I understand you are taking the month of November as your time of reflection. Why is that and what is your plan for the month of December?
I decided to try a different approach to closing out the year and getting an early jump on next year. In line with Thanksgiving, I am using this month to reflect on the year and be grateful for all that God has blessed me with and the people he has allowed me to meet. Along with that is mapping out the next year and preparing myself spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to make the most of every opportunity that I am blessed with.
The second part is prioritizing my projects and using the month of December to get a jump on the work that needs to be done. 2017 has been a year of preparation and intake; I feel that 2017 has been preparing me for all that 2018 is going to bring. I am excited and humbled by the thought of all that may come. But, as Angela Duckworth said in her book, Grit, “Potential is one thing. What we choose to do with it is another.” I know a lot of work is required. I also know some of my habits need to change to maximize my time and effectiveness and December will be my chance to start implementing those changes.
Think back to January 1, 2017…Where were you?
January 1 of this year I was in Tokyo bringing in the New Year with some friends. It was a blast! That is the literal response. Figuratively, I was hungry for knowledge, wisdom, and the courage to act on that wisdom. That is still true today, and I have added discernment to that prayer.
I was also struggling in my personal life to be content with where I was. I would say that has been one of the biggest blessings of the year; being comfortable on my own and being thankful for the time I have with friends and family.
How do you think 2017 has gone for you?
Better than I could have asked for. A lot has happened, good and bad. But when I look at the totality of evidence, I can only call myself blessed.
Have you faced any trials or tough times in 2017?
Losing two grandparents in a week was tough for two reasons. One, not being able to be by my dad’s side as he grieved the loss of his parents was the worst. The second was admittedly more selfish: I have desired to travel back to Sierra Leone (and Nigeria) and visit my grandparents and learn about them and our family for the past few years. Losing them made me feel that part of our family history and memories were gone forever.
Being away from my family during surgeries, deaths, or celebrations is tough for reasons that I would assume are obvious, but I’ll explain a bit. I love my family and absolutely cherish the time I can spend in their physical presence. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for the technology and the apps we can use to video chat or instant message. But I think this year was the one in which being away from them hit me the hardest.
I would say one of the toughest times was somewhat self-imposed but also a great indicator of my personal growth and faith. It was also an indication of the lengths people will go to help. I was playing football and a portion of my cornea was scratched (this after my corrective-eye surgery). The immediate aftermath was complete with pain, dread, and disbelief. But as I was grabbing my stuff to be driven to the hospital, a calm voice came over me and let me know that my eye would heal completely, but that it would be a slow and painful process. Thanks to God and my optometrist, my vision was restored completely.
Transitioning a bit. You talk about reading a lot. Why is reading so important?
Reading exposes me to new ideas, perspectives, and information that I may not have otherwise come across. I enjoy learning, and reading is one avenue from which I am able to learn and grow. I believe that knowledge and wisdom come in how we process and use those ideas, perspectives, and information in our own lives and to benefit others. I have learned something from every book that I have read this year, and I want to share some of that knowledge and wisdom with anyone who wants to learn.
What book has had the largest impact on you this year?
The one I am currently reading, and I’ll answer the same way regardless of when you ask me. It is amazing how books that may not have any connection on the surface come together to produce these brilliant ideas and patterns. So, with each book that I read, I see connections and messages that tie in to books that I have previously read. The knowledge builds, exponentially in my opinion.
If I must say one book, I would have to say Linchpin by Seth Godin. My close friend Jon gave it to me and it punched me in the face multiple times. The book contains information more people should be exposed to and a mindset more people – young and old – should embody. I highly recommend it.
Are you faithfully stewarding what you have and where you are right now?
No, I cannot say that I have been. There has been some much knowledge and wisdom that I have been exposed to and gained in the past year. While I have shared a lot with my friends, I have not been as quick about sharing it in public partially because I was unsure what the response would be. That is changing, with this interview and with some of the projects we are working on.
I think the most important part is understanding the right way to package and share things. But then, that may simply be an excuse for my procrastination. What it boils down to is I have asked God to make me effective, and He cannot do that if I am not taking action and helping people so that He can improve my process and increase my effectiveness in the service of others.
“We don’t wait for people to come to God then we serve them, we serve them because God uses our service as a means for them to come to God” -Dharius Daniels
Who do you chase?
Myself in ten years. I heard Matthew McConaughey say that in an award speech a few years ago and it resonated with me. The whole speech is great but in particular he said, “Every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero is always 10 years away. I am never gonna be my hero… and that’s just fine with me, because it keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.” I have since adopted this idea as I believe it fits perfectly with the idea of constantly learning, growing, and improving because you want to be your best self.
Are you working on any projects that you care to talk about?
I won’t talk about them all but it has been a blessing to see the progress made with DICEi. I am excited to see where 2018 takes us as we continue to grow our team and build relationships, and action on some initiatives. There are others, but I will wait to talk about them.
What or who has been your biggest impactor in 2017?
Books and podcasts. I am okay with not completely meeting my goal of 50 books in the calendar year (yet) because I have gained some much knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement from the various podcasts that I have listened to.
What are your favorite ones (podcasts)?
EntreLeadership, How I Built This, Black History Podcast, Elevation Church Podcast, Revisionist History
Looking forward to Thanksgiving of 2018 when you are doing this again, what do you want to be able to say?
I want to be able to say that I was effective. I want to be able to say that I made the most of each day in pursuit of my purpose. I want to be able to say that I poured into the lives of others, and I allowed God to pour into others using me. I want to say I improved many of my relationships with friends and family. I want to say I built new relationships with people who prior to 2018 I looked up to, people I dreamt of meeting & working with, and people I was unaware of.
Three goals that we will hold you to?
I’ll give you five:
Make each day effective. Relentlessly pursue God’s purpose for my life each and every day.
Grow in knowledge, wisdom, discernment, and courage to act on wisdom and discernment.
More action and improvement. I believe the result of the first two goals will be an increase in action. As I act, I will learn, apply those lessons, and improve. Hopefully, my actions will help improve other people’s lives.
Not feel guilty about rest; view rest as a positive goal as well.
Be debt free.
Any final thoughts?
I am truly grateful to God to be where I am in life right now. I have been blessed to know some amazing people and to have some awesome opportunities. This time of reflection has been wonderful; I have been able to count my blessings and map out my next moves. I am ecstatic for this new year of action and growth.
-David A. Brown-Dawson, 13 November 17