blackpeopleHi ladies.

I haven’t been blogging much these days because I have a lot going on with new exciting projects that I’m bringing to all of you throughout this year. The past few Sundays I’ve been watching Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union on TV One. I always watch these with a conflicted heart because each year we have this State of the Union and there’s always a lot of encouraging speech, praise and calls to action. But it seems like after all the fanfare, the Black Community falls back to where they were. Then we do it all again the next year. That saddens me. We’ve got to do better.

Now don’t view this as me dismissing this event, because I’m not. I think it is vital that we keep these going, but it got me thinking.  What I’d like to see is the same people on the panels, not only put out a call to action, but DO SOMETHING to get things moving. Holding an event is not enough. We can talk about it all day long, but if there is no real effort being made outside of showing up on tv, nothing will ever get better. Now it’s not fair for me to put it on others. Doing better starts within each one of us. We have to take a long hard look at ourselves, individually, and do an assessment. Are we living up to our potential? Are we pushing our kids to live up to their potential? Are we encouraging ourselves to take action? If the answer to any of these is “no”, then we need to take action. People, Black Women in particular, can come up with a zillion reasons why we can’t make it or why we feel things are against us. I’m here to tell you life is rough. But just like they say “it’s not what you’re called but what you answer to”, it’s not your circumstance but how you react and move on from it to prosper that counts. If you don’t instill positive thoughts in your mind, you have no chance to succeed. If you don’t take positive actions to improve your life, you can’t succeed. If you don’t start moving yourself out of negative environments and circles, you cannot succeed.

Self accountability and hard work is the starting point. We cannot continue to blame others for our misfortunes. Education and knowledge is power. It starts with you. If you have children, you can’t even get their lives straight until you get yours straight first. Kids follow by example. If you’re not setting that example of excellence, they will have a harder road. Let them know and understand that being smart and focused is not a crime. Keep them interested in always learning. It breaks my heart to see some women say “I can’t. I’m stuck with no way out”. I don’t believe that in even the most extreme cases. Education and knowledge is the great equalizer. We have way too much access these days to have excuses to fall back on. The internet has a wealth of information, mostly for free. Pick up a book. Talk to people. If you can’t afford traditional education, get a non-traditional education. You can self-educate. Just because your education isn’t from a prestigious university doesn’t mean the education or knowledge is an less valuable. Look for programs, grants and scholarships and apply if you are determined to get a traditional education. There is money out there, you just have to look. Connect with successful people you admire. Surrounding yourself with successful people is sure to put you in a positive mindset. It can be as simple as sending an email or picking up the phone to reach out. Don’t think of people in terms of being untouchable. Everyone is accessible somehow, some way. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get.

Upgrade your relationships. We all have different types of friends. The ones you go shopping with. The ones you can discuss world issues with. The ones you had from childhood. But all friendships aren’t meant to last forever. At some point we all experience a friend who is overly negative and adds nothing of value to your friendship. You dread having conversations with her because you know how they’ll turn out. These are the friends you prune from your inner circle. I know there is a lot to be said for loyalty and friendship. But you can’t allow negativity to invade your space. If you’re in a circle where you’re the smartest one, it’s time to find some smarter friends. If you’re in a circle where all they do is bitch about men and problems, it’s time to find happier friends. If you’re in a circle where all they do is cry over money woes or robs peter to pay paul with no plan to get out of the situation, it’s time to find savvier friends. You cannot allow others, no matter how long you’ve known them, to bring you down. Even the strongest of women will succomb to this negaitvity if exposed to it enough. Don’t be afraid to start over.

If you feel you cannot pull yourself up by yourself, get help. There are support groups and mentors out there willing to help. Now be careful though. If you join a support group, make sure it’s not a pity party but a group with goals on helping one another to succeed. Also be careful in choosing a mentor. Not everyone is meant to mentor people. Make sure there is good synergy between you and get at least two or three people to mentor you. Create an encouragement board. Some people call them vision boards. Cut out powerful words, affirmations, phrases and captions and put them on the board. You can also add images of what you wish to succeed. Keep it in a prominent place where you’ll constantly see it. Refer to it often, especially when you feel down.

Immerse yourself in things other than celebrity gossip or entertainment. Get politically active.  Get involved in empowering conversations. Get dialog going within your own household and talk to your kids. It has always bugged the hell out of me how women will blow up a conversation thread about Beyonce’s weave or last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, hair & makeup, or the Chris Brown/Rhianna saga. You’ll find threads online 40 pages deep. But throw out a conversation about goal setting, starting a business, helping one another, or anything work related, and it gets ignored. People, we’ve got to do better. I’m not saying entertainment doesn’t have it’s place. But have an opinion about something other than idle gossip! We need more intelligent dialog.

If you are a person who has achieved success, this blog is for you too. What have you done to uplift another person? Do you mentor or otherwise give your time? What are you willing to do, as your part, in helping our community? You cannot make the mistake so many have made. You cannot get into the upper echelon then cocoon yourself away from the world saying “not my problem”. I’m not saying you have to single-handedly save the entire world or Black Community. But don’t shut yourself off. The biggest complaint I hear from women, especially Black Women is that the sisters who made it turn their backs and are unwilling to reach back to help. Let’s work to dispel this notion. Get involved and give back. Remember, you once needed a hand. If someone gave it to you, consider it paying it forward. If nobody helped you, remember that feeling and work to help others as you wised someone would have helped you.

If you want something bad enough, go out and fight for it. Nothing is given in this life. You have to fight and sweat for it. Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from achieving it. If the election of President Obama has taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible. Say it with me again ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. It’s up to you to level the playing field. Not President Obama, Black “Leaders”, the government, your boss, nobody. Only YOU. Decide what you want to do and go for it with full force. Find out what you do best and work to refine those skills and create your brand. Be confident in what you do so others will believe in you. Remember, if you don’t believe in you nobody else will. What do you want to be synonymous with? What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want your message to the world to be?  Show up, be accountable, and start talking! Most importantly, start DOING.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham