This photo by Gordon Parks is so beautiful to me. Every time I see it I stop and ponder. So many thoughts run through my mind. The pain and beauty is awe inspiring. Although it’s sad, to me, it’s also very powerful.
This past weekend, my husband and I had a chance to spend a few hours together for a quick lunch. Time alone is a little rare. When we get some time together usually chat about our girls, catch up on businesses items and make plans based on some short or long term goals. We also laugh a lot and exchange our funniest stories from the prior week. As we shared some funny stories about our girls, the conversation shifted to their future and my goals for them. The conversation shifted. I then told my husband something I had unintentionally never shared with him before…the burden I carry. I know burden is such a deep and heavy (literally) word, but it is the truest description of what I feel.
I am responsible for many things. My family, our home, my business,etc. More importantly, I am responsible for raising three girls into women. I carry the burden of raising strong, independent women that are kind, empathetic and emotionally intelligent, among a plethora of other traits. In order to do so I have to provide a solid foundation, be present and continuously supportive. That requires an all-day every-day mentality and focus. There is never a time I am not thinking about that responsibility. I carry the burden of those that have come before me. My parents, and the sacrifices they made to bring my sisters and I to the United States and make a wonderful life for us. I also carry the burden of the people who have fought for the rights of black people in this country and the Caribbean and those that continue to work hard to break down barriers and create change.
All of that I carry. It may sound like a lot but I am grateful for it. Knowing that without the sacrifices of so many I would not be here, able to do what I’m doing, is very humbling and yet inspiring. It’s the driving force behind my work ethic and mission to accomplish so many goals. There are too many people to let down, including myself.
When people talk about their goals, but do nothing to reach them or don’t take time to do quality work. It confuses me. I am working for all of those that came before me, my girls, and all of the people that will follow. With that mindset, I consider everything I do to have great meaning and great impact. Therefore, I have no choice but to always work hard to reach excellence. When I think of my mother and her continued hard work, my father and his strive to do what he loves, the mothers and fathers that shielded their children from violence during the civil rights movement and the many, many lives lost fighting for freedom and justice around the world…with all that I have, and the opportunities I have been given, how can I waste that? How can I not achieve?
“Being a mess is just not an option!”
Before I was an entrepreneur, I spent many years in a management position. It was in this role that I learned about human behavior. Everyday, before work, I would review my job description and work towards achieving every requirement of my position. I held myself accountable and focused on achieving every goal put upon our team. I put great pressure on myself and my team to succeed in our roles. I quickly realized that although I had that passion and drive for achievement, not everyone shared that philosophy. Many were completely okay with producing mediocre results.
Trying to understand their mindset was overwhelmingly difficult. I didn’t understand how there could be clearly placed goals set and someone not try their all to achieve it. I noticed they felt no pressure. No responsibility. Failure was an option and many people are okay with that.
Well, I feel great pressure. When I look at my children, study our history, or speak with my parents. I feel great pressure. It’s my life’s work. There’s no work-life balance, just life. I work all day and all night. Whether it’s consulting, performing, or teaching my daughter to read. Nothing is optional. I do it all. It all matters. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. What you choose to do and what you choose not to do. It all matters. So I will continue to work hard for the people of the past, the people I share this present with, and the people that will come after I’m gone. And, because of my passion and the work I choose to do, I will always feel accomplished.
Black History Month 2016