, at a past interview for a job I really wanted, I was scared to death. I thought I had bombed the initial phone screen, so I was shocked that I got called for an in-person interview. My anxiety was high because I wanted to do well and I really, REALLY wanted this job. I was a nervous wreck, and I was trying my best to think positive. But you know what else I surprisingly envisioned? The aerobics class I would have at the end of the day. For some reason, that made me feel a little better. I’d give my best at this interview and, regardless of what happened, I was going to go kill it at my fitness class later. Gave me something to look forward to. I did much better at the live interview and got the job!
But I had to push past that fear first. I used to have a terrible fear of interviews. I conduct them, and I hate it being the other way around. I’ve even skipped out on a few because of the fear. For this one, I buckled down and forced myself to push through. I had to. I needed a change. And change and growth doesn’t happen without facing some fears.
What are you fearing today? Is it a new job opportunity? An upcoming move? Going away to college? Whatever it is, YOU CAN AND WILL BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT. There’s no growth without some fears, and there’s certainly no growth if you decide to run from them.
You can pick up Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway on Amazon and other digital and retail outlets.