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To be (what) or not to be (what)…


No matter what your goals in life, I urge you to be the best.
That means being better, being different.  You’re going to have to create.



Hey there Legacy Lovers,

Look at me right – two weeks in a row.  Amazing, right? Progress!

Okay, enough of that.  I hope everyone is rested and doing well.  Today’s topic is a bit left of our norm, but it comes on the tail of several questions about money, finance, passion, purpose and obligation.

As many of you know, I am an artist-activist-yupster (more on that last one later). The artist in me is most prevalent. To be accurate, I ascribe to the ideals of Nina Simone, who believed that every artist is an activist “because if artists don’t address the issues of the day, who will?”

Artists don’t always have to be professional artisans, but rather people who value and appreciate creation and creativity; folks who thrive on bringing things into fruition and manifesting something from nothing. It’s why we can see artistry in folks like bankers, speakers and even politicians.  It isn’t merely their charisma, but when they are genuinely and authentically invested in the creation of something for all it resonates with us… most of us.

So whether you’re an artist in the traditional sense or an artist in the way you do things, here’s the question: Should people do what they have to do to make ends meet or strive to do what they want to do even if it means forgoing money until later?

Honestly, this is a tough one for me. I struggled with this for years actually. It was probably only within the last few months that truly came to understand my artist-activist-yupster hybrid for what it is. For starters, realizing that I am not quite yuppie or hipster, but some blend of the two which in itself makes my hyphenated hybrid a hybrid of sorts.

I know, right?

But this is what it’s like when you get to know yourself, which is exactly what I’m going to recommend you do if you ever want to answer this question. Until you know exactly who are you and Whose you are, you won’t be able to distinguish between paying dues and paying bills.

Let me put it another way.  No matter what your goals in life, I urge you to be the best.  If you’re going to be the best at something you have to do things differently, better. You’re going to have to create.

The process of creating something from nothing is called creatio ex nihilo. This is the process that God used to create the world. Something had to happen first., light.  Before you can make the distinction between obligation versus desire, you must first understand the parameters you’re working.

Let me give you a glimpse into my own creativity-discovery-artistry process.


  1. Let there be light
    It’s hard to believe but something comes before even clarity.  At this point, a light bulb has gone off.  It’s not 100% clear yet, but it’s there.  You have an idea what you want to do and how you want things to be, but you don’t have a game plan.  The thing is, you can’t see anything without that light bulb.

    In my case, I knew I wanted to help fortify modern families against divorce, poverty and other generational perils.  The issue was I didn’t know how.  Should I launch a non-profit, a for-profit benefit company, a host of virtual services? Should I compile my research into non-fiction, inspirational texts or translate them into relatable narrative films? Knowing what I wanted to do wasn’t enough to help me decide how to do it. Tack onto the whole decision-making process that all of this took money I didn’t have and it made me feel more stuck than creative.

  2. Day from night
    So you have a big picture (kinda), but you’re lost in the details.  The next part is to clarify what you know: day from night.  When God created light, it was all light.  It wasn’t until he separated the light and the dark that we had two distinct things, each with their own unique purpose.  This is the clarification process; the whittling and winding. This is where you take all the parts and refine them; give them their distinction.

    Once, I determined that fortifying families was my goal I assessed what I knew about myself and my goals. I’d volunteered my services in the past, offering workshops, speaking on panels and facilitating round tables.  While I loved the work, I knew that structure didn’t work for me; especially since there was a great deal of prep time that often took away from my personal life. I knew I would need to change something because I wanted more personal time.  The next step was determining what to change – my goal, my process or my industry?

  3. Waters above and below
    Now that you have a better sense of which direction you want to go in. You’ve narrowed down what you want to do and have some semblance of how, it’s time to delve even deeper an understanding. Now when God separated the waters above and below, he made sky and a vast ocean.  The thing is, there’s no mention of that when the light came on.  At some point, God’s actions began to spark a chain response in the atmosphere. I believe the same will happen once you clarify what you want to do, examine yourself and get a sense of how doing best suits you.

    After some deep introspection (and some trial and error), I came to realize that narrative films works is where I am most effective in my work to help families. There’s something about reading my scripts or seeing my works on-screen that catches people off-guard.  They start asking questions – the right questions – without being defensive. They see themselves, or their loved ones, in the work. It feels better to have some similarities with a fake person than to see yourself head on. Being met with less resistance when broaching tough topics makes my life easier, and my work more productive.

