Intellectual Will: FAQ – Accountability

Since the creation of the will, my friend and I have gone through it several times, making adjustments as needed. How to keep each other accountable productively is one thing we are struggling with, especially, how to keep each other accountable while we are not in the same place.

In the beginning, it was easy, we already had biweekly calls where we shared advice and feedback, so the creation of the will was a natural next step.  We set up a shared Google Drive folder where we had each of our intellectual wills available for viewing.  Every few weeks we would take a portion of the will and work on it for a week and then discuss it during our calls. This part of our accountability partnership was more so focused on helping each other fine tune our visions for the future. Since we are longtime friends, it was easy to give constructive feedback on parts of the will, such as our core beliefs or goals.

Once the will was completed, my friend helped me create social media images I used to publicize the will. It was fun coming up with a color scheme and social media marketing plan, but eventually it was time to leave the planning phase and get to the implementation phase.

In January, we decided to go to weekly calls and review in April how we did with implementing what we wrote we would do. We set up a shared Todoist page which listed the tasks we wanted to complete and then stated we would use our calls to discuss how we did for that week.

What ended up happening, is what we call therapy; we would talk about what was and wasn’t working, how we were feeling, and what we could do to improve. But we still weren’t really keeping each other accountable to our goals; we were counseling each other and lending a sympathetic ear instead of providing active feedback.

April marked our three month review, so we went through the will and making adjustments as needed and then we ended up structuring our April calls the same way we structure our mastermind calls (I’ll blog about this soon). For our mastermind calls with our larger group of friends, we spend the first few minutes celebrating wins , we  review our previous goals, and make new goals. We end the calls with what we call troubleshooting; anyone is able to ask the group for advice and we all pitch solutions.

With our individual phone calls, my friend and I added some structure, instead of spending most of the time in therapy, we are now verbally talking about our goals. This seems to work nicely with posting our tasks in Todoist. We will see how the next three months go with us adding a bit more structure to our accountability calls. It’s easy to slip into more of a therapy talk, but I think it’s important that we both apply a firm hand to our phone calls.

We each have lofty, but attainable 10 year and life goals and as accountability partners it is important that we make sure we reach those goals. I think a good accountability partner is someone you can be open with about your personal and professional goals. I don’t think everyone should know the intimate details of your goals, so an accountability partner should be a trusted. We like to tell each other we are a safe space. An accountability partner can be a spouse, a friend, a sibling, but it should be someone who has the same mindset in wanting to reach their goals.

Do you have an accountability partner? How do you set up your meetings?



Photo Credit:  Olu Eletu on Unsplash

Where does power reside?

When I feel powerless, I remind myself that I am in control of who and what I allow into my world.

My power resides within my soul. When I am feeling out of touch with reality and my mind drifting, I remember that I am powerful.

I come from a long lineage of survivors. My ancestors survived being snatched and stolen from tribes across Africa. They survived brutal plantation life in the Caribbean. They survived harsh dictatorships and foreign occupation. That survival resulted in me being born. When I look in the mirror, I am reminded that I am a product of a long lineage of people who found love amidst hardship.  It reminds me that beauty, happiness, and joy is found everywhere.

When I think of Toni Cade Bambara’s words that the “revolution begins with the self, in the self.” I try not to wage too much warfare on myself. I have to remember that my revolution is one that stems from love and results in love. My battle is remaining present by merging the mind and body. I maintain a constant awareness of my breath because by breathing, I am reminded that I am alive and that is a great gift. Once I find life through breath, I look around and smile at the miracles of the world. I ultimately realize that my power resides not only within my heart and soul, but in my memory, through reminders. Reminders that every day is a new day, and that is powerful.

Where do you find power?




[Edit: 3/23] Inspired by a conversation I had, I decided to share my Power playlist. And by power, I mean strength and resiliency. I listen to this playlist daily at the start of my day. It is in a specific order that has meaning to me and tells a story of my journey to Power.  Enjoy.

Do you have a Power playlist?



Photo Credit:  Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Thriving and surviving in lonely spaces

Ever feel surrounded by people, but still have a sense of loneliness? What do you do in those situations?

I have lived in the south, southwest, east coast, Midwest, and traveled to 11 countries, yet living in the Midwest is my first time feeling homesick. Living in the Midwest has tested my ability to thrive and survive in a lonely space. For a while, I could not pinpoint what exactly I was yearning; I talk to my family daily via our family group chat, I speak to my friends on the phone weekly or monthly. I even send emails and mail letters to people in my circle.

