Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amber Sessoms, Founder of Natural Inclination, LLC., located in Hummelstown, PA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My work is rooted in understanding how our personal lives merge with the collective, so my business strives to rekindle our innate, natural inclination for compassionate curiosity, creativity, and radical love. I ground my work in the following mission:
To inspire others to speak their truth by learning to identify and challenge dominant ideologies to reveal inequities and oppression thereby emancipating individuals to critically reason, live authentically, and radically love. I believe leadership is not based on status but on intention, so my mission is strongly tied to supporting courageous leaders within the education and business sectors on how they can best cultivate liberatory spaces for individuals to be their full, authentic selves.
I accomplish this by facilitating courageous conversations about unconditional belonging to envision a liberated world where a person’s humanity is fully realized without the degradation of another’s humanity. When you begin to freedom dream, these possibilities, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI), may not come to mind.
However, I believe they are integral to our journey to becoming better humans. Therefore, to reimagine ourselves anew, I guide teams on a self-awareness journey through my 3D Power Tools Framework to build three levels of liberatory leadership capacity by asking ourselves: “What story am I telling myself, and which stories do I center that limit my imagination for a just world that recognizes everyone’s inherent dignity?
This question is answered through a learning journey complete with personality assessments, interactive reflection guides rooted in historical and ecological models, facilitated face-to-face discussions, office hours to unpack individual learning, one-on-one insight conversations with C-suite, shared ownership in strategic planning, and personal and professional vision alignment.
Tell us about yourself
As a little Black girl, abandoned by her biological mother and growing up in a predominately White town, I was always keenly aware of being “othered.” These early childhood experiences refined my natural inclination for curiosity regarding fairness and belongingness. This curious spirit has never left me, which is why I call myself a “perpetual toddler” because I am always asking why, how, what, and everything in between to get to the root of the problem of disconnection. I also use this insatiable curiosity to remember the awe and wonder of our youth. This ultimately led me to pursue a career of service in school psychology and adult education.
My work was born out of my desire to honor the little girl who often told herself that she wasn’t good enough. I believe the lies we tell ourselves and the shame we carry impact every area of our lives. However, I have also witnessed the freedom of telling the truth and acknowledging the harmful stories we carry. Daring to utter the “undiscussable” lifts a burden that we do not need to carry. For far too long, we have bought into the story of disconnection, but I believe the opposite is the real story.
Together, we can write a new, liberatory story of connection and unconditional belonging by looking inward to stop feeding the often mundane and subtle narratives of divisiveness to transform our habits and return to love.
The community of love I am working to cultivate helps guard our hearts against bitterness and spirit murder, which continues to harm all of us. As a mother of three beautiful, Black girls and the wife of a Black man, I long for a world where those who look like my family can have true psychological safety: simply being at ease in all their spaces, without shrinking themselves or hiding their magic. So many of us, regardless of our identities, experience this silencing daily. My work is my effort to stop betraying ourselves and others while making the future better than our present conditions.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
March 3, 2021, marked my day of liberation. I jokingly say Beyoncé’s new song, “You Won’t Break My Soul,” was a bit too late because I made the life-changing decision to resign from my job as a school psychologist of nearly 13 years in mid-February of 2021. This brave (and scary) decision to walk away from what seemed like monetary safety opened me up to psychological safety. It was during this time that I began to fully understand that my purpose wasn’t confined to a particular title or role because it was within me, regardless of the title or place of employment.
Deciding to leave took off the constraints and alleviated the weight of an institutional culture that suppressed my deep conviction to create systems that work for everyone—not break the souls of human beings. The decision to align myself with my values created a shift that gave me permission to believe in myself and my offering to the world. This was the time that I rekindled my creativity and quest for truth, which set me on a path to ignite this in others.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As a solopreneur grounded in JEDI, there is much tension regarding this work. On one hand, numerous organizations are intentionally seeking out diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultants, while others are targeting DEI consultants to silence them. I have experienced both. To this end, I must be resolute in my process and commitment to ensuring that clients I choose to work with will not waver in their commitment should a backlash ensue.
Now, I do not have a crystal ball, but being clear that I am neither a “check the box” trainer nor someone who provides bullet points allows my clients and me the added confidence that building internal capacity and trust is foundational to our success. The long-term nature of my work, which is typically a year, allows trust to be built and compassionate curiosity to grow.
Establishing these tenants allow team members to remain focused on their way and not be swayed by the fear and anger of a small minority. Therefore, I have to model my own internal process of becoming to support my clients in standing firm in their values.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Cultivate your community of love that can call you in when you seem to be out of alignment. The seminal book, All About Love: New Visions (2000) by the late bell hooks defines love as “care, commitment, trust, responsibility, respect, and knowledge” we embrace to cultivate awareness “so that we can give care, be responsible, show respect, and indicate a willingness to learn.” All these dimensions of love must be found within your community to nourish you, keep you grounded, and encourage your quest to remain true to your values.
- Know thyself. So much of being a solopreneur is that your business is so intertwined with your very essence. Think about the world SOLOpreneur. If this is a solo venture, don’t we owe it to ourselves to embrace the solitude and create the spatial awareness necessary to think of ourselves in profoundly new ways? We must make a continuous commitment to doing the internal work to discover who we truly are outside of societal demands that often make us contort and shrink ourselves to fit in. When we get to know and fall in love with our most authentic selves, we are free to imagine ourselves anew and reject the boxes that society told us we have to inhabit to be “successful.” To me, success is doing what makes you come alive. What does it feel like to be in that flow? Get curious about that thing!
- Books have been one of my greatest teachers in this quest because it is in books that I find inspiration and develop the discourse to articulate the deepest desires of my heart. This requires me to be still and not be so focused on my output. I must consciously be still to divest from a society that commodifies my worth. Just being still, breathing in (i.e., inspiration) gives me the space needed to be in awe and wonder of other works. It helps me realize that I am a lifelong learner and that my work is personal, but it is also very deeply rooted in a community of compassionate individuals who are working within their sphere of influence for change. Competition and overproduction have no room in this space. Seek inspiration and watch your creativity reach new heights.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We have bought into a really bad story that leaves us all craving belonging, but we can write a new story that frees us from wearing the proverbial mask and finding ways to numb the pain of disconnection. To help you on your career path, I invite you to reflect on these questions:
- What is an affirming statement I can say to remind myself of my why?
- Am I embracing a love ethic to shift the balance of fear, scarcity, disconnection, and othering?
- What makes me come alive?
- How do I harness that energy? Where am I forcing myself to shrink?
- Where am I experiencing tension between my values and my reality, and where am I most in alignment?
- What is care and nourishment to me? How do I currently give and receive it? Am I out of balance?
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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