“You may not control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
Growing up as a racially mixed child I never really felt like I fit in. I wasn’t quite African American or Caucasian, I drifted somewhere in the middle. In the small town of Sanger I didn’t deal with much racism directly as many people assumed that I was Hispanic. However, I heard people make racist comments towards African Americans. Those comments planted seeds in me of feelings of inadequacy and doubt. “What if people find out I’m mixed race? Will I still be enough?”
This is a common question I believe we all ask ourselves and it comes in a variety of forms. If we are married we ask the question, “Am I a good enough spouse?” If we have kids we question our parenting ability. We worry about our friendships. We are insecure about the quality of our work. These insecurities are different for everyone, but are they all bad?
Recently when our team went to see Dave Ramsey at Entreleadership we had the opportunity to hear Christy B. Wright speaking about the struggles her mother faced as single parent. She said “we didn’t succeed in spite of the struggle, we succeeded because of the struggle.” Isn’t that the very definition of real success? If success came easy then everyone would succeed and there would be no failure and we’d never grow or change.
I think at every stage in life we are going to face challenges and if we don’t, then we aren’t really pushing ourselves to meet our full potential.
When I worked at Texas Instruments I had a coworker who loved to play tennis and he loved to win. He was an expert player, but he signed up for the intermediate level league. I asked him “Why did you sign up for the intermediate level?” His response floored me, he said, “I signed up for the intermediate level because I knew I would always win.”
Easy success isn’t really any fun. Winning all the time is like playing checkers with a child. There is no real joy in a victory that comes without a challenge.
A new song that I’ve been playing on repeat is called “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. It’s a very simple song with limited lyrics, but I love these words that I believe speak to the heart of every entrepreneur…
Just a young gun with a quick fuse
I was uptight, wanna let loose
I was dreaming of bigger things
And wanna leave my own life behind
Not a yes sir, not a follower
Fit the box, fit the mold
Have a seat in the foyer, take a number
I was lightning before the thunder
Kids were laughing in my classes
While I was scheming for the masses
Who do you think you are?
Dreaming ’bout being a big star
You say you’re basic, you say you’re easy
You’re always riding in the back seat
Now I’m smiling from the stage while
You were clapping in the nose bleeds
When I was 15 I was dating a gal who I thought was pretty great. She ended up breaking up with me when she found out about my ethnicity. It was an uppercut to my ego and for years I struggled to overcome it. It was such a devastating blow that for years after I didn’t date for fear of not being enough. That was a foolish waste of time. Why would I ever want to be married to someone who thought that ethnicity somehow makes a person “less than”?
There are things about us that we can’t change and things that we can that maybe we shouldn’t. Michael Strahan, ex-NFL Football player never fixed the gap in his teeth stating, “I made the conscious effort to say, ‘This is who I am,’” he explains of why he didn’t and won’t close up his teeth. It was actually something his mom and dad instilled in him was to be himself at all times. “I’m not perfect. I don’t want to try to be perfect…”
We can be excellent in life without being perfect.
What challenges are you currently going through now that are going to help you be a great success tomorrow? Don’t run from adversity, embrace it.
Be the lightning before the thunder.