  4. Seas and land
    This is the fun part, peeling back layers and making a real plan. You’re not just working with what you have, you’re giving it shape and body.  You’re chunking out tasks and making them align with your vision for your life.  You now have all the right ingredients, your placing them appropriately in just the right places, spaces and amounts to create what you want. When God pushed back water to show the land, again, there is no mention of the land before, but it bears to reason that it was already there lying beneath.  As you pull back layers, you’re bound to find that there are some hidden gems that will work to your advantage, too.

    Knowing that narrative films, especially feature-length ones, were an ideal vehicle for addressing my target population I knew there was only one thing to do: learn how to write scripts. Okay two things, write them and then sell them. I borrowed books from the library, followed blogs. I even went back to school for an MFA in Screenwriting in order to hone my craft and build my network. Beneath every layers there lay another, ready to teach me about myself, my arts, my peers and my industry of choice.  I began to meet celebrities and add them to my list of frequent contacts. At this point, I still wasn’t sure if I would make any money, but I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing… and how.

  5. Let there be life
    At this stage in the creation process, God created plants and animals.  He’d already constructed the environment where these things would thrive, now he merely needed to place them into it. This is the point where you will also start to see that the base-level work is paying off and things are making sense.  I don’t know if this work is arts-based or if the artistry is in the way you pull it off, but I do know that at that this stage of the game you aren’t just building on what’s there, you are using it to your advantage to propel the rest of your efforts.

    So now that I’d done some formal and informal study, I learned something highly important.  That I didn’t just want to write films, I wanted to make them too. My scripts, my time on set watching people work, learning behind the scenes from producers and crew members as I helped out – all of it would help me to make the ultimate transition. Screenplays (like musical scores) are one of the only forms of arts that are incomplete when they are made. There is an additional step in the screenwriting process, which is actually filming the script, that renders it fully done.  That’s when I realized, I want to be part of that process too.  And so I have been.  I’ve produced several of my short films and am working with producers on my features. I’d created the environment for my works to thrive and now I’m placing them into it and watching them flourish (and the work multiply… but more on that later).

  6. Not good for man to be alone
    This is the only point in all of creation where God said, “Nope, no bueno. I don’t like this.” When Adam was created, he was tasked with responsibilities and given parameters for his existence in the garden.  But there was not another being like him anywhere. Though he could name all the animals, he couldn’t sit and talk with them (not intelligently anyway), he couldn’t build and create with them.  Adam needed someone who was more like him.  So God made a woman: Eve.  The thing is, God made someone who was more like Adam not exactly like him. I don’t need to go into the differences between male and female here (at least, I hope not) but we know that those differences exist. Contrary to popular belief, these differences are intended to complement (not contradict) one another.  This is how it will be when you decide what direction you want to take. You cannot and should not be alone.  Find your tribe.

    More than anything else, I think the day I found my tribe was the best day of my professional life.  There were already some from previous professions and life experiences whom I had claimed, but in this new bunch they understood things about my thought-life that I didn’t need to preface or expound on. I loved that the jokes for which I used to get major side-eye were now welcomed comical chatter amidst of a room of other funny folks. Add to it all that we were all from different walks of life – politically, socially, financially, academically and culturally.  We practiced different faiths, and even those of us who call professed to be Christians went about expressing it very differently.  It was amazing because despite it all we felt right. We clicked, connected and built.  Many of these people are my go-tos when working on my films these days, writing my scripts or even wondering what school options might be best for my son. The point is, once you’ve done it all – you’re going to need someone else in there with you, even if it’s only so you have someone to point a finger at when things hit the fan. (I’m kidding… sorta).

  7. Rest and reflection
    This last one is a bit misleading because reflection was a daily part of the process, as was rest. We all know about the seventh day when God rested from all his work. He took a Sabbath from all his hard work and enjoyed  what He’d created.  No matter what you’re goal – whether you’re looking to create a masterpiece, end world hunger, cure AIDS, or educate people about how to invest for retirement – we all need to rest and reflect.  At the end of each day, set aside a moment to look back over your day.  What worked? What didn’t? What could be better tomorrow? What would you like to keep? Do this again at the end of each week. But don’t forget to rest.  Take a day to sit and be.  Do something that brings you sheer joy.  If your work brings you joy every day pick another thing you love and do that.  (I know someone who loved movies until he got a job as a film critic, then he couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t enjoy it.  His brain was analyzing. He started reading novels and found out he loved a good historical action-romance. Who knew?)

    Aside from getting starting, stopping has been the hardest thing for me to do.  Because I love what I do, there are moments when I can’t pull myself away.  Sometimes, I’ll trick myself by swearing I’m only going to jot an idea in my notebook or outline it on paper (because if I sit at the computer I have to admit it’s a lie). Several hours later, though, I am still scribbling notes, delving further into detail and even giving my characters dialogue! What always gets me is when my son comes and asks if we can have some time together. I’ve become more mindful of him watching me.  I don’t even bother lying to myself anymore. I record my thoughts in my phone and go back to it when I’m supposed to be working. I set timers and give him permission to stop me if I take too long, because in the end he’s the reason why I’m working.  No matter what kind of ob you’re looking for, no matter how you think you might go about pursuing it, if you remember why you’re doing it you’re bound to be successful.

For me as an artist, the idea of whether to choose between my art or paying bills was a hard one; especially since I really began to own my artistic nature after becoming a mom. When you have little mouths to feed and little backs to clothe, it makes it harder to take risks and chase dreams.  But, I’m a firm believer that you can’t give up.

The little ones are watching you.  If you tell them they can be whatever they want to be, but your actions say that trying isn’t an option, they will do what you do not what you say.  Children are amazing in that regard.

I’m not saying chuck responsibility to the wind.  Go back over the creatio ex nihilio outline and apply it to creating the structure you need to pay your bills and pursue your dreams. Maybe it’s about working part-time for more money or booking weekend auditions.  Perhaps, your day job covers the bills, but you pull a third (or fourth of fifth) shift after the family is asleep; taking classes, writing, or performing stand-up.

Some of the greatest achievements in the arts were made by people who had families to feed and didn’t know how they were going to do it. If this is you – take it from me – it can be done. It’s by no means easy, and it will take time (lots and lots of time and even a long time), but it is far from impossible.


The Family Factor: The little ones are watching you.  The next generation is looking to you to affirm their dreams. You can’t just tell kids they can be anything, you have to show them. If your actions say that trying isn’t an option then they won’t try, because children do what you do not what you say.


I hope this was helpful to someone.  As always, leave your comments below. And if you’re a true Legacy Lover, join us over at the new Facebook Group, Legacy Builders Network (USA).


To be (what) or not to be (what)… Read More »

Do You “C” What I “C”


Thinking ahead not only allows us to avoid hurting people,
it empowers us to do great things for them, too.




Hey there Legacy Lovers,

I hope you all are doing amazingly well.  I won’t even apologize for the delay in my posts.

Admittedly, this has become a pattern.  One that I am getting better at changing, as you will note if you’ve been with me for any real duration.  Those lapses of hiatus are dwindling with time.

Who knows, I might even make it to daily posting. Yeah okay, I won’t get ahead of myself.

But seriously, I am so glad to be able to take the time off.  Stepping away for a bit always helps me to come back with a renewed sense of clarity and commitment.

In fact, clarity and commitment, among some other things are what my post is all about today.

Amidst surgeries, funerals, relocating and completing (my best ever) career transition, I made sure to check in with family and friends.  Many of whom expressed concern about me.

“You’re doing too much,” was the standard sentiment.  “You need to sit still.” “Why did you let all this pile up?” “This is a bit much – even for you.”

I listened, smiled, nodded and even gave the occasional point and nod when needed, and then kept it moving.

You know why?

None of those people had any idea what was really going on with me. Not one of them was a participatory supporter – an insider privy to the nuances of my though process and action-taking stratagems. Each of these individuals stood on the outside looking in and assumed that somehow this was all my choosing.

Now, before I go too far, some of you know that I am an avid propopent of active, diliberate intention.  It means that while I believe “like attracts like”, I also believe that “you reap what you sow.” Though I have often heard of people who attracted millions to them after thinking about it, there is usually the oft overlooked part about their action.  They followed a hunch.  They went to a specific location. They robbed a bank.

Okay…that last one…but you see my point.

I believe that action, even minimal action, must accompany an intention because the potential itself is only a potential source of energy.  It cannot become mobile until it is propelled by action.

I say all that to say, I know I co-created my experience.  I made poor choices, took poor action and disregarded important clues.  I did not get here alone.

BUT – I rarely complained about the co-creation experience or my main co-creator.  Because I never assigned blame, those around me simply presumed that I, and I alone, hadn’t done enough; planned enough; considered enough.

But those on the inside -thank God – knew better. They said things like, “This too shall pass.” “I see the growth.” “You’re headed to new levels of success so you had to learn this now to prepare you to keep what’s on the way.” “People enduring far less are suffering so much more, pay attention to what you’re doing and share it.”


That last one got me. (Of course it did, sounds just like legacy speak).  I sat with it a moment.  I knew that there was something to it, so I started paying attention. Over the course of almost two weeks, I studied the situations I found myself and assessed how I handled them.

