It has been ingrained in me from a very young age that success in any form, comes from hard work. This belief is what got me through my Common Entrance Examination when I was ten, got me to my high grades at the CXC level when I was fifteen and what saw me burn right out in college, only to fight for supremacy in University.
It is a concept that has also seen me through many days at my various jobs and even more so as a budding entrepreneur.
However, it is also a concept that I realized I grossly misinterpreted and drove too far, too deeply. The concept of hard work suggests to me sweat, blood, tears and an unrelenting drive to achieve my goal. The flip side of that being, there is little room for fun, happiness, mistakes or patience, things I realized I needed for a healthy life.
It is a concept that I have grappled with for years because if I was not successful in something, then it meant I needed to work even harder, and had to make even more sacrifices, which always felt wrong but necessary.
Those sacrifices often times came in the form of spending time with loved ones, taking breaks, taking good care of my health and body and becoming even more of a workaholic who had nothing to show for it.
It meant I had to do more, dig in my heels further, cut out all distractions and drive myself ever onward towards success.
Success meant hard work.
It’s only later in my life, late twenties really that I began to understand that hard work did not actually mean eye-strain, sleepless nights, fighting to work with people who did not want to work for me or sacrificing time with love ones .
It did not mean self-punishment or being super unhealthy. In fact it turns out that hardwork meant having a new school of thought, where I needed to do less, which allowed me to have even more.
As an entrepreneur, I listened to many webinars on strategy, on building up my business and all the things that I absolutely had to have in place or guaranteed failure of my business, and I am here to say that all of that was absolutely wrong.
In life it’s not about having the right strategy, it’s not about working yourself to death and it is definitely not about robbing yourself of happiness. What it is about is fueling your high energy meter.
Psychologist, mindset coaches, spiritual healers and intuitive entrepreneurs all know the truth behind living your best life and being successful.
In short, they all know one secret truth:
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what awaits you:
The secret all the experts, gurus and yours truly now know to be true and has helped to become way more success in all areas of life.
Gabby Bernstein weighs in on what a ‘Super Attractor’ is and how becoming this inspires even more success in life
We talk fear addiction and how to rehab the habit in real life.
Ashlee talks about her struggles with accepting this new way of reaching success and it’s not at all what you’d think it’d be.
We break down how this weird concept, unlocks the lifestyle you desire when applied daily.
I have been going through something last week and it has been making me feel like I want to crawl out of my skin, like there is a mass of dark energy within me, that is about to explode, like all I want to do is weep.
It’s a weird feeling for someone who wants to embrace and share joy in her life. It’s an extra weird feeling for someone who is expressing gratitude for all she has ( no matter how tiny or inconsequential it may seem) every morning and is trying to shift her mindset from the death grip of fear into one of positive growth.
I know it takes time people, but let me be very clear about this.
This feeling sucks balls.
Saturday morning I woke up in a f#$king mood.
My parents were talking and to me were way too energized for so early in the morning to be their querulous selves and I just could not deal.
The jokes were not funny to me and I just wanted quiet. I wanted for no one to be talking to me. For no one to be sharing, arguing or interacting with me.
I wanted to watch wrestling in peace.
It was not to be.
And even as I tried to quell the sudden yet ferocious surge of pure annoyance, it just settled in me like a geyser a hairsbreadth away from exploding and burning everything in its wake.
And because of this, I was mean to my little cousin and after seeing the hurt on her pretty face, I felt like such an asshole. It hurt me too, but the miasma that I was in, was stronger than both of us.
Mind you, it wasn’t that I did anything to her, it was rather, I could not make myself smile at her and once again the parents did not help matters. And yes I got called out for being a bitch, which I can admit now, hours later I totally was.
As the day progressed, my mood did not truly improve, there was something in me that was eating away at the very idea of joy and it was not the wonky weather.
I watched a movie and just allowed the day to pass, but soon my niece and nephew came over and their antics were more than enough to banish the lethargic fog that had been consuming me.
Everything about them fascinates me, how they are communicating better, the smiles, the determination, the twin-tuition and of course the dancing and the boisterous fake laughing.
In those moments I realized with astounding clarity that I was being a whiny brat yet again. I was not living life and enjoying it, I was not laughing just because I could, nor was I allowing myself to just speak my truth.
In fact, over the last few days, I had basically chosen doubt, frustration and fear as my companions and had been serving them a buffet of my dreams, hopes and aspirations.
Instead of just enjoying what I was doing, I sucked the glittery, rainbow fun out of all my ideas, sadistically holding them under the fog of my travel companions, because I was too busy convincing myself they were awful ideas.
Yet, here were these happy babies, rolling with the punches, finding entertainment and demanding love and affection, while expecting it easily. Here they were dimples flashing, hands clapping, showing me that not only were they highly intelligent, they were also fast and when necessary very crafty.
How can you stay grumpy in those moments?
So later when my little cousin re-appeared, looked at me and decided to give me some space initially, before seizing her opportunity to be close to me- loving me unconditionally, I apologized for that morning’s behaviour and asked for forgiveness which was immediately granted.
I took some painkillers for the headache I got from eating too late and was sitting at the table, head resting on my forearm on the table, when she came over to sit on top of me. She makes space people. I’ll never understand how she somehow does that when there is only a sliver before to fit her.
We sang folk songs, played a variety of games and I even let her play in my hair. The resulting hairstyle was wild, yet very chic and I laughed right along with her.
A part of that was my way of apologizing, but like 85% was because I was also having fun and I remember playing in the hair of another lady who would let me brush hers, while I filled her in on my latest thoughts.
So I decided to play it forward. What’s the harm in having fun with a 6 year old, who actually enjoys your existence?
There isn’t one.
So yeah, Saturday was a learning curve for me, it made me very, very, very aware of the excuses I was still hiding behind, the bullshit I was trying to pretend I enjoyed and my own fears.
It also made me realize what being happy is about . Spending the time with these children, all under the age of 7 reminded me what life and living is actually about.
It’s not about the money or lack thereof, it’s not about worrying if anyone will read your tales with you make that public or if you’re shouting into the void, it’s not about being perfect, it is however about accepting yourself, laughing because you can and CHOOSING to embrace joy and sharing it.
That was my answer to the question,” What do you think entrepreneurship really is” ,which was posed to the room by Selwyn Cambridge, Founder of TEN Habitat at the monthly TEN Habitat Mixer on Friday, October 18th, held at their HQ, 1st Floor Carlisle House, Hincks Street, Bridgetown, that evening.
From there, the conversation flowed around the topic for October, The Real Truth about Entrepreneurship and for the first time in a very long time, I felt comfortable, I felt seen and heard, as the group of less than twenty spoke candidly about some of the trials, successes and the overall journey they were going through as they built their businesses.
I admit that I like most entrepreneurs when starting out , had no EARTHLY idea what I are truly signing up for, a fact that was only reinforced by some of the stories that swam and echoed around the cozy room that night.
And yet, despite the obvious frustrations and struggles to find their ‘What Next Step,” none of the entrepreneurs who came to the discussion were prone to not pouting or being reticent, the stench of fear and giving up were nowhere to be found.
This was not a whine fest, rather it was a safe space for those who were in the process of finding themselves, and working to achieve their visions, could speak their truths, encourage each other and build a community.
The egos were checked on the grey streets of the town, prior to entering the building, the pizzas were hot and the beverages flowed. There was no putting on the spot, no bashing and no feelings that you did not belong.
The channels for communication were open and available to all who chose to speak.
Entrepreneurship is not a linear endeavor, there is no quick strategy that will automatically work and make you rich. There are only long hours, being in the zone, trial and error and sometimes straight up failure.
And yet even with tales of “how my business crashed, burnt and was mocked to my face”, none in that room gave any sign of giving up.
Rather I was so proud ( of the strangers yes) that while they spoke of their fears, their issues with grinding and how their lifestyles had changed to accommodate building their dreams, dealing with the copycats ,and sabotages, they were all determined to continue making their visions a reality.
They were learning to deal with their fears, to express themselves, to learn more and be heard by those in the trenches right along with them.
They were willing to add their voices, and realize that entrepreneurship is less about building a strategy and more about nurturing the self.
From the lively discussion, it became clear that one of the cardinal sins every entrepreneur has made in their lifetime was to be a ‘grinder’. This is where they let the business orchestrate their lifestyles and not delegate where possible.
Entrepreneurship brings out the workaholic in you, that’s a fact, especially since in most cases, you’re a solopreneur.
One of the things I learnt and will share with you, who have stumbled upon this article, is that you have to take back control, set and adhere to your boundaries and put your health and happiness first.
The reason you started this journey was NOT to become a slave to the job, it was most likely to provide a better lifestyle to you and your family, it was to see a dream become reality, it was to see how far you can go.
Yet, we end up overworking so much that we don’t spend any time with family and friends. We no longer feel free and taking time to chill, is instead seen as time we should be working out the latest challenge to the business. We forget to eat, shower, actually say words and enjoy life.
Our self worth becomes embroiled in the business’ finances and we isolate ourselves even more than we could have dreamt possible. We place negatively above the good and forget to celebrate any of the wins because it’s not the big goal we set for ourselves.
We take on everything and distrust that others can execute our vision properly, so when our bodies inevitably break down, so too do our businesses.
I was exactly all of those things, until I really started to do mindset work and slowly I realized I did not need to punish myself, I realized that if this journey was not fun for me, did not fill me with joy, there was no way I would be able to relate to my customers.
I realized that I had to take my power back and run my business, not allow it to run me. I did a crazy thing then, and it has paid dividends.
This thing was expecting my problems to fix themselves and I no longer dedicated days and weeks to them, instead I focused on all that was going right and soon, I had more things flowing and going my way than not.
It was fucking terrifying to feel as if I had a noose hanging over me at first, because we are 1) hardwired to be hyper-aware of all threats- which now take the form of debt, no likes on a social media platform, a drop in or straight up no sales of our products and ends in us self castigating to do better.
And 2) to solve the problem as quickly as possible because if you do not, are you even an entrepreneur?
So yeah, it was crazy pants for me to make the decisions to turn my gaze away from the issues and to enjoy what I could, but here’s what honest to God started to happen.
In the middle of me dancing and singing off key one evening, the most brilliant of ideas came to me about how to resolve the issues I was having around the delivery of my products.
Another came when I was doing my early morning walks about the possibility of how to increase cash flow.
Truth is guys, the problems want to be fixed, they want to be heard and they can only be when you’re open to it. If you’re in grinding mode, you’re feeding your stress which wants you to be stressed so no viable possibilities or real solutions there.
However, if you’re feeding your joy, then you’re open to more joy which means all the solutions come to you.
Keep feeding your joy and remember that entrepreneurship is actually NOT about building a business at all, instead it begins and ends with building and nurturing yourself.
For those who were like me and are trying to get their minds ‘right’, trying to shift their mindsets so that they can come through on building that lifestyle you can see and are going towards, allow me to recommend three of my books to you.
I wrote each of these books when I was going through the thick of it and needed guidance. So I did the research, I lived the life, walked the walk and talked the talk, then laid it all bare in these books.
I will be doing a series soon, where I talk more about them and what prompted their existence.
Until then, you’re amazing and more valuable than you can ever imagined.
Ashlee Cox .
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“Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
Can we talk about this statement please!
So I remember the first time I heard this magical quote, it was coming from the mouth of a very happy man who owned a taco food truck and I remember thinking ‘look at how freaking happy he is’ and I like everyone who was watching whatever show it was, started to melt at the idea and how true that seemed right then and there.
It hit me profoundly, because, yeah!- work shouldn’t be boring, stressful or make me want to cry just by thinking about it right?
Work should be something I look forward to, something I thoroughly enjoy doing day in and day out and something that allows me to learn new skills and then apply them. Work should be something that I am passionate about and that grows right along with me.
Then, no less than five seconds later, my old school training came back to me and all those amazing, magical thoughts I had about loving work, came crashing down like an empty glass being pushed off the table by a indifferent cat , impassively watching as the glass shatters upon impact to the cold tiled floor.
What could have been the thought that triggered this level of destruction?
“ But he doesn’t look like he makes a lot of money…and isn’t that food truck situation super risky and not financially secure?”
And yeah, just like that I remembered every one of my teachings that had been ingrained in me about needing money,
needing my money to come from a secure and dependable source,
needing to make a whole lot of money
and the belief that a lot of money could only come to me if I was as endlessly industrious as those freaking ants…because no one wanted to be that slacker grasshopper and then be totally screwed!
(Even though if you looked at that story in a different light, the grasshopper played music for those ants and then the Universe provided for the grasshopper via those same ants).
