So I was recently teaching a certification class.
And this was a very high-caliber class of professionals attending.
One gentlemen was a wonderful African American who I will call John.
As part of one of the class assignments, John, a very successful man, told of how as a young man growing up in the DC projects, a neighbor told him something very hurtful and potentially devastating to him.
The neighbor angrily said, “You’ll never be anything in your life!”
And John described how he pursued his education, his career goals, his family, as well as philanthropic pursuits to give back to the community–and he went quite far.
He told with great emotion and tears in his eyes how ten years ago, he went back to his old neighborhood to thank this neighbor for motivating him (even though in a negative way) to go as far in life as he did.
You could hear a pin drop in the class–I think a lot of people could relate to this story in their own lives.
I know that I for one certainly could.
For me, while I am a simple person and have not gone so far, I have certainly had an interesting life and lots of wonderful opportunities.
Yet, I too remember more than 20 years ago, when I had taken a job in a wild pursuit in my youthful ambitions that one crazy boss that I was briefly working for who was considerably older than me and with his own business abusively said to me one day, “You’re not half of what you think you are!”
BAM! Like a huge sledge hammer hitting me right across my head–I was still relatively young and impressionable.
Also, I came from a pretty blue collar-type working family and although upwardly mobile, and I was certainly trying to become “more,” I never really felt at all entitled.
Anyway, the story this student told really brought my own experience hurling back to me from my past.
In the class, John said–you have to go out and “Prove them wrong.”
And while I don’t exactly feel that proving others who wish us bad to be wrong is the point, I do agree that we shouldn’t let any of these negative nellies in our own lives drag us down.
We all have our mission in life–and it’s up to us to become the best people that we can–and to hell with everyone who looks down on us, discourages us, maybe are competitive with us or jealous in some way, or simply don’t wish us the best.
So John is right–go out there and do great things! 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)