As far as I could tell, I wasn’t doing anything special. I was being clear and consistent, taking culpability, staying committed and considering my outcomes. Oh, wait!

Do you “c” it?

Indeed, I love alliteration as much as the next girl, but this was so serendipitous.

I then decided to assess the situations of those in crisis who were experiencing overwhelm, depression and nearly having a meltdown. I looked on without judgment. In nearly every situation, one or all of these elements were missing.

Why are these things so important?

  1. Clarity
    I’ve talked your head off about this, and it’s cousin, consistency, but it’s so instrumental it bears repeating.  Before you can actively, deliberately begin to create the kind of life you want for yourself and your loved ones, you must first be clear about your goals and expectations. It is impossible to know how to get to the finish line (or when to change course) if you aren’t even sure where you’re headed.  It doesn’t mean mapping out each step down to the smallest minutiae, but is does mean having a map in-hand (a big picture overview) during your journey…because honestly, getting there is part of the fun.
  2. Consistency
    Here we go again, but that’s a good thing.  It means I’m being consistent. If clarity is the blueprint upon which you will base your life, then consistency is frame that  keeps the walls up.

    Consistency is the capacity to be reliable and dependable; remaining authentically you so that people know who you are and what to expect.  When you tell people who you are and they don’t believe you, that is on them – but when people believe what you have allowed them to because you are not being genuinely and authentically consistent, that is something you have to work through.

    What I’m talking about is not being boring and predictable, but being steadfast and accountable.  If someone needs you, even for moral support, do they know you will be there?  Can you be counted on in a pinch when everything isn’t going right?  There is such a thing as being consistently inconsistent, but does that really serve your goal of having your best life?

    When in doubt, let this old adage guide you, “What you see is what you get.” So give us someone great!

  3. Culpability
    This is a new one for many people, yet so integral to the success of co-creation.  Subsequently, it’s absence from so many people’s existence is likely why many co-creative relationships fall apart (or don’t exist). But I digress.
    The fact is, none of us lives in a bubble.  And even if you you did, and had enough supplies to stay tucked away until the end of the zombie apocalypse, there will be someone somewhere on social media picTweeting all about it. This is why it’s so important to understand who were to others, what we mean to them, and how our relationships affect those around us. Like how Tweeting outside the bubble with your location service still enabled has now hipped the zombies to our hiding spot. (They recognize landmarks!)

    Seriously, so rarely do we offer sincere apologies for our actions anymore. It has become such a soft spot for me that I have never taught my son to say, “I’m sorry.”  First of all, “I’m sorry,” is not actually an admission of guilt it’s a testament to character.  When someone is sorry it means that they acknowledge their poor character, when someone apologizes it means they acknowledge their poor choices.

    Literally, an apology is the study (ology) away (apo) from something. Apology also derives from the Greek word apologos which means “story”.  In short, an apology is the study of another’s story to help us move away from acts that cause them harm in some way.

    Being culpable does not mean saying sorry, because sorry implies “oops, this is the way I am.” Being culpable means truly taking the time to examine who we are and how we are with people, especially those closes to us, and apologizing. Culpability means responsibility; it means a willingness to own your mistakes, learn from them and grow.


  4. Commitment
    Many of us confuse commitment and consistency.  We think that if we are consistent than it is because we are committed. But this is not the case.  They may not be mutually exclusive, but they are also not one in the same.

    Whereas consistency manifests itself as action, commitment is the preceding intent. Sometimes we know when we have committed to something. At other times, we invest before we know what hit us.  Unfortunately, many of us have a hard time committing to things these days.  We have moved away from a microwave society that wants everything now, to a social network that wants it right now.

    The key to commitment is delayed gratification. It doesn’t mean you can’t have any joy, profit, fun and other benefits right now, but it means that the major highlights will come over time. It means that there will be some things you’ll have to wait for (but unless you understand this process you won’t know it’s worth the wait).

    Lack of commitment is why so many marriages fail.  Men put in all this work to win a woman over, marry her and then stop doing everything he did to get her attention and win her affections. Even worse, then things get hard and rather than remember his initial investment, he opts to leave for something easier – starting the process over again. (I know it works both ways, but I’m oversimplifying here). But what about the promises made, the time already put in? How much better could it be if you two fought alongside each other instead of against each other? Commitment will have you slaying dragons and drinking their blood like ale Hose of Cards style, when you see the bigger picture – even if it is down the road.

    This is, perhaps, the best definition I’ve ever seen for commitment: “Doing what you say you would do when you no longer feel how you felt when you said you would do it.” True commitment is often accompanied by consistency, but as you can see, it’s so much more.


  5. Consideration
    Much like its predecessor commitment, this one looks like something else, but isn’t. Often confused with culpability, consideration goes two steps further. Whereas culpability encourages us to think about our relationships with people and find ways to assume responsibility for our roles in their lives and any hurt we may have caused – intentional or otherwise, consideration charges us to think ahead.

    When we think ahead, we not only have a chance to avoid hurting the people closest to us, but we are also presented with the opportunity to do great things for them.  Beyond that, foresight gives us the chance to do great things for others, too.

    Like its counterpart, apology, consideration is the study of something. If we look at its Latin origin word, considerare, it means the study of stars. You may recall from school, that early Latin cartographers drafted maps using the stars’ constellations. Those maps were the one of the earliest forms of GPS.

    I bring this up because unlike an apology, consideration – like its predecessor – not only helps in the plotting of a course, but in assessing how well you’ve managed to adhere to it.  Consideration also charges us with seeing possibility and prospects, the hope for greatness – much like the stars those ancient astronomers studies and charted.  Considering others’ feelings, goals, aspirations, values, time – it all influences you to act carefully, thoughtfully, lovingly.  When you consider another, you not only survey the foundation and ensure its good, but you fortify it for years to come.

Perhaps you’re going through something right now.  Maybe you’re looking for a way, or just to keep your head above water.  You could be just trying to muster enough energy to get out of the bed in the morning.  If that sounds like you, then I urge you to take a moment each day to focus on one of these areas.  How are you implementing it into your life and how is it working for you?  If you aren’t already, how could you? What could get better as a result?


The Family Factor:  Find your way, then light it for others.  Someone has to be first. Why not you? Practice what you preach and what you learn, teach.  And you can tweet that to the bank (just not in front of the bubble-dome-safehouse, please).


With love, light & legacy,
Akima Aiken Brown


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Brave, Bold and Strong…

Sometimes you have to be strong when you don’t feel strong.
If you’re going through something right now, know that it is because
the opposition knows your potential. Do you?

Hey there again Legacy Lovers,

Hope you had an awesome week.  I admit it’s been a bit trying for me… but more on that in a second.

Last week, I expounded on the idea of #thelove2lead – having enough self-love to love those around you and benefit the world in which we all live.  I used the example of Moses, a biblical prophet and his work with water.  I noted that though Moses is indeed a great biblical figure, there were some things about his legacy that often go overlooked.

True, he was so favored that God spoke to him face-to-face, something he’d never done with any other prophet before nor has He done since.  And yet, Moses – for all his favor – was not permitted to enter the promised land, the land of milk and honey. For all his favor, Moses didn’t get it exactly right – but you know who did?  Joshua.

When Moses was old and graying, he appointed Joshua to succeed him as leader of the Isrealites.  It was Joshua who would take them through the Jordan (on dry ground) into Canaan. It was Joshua who would have the Isrealites march around the city of Jericho seven times until the walls fell down.  It was Joshua who would lead them in battle to annihilate the Amalekites to near extinction. And it was Joshua who would lay the foundation for many years of peace in this new land.

For all Moses’ favor, it wasn’t Moses… it was his protege.

Like Moses, Joshua would part waters – but the people would camp in houses they didn’t build and eat from vineyards they didn’t plant… unlike their parents and grandparents who would wander in the desert after crossing the Red Sea.  Like Moses, Joshua would wage war – but he would lead the men into battle, fighting valiantly alongside them as their general. And like Moses, Joshua would doubt himself and his ability.

Though it is primarily implied in scriptures, we can presume that Joshua doubted himself because of how often God has to tell him “Don’t worry. Be strong. Be of good courage. Fear nothing.” I mean, come on, it’s likely Moses didn’t infuse the kid with confidence considering he was often lacking it himself.

And yet, even afraid and likely concerned, Joshua still managed to do incredible, improbable, implausible things.  Somehow, despite the fact that he needed the reminder that he was capable and qualified he still managed to make it.  Quite likely, given God’s consistent pep talks, Joshua didn’t feel strong. But he was strong!

Sometimes we have to be strong even when we don’t feel it.

Remember earlier when I said I had a trying week?  I’d been displaced from my home with son just before his scheduled operation. I’d been passed over for a contract – income I needed given our newly emergent emergencies.  Being me, I started hustling immediately and managed to find myself some housing and some quick income.  However, when my sitter told me that her kids were drastically contagious, there not only went my childcare but my most recent money-making opportunity. To top it off, my tornado weather swooped in on the day of his procedure so my out-of-town support never made it due to grounded flights.

