obama_we_didSo are you approaching life optimistically and full of hope yet? Have you made the decision I asked you to make weeks ago, to stop letting this economy get you down? Have you resolved to make this jacked up economy work for you yet?  I certainly hope so.

In order to embrace this mindset, you have to think back to the turn of the last century. Men and women HAD to make opportunities.  Especially black men and women. Needless to say, opportunities were scarce and we had to make a way out of no way.  It should still be the mantra we follow today. Depending on what part of the country you’re from, it’s possible that you have had innovation and entrepreneurship all around you. And in other parts of the country (like where I grew up- Bronx NY) you may have seen lots of people without hope or desire to go out and get what you want.  Each person is responsible for claiming their destiny and living their “American Dream”.  If I listened to statistics, I would not be here where I am today.  I would be on welfare somewhere living in the project with 4-5 kids, no education to speak of and living off the government.  But I’m not.  I have two businesses and a lovely home of my own.  And I only have ONE kid. 🙂

How did we lose that spark of becoming incidental entrepreneurs?  When exactly did this happen? I don’t know every black woman in the country so I can’t speak to stats and numbers. But of the people I do know, more contend they are happy to be employees and receive a steady paycheck each week than to strike out on their own to create their own opportunities.  This is fine for some people. We all have that option. But it makes me question where that drive of our ancestors went.  What happened to the times of turning a special skill into a business?  What about our unprecedented access to technology and the internet? If anything, it should be easier today to start a business than it was back in the beginning of the last century.

But that’s neither here nor there. My point is that I want you to get out and do something.  You cannot fix the economy. But you can control how you react to it. Don’t be satisfied to just accept any job for the sake of a paycheck. Find out what your passion is and work on doing it. If you’re comfortable being a “worker bee” as one of my friends put it, that’s fine. But don’t feel you are stuck there.  There are plenty of opportunities for people who work for them and go for them.  If you’re worried about money, do something on the side. Essence Magazine has an ongoing column about “Side Hustles”. While I hate that name, it is appropriate. Get a side gig or start a part time side venture for yourself to make up the difference.  Who knows, this could ultimately prepare you for a full time business venture in the future.  But in order to find out if it’s something you would like to do later on, at least try it.

Know your limitations, but don’t let them hinder or scare you. What did I say earlier? We are notorious for making a way out of no way.  Focus on strengthening your limitations and seek guidance when necessary.  That doesn’t make you a weak person.  It’s part of the game.  All of the greats have hired people smarter than they are or more skilled in an area they are not.  By focusing on strengthening your limitations, you put yourself in a position to excel. Don’t let pride stand in your way. This applies whether you are running a business or building your career.  Seek out what you don’t know and work on your weaknesses.

Stop letting the gloom and doom of the media frighten you. Yes, we are going through some tight times, but we are far from the depression of the 1920’s. It’s all in your perspective of things. You can choose to hide and be scared, or you can use this as an opportunity to do things you’ve always wanted to do to better yourself. We all hit stumbling blocks every now and then. But it’s not those blocks that define us.  It’s how you get up and deal with the aftermath that matters.  I’m a survivor. I’m a fighter. I’m an innovator. I refuse to succumb to this “crisis”. That keeps me sane in a period of insanity. But remember, it’s not enough to just say the words. You have to believe them and take actions that are in line with the thoughts. There are opportunities all around you.  Just open your eyes and ears, and you’ll find them.

Good luck to us all. In the words of our new President, “Yes We Can“.  In the words of Adrienne Graham, “Yes We Did“.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham