If you are like me, you probably don’t like talking about yourself. You find it easier to be distracted by supporting, helping and promoting others. So, when I was challenged to write about myself, I was initially stumped. I pondered and wondered for a week before telling someone about my conundrum. And as any good ally does, they reminded me of what I’m great at, of what I love to do, and for me that is acronyms! So, keep an eye out, for an acronym is sure to appear!

Let’s get this party started. Who is Meshell R Baker? And why is this article worth reading? Well, I value time and won’t waste yours. If you are like me, you have probably had some setbacks and disappointments. And you believe that there’s something great out there, just for you. But if you are like I was, you’ve never been quite sure about how to get it for yourself or how to make it last. Let me share with you how I’ve taken my life’s biggest setbacks and used them as setups for a rewarding everyday life experience.

Okay, where do I begin…? I could start by telling you one of my first memories of childhood was the harsh reality that I was a mistake of birth, the result of an unplanned pregnancy, an unwanted marriage born to two teenage parents. Or that by thirteen I owned three businesses: babysitting, sewing/ tailoring, and baking cookies and cakes. But by seventeen my brilliance had dimmed by life’s hardships, and I was barely able to graduate from high school. At nineteen I sparked again, becoming the youngest management trainee at an electronics retailer branch. Here is when I made a life-altering mistake. I was a young, insecure and easily influenced. The guy I was dating convinced me that credit card fraud was harmless. I was arrested, convicted and incarcerated at 20.

It wasn’t until I was around twenty-five that I set my sights on believing I could achieve the impossible. All I was doing before then was getting by. After serving a minimal sentence thanks to a glowing recommendation from my youth pastor submitted to the judge, I managed to find work, and as you may imagine there are not a lot of opportunities for a newly released convict. But because I was determined to never return to prison, I took and did whatever job I could get. I quickly recognized those who were reincarcerated had failed to find lasting employment. It was the lack of meaningful ambition that led folks astray. So, I decided to stay busy. I intended to do whatever it took, no matter what to stay out of jail, and I did.

While working crap jobs to keep me focused on the goal of never going back, I found what I was good at, being of service to the needs of others. I discovered I was terrific at anticipating the needs of my bosses and superiors. Being raised in a single parent household had given me a heightened awareness and sensitivity to my surroundings. Added to that was the responsibility of being the eldest of 3, so I was a gifted codependent. I learned to be attentive on the job. I started showing up early, staying late and asking lots of questions. I deduced that becoming a person who people responded to by saying, “How did you know to do that?” versus “Why didn’t you do that?” was my golden ticket. This ability began to open doors I never knew existed. I had mastered critical thinking.

Soon enough my stellar references landed me a job at a law firm as a file clerk. Their community outreach program was (or became) a step up from the janitorial and kitchen support staff jobs that had been occupying my time. One day after clearing and cleaning the break room from a going away party for one of the law partners (who by the way, was leaving law to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor) I was called into the law partner’s office. It turns out she had been observing me. And what she observed was 1) I never required supervision, 2) My completed work far exceeded expectations, and 3) I did anything that needed to be done without being asked. She is my first memory of someone asking me my WHY. She wanted to know WHY someone so smart and talented was wasting her life and gifts as a file clerk. She wanted me to know there were an endless and infinite number of options that awaited me if only I would seek them. And that was all she said. But what she did was plant a seed of desire that, coupled with my determination, forever changed my life.

Oh yeah– at 25 I became a college freshman at Howard University in Washington, DC. Did I forget to mention I’m from the Oakland, CA area? I’d been attending a local community college for two years while struggling to keep pace with my friends. I knew something had to give. I came to that decision after listening to a Les Brown cassette tape on the advantages of Black students attending Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCU’s) versus the mainstream ones. He cited statistical evidence of the success in higher education, entrepreneurialism and overall fulfillment for those Black students who graduated from HBCU’s. And I believed. Not only did I research, apply and was accepted to Howard University, I remember thinking to myself, after hearing Les Brown, I want to be a motivational speaker.

So here we are twenty-odd years later, and what have I learned? That a life without meaning and purpose is a prison. A life where I am doing what I think I should do, what I have to do and/or what I need to do, is no fun. Seriously, we only get one shot at this thing called life, and I’m taking mine. I found that I had spent twenty years chasing stuff and status because I thought it would make me happy. But when I looked around, I discovered no one was happy. What I observed was name-calling, gossiping, rumor spreading, competing and comparing. So I pressed pause and set out to discover my WHY. But this time I decided there would be no more assumptions based on what I saw or what others told me. I determined I’d find inside myself what is the truth for me. I discovered my purpose and my WHY.

I am as we all are, meant to be blessings. We all can be a gift to others. Not just some but at all times. But the challenges and difficulties of life weigh us down. The struggling and striving to have more stuff and status believing, “If I just get…it will all be okay.” This is the lie the world advertises on a non-ending loop, that your happiness will only be found in the satisfaction of having something outside of yourself. Let me make it clear and simple. If all the stuff and status mattered, you’d be able to take it with you when you died. And the No. 1 regret of the dying – they wish they dared to live a life truer to themselves, not the life others expected of them. Isn’t it interesting how people who follow their dreams are happier and more pleasant to be around?

So, what is the gift of Meshell R Baker to the world? I’m so glad you asked! I help people create a vision for their lives so that they are empowered to embrace their intuitive (inner voice). The voice that gives birth to an unlimited creative expression. That means carving a path that is individual and beautiful and unique and demands that your voice be your guide and the No. 1 voice you trust. Working with me prepares you for making decisions in the face of feeling uncomfortable amidst uncertainty. I offer a one-of-a-kind experience that guides you to define your legacy, declare your vision for personal and professional achievements and design a purposeful path that is yours and yours alone.

I live, eat, sleep, and breath VISION! My passion and purpose are to empower as many people as possible to experience joy and enthusiasm for their lives. I’ll leave you with a few Meshell-isms!

M – MIRACLES OF MISTAKES
Nothing amazing has ever been created without a mistake. So, get busy and make some mistakes!

E – EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES
People never forget how you made them feel. Decide you will always leave others better off.

S – SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS
The journey of a lifetime begins with step one. Find your patient and persistent pace.

H – HEALTHY HABITS
The mind, body, and soul all work together. You are your habits, so create some good ones.

E – EFFORTS IN EXCELLENCE
Do your absolute best with what you have, where you are, right now. Your value will increase.

L – LIFELONG LEARNER
The one constant in life changes. If you aren’t learning, you will be left behind.

L – LONGSTANDING LEGACY
We all become a memory. Decide how you want to be remembered and become that person.

Meshell Baker is a captivating and highly engaging International Speaker, VISION Mastery Strategist and Purpose Coach. Baker is on a mission to empower as many as possible to find joy and enthusiasm in their lives.  Since May 2017, she has traveled from city to city in a 22-foot Class B – RV fondly named the #DreamBigBus.  Which she decorated with one burning question: What would you do if you knew you would not fail?  Baker’s unique VISION Mastery process empowers her clients to clearly define purposeful goals, create powerful visions and craft compelling mission statements.  Baker is inspiring others to step into their brilliance by modeling a lifestyle of embracing uncertainty and the uncomfortable. http://bit.ly/ChatwithMeshell

*Article first published in Brick Magazine on February 28, 2018. http://thebrickmagazine.com/life-does-get-easier-when-you-get-better/