“You have to work twice as hard to get 1/2 of what they have” Watching Scandal last week there was a point that the hair on the back of most African American’s neck rose. As Kerry Washington’s character Olivia Pope was scolded by her father who made her repeat words that clearly, like many other parents he had drilled into her mind since she was a kid. You have to work twice as hard to even get 1/2 of what they have. I know it struck a cord with me.
Week after week we admire Olivia Pope’s confidence and sharp tongue, watching Pope deal with some of the most powerful people in the world. But in the first few scenes we saw something that made her, and especially most of us vulnerable.
I grew up hearing the same thing. “There is no room for failure, you have to work twice as hard to be half as good.” I started to think, as much as that statement is meant to motivate us, does it really do more harm then good when we look at how risk adverse we are especially when it comes to pursuing entrepreneurship and technology innovation in our community.
There is something profoundly wrong with the way we make sense of success and failure to motivate our community.
If at a young age you are told you cannot fail, it breeds a culture of pursuing very safe paths because it leads to financial security, insurance and BENEFITS. So we purse careers not because we are passionate about it, but because it comes with a title and prestige that will impress our community but often times will not move the needle forward in our community. I was there, working in corporate America wanting to leave a high profile job with the NBA a job that literally made me feel sick but my mother championed for me to not leave a “good job” forget the fact that there was no room for growth or the hours and my salary would not allow me to build anything of substance in my community. It was a good job and I had worked twice as hard to be unhappy and uncommitted to changing my community.
The continuous rhetoric of “Failure is not an option” frustrates achievement. Instead we need to know that failure is part of the process, and in fact you will fail, but you must fail fast and bounce back quick. This change in conversation allows our community to take the risk to resurrect Black Wall Streets and build vertically integrated communities.
The areas of innovation that our black community needs are in technology and entrepreneurship where we can, not only help
ourselves but also truly provide opportunities that will reshape the trajectory of our community. But to follow those areas takes being comfortable with being uncomfortable, it means becoming risk promoters, and going outside the norm to not just being consumers of what society is handing to us but becoming creators of our own financial pipelines, old boys networks and pursuing hard skills technology training that our community needs to really have a seat at the table as technology ecosystems are being formed in our community.
The biggest risk have already been taken by our ancestors as James Baldwin so eloquently put it “Your crown has already been bought and paid for. It’s just waiting for you to put it on.”
Shout out to Awesomely Luvvie for the perfect Scandal gif! http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com