Jihanne | Know Your Currency

“I wanted to do something around sports. I love being around sports. I love being on the business side of sports. After I stopped playing, I realized that I could still have such a huge impact because of the inside knowledge I had from being an athlete.”

Meet Jihanne.

Jihanne is the Senior Producer and Content Strategist of the NBA G League. Prior to this role she was a member of the associate program with the NBA, where for two years she completed four 6-month rotations through different departments within the organization. From attending all-star weekends and NBA finals to getting to oversee social responsibilities for the NBA G-League, Jihanne’s experience has been one of the most memorable experiences that I have been fortunate to witness. But even the most unique of experiences can bring challenges that sometimes make a home in your life for longer than you would like. In Jihanne’s case, it was when she faced a difficult boss that she could just not shake.

“The one thing that really gets me and the reason that this situation was so difficult to deal with is that my most difficult boss was a black woman. We just didn’t match and at first, I took it very, very, very personally. I couldn’t shake it for the first 2-3 months of that rotation – and the rotation is only 6 months. I was letting her bother me so much that it started to affect my personal life, and I began to make excuses. The quality of my work started falling off because I could not understand why this person did not like me. I felt like nothing I did would please her – so I stopped performing.”

Our Hardest Lessons Sometimes are Our Best Teachers.

One of the most interesting things about Jihanne’s experience with her supervisor is that she admitted that although this woman challenged her in more ways than she could count, she also learned so much about what she did not want to end up like. For anyone who also is struggling with a difficult boss, Jihanne mentioned that taking her boss’s actions personally was where she messed up. 

“I came to the conclusion that it’s a six month period. I never have to work with this lady again. If someone is ever in a situation like mine, I would say do not take anything personally from someone you don’t have a personal relationship with outside of work. There is no reason to let that sit on your shoulders, and it’s important to learn how to let it roll off your back. I also would say to be more compassionate. If someone is being hateful or mean, there is something seriously wrong going on. It has nothing to do with you. I wouldn’t say that I am now friends with this person, but I have gotten a better understanding of what is going on in her life. Even more so, I realized that it had absolutely nothing to do with me. She had something she was dealing with, and I was the young black girl she was taking it out on.”

We are all guilty of sometimes letting what is happening in our personal life flow over to how we treat the people we work with. We may get irritated quicker, be less willing to hear someone out, and overall just not be the person we would normally be if our lives outside of work were not causing us stress. Some of the stress may be things we cannot control – family members falling sick, a spouse or partner causing us pain, kids not becoming who we thought they would be. However, there are some situations that we can control – and that is where self-care comes into play. 

The Truth About Self-Care.

“What I have started to find is that as I have grown in this journey, it is so extremely important to take care of yourself and emphasize care in your life. But over the past few years, I have started to include self-discipline as an art of self-care. Because people often think that I’ve had a bad day, so I am going to go to the mall and indulge in retail therapy. And I am a retail therapy queen. But it started to dawn on me that I was actually causing myself more harm when I was choosing between shopping online and eating that week, especially in college. Self-discipline is a true part of self-care because when you get to the point that you are the detriment to yourself, you are no longer caring for yourself. You are coddling yourself. There is a difference between self-care and coddling.”

One of the most powerful things Jihanne shared, and something that has stuck with me to this day, is the importance of setting goals – and actually sticking to them. You do no one a disservice but yourself when you don’t make your goals a priority. 

Pushing The Goal Line.

“My boyfriend and I talk about this all the time, about moving the goal line. Respect yourself enough to set that goal and go stand on it. Don’t give yourself leeway unless it’s unreasonable. Have the capacity to be real with yourself and honor the commitments that you make to yourself because you honor your commitments to everyone else. If I set a goal to have three books read by the end of the summer and I am like “oh, I have a lot going on this summer so I’ll do it later” you aren’t helping yourself. You had time to read those books.”

As powerful as what Jihanne is saying, it is really hard to sometimes truly be honest with ourselves. Not only is it hard, but sometimes it can even be frightening to think about what you may find when you embark on the journey of self-discovery. How do you encourage someone, to be honest with themselves? In Jihanne’s opinion, her first step was realizing that caskets do not come with bunk beds.

The Truth About Honesty.

“If I am not honest with myself, or lying to myself or if I am deceiving myself, or if I am painting non-existent images in my head, I am the one who has to go to sleep with that. That has affected me at work, in my personal life, in my relationship. My anxiety contributes to a lot of that because I will feel anxious about something, and then paint a completely different picture of what it is to make myself feel better or to alter the situation in a way that I can understand better. I also have had to learn about being real with myself and knowing when I need to raise my hand and ask for help because I cannot do it all and I don’t HAVE to. For me, it is having normal check-ins with myself.”

Being honest with yourself can open a lot of doors. It opens the growth door automatically, but it also breathes light into who you are and who you are becoming. Who we are is an ever-evolving thing, and as you become more comfortable and confident in who you are – you are able to ask for what you truly need, not what society says you need. 

“Someone told me on my first day of work at the NBA is that you have to find what your currency is. It is easy to assume that money is everyone’s currency. But if you have kids, your currency might be flexible hours or if you are creative and trying to start your own business, your currency might be free online courses offered for your job. It is easy to get wrapped up in people’s salaries and who makes what right out of college. But everyone’s currency is different.”

Know your currency. Don’t move the goal line. Include discipline in self-care. Jihanne, you dropped enough gems for a whole book – thankful for your honesty and wisdom. 

Water Your Garden today ladies. 

With love,

To connect/follow Jihanne on Instagram, check out her page at @jihanne.burgess – she also has an INCREDIBLE candle company, @whickedwhiffcandleco!

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  1. One of the most disappointing jobs I took was at the City Attorney’s office in the city where I lived. It would be the first time my supervisor would be African American. After working for a large majority white law firm, I thought I would have management that cared about my career. I was so excited. Not so. Although nobody actually worked to destroy my career I saw that happen to another African American attorney. Honestly, the Jewish male partner at the majority firm cared about me more than any woman or African American male or female ever did. This principle is still true in my life over 30 years later. It’s hard not to generalize my opinion about female and African American attorneys when it comes to their quality as supervisors. Attorneys generally don’t make good managers. That’s not to say that there are great supervisors who are female or African American. Many legal associations have mentor programs but I am of the opinion that your supervisor is in the best position to mentor you in your chosen field. You should not have to go outside your organization to find a mentor.

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