My own work history is replete with examples of times that being a woman was a negative and made my life more difficult, but I moved on. Small business owners often complain that the business world and government rules are stacked against them, yet many succeed. Military in transition regularly fear that employers discriminate against them, yet most become quite successful in the private sector.
Each of us chooses whether to use these perceived and real problems as stopping us, hindering us, or just life. In 2007 Robert L. Johnson, founder of BET, gave a commencement address I have kept as a reminder – or a kick in the tuckus, as needed.
Need a bit of inspiration? Read on.
“My message to you is that you have to work harder for yourself. Unfortunately, and this sometimes affects us as African Americans, we say: ‘The deck is stacked against us. There’s racism. There’s Jim Crowism. There’s sexism. There are glass ceilings. There are all these things that cause us to say we can’t achieve because the deck is stacked against us, and we can’t break through.’ That to me is a basic surrender to some other force controlling your destiny. (…)
I’m telling you: Welcome to life. Welcome to the business world. Welcome to where you are not going to get breaks. (…)
In my opinion, racism is like rain. It’ll always be out there. You know what you do? You put on your raincoat, grab an umbrella and go out there.”
If you own a business, your success and that of your business is directly tied to your ability to solve problems and to create a culture that does also.
Most days I love my work. I have great clients. I work with so many terrific people. But yes, there is the business stuff I do not like to do that much. And sometimes clients go south or a new law means a lot of fear in the small biz community or I am surrounded by negativity. And I remember I am not a victim and I put on my raincoat and keep going. And if I can, certainly you can too.