Everyone should have guiding principles that are at the core of their business review, their life and their work. Mine are abundant equity, growth, community and Sankofa. I feel like in some ways Sankofa is a cheat because it means so much. It’s more than just one word. It’s actually an entire philosophy wrapped up in a word.

I only have one tattoo, an Om symbol that sits in the inside of my left wrist. I use it as a constant reminder to listen to the universe and the wisdom within myself. Om is also the Sanskrit word for the sound of the universe. For a while though, I’ve been conjuring up images of my second tattoo which will definitely be a Sankofa bird on my right shoulder blade.


What is the Sankofa?

Sankofa is a core value of my business For those unfamiliar with the Sankofa bird, it is an image conjured from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The concept is that it’s not wrong to go back to salvage what you may have left behind. Visually this is represented by a bird that has laid an egg, and the same time cranes its neck back behind itself, almost looking for something in its past. What a beautiful way to honor the new year. A good reminder for any experience really, good bad or otherwise.

How was your 2020?

I don’t do new year’s resolutions. But I do set intentions and make commitments to myself, my community and my family. Before setting an intention though, let’s not forget the power of a good post-mortem. There’s great value in actually looking behind us to see what is worthy of taking forward. I love annual business goal setting because at its core it’s a practice of Sankofa. It’s a way that we review our past and take those lessons forward into our future as we continue to birth new ideas, habits, programs, and even new businesses.


After all there are only two kinds of experiences in life: the ones that go according to plan and the ones that we learn from.


As we come to the end of the first month of the year, I laugh thinking about all those who perhaps have already abandoned their new year’s resolutions; have already considered their goals failures because they haven’t lost weight, or incorporated that business, or met the love of their life. But instead of looking at all of the things that we haven’t created yet, the beginning of the year is always an opportunity to look back and consider how we can iterate to make the future even better. After all there are only two kinds of experiences in life: the ones that go according to plan and the ones that we learn from. Which one was 2020 for you?

The Spirit of Sankofa

How can we learn where you’ve come from, in order to create what you want next? That is the essence of Sankofa. As a small business owner doing a business review how can you look to this principle and philosophy as a way to accelerate and encourage never-ending growth? Whether you’re in business for yourself or owning a career where you serve another organization, the spirit of Sankofa holds true. It may be a new year but you are the same you which means you get to iterate on all that you’ve experienced in order to forge a new and more empowered future.

In the High Tides Manifesto I talk about the idea that legacy happens through us, it doesn’t begin here. Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean you’re building a legacy from scratch. All of us are on a continuum and that provides us grace for exactly where we are. (Oh, and if you know of any amazing tattoo artists who work with melanated skin feel free to send them my way).


What are your Core Values?

Meanwhile, consider what your core values are for your life and your business. If you haven’t figured it out yet or they aren’t coming to you quite clearly I encourage you take some time thinking about:

    1. What are the qualities of the work you’ve most enjoyed?
    2. If you could only work with one client forever which one would it be and why?
    3. What experiences revealed the most to you about your gifts. Talents and passions?
    4. What work left you drained and unenthused?

Whether you’re doing a business review or not, often your core values can be found in those patterns identified in the answers to the first three prompts and absent in the fourth. What shows up for you?


Get the Guide!

If you’re doing your business review you’ll find these types of questions and more in the Annual Business Planning Guide. If you’re part of the She Runs It Community you can find a video tutorial that walks you through this 7-step process. The reflections are smack dab in the middle of step 4. After you complete the session I’d love for you to come back and share with me the patterns and the values that you found. Maybe you’ll discover a cheat code philosophy of your own.

Apply now for Facilitator Certification: Cohort 3 starts in 2024