I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy on building my business and because of that, I haven’t dedicated as much time to my personal blog.
I got an email a bout a week ago (sorry couldn’t help myself with that one) from one of my readers and her question promoted me to write quite a lengthy response. Below is what she sent over to me and my thoughts:
I had time to read your emails; I appreciate them. I always seek ways on how to grow individually, and I believe your emails help me with that. The one quote that has stuck on to me was “If you really want something, you’ll make it happen. If you really don’t, you’ll make excuses…” I highly believe in this quote. However, say someone from a minority group wants to achieve a goal but can’t because he/she doesn’t have the same chances as someone else who, instead, is from a higher group in society. Would that still make the person who wants to achieve the goal a person who makes excuses?
First, thank you very much for your email and question, this is something I’ve asked myself too. You posed the scenario where “someone from a minority group wants to achieve a goal but can’t because he/she doesn’t have the same chances as someone else who, instead, is from a higher group in society”. Then asked the questions, “Would that still make the person who wants to achieve the goal a person who makes excuses?”
My short answer is, yes.
If the person you’re referring to in your question uses this reason for why they choose to do nothing and not work towards their goal, yes this is just another excuse. It might be a “better sounding excuse”, but it is still an excuse none the less.
But let me explain why that is, and why on the surface it seems unfair.
I struggled with making such blanket statements because I would say to myself, “Quincy, easy for you to say. You come from a middle income family, and grew up in a nice neighborhood. Who are you to tell someone with less that they are making excuses?” But I realized you can always, ALWAYS find someone who has less than you or is disadvantaged in some capacity. Quantifying your disadvantages does nothing to help you get beyond them or towards your goals.
Also, a “disadvantage” can come in many forms. Having less money, less education, being a person of color, being female, being LGBT, being physically handicapped, etc. The list can go on and on.
I am not saying that these disadvantages (and many others) aren’t a struggle or difficult to overcome. However, deciding that because of your disadvantage you are no longer able to pursue or achieve your goal, is an excuse.
What if my Dad, a dark skinned African man with an accent, born and raised in a third world country, growing up during a Civil War, decided his “disadvantages” were too much, or too unfair? What if he listened to what other people had to say about what was possible for him?
If he did that, he wouldn’t have gotten himself to the United States, put himself through college in Texas (during a time when people weren’t too welcoming of Blacks) become an engineer, met my mother, or started a family and his business. (All while helping his family back home and bringing some of his siblings over with him.)
If, in the beginning (or throughout his life), he only thought about what he didn’t have, what others had that made it “easier” for them, and allowed those thoughts to keep him from moving forward, he wouldn’t be where he is today and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.
This is what has given me the mindset that I will not allow myself to make excuses, which can be difficult because excuses help us to feel better about ourselves. They are a way to help us justify and be complacent with our false sense of an inability to change our situation.
What I have found is that all that is necessary is a change in perspective.
Focusing on the advantages you do have, like the fact that we live in the United States of America, have unfiltered/unrestricted access to the internet, freedom of speech, and freedom to pursue whatever we want. Focusing on these things is what will help you realize that although there are disadvantages, we have the means to improve or overcome them.
This is where our focus should lie.
My Dad says the greatest thing you have in America is, “the freedom to fail”.
What that means is if you don’t give up trying or working, there is always a way to succeed. It may not be the first time around, it may not even be the 100th, but the second you allow yourself to buy in to your own self-doubt you will never overcome it.
I think I made my point but a final thing I’d like to speak to in relation to your question above is this: If I am someone in a part of this “higher society” it is in my best interest for you to continue to believe that it is impossible for you to overcome your circumstances (no matter what they are). Conditioning you to have self-doubt and question your ability to advance yourself keeps me in power.
It is only through taking responsibility for our actions that we can move ourselves from where we are to where we want to go.