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One point I often mention when speaking, is that I lost 2 decades of my life caring what other people thought about me.  And unfortunately, I am not alone in this loss.  This inclination for wanting to be liked, affirmed and validated is natural to everyone.  From a very early age, we are raised to want gold stars next our names.  And it is during that same period we are also taught to assimilate, compete, compare and conform which begins the death of our individuality.

When I began my entrepreneurial journey, I was excited to carve my individual and unique path.  Or so I thought.  2 ½ years into the entrepreneurial journey, I was overwhelmed, confused and frustrated.  Here I was having left the conformity of a corporate job only to find myself on the hamster wheel of networking.  I was running around Austin meeting lots of awesome people and not necessarily growing my business.  I literally hit a mental wall and was questioning my deepest heart’s desire.  I pressed paused and took time to revisit my why, my passion, my purpose.  What I found was my belief that I will succeed and I am living my why.  That intentional and strategic networking is beneficial.  And there is zero benefit to chasing people and there is no magical or mystical connection that would immediately elevate my status sending me hordes of clients.

The reason I became an entrepreneur is I have a clearly defined purpose.  It is the vision for my life captured in an epiphany of what is termed the “know that you know.”  Having stepped out of corporate executive sales job, to become the full-time caregiver to my legally blind, disabled sister was my gift of love.  To which God’s responded to me with my gift of life.   As I stepped out of what was to be, I experienced the beautiful remembrance of my true heart’s desire to be a serial entrepreneur.  I was far off my purposeful path.  I was doing what I thought I should be doing and not living and being the person of purpose as I had been created.

You see at 13 years of age, I had formed and ran 3 successful businesses.  I established a baby-sitting, sewing/tailoring and a baking business.  However, growing up in Oakland as the eldest with divorced parents who both worked overtime, an alcoholic step-father and a sub-par urban school district, I succumbed to peer pressures and a desperate desire to fit in and be approved.  I gave in and conformed to the people and environment around me.  As an impressionable 13 year old, I was unable to stand in my individual and unique gifts.  I subsequently found myself caught in a cycle of trouble and was incarcerated by age 20.  Had it not been for the teachings of faith and the values I learned in my pre-adolescent years, I would probably be incarcerated now.

So, what does this have to do with networking, for me everything.  After the wonderful blessing of rediscovering my individual and unique gifts, I found I was conforming to the standards of well-meaning people around me.  Go here, do that, talk to this person, read that and most often these suggestions were unsolicited and unaligned to my needs.  I also found all the chatter of the networking and speaker information had overtaken my own voice, instinct and intuition.  Except this time, I chose to the stop chasing people and start choosing my purpose.

If choosing the suggestions of others has you overwhelmed, confused and frustrated.  And you are not sure whether or not you are following the ideas of well-meaning people.  Here are 9 cues that you may not be choosing in favor of your purpose:

• You make decisions based on what others will think.
• You say yes/no to activities because it will make you look good.
• You say yes/no to activities because of what others will think.
• You give your word and back out because a “BETTER” opportunity comes along.
• You are most happy when others are complimenting or praising you.
• You constantly and secretly hope that you will get noticed/discovered.
• You wish you could tell people NO to the things that don’t matter to you.
• You have made major life decisions simply to please other people.

If you are like I was, and like most people are, you probably answered yes to most of the questions.  Don’t be alarmed, it is in our nature to want to be liked and acknowledged.  And understand I am not saying that networking is a bad thing.  What I am pointing out is that choosing in favor of your purpose is much more fulfilling.  Purpose is a journey of self-discovery that is so much more than monetary gain.  Because on your journey of purpose, you will find passion that drives you past, through, over and around the angst of insecurities and fears.  Your purpose ignites a passionate momentum that inspires you to do and be all you can.  Purpose is a perpetual and never ending passion.

If you have A CLEARLY DEFINED PURPOSE to ignite your momentum to sustain your drive through the challenges, obstacles, disappointments, naysayers, rejection, failures that life throws at you, I’d love to hear what drives you? And if you’d like to acquire A CLEARLY DEFINED PURPOSE, I welcome the opportunity to connect and discuss how I can be of service Info@MeshellBaker.com.