Shannon Taitt shares practical advice in ‘Get Your Head in the Game’

Photo courtesy Shannon Taitt
Photo courtesy of Shannon Taitt

Insightful, resourceful and stimulating are all words that describe Shannon Beasley Taitt, M.P.A. Taitt is the founder and CEO of Deep Roots Consulting LLC, a certified personal and executive coach as well as an educational strategic planning facilitator. Having trained thousands of individuals and organizations, Taitt is well known and well respected in her community.

Taitt recently penned her first book Get Your Head in the Game: Life Lessons Learned From My Mother Through the Game of Basketball. This book highlights how life and basketball are masterfully merged to inspire and coach the reader to set goals, make changes, overcome adversity and celebrate the victory. Rolling out recently caught up with Taitt to learn more about the inspiration for her book. Check out the exclusive interview below. Tell us what you think in the comments section

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired to write my first book, Get Your Head in the Game: Life Lessons Learned From My Mother Through the Game of Basketball” for three reasons.

As a tribute to my mother and the legacy she left of striving for excellence in all we do. My mother passed away in March 2012 and like many of us who want to ignore the wisdom that our mothers possess and the advice they give, I could only go back in the recesses of my mind to hear her voice. I wanted to capture her voice and her wisdom on paper so that others who understand the grief of losing a mom could relate and explore ways to record their mother’s influence on their lives.

To provide “Plays” or lessons that take aspects of the game of basketball and apply to our daily lives and help people learn how to set goals, take chances, overcome adversity, and celebrate victories.

It ties with my Deep Roots Consulting business mission of helping people find their inner strength to keep playing this game called life.

What is the mission you set out to accomplish with this book?

I want people to hear how my mother inspired me to write this book not only as a tribute to her life and the lessons she taught me on and off the court but also highlighting the amazing lessons each of us can learn not just through the metaphoric value through the game of basketball, but also from our own fouls, rebounds, wins and losses. I want people to focus on my Deep Roots Consulting business motto of Dig, Cultivate, and Grow. People must dig through the pain and cultivate new ideas and concepts of their lives in order to grow and heal. I want people to take the resources I have been given and use them as an opportunity to be their best selves.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your latest work?

If I had to do it all over again there isn’t much I would change about my book. I liked that format that I developed that takes people through each quarter of their lives or each quarter of a situation in which they find themselves and then lays out a strategy for success. If anything, I would have added more about my mother who was a remarkable woman who touched so may people’s lives. She had started writing her book about growing up in the segregated south in North Carolina in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, and moving to the all-White area where I grew up in Massachusetts where she was a health and physical education teacher for 33 years. Sadly, my mother never got to finish her book before she passed away and I wanted people to get to know her through my eyes but I think I could have added a little more about her life and legacy so the reader could really dive into what it was like for her as the only Black person in her world.

What was the hardest part of completing this project?

Staying focused, being disciplined with my time, and not wanting to change or edit things as I was writing were the hardest parts of completing this project. Also, this project is very personal. I would write a little, cry a little, laugh a little and then feel it was all too heavy so I would put it down and allow myself to become distracted with laundry or kid’s activities or anything that could take my mind off of writing. We all get that voice of doubt from time to time as well. I would ask myself, “Do you really think you’re a writer? You’re not a writer. You are going to open yourself up to criticism like that?”

Those negative and fearful thoughts are what made this process take two years to complete. As I say in the chapter “Lace Up,” if you are a spectator, don’t judge me on the court. People in the stands will always have something to say about the players on the court. They may not have played one minute of the game but they can tell you what you should be doing with your playing time. I had to let their heckling or potential criticism diminish in my mind so that I could finish what I was told to do by my mother and by God.

We have to let the fears of not being good enough melt away and just do what we are called to do. It’s OK to be afraid but do it anyway.

Describe the process of getting published.

The publishing process was a tough one for me. I had to decide between self-publishing and getting a publisher to help me. Self-publishing is easier these days but if you don’t know much about that world, then a person could spend too much time researching and reading on how to do it the right way. It’s also a great resource if you are limited on funds.

I didn’t know much about the publish[ing] world either but after attending a book signing of another colleague I decided to use her publisher. I was excited because I saw her product in her hand. It wasn’t just a thought in her mind or a manuscript on her computer. She had a book. I connected with the publisher and pretty much signed with him without really understanding what I was signing. It was like she heard my cry about why it was taking me so long to finish. He appeared to be a one-stop shop by providing book outline tips, press releases (which were really only social media posts that I was tagged in) editing for copy and not for content, and book development and distribution, and a WordPress website that he would develop and launch as well. He also told me how quickly he could get this done and I was hooked. Overall, the process was challenging because there seemed to be something I missed in the fine print of the contract that was not to my benefit or was not as spelled out as I assumed when I read it.

I can say that I have my books now and I appreciate the growth and development I had along this journey of publishing. I would definitely tell anyone to do their research and weigh the pros and cons of self-publishing versus getting a publisher. Each situation can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. Be a good consumer and do your homework.

What advice would you give other writers?

As I said in another lesson in my book, “Just Shoot.” We spend so much time thinking about what we are going to do or talking about what we are going to do but let fear paralyze us from doing anything. I would tell other writers to just write. Come up with a game plan of what they want to talk about, who their audience might be and just write. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what a good editor is for. Write your story. It will bless someone and someone needs to hear it. Create a schedule that is doable and put it on your calendar and do it! We schedule meetings for other people but ignore the calendar reminders when it comes times to do something for self.

I would also tell writers to have good people on their team.It’s one thing to write and it’s another thing to sell what you’ve written. This is about how you want to get people to buy your book and solicit input from the experts. If you are an excellent marketer that’s great; if you are great at websites and social media, then that’s great too but if you are not great at these things, then hire people who are. It will decrease your stress level and help you focus on writing.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Taitt
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