#businessgoals // practicing alignment when it comes to life and business

As I have been diving into more business studies and listening to a bunch of women and women of color business podcasts, I have been reflecting on how my values align with the values and mindsets of business people and entrepreneurs.  In many cases, they have excellent advice for aligning yourself with how business currently operates. These are huge insights for groups that have been historically excluded from accumulating wealth and owning capital. I've felt uncomfortable however with the end goal of all of this business. What are we ultimately striving for as we dive deeper into developing all of our businesses? In talking about it with friends and family, it seems like there is consensus that getting people of color and women into positions of power would create change.

In talking through this idea with my partner Ricky, I realized the word "power" is thrown around in this statement as though it means something clear and specific. When I think of power and how I have heard it used, it seems to generally indicate wealth, money, influence and control. Using this common definition for power, this seems to indicate we want people of color and women to have wealth, money, influence and control. 

While this may be true, what do we want women and people of color to do with their power once obtained? In the same way, I wonder, what do we want all people to do with the power they have obtained? Simply getting into positions of power cannot be the end goal. If that were the case, all the same inequities that exist in our society today would persist. So if gaining power isn’t our end goal, what is?

Reflecting on this question for myself, I came up with:
Ultimately, I’d like equitable (not equal- there’s a difference) treatment of all people so that everyone gets what they need.
This brings up one glaring question:
What do we need?
With this goal and question, I am reflecting on what I actually need in life. What do I need in order to survive? What standard of living am I perpetuating? Is it meeting my most basic needs or exceeding them? What are my most basic needs? All of these questions are important for me to reflect on so that I am clear on my purpose and ultimate goal of what I want in life and in business. Where I want to end up in life is tied to how I am spending my time which is essentially what my business is. (In a way, we all run our own businesses. We make decisions that impact the energy we put out into the world. It may not be all that time that we feel we are in control of our decisions, but there are moments where we each decide how and why we are directing our life energy).

Using this lens, I am looking at what I do and what I engage with just to take note of whether the company, group, person or organization I am engaging with strives towards the same goal of equity. I am also looking at how I operate as a business. Does everything I do point to this same goal?

For those who may not know, I’m a big fan or reading revolutionary autobiographies. I love getting insight to how someone developed as a revolutionary, what influenced and inspired their beliefs and drove them to align their life with their values. I also love that they acknowledge their part in a larger history of struggle. In all of the books I have read by revolutionary leaders, they reiterate that their story is one of many and they are documenting it to contribute and further the struggle, knowing others much like them deserve to have their stories told and remembered. (This is part of my goal with painting people of color- to add beautiful pictures of people of color to history). Reading autobiographies of revolutionaries has also taught me that the people who create change:

  1. get clear on what their ultimate goal is

  2. continually interrogate and realign themselves with that goal

  3. make personal choices to align their entire life with that goal

This can obviously lead to drastically different results depending on your end goal. In the case of many corporations, the end goal appears to be capital accumulation, leading to the highest exploitation of human life possible and living in extreme excess. (With social pressure, these institutions are changing but still fail to be fully committed to equity). In the case of revolutionaries, the goal is often for each person to be able to exist with a sense of safety- for women to be able to walk down the street day or night, without fear of assault, for black men to move freely and wear their presence as loudly as the voices of white men, for youth voices to be heard in commanding tones and listened to, for each human being to find connection in community, etc.

To bring these wants to fruition however, it means aligning not just your personal life but whoever you dedicate your time to (job, businesses, community, etc.) towards that goal. The more energy we direct towards the ultimate goals we want for society, the more they will grow. The struggle towards a more equitable and safe society is built from each of our actions and how they align with or derail from that goal. For me, this can feel like a daunting task but it is one that I must be committed to engaging with if I am committed to wanting change. Many revolutionaries have come before who have committed to this task of aligning their lives with their values- whether or not we acknowledge and understand our role in it, we are part of shaping this history.

Combining my thoughts from listening to business podcasts and reading revolutionary autobiographies, I am thinking about this alignment in terms of my personal development and my business development. I am aligning my business with my personal goals and in doing so, I am directing my actions towards creating safety for all people.

This means:

  • I am focusing on supporting business, which hold safety for all people as a practice in their business.

  • I am focusing on supporting women of color and LGBTQ people of color. By focusing on supporting and creating safe spaces for LGBTQ and women of color to exist, we support safe spaces for all people to exist.

  • I am focus on building community and connecting with others.

I am still working through what direct actions this means for me. I will share those as I think of them. If you are interested in reflecting on this also, please drop me a line. I’d love to hear your thoughts, discuss questions together, share ideas, resources and support conversation on this topic.

To meet up in person for art and conversation, I am hosting a dinner and mini workshop (followed by walking over to a show a block from my house!):
Saturday, May 26th Mini Workshop, Dinner and Show Visit 
"What’s the Point?" // Defining Your Purpose in Creating (18th & Wharton) 
$35 // Dinner and materials provided 

In this workshop, we’ll discuss what our end goal is and how to align ourselves to get there through what we create. I am excited to bring this conversation more explicitly into my workshops and create support for this dialogue through art. We will define, refine and create towards our goal and discuss ways to further our goal beyond this one workshop. After the workshop, I will be walking over to The Pharmacy to hear a Great Time Band (that’s their name haha) play! They showcased many local artists in their most recent album including a piece I did for their song One.Seventy.Two. Above is the video of me painting to their song <3 I’m finishing the write up/ sign up for this workshop but save the date! Would love to hear your thoughts in this conversation. As always, please send any via email also.

Thank you for being part of this adventure towards purposeful creating.

Vessna Scheff