I was at the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s (NHMC) annual Impact Awards in Beverly Hills, California last month listening to acceptance speeches; one inspiring after the other. The Latino honorees had one thing in common: someone (sometimes more than one person) had told them, “You’ll never make it.”
I’m sure many of you have been on the wrong side of…
“You’ll never make it.”
“Have you thought about a different career?”
“That’s not how we do things around here.”
I have. I still do.
I’m 46 years old, educated, well traveled with more than 20 years of experience in my field and still have to prove myself. Not that there’s anything wrong with proving yourself, but most of my white male contemporaries are considered to “have arrived”. They don’t get the line of questioning fueled by ignorance and bias which I so frequently do.
That scenario isn’t exclusive to Latinos. African Americans, Asians, women, gay and lesbians, you name it; any member of a minority community comes across these types of prejudiced induced blockers.
The establishment might not say it as plainly as I’m laying it out for you right now, but what they’re trying to do is force you to conform, assimilate, stay in your place. Oh they might use carefully crafted words, compliment you, shake your hand, smile at you…maybe even give you a promotion! But beware, the wolf is often dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Now, you may choose door #1, drink the kool-aide and live happily in your voluntarily induced coma. But, if you choose door #2 instead and fight for your dreams and aspirations…here are three ways to own the haters by succeeding:
Kill them with facts
It’s imperative that you do your homework. Immerse yourself in the area you wish to work in. That might be researching, learning strategies and making contacts. You have to speak about the subject with authority and authenticity in order for others to pay attention.
This isn’t a fake it until you make it scenario. Everyone can smell shit a mile away. NOT you. You need to be able to shame the office bully to silence with your sharp and timely marketplace knowledge.
It takes a pueblo
Be inquisitive at your workplace. Ask why things are as they are and if there’s another way? Nothing drives a stake through the heart of a company than complacency. You have to be the one to drive innovation. That doesn’t mean all the great ideas must come from you. Genius is sometimes a cubicle away.
Don’t think you’re the only frustrated employee. Use those water cooler chats for something more productive than talking about last night’s game or the office gossip. You can be a facilitator by networking with other like minded doers.
It takes a village to succeed. Its been my experience that success which is built on a solid foundation of collaboration will not only reach its intended goals, but exceed them every time.
Identify the influencers
There are many ways to get in to a house other than the front door. Identify who are the entry points to your department or project. These colleagues are not necessarily managers.
If you pay close attention, you’re sure to identify who are the most well liked and respected people at your place of work. Titles don’t command respect or admiration; people do. You need to focus your effort on getting these human side doors, back doors and windows to understand and believe in your goals. These people are not necessarily the members of your village. They don’t need to join the project, but perhaps they can help beat the drum about it.
You’ll know you’re doing this right when you and your ideas are being campaigned by the influencers in a room of decision makers. Let’s see that blocker try to stop you now!
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” Theodore Roosevelt
Another thing the honorees at the NHMC’s Impact Awards had in common was their tenacity in reaching their goals. Whatever it is you want to achieve, make sure to dedicate your heart and mind to it because that’s what it’s going to take.
No one is going to tap you on the back and tell you it’s your turn. If you’re like me, opportunities aren’t given, they’re created.