The stress of it all began to wear on my health.  For a minute, I wondered if I was bouting fatigue or depression.  It wasn’t just that I couldn’t get out of the bed, at times I genuinely didn’t want to.  I was worried, weak and worn. Why was all this happening?  It seemed like every time I got one thing under control something else would crop up.

I felt done.

But you know what? I had to be strong.

I had to get up out the bed because someone was depending on me. It took me longer than usual, but after I’d done it a few times it became easier. I would get up before him instead of being shaken (or incessantly poked) awake. I got on the phone and the computer, I made phone calls, marketed workshops and organized future opportunities for collaboration and contracting. Though we weren’t in our own space, I made it as much like home as I could with what I could salvage, and gave my son extra “mommy time” after waking and before bed.

I didn’t feel well, but nonetheless I had to be strong. And I was.

I meant I had to pull deep.  Like I told you last week in The Love to Lead, you have to focus on something beyond yourself and draw from something greater than yourself.  The result?

When I tell you that my son thought these were amazing adventures, smiled and sang his way into surgery and made friends at the local medical facility that housed us until he was cleared from recovery!!!

I don’t share all this to brag but rather to make my point.  Sometimes you have to be strong when you don’t feel strong.  Since my son was old enough to understand fear we’ve been discussing the importance of being “brave, bold and strong.” What I look like telling him to do something I’m not willing to? And yes, that point was so good it warranted bad English. I’ve said before, and will say again, a good example is better than the best advice.

So be brave, be bold, be strong. Know that if you are going through something right now it is because the opposition is well aware of your potential. The question is, are you?  Do you know that this is temporary?  Do you know that where you are is not a reflection of who you are, or even how you are right now?  Do you know that there is an X-factor in your life that undermines your every effort be better, have more and do good?  Do you know that the only way to defeat it is to arm yourself? It’s time you learned this because it’s not just for you; heck, it’s not even about you.

But here’s the best part, when you TRY, when you keep going.  When you are strong even when you don’t feel like it, when you move boldly knowing that there is also a Supreme God that has your back and is fighting alongside you (and even fighting/winning battles before they can make their way to you), you start to see the outcomes of your efforts. What’s happening around you begins to align with what’s going on inside you. What you do (and even what you don’t do) generate success!

Now, this is not me saying, “Oh, I’ve heard about this and how it work. My cousin’s sister’s boyfriend’s groddaughter’s hairdresser’s niece did it. If she can, you can too.” This is me telling you I know because I have walked in these shoes and – even rundown, run over and leaning – they’re still functioning just fine.

In other words: I’ve been here.  I am still here. Right now! With a recovering little guy an all, and we’re still making it. So I urge you, if this is where you are:

Be brave. Be bold. Be strong.


The Family Factor
Looking beyond yourself, drawing upon something bigger than you, doing what’s necessary despite your feelings about it – that’s maturity.  We need mature leaders in the family not only to show others how it’s done, but to lay the groundwork.  Joshua laid the groundwork for the Isrealites in the Promise Land. Your children, siblings, mentees…parents, the people in your life need to see how you handle adversity; they need to see how you weather the storm.  Building an empire is no easy task. People need to know that. When you’re done, they’ll want your glory… so make sure they know your story.  They’ll want to share your testimony… so show them how you aced the test. Share your experiences.  Don’t shelter people from your process. This crucial component is practically non-existent in families today.  People are buckling, so families are crumbling.  If you want to leave a legacy you have to be different. Be the builder and the bridge. Lift as you climb. You can tweet that!



Live, Laugh, Love & Legacy,
Akima Aiken Brown


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Water Works



Hey there Legacy Lovers,

Still swooning from Valentine’s Day? I know I am.

Contrary to popular belief though, this post is not about the post-coital effects of your V-Day celebrations or water births.

No, instead this will I plan to examine the meaning of life (okay, mainly legacy) by delving into another’s exploits.

Usually, I’ll self-reflect in an effort to make a point, but this time I felt it best to go with a classic. None other than Moses.

Regardless of your spiritual/religious beliefs you likely know Moses to be a prophet of legend heralded with leading the Israelites from Egypt, thus freeing them from the oppressive rule of Pharaoh.

And if I asked you what was Moses’ water miracle, you’d likely tell me how he parted the Red Sea, leading the Isrealites across on dry ground, then closed it back in time to drown Pharaoh’s army as they gave chase.

But here’s the interesting thing… that wasn’t Moses’ first water miracle. Not was it his only water miracle.

When Moses was born, Pharaoh (not the same one who’d chase him years later) ordered every Israelite boy killed at birth. Moses’ mother hid him for a while, but when he became too big she put him in a basket and sailed him down the river.

