Rodriquress Dixon Broadnax is an up and coming Author who has been writing publically since 1991. She has recently released her first self-help book, entitled: “What I Learned About Failure”. Her book tackles some of the possible causes of failure, how to constructively deal with our failures once they arise and how to effectively turn those ashes into beauty.
I sat with Rodriquress today to have a conversation about “What I Learned About Failure”. She discussed her journey as an author and also opened up about her own personal journey through failure and the many victories she’s experienced in its aftermath.
Amy Wesley: “What I Learned About Failure” is such a good read and is extremely well written. It seems to speak to experience. We are aware that this is your first published piece but how long have you been a writer?
Rodriquress Dixson Broadnax : I started writing in the 80s while in a Creative Writing class, but I did not do my first public writing until around 1991. While at Rhema Bible Training Center studying in the Evangelists’ class, we had to prepare a sermon in Sermon Preparation class. Mine was entitled, “Can You Swim?” I later used that sermon outline and created my first writing. I sold it when I had a radio broadcast on Magic 104.5 in Camden, Arkansas, primarily. I also donated copies to listeners.
AW: [Laughs] Okay, so you’ve been honing your craft for quite a while. I guess as sort of a follow-up question: Why do you enjoy writing?
RB: Years ago I took a creative writing class that I excelled in. I began to develop a passion for writing and editing and just expressing myself not only verbally but orally. I find that I can truly get my feelings across through my writing. I write to provide information, but not only that, it’s therapeutic for me. I love to help other people and I love to instruct, guide, counsel and coach people. But primarily, I love to write my feelings down. I love writing love letters and notes. [Smiles] I don’t like writing scientific stuff. I guess you could say I’m a “mushy” person [Laughs], so writing just comes naturally for me. In the past, I’ve been called out by other Ministers and leaders and I’ve been told that I’m going to write books, when in fact I already had book after book and multiple manuals, notes and manuscripts that I had just not yet published. I have things written and notes taken from dreams and lessons that I want to teach in the future on topics that I feel led to speak on that will help other people. [Laughs] So there are just a variety of reasons that I write.
AW: And this is typical of most writers, there are just too many to name [Laughs]. It’s evident that “What I learned about Failure” came from a place of personal knowledge, and failure is certainly something that we have all been well acquainted with. What particular experiences inspired you to write the book?
RB: : My reason for writing on the subject of failure, is because over the past six years, following my divorce I have experienced such a feeling of failure. At my age, I felt that I should be further along in life. The divorce was just the snow on top of a mountain of other things that made me feel like a failure. Because I felt I wasn’t doing big and better things in my life, I felt at fault as well. So I encountered a tremendous amount of guilt. I then encountered some things in my workplace that pulled down on my self-esteem. Because of all of those things, over the last few years, I began to receive a “message” per se’ about failure. I learned through doing my own self- discovery and putting in some work on myself and removing negative mindsets and unhealthy guilt that failure can be a good thing. No one likes the way failure feels when they fail but I decided to look at it from a different perspective. Once I changed my perspective, things began to align themselves positively and I could see the good. I subscribe to the scripture of Romans 8:28– “And we know that all things work together to the good of them that love the Lord.” That scripture has helped me to put everything in my life into its proper perspective. That no matter how good or gloomy or how much it stretches me, whatever it is it’s going to make me live a better life and it’s going to make me a better person. I’ve learned to apply the principal of “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. So many things I’ve learned on my personal journey over the last few years and a lot of it was uprooting that old mindset and those voices that tell you how bad you are and replacing them with good things. Good things such as positive affirmations, things that are needed to make a person believe in themselves as being the quality person that they really are.
AW: Absolutely, absolutely. How difficult was it, or was it a challenge at all, for you to translate your own life experiences into your book?
