I recently shared one of my professional goals with you and the response to this disclosure has been very positive. I’m thankful that I have friends and readers who understand me enough to know this wasn’t easy.
One of the reasons why sharing goals publicly is difficult is because people say you’re cocky or you have a big ego if you say something really ambitious and actually sound confident when you say it. I hate that. I feel like we used to be allowed to dream and have goals and think big and talk loud, but over the years – with so many people competing for jobs with their college educations and a struggling economy, online bullying, etc. – we’ve limited ourselves and gotten real quiet with our ambitions. We tell people not to take risk, to play it smart, to live in the moment, and a million other contradictory and stifling things that don’t help anyone reach their goals.
I’m a really ambitious person. People who love me know this about me, and most of them love me for it. My ambition is what has led me down a lot of roads that most people would never go down. Most of those roads led to something almost everyone wants or likes the sound of be it writing a book or starting my own business or taking a day job at Bazaarvoice after starting my own business or committing myself to so many extra-curricular, civic and philanthropic activities. This isn’t to brag, but simply to show that the risk were worth the rewards. They aren’t always, but they are often.
People need to take risks more often. Especially younger people. If you don’t have a husband or wife, kids, a mortgage, or anything family-related or financially-related that would hinder you from doing what you love, then you really have no excuse. Seriously, you have no fucking excuse. Quit making excuses. … No, I can’t hear you. Stop it.
I can’t tell you how many people ask me a question that starts with “how” and ends with something about time or making money or networking. How is important, but it’s only the 3rd most important set of questions to ask.
The most important thing to ask yourself is What. What is your purpose? What unique skills and talents and interests do you have that would help you better understand and fulfill your purpose?
From there you should think Why. Why would you not pursue fulfilling your purpose? Why would you spend so much time, energy and resources doing something that is not that purpose?
I have a lot of great friends. At some point, most of my friends were extremely ambitious too. Either in middle school or high school or college or post-college I’ve heard my friends say some of the most lofty, inspired things about what they want to do in the world. I can count on one hand how many of them are doing it. I mean really doing it. In the last few years alone, I’ve seen friends from 19 years old to 29 years old let their true goals fall by the waist side.
Does this mean my friends are failures? HELL NO. My friends are quite accomplished and happy with what they’re doing, I’m sure.
This is to say that ambition alone is not enough. You have to know the What and the Why. You have to have a purpose that you are genuinely and tirelessly committed to. You have to know why you’re so committed to that purpose. You will be tested. You will be given easy outs. You will get stuck between rocks and hard places. You will fall in love. You will change cities. You will lose jobs. You will be underpaid. You will be overpaid to do something you don’t really love. You will be underappreciated. You will be appreciated for doing something you don’t really love. You will be underestimated. You will fail. You will cry. You will see others do what you want to do. You will want to give up. You will lose friends. You will not be understood.
But if you know What you want to do and can fully explain to yourself Why it’s so important, you will achieve your true goals. Does it mean you’ll finish 1st every time? No. But you’ll find out that 1st isn’t as important at finishing. Most people never even finish the most important race of their lives. Most people do not fulfill their purpose on this Earth.
Most people spend more time talking themselves into what they’re currently doing rather than actually doing what they are capable of.
Between those two teen girls and their YouTube rant, this shit I posted recently, what happened to Trayvon Martin and this racist Hunger Games crap, I have had enough. I've written about my first experience with racial profiling, but that was nearly a dozen years ago and there is still far too much racial insensitivity abound.
People say “it’s 2012 for crying out loud”…”it’s 2012 for Pete’s sake”…”I can’t believe this is happening in 2012!” Fuck that. Who cares what year it is, this shit is just harmful, ignorant, and reflects poorly on our society. More importantly, it reflects poorly on our youth. Yeah, Trayvon Martin’s killer was not even 30 years old. These people complaining about the race of key characters in Hunger Games, the movie, aren’t even 20 years old. This is my generation and the next one; I’m embarrassed and afraid.
People were saying “we aren’t slaves anymore…” then they were saying “the Supreme Court said…” then they were saying “but the voting legislation was passed...” then they were saying “didn’t we already fight this battle in the ‘60s and decades before?...” but in the form of “it’s the 70s!” or “it’s the 80s!” or “it’s the ‘90s”…or “it’s 2000!” … now we’re saying “it’s 2012” which has a special ring to it because you’d think that our society has advanced pretty damn far since some people think the world is about to end and all.
But then this shit happens. First, some bright idea called “Stand Your Ground” does the exact opposite…it prevents someone like Trayvon from being able to stand his ground in America. It forces him to be profiled, followed and, ultimately, killed.
Then there’s this Hunger Games shit, which may not seem on par with the priority that we as a society should place on Trayvon’s case, but I believe is directly linked. You see the people who seem to have a problem with Rue’s character being black are probably Trayvon Martin’s age. Only they aren’t black. They have the benefit of being on the bullying side of racial profiling. Kids like Trayvon are the victims of racial profiling.
People like Trayvon’s killer are part of the problem, but the bigger part of the problem comes from a less scrutinized audience and is far more subtle. It’s in our pop culture. It’s in the assumptions we allow young people [for the purpose of this blog “young people” means those in my generation or younger] to make about race.
Who cares if it’s 1972 or 2012, we should not allow people to make the kinds of assumptions about people – be they real people like Trayvon Martin or fictitious people like Rue from Hunger Games – that aren’t met with facts.
Trust me, I love assumptions. I think assumptions save us a lot of time. But assumptions need to be backed up with facts.
Trayvon’s killer didn’t want facts, it seems. He just wanted to pursue someone “suspicious looking” as if he wore a badge.
Those young people bashing Rue being portrayed by a young black actress rather than the white one they’d imagined while reading the book didn’t want facts either. That’s why they missed the part of Suzanne Collins’ novel that read, “she has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.”
The facts are that George Zimmerman was explicitly told not to follow Trayvon Martin. If he wanted to play soldier, he certainly did not understand how to follow instructions.
The facts are that Rue’s character was written with brown skin and brown eyes. It just so happens that the casting director did a good job in finding a little girl named Amandla Sternberg who has brown skin and brown eyes (and can act).
Who cares what year it is. We either decide to accept the facts or ignore them. If certain people want to ignore the facts, then the law shouldn’t protect them over a 17-year-old with Skittles in his hands. Nor should it negate the tremendous movie roles played by black actors despite their wishes for racial homogeneity.
One minute a Florida teenager is watching the NBA All-Star Game, and the next minute he’s shot dead. One minute the movie industry is abuzz about Hunger Games’ $150-million-plus opening weekend, and the next minute Twitter is trending with racist sentiment about key characters in the hit movie.
When it comes to racial profiling and negative assumptions, the year we’re living in shouldn’t even matter. Hell, the month/week/day/hour shouldn’t either. This is a minute-by-minute issue.
I’m not easily offended by racial jokes if they come from friends, but I’m going to become more adamant that these things stop because I do see a connection between my own acceptance of these stereotypes and this negative trend that FB/Twitter/YouTube definitely exacerbates.
I will say this about it being 2012, though. It’s about time we trained our selves and our young people to put the proper value on facts in order to reduce the reliance on negative assumptions about race.