His sister watched as the princess, Pharaoh’s daughter, lifted him from the basket. She had mercy on him and adopted him as her own.  This was Moses’ first water miracle.

Not only did he survive the river’s currents, but of all the places he could’ve landed, he wound up in the arms of Pharaoh’s own daughter. Had she been any other kind of woman, she would have adhered to her father’s decree and had him killed.  But I believe this young woman saw the miraculous nature of this event and took it upon herself to be part of it.

I believe that was a prelude of things to come. Who’s to say that this babe’s faith didn’t have him commanding water before he could utter words?

It would make sense.  It’s often the things that we take for granted that others understand to be our greatness.  Perhaps this is why in the Tulmah the story of Moses at the Red Sea states that when he lifted his hands nothing happened, but it was a woman – understanding the power of what was being done – stepped into the sea on faith, and it parted.

It isn’t noted in the Bible, but still it rings true. Consider Moses drawing water from rocks, but once but twice. Or tossing a stick into the river to make the water drinkable.

Was it a coincidence that this man performed miracle after miracle with water? Or that it was water that would eventually be his downfall?

Indeed, Moses had done quite a bit with the water. And when the Lord told him the second time to strike the rock, he did… but not before he grumbled. He fussed at the masses and muttered to himself. He used his gift, but begrudgingly.

This is so often the case. Peter was a fisherman – a master fisherman, wholly competent in his craft – yet when his faith (and competence) were tested he was usually in a boat… FISHING.

So often we are tested in the area of our gifting, of our competence; the surface we know so well we take it for granted.

Moses never got to see the Promised Land as a result of his final water incident. He performed the miracle – he did the work – but he broke his promise. His heart wasn’t in it.

You had to know I was coming back to the heart, right?

We are all Moses (and Peter and Paul and John, etc).  We all have the power within us to do something great, something we don’t even recognize as impeccable, phenomenal, incredible and astounding.  We all have that unique something that makes us so “us” that we often overlook it and take it for granted.

But something amazing happens when you check your heart.

Moses had an apprentice, Joshua. Unlike Moses, Joshua went into the Promised Land. Joshua learned a lot from Moses.  He learned the importance of thanking God for his gift and appreciating what he’d been given.  He also learned how to part water – leading the Israelites across the Jordan River on dry ground much like Moses led their predecessors across the Red Sea.

But Joshua often questioned himself. He was so grateful to be leading the tribes of Israel because it seemed too good to be true. God often reminded him to be of “good courage.”

Here’s the thing though, perhaps if Moses had modeled something different for Joshua the young protege would have stood a little taller, a little surer.

Let us take for instance, Elijah and Elisha. When Elijah took Elisha on as his apprentice, he was clear in his expectations and his teachings. Elisha learned everything Elijah knew and even received “a double portion” of Elisha’s power. In other words, when Elijah left this earth (it never says he died) Elisha was left with everything his teacher had and then some!

And before you go thinking I veered off track, Elijah and Elisha were water workers, too.

Elijah foretold of flood rains long before a cloud ever reached the sky. He stood for hours with his head between his legs praying until there was a cloud the size of a fist. Sure enough, the rains came. Not only did it bring an end to a years-long drought, but the land was once again plentiful.

But hold it, remember that Elisha – Elijah’s apprentice – had a double portion of his gift.

When Elisha encountered a town with “bad water” he performed a miracle that not only transformed the waters and made them good for drinking and watering fields, and not only replenished the land, but brought abundance to the surrounding lands in the form of trades and such.

Say what?!

Joshua achieved quite a bit, and though he endured less than his mentor, there’s reason to believe he doubted himself. Elisha on the other hand knew who he was and Whose he was; he understood his position, his power and his purpose because his teacher exemplified that for him.

And isn’t that what we want for ourselves, for our families, our future generations? We’re all water workers in one way or another, with the power to wield our gifts.

The question is: Will you be like Moses or Elijah?

The Family Factor
Tweet this – When you stand firmly, yet humbly, in your gift you not only show others the immeasurable extent of your capacity but you give them a glimpse of their own limitlessness.  And when you prepare those closest to you to do the same, you spark a light that has the power to shine the world over.
Lovingly yours,
Akima Aiken Brown


What are your thoughts? Have you stepped into your water working power? Tell me about it in the comments or share in our new Legacy Builders’ Facebook Group.

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The Love to Lead

the love to lead banner

Hello there Legacy Leaders,

I have missed you all.

For those of you who’ve been with me for a while, you know I believe in the principles of clarity and consistency. It’s been an interesting start to the year, prepping for more consistency (the clarity came around the holidays).  With each passing day, I see an increasing need for conversations that stem from, deal with, and seek to resolve “the American family crisis.”