Since I moved to Michigan, I met plenty of friendly people that I hang out with. I took sewing classes, joined a makerspace, and enrolled in an urban gardening program. I actively participate at school as a leader in various organizations. Yet, I still felt like there was something I enjoyed doing that I was not doing and it was contributing to this feeling of loneliness. After some self-reflection, I realized I was missing a tribe.

I love hosting friends. So much so, since 2009, I would have monthly gatherings with my friends at my home in New York. When I entered the PhD program, those in-person gatherings with my New York friends turned into monthly conference calls. In Michigan, I was missing the in-person, stay up until 5am laughing and exchanging stories- kind of gathering. I had it on a microscale, with one to one interactions, but I was missing the gathering of like-minded individuals. I never hosted things while at school, because I felt like my home wasn’t equipped, but I began to realize it’s not always the space that matters, but the people that occupy that space.

In February, I emailed a group of friends and invited them to come over for a craft, eat, and sip night. And I had a wonderful time laughing and hanging with people with similar interests. While I miss being in New York and struggle being in Michigan, that gathering showed me that home is where you plant seeds. And I learned that even in Lansing, I can plant seeds and find a tribe.



Photo credit: Mike Wilson on Unsplash

Finding life in obituaries

“Wait what?” That was the response from my friend when I said I liked reading obituaries because I find life in them.

When a person dies and they have contributed something interesting to society, the newspaper shares their story and often times, these are people that I never heard of before. These are people whose stories I find interesting and prompt me to read their books, watch their movies, or share their works with others; thus bringing life.

Below are just some examples of people whose obituaries I read this year that prompted me to learn more about them and their work.

Lerone Bennet was a historian who wrote about black history in America. This quote from the obituary stood out to me and I shared it with friends.

“Every black person is obligated to try to do what he does as well as any person who ever lived can do it, or any person who ever lives can do it; then to try to save one – just one – person if you can. And then to struggle to destroy a system which is multiplying black victims faster than all the black intellectuals and black leaders in America can talk about. I see those three things connected.”

Sonja Bata was a collector of over 13,000 shoes that spanned 4,500 years. She opened up the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto which houses all the shoes and funds research projects. I shared her story with my friends who love shoes and we talked about going to the museum next time we are in Toronto.

Frances Gabe, was an inventor who created the only self-cleaning home which had a patent of 68 inventions. Her story I found interesting because there is a gender gap in patenting and it is amazing to learn of someone who was inventing during a time when most women were not submitting patents.

Lovebug Starski, was a DJ who in the early days of hip-hop, helped spread the term. Hip-hop is infused in pop culture and it is because of people like Starski that the culture spread.

When I read obituaries it reminds me of why I love to do qualitative research; people have interesting stories. It is ideal to hear their stories while they are alive, but if we cannot, we can read about them in the papers and bring life to their contributions.

Interestingly, after I wrote the first draft of this post, the New York Times posted that they are adding a new part to their obituary section, called Overlooked. After reviewing their obituary section, the editors discovered that mostly white men had their stories told with only one in five obituaries were of women.




Photo Credit:  Abhishek Dhakate on Unsplash

Intellectual Will: FAQ – Core Beliefs

As I go through the intellectual will with my friends, some questions have popped up. I plan on addressing them in a series of blog posts. I’ll start with the core beliefs phase and work my way down to the reflection phase.

The core beliefs phase is the first phase in the intellectual will and I think the most important because it  challenges you to ask yourself questions that you may never have asked yourself before. Or if you have thought of these things, you never have written them down or even shared them.

I was inspired mostly by Simon Sinek, Gary Keller, and Greg McKeown because these three authors in their books discuss the importance of knowing why you are doing something.

I believe that the intellectual will can be applied to anything, but more specifically, the core beliefs phase can be applied to personal, business, and professional life. Ideally, your core beliefs in your personal life carry over into your professional or business life.

Below are the five steps that make up phase one: core beliefs. I provide context and examples from my intellectual will; so you can get an idea of what to write. Please note that I went through countless revisions before I was satisfied with what I wrote. This goes the same for the entire intellectual will because it is a living document; always changing and transforming just like life.

Step 1. What is your legacy

For this question, some people have told me that they don’t have a legacy. When they say that, I ask them to close their eyes and envision their ideal world and what role they might play in that ideal world. Write that down, that’s your legacy. Legacy to me, just means what do you leave behind for yourself, your family, your community, and the world.