And so I did what any normal, red blooded female who had been taught that life was hard and making money was the only thing that would make your whole world go round, I thought about my skills and talents, picked the ones that Society seemed to pay a reasonable amount for, that I didn’t hate and I applied for a job at all the places that I prayed would pay me.
I was not thinking about myself in terms of what actually landing this job would entail or even mean.
All I thought about was the fact that I had a University degree that I was now pretty sure I was actually never going to get a chance to use, three Associate degrees that I was definitely not going to gain money from and I needed to show my parents that I had not infact wasted time on the subjects that I had loved at the time.
So basically I needed a well paying job to justify my ‘higher education’ that I partly paid for with my temp job as a Sales Clerk in a High-end Shoes Store, also because I desperately did not want to continue to work in the shoe’s store after so many years of freaking study!
And for a while I admit that I was very happy! I felt as if I had cheated the system, because my job was perfect!
I wrote for a living and it was decent pay- though I wished it was more, even as I didn’t expect it to ever be and I got to learn new skills, meet new people and eventually move out of my parents place and into a shared space with my then boyfriend.
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So in a very real sense to my mind, “I was doing what I loved!” and it paid well enough.
And it was almost perfect, as perfect as my young brain could imagine it could get….until of course, it was not.
Until I was no longer doing what I loved, because the atmosphere had changed and I was starting to feel anxious, starting to realize that while I loved writing, meeting people, sharing their stories, I no longer enjoyed doing so in the environment I was doing it in.
So the catch to this fairy tale is that all too soon, the job brought with it all the stresses, pressures, drama and time constraints that I could not help but to shaft at, and I was now working at all hours, felt like I was no longer in control of my time or where I had to go for work and my boss had me on call always.
And the worst part was that I believed deeply that I would never get a better job or money making opportunity than this.
So what was I going to do?
I genuinely did not like the ‘how’ of what I was doing anymore, but I felt as if all the reasons this felt so wrong to me were not actually valid enough for me to leave and so that level of impotence and anger built up in me, trapping me, stifling me and slowly I went from a happy person to one that was not and let’s just say it does not take very long for misery to infect all aspects of your life.
Eventually I realized that I was torturing myself for no reason and poisoning my own well of happiness, and all because I was terrified that this thing that I had outgrown was all I was ever going to have.
Why was it that I was placing everything over my own happiness?
Why was it that I was convinced that my happiness did not matter and needed to be sidelined in favour of bills and my superior’s needs?
One day, I remembered the quote: “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
And it truly hit me the significance of this quote as it relates to my own life.
It made me realize that I had sacrificed a lot of myself to my old training and I wanted to have new teachings.
I wanted to actually give myself permission to allow myself to ‘ do what I love’, I wanted to be working for hours and hours on something I genuinely enjoyed because yeah that’s technically hard work, but I’d be smiling, I’d be happy and I would have no complaints.
I wanted to have to be dragged away from work, instead of being eager to get away from it and the most important thing I realized was that I owed it to myself and the rest of my life to have that experience.
This meant that I needed to find out what I loved to do, what I truly enjoyed and then to be brave enough to pursue it.
And this would not be based on how much money I thought it would bring, not on psyching myself up to do it and knowing in my soul I was settling, or that I was doing it to please others, while I found no pleasure in it.
I wanted to experience that quote- I wanted to love what I do and never feel like I was ‘working’ ie stressing, frustrated, wanting to escape it.
And to do that, I had to realize what I wanted for my life, not just financially, but on the real scale, the This is ME scale. I had to be brave enough to pursue a healthy relationship with myself where I got to know myself, my likes, dislikes, loves and desires and validate them.
I had to relearn the way I spoke to myself, the things I did, how I took care of myself, and allowed happiness to enter into my life.
This came with repetition, with patience, with the understanding of unconditional love, support and the importance of my own health.
This allowed me to clear away some of the misery I had been harbouring and to bring light into my life.
The more I did it the more I realized where my passions lied and I want that for you as well.
You deserve to allow yourself to feel truly happy, to feel that sensation emanating from your heart and spilling to fill up your body.
To wake up and smile because today you GET to do what you love and it easily supports your whole life.
The only question is : What are you waiting for to truly get to know yourself?