Point blank and simple, our nation is in turmoil because our homes are in disarray.  The sad part is, we are so deep in the muck and mire of the chaos that we can’t see the forest from the trees. Truth be told, as a whole we have no idea just how bad things really are.

Yes, we know more than half of all marriages are ending in divorce.  We know more than half of America’s homes are headed by single parents – the majority of which are single mothers.  We know there are all kinds of adverse affects related to the lack of a healthy father-child relationship that manifest during early development and can persist into adulthood.  We know that these issues are disproportionately represented in low-income and minority communities (read – affects poor whites and affluent minorities alike).

We know. We know. We know.

It’s disparaging and a bit debilitating, especially when you consider that I’m flooding your inbox with these depressing stats on Valentine’s Day weekend, when most of you are being inundated with amorous propaganda. For some this is a monkey wrench in your love-fest, while others might just see these stats as justification to steer clear of the flowers, chocolate and vino.

Granted, it is likely to end badly, but that isn’t a guarantee.

In order to minimize these possible outcomes we have to trace them to their root.  We have to find the root cause of all the issues because it isn’t enough to identify the symptoms, or even talk about them, if we don’t have any plausible solutions for curing the actual disease.

And I have one.

Yes, that’s right.  After years of researching, inquiring and just plain overcoming, I can honestly say I not only know the root cause of our issues, but I have a solution. I know what’s missing.

More love.

I know, right? Wait…

You’ve heard that before?  You mean someone else already told you that the answer to happier, healthier homes; long-standing unions; whole and happening children who can lead us to the kind of future we deserve…. is more love?

Oh, well did they tell you that most of us are defining love all wrong?

In nearly every other language, there are different words for different types of love, even love at different levels.  Is it brotherly, mutual appreciation, romantic, purely sexual, spiritual?  Is it a sacrificial familial love or an all-powerful, all-purposeful love that can liberate from yourself and the confines of worldly limitations? (I want that one.)

It’s likely you’ve heard of philia, eros and agape love; but what about ludus, storge or philautia?  It is this last one, philautia – the love of self, that I believe holds the key to our healing in this country – and the world.

When we love ourselves, fully and wholly without vanity and ego, it frees us up to love others the same way.  A healthy self-love allows us to create meaningful boundaries and leverage mutually beneficial relationships. It is when we are most loving toward ourselves, when we are kind and fair in our self-assessments, that we can offer the same to those who mean the most to us.

Parents who love themselves, love their children – they uplift and fortify them; they protect them and preserve their childhood for as long as they can.  Spouses who love themselves honor their union and respect their partners; they recognize the importance of their role and their counterpart’s. A spouse who loves himself will find joy in his day-to-day. (And invent some creative ways to share that joy with his wife. Hey it is Valentine’s Day. I’m trying to help some of you out.)

We need more people with a healthy self-love; a selfless, sacrificial, active/activist love. We need more people with the love to lead.

The love to lead is not a love of leading or of leaders, nor it is a desire to take charge. It has nothing to do with one’s propensity for leadership and everything to do with the motives propelling her toward it.

The love to lead is all about legacy – living in legacy, leaving a legacy, doing the legacy work.

The love to lead is all about honoring the foundation that has been laid by those before us and building upon it for the future, while simultaneously being present in the now.  The love to lead is about living for today while planning for the future; offering a hand in teaching the next generation and using the other to lovingly navigate our elders through a new and ever-changing world.

When you have the love to lead, you have the heart to be “the one.” Your priority isn’t becoming the next MLK, Malcolm X, Sourjourner, Harriet or the Obamas; instead, you are “the one.” The one your family and friends can depend on.  The one the young people can come to for advice. The one your peers can depend on to set the standard then raise the bar. The one who willing to get it all wrong trying to do what’s right.

That’s what it takes to be the one; what it means when you have the love to lead.

So how’s this pertain to the family, you ask? As promised….

The Family Factor
Whether you know it or not, people are already looking up to you.  Someone, somewhere sees you as a measure of success. Are you loving yourself enough, and giving yourself your best, so that bar continues to rise? Do you regularly (and lovingly) push yourself outside of your comfort so you can give yourself something to be proud of, and them something epic to aspire to? No matter whether we’re talking about your biological kids or those you’ve vowed to raise, mentees, peers, or even strangers in the general public: A good example always trumps great advice. And you can tweet that!

Leading in love,
Akima Aiken Brown


So tell me, do you have it – the love to lead? Let me know in the comments or join us online in our Legacy Builders’ Facebook Group.



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