Pacing your journey…because it is yours to enjoy

Melissa BradleyFor the September theme of JOURNEY, Changemaker Chats DC had the pleasure of sitting down with Melissa Bradley, Entrepreneur and Director of the AU Center for Innovation in the Capital. We laughed, we gasped, but most importantly, Melissa inspired us to push our thinking. Through her inspirational journey, we were reminded to be true and kind to ourselves, the importance of supporting one another, and the magnitude of reflecting on our goals.

“Have the courage to change” said Melissa. Here are a few key takeaways she shared to help us along our journey:

When faced with obstacles, keep on pushing: Any journey can have obstacles. You will encounter doubters or nay-sayers, and unfortunately, those obstacles can come from the exact structures that were put in place for your support. Melissa shared a story of the discrimination she faced when she was a young entrepreneur seeking funding for her first company. Melissa noted that when this happens, it’s OK to be upset, but remember to take stock in the experience and perspective of your critics, or lack there of. Trust in your own convictions and focus on your next steps. Don’t let others deter you from your dreams. Think about your bigger purpose and find ways to keep on keeping on!

Making of a mission statement: Melissa has an amazing wife, 6 talented children, and an incredibly successful career, how does she do it all? Mission statements!  One of the ways Melissa keeps her very demanding life on track is through establishing and updating mission statements for her professional, personal, and family life. Melissa shared with us her mission statements and how these mission statements evolve over time.

An ever evolving journey: Melissa reminded us that we should be ever growing and ever shaping ourselves. A journey is just that, so we should pace ourselves and enjoy the ride. And make sure to take a moment to reflect. For Melissa, this happens every year around the holidays when she takes stock of the last year, and set new goals with a blank slate. She focuses  on what is most important to her at that specific point of time… without the pressures of past goals or expectations.

Unconditional Support: Melissa shared that far too many times she has been in spaces where we as women and minority communities could support one another more. The best way we can move forward as a community is to invest in one another and be unconditionally supportive, with our words (and our checkbooks if possible), she urged.

The chat ended with Melissa charging us to continue to learn from others’ journeys. Through meeting new people and learning their stories, we gain new perspectives and collective growth. After chatting with Melissa, we’re now even more fueled to march forward.