RB: I don’t find it hard to translate my experiences into my writings. I’m a very “visual” and animated person already. I have a big personality, as you know, I love to love people. To love, help, empower, encourage, or motivate others, to be easy to touch. I have found that using humor in my presentations, whether oral or written, is always an added benefit. Humor, when used appropriately, can lighten the most dismal situation. I incorporate the whole me into my writings and that means, in a nutshell, that I must be real and relevant.
AW: And that is so important to us as readers, that authors be relatable. [Laughs] We’ve got to know that you are “human”. I’ve heard you speak before about your own issues with procrastination. Talk to me, a little, about the importance of “Defeating Procrastination” and how detrimental it can be to an individual.
RB: When we are habitual procrastinators, we kill our own dreams. We stunt our own professional and personal growth. Procrastination is like a tumor that was very small, initially, and could be eradicated with treatment. When we don’t address this deadly habit on the spot, we become passive and we miss out on so many opportunities. Not only that, Sis, we stress ourselves out. Sometimes you hear a person say, “I work well at the last minute” or “I do my best work under pressure”. I disagree. We work well, hard, and fast in those situations but our best work is not the end product. Our best work comes when we take our time, when we plan, when we research, when we study, when we have time to think, when we have a backup plan, and so forth. Some of my most frustrating times have been when I procrastinated on a project. Then when I went to finish my document, the computer froze or the printer wouldn’t print. The worse thing that has happened is when I knew to do a certain task or make a certain call to an individual, etc. and I waited later to do it. By not being timely, I watched another individual do that very task. Not only did they do it, they got compensated for doing it and then they became very successful. What happened to me? I as standing there with my darn mouth open. [Laughs] Oh, don’t let me forget to tell you how once I was inspired to go visit someone in the hospital and to take them what I felt was a “divine” message from the Lord. I put the visit off, and later on, when I finally decided to go to the hospital, the individual had died. Talk about feeling like crud. We must defeat procrastination in our lives for it will eat away at the very fabric of one’s best attributes if he/she is always “a day late and a dollar short”.
AW: Most certainly. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. As stated in your book, it is important that we “recreate ourselves” and “get to know ourselves again”, following our failures. What are some ways that you have undoubtedly reinvented yourself succeeding failure?
RB: I’ve done something very simple: I’ve given myself permission to be who I am in this season of my life. That recreation came at a time where I was always worried about the perception of people. A couple of years ago I felt “led” to resign the church I started. A friend asked me to stay at least a year to reconsider, but I knew I was to resign and start a new life assignment. But, I stayed. I was so miserable and uncomfortable. That assignment was over. Just this year I resigned, February 28. I can’t tell you how many people want me to plant another ministry because they feel I’m out of place. They feel a person is most valuable when he or she is a pastor. But I already knew I would be taking a new life assignment. I knew I was to take my place in the marketplace. [Smiles] And Amy, I’m doing that. Joyce Meyer has a book called “Do it afraid“, I believe. Some days I look at myself in the mirror and honey I know I’m afraid but guess what, I’m going to do whatever “it” is. Career wise, I watched as many of my college and grad school friends became very successful, financially. I didn’t have what they had. Yes, I had a spiritual inheritance I had been developing, but I always felt like I had cheated myself by not finishing college with my Nursing degree. I set out, in college, to receive a Bachelors of Nursing degree but I ended up graduating with a General Studies degree because I went through a serious period of burnout in college. Some of my greatest achievements have been through the ministry. I’ve watched people’s lives transform before my very eyes. I have so many success stories I can relay to you but I felt unsuccessful in the secular world, career wise and financially. I was an honor student in college. I was the professional person on campus. I was involved in so many organizations and had a promising future, but I transferred to another college, failed in Nursing school, got seriously discouraged, lost all momentum, was on the verge of quitting college after attending 7 years, and was burned out. All my friends were already successful. But my General Studies degree did not command the salaries they made. I felt like a failure. But today, I know who I am. I truly know that my self-worth is not determined by dollar signs. My self-worth is determined by how I see myself. My rewards are numerous. Now, in this new season, I feel like I’m the female version of the R & B singer Charlie Wilson who is my model for recreating oneself. He went from homelessness and helplessness to topping the charts with his music. His story resonates with me for one can be on top of the mountain today and in the gutters by nightfall. I’ve recreated the way I think, the way I view, the way I listen, and the way I act or do. When I began the recreation journey, things began to fall into place, one at a time. I’m smack dab in the beginning of the journey, I believe, but things are so much better right now, than they were when I started out. I’m learning to bloom where I’m planted and to live and let go when necessary. No more people pleasing for me. I’m a diva on a mission, and I’m doing my own thing. I even dance in public, once again. I take dance classes and I’m not worried about people’s opinion. But, that’s because I’ve recreated myself.
AW: [Laughs] Indeed, you are a Diva on a mission! Now I like the sound of that! It completely sums up where you are in this season of your life. What upcoming projects are you working on? (Books/poetry, etc.)
RB: I wrote a seven day devotional a while back. I’m going back through that book and making it a 31 day devotional. I plan to create a children’s book and audio series. I want to use some of my animated voices to create the audio version. [Laughs] I know my friends are going to laugh and think I’ve flipped out but I love doing impersonations so, be watching for it! I have another mini-book to publish in the next few weeks. It will help people stand up for themselves if they will apply the practical principles I plan to share. Amy, I am a visionary by nature and I have so much in my heart to do. Money and time have just been my greatest challenges but I listened to Patrice Washington one day (she’s an author, consultant, and a frequent guest on Steve Harvey’s radio show) and she encouraged me, although she was speaking to every listener, to do whatever is going to take help manifest the greatness that was lying dormant in me. [Smiles] So, I’m doing it honey. It’s a little scary and sure enough challenging, trying to do my dream and work a full time job too, but I endeavor to finish this course that has been set before me.
AW: Well we will definitely be on the lookout for all of your upcoming projects. And finally Rodriquress, what do you want people to take from your body of work as an author/speaker?
RB: I want people to be comfortable in their own skin. I want them to get past pleasing other people such as the church, their parents, their bosses, pleasing institutions. Admittedly, there is a set order to life and the way we conduct ourselves or carry ourselves but a lot of us try and do too much. They take too much upon themselves, they are trying to be who others want them to be. It’s impossible to live up to these expectations and it’s stressing them out. They are unable to be the authentic person that they are and they are unable to present the real person that they are. This causes people to lead double lives and have secret struggles and private pain. So when I do a lady’s luncheon or meeting I want to help people to be who they are and shine and glow and enjoy who they are. Even in their struggles, they should be able to admit their struggle and admit that they are working on it and resolve to do better. But what is so important is that they take off all of that pressure and stress and grief. This leads to health issues both mentally and physically and they don’t get to live their intended life due to their struggles. I’m preparing to do a conference in January called “The New Year, New You” in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. A friend and I will not be preaching but we will be helping people with practical teachings and practical insight and practical knowledge and try and meet people where they are. We want people to get excited about their lives because life is too short to not be excited about the life that we’ve been given.
It’s safe to say that Rodriquress is living her absolute best life and she is excited to do so. Her transparency and frankness in revealing her own life is profoundly refreshing to her audience. “What I Learned About Failure” is a magnificent piece that challenges all of us to embrace the failures in our lives and learn from them. With each failure there can always be opportunity for an ultimate positive outcome. As she says in the book, “It’s Working”. “The depression you experienced…. it’s working. The termination at work…. it’s working. The divorce…. it’s working. The DUI…. it’s working. The friend who walked out of your life…. it’s working. The BIG mistake you made at work…. it’s working. The class you failed at school…. it’s working. The sermon or speech you bummed in to kill you or destroy your good name or your peace, will still work for your good. Just believe.”
Rodriquress’ contact information is listed below and you can buy “What I Learned About Failure” on Amazon.com.
(Google+): Reese Broadnax