For example: My legacy

  • I live every moment free and joyful, being the best person I can be, sharing my creations with others; that is my daily legacy.
  • I connect with other resourceful, kind, and empathetic people.
  • I create things that contribute to the growth of myself, the planet and its people and inhabitants.
  • I love my family, friends, and community and I pass on monetary and non-monetary wealth to my family, friends, and community.

Step 2. What is your mission?

For this question, some have told me, how can their life have a mission? Think of your mission as an objective, a goal, and/or an outcome; something that you are always striving for. Ideally, your mission aligns with your legacy.

To write a mission statement, I first looked at a few company’s mission statements for inspiration on how to construct a statement.  The reason why I looked at other companies is because I wanted to see if there was a common thread. While all the company’s mission statements differed, they all followed a similar sentence structure. This helped me first formulate my thoughts. Then I went to work revising my mission statement. My mission statement went through countless revisions before I was satisfied that it resonated with me.

For example: My mission

Freedom. To connect people to information, knowledge, and resources that allows them to grow. Learn. Grow. Pass.

Step 3. What are your values?

For this question, I first wrote down values that I thought I had in general. I then I looked at a list of values that Brene Brown had in one of her workbooks that I got from school. I circled all the values that resonated with me and then I narrowed it down to three. I also contacted people and asked them to give me about three words that they felt described me. Three of the people only knew me for two years, two were college friends, one was a friend for 10 years, and two were my siblings.

Interestingly, several words or synonyms popped up with these people and some of them aligned with what I wrote down. This signaled to me that my character is pretty much the same across all types of people. Before constructing the intellectual will framework, I started off with values, but when I came up with this process and put legacy and mission first, some of my values shifted because they did not align with my mission. Those other values were more of my moral compass versus my life values that guide me professionally and personally.

Some values were missing something, so another tactic I took was going to Google and typing in a word and then looking at the definition and synonyms until a word resonated with me. For example: “innovative define” that’s how I would type it into Google, minus the quotation marks.

I then took whatever word I thought fit my idea of my value and gave it my own definition. I suggest keeping values at 3 to 5, with maybe 8 maximum.

For example: My values

My mission of freedom is guided by the belief of curiosity, organizing, growth, sharing, supporting, and fellowship.

  • A love of learning leads to wonder: Curiosity is gaining new ideas, searching for patterns, and a genuine interest in life by asking questions.
  • Honing in on what to focus on allows for effectiveness: Organizing is making order from information and knowledge collected to provide a good foundation for asking the right questions and developing the right systems.
  • Ideas are a thought that can linger or take form; sometimes, all that is needed is a nudge in the right direction: Support is helping people identify an opportunity, develop it, and see it to completion.
  • Each and every one of us is born with a light and that light needs nurture and support: Growth is moving onward to create a desired change that helps nurture the light inside.
  • Ideas should be enjoyed: Sharing is passing on information, ideas, and knowledge to current and future generations who can use that insight to grow.
  • Individual strengths are stronger when combined with the strength of others: Fellowship is belonging to a unified group and collectively working to support each other’s interests.

Step 4. What are your philosophies

This step was not in the first draft of the Intellectual Will, but as I went through the will with my friend, I realized some things are important, but don’t make the cut as one of the values. So I thought maybe these are more philosophies. Are there any phrases or mottos you always say to yourself or others? These are your philosophies.

For example: my philosophies

  • Love everyone and everything as you would like to be treated.
  • Love is trust, honesty, stability, faith, well-being, friendship/companionship/family.
  • Peace.
  • Be calm.

Step 5. What do you do?

This step was the hardest for me. Something I’ve struggled with for a long time, which is why I started blogging;  to talk about my journey through life; figuring out what I want to do and how. What you do, should align with steps 1 through 4. Look back on your life and think about moments when you were in flow or in a focused state. Think about things you like to do. Sit on this for some time. Maybe for you it is clear what you do, or maybe you are like me a wanderer. (sidenote, I saw a quote that said “not all wanderers are lost” and that really hit me). So if you struggle with this step. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Ask some people. It helps to talk to others about what you like to do and maybe they have the word for you. For me when I finally realized what I do, my friend gave me some additional insight and that helped me put two and two together.

For example: What do I do?

I create. I create content. “Create and tell stories in new & unique ways; a mindset architect” That’s what my friend said when I told him I create.

I hope providing a little more context to phase one of the intellectual will was helpful to you. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to discuss it further.

If you are visiting this website for the first time, check out this post that describes what is an intellectual will.



Photo Credit:  Kushagra Kevat