“In the Land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” — Anonymous, believed to be of Latin origin, 5th century or earlier
This quotation is often used to indicate that when one person has a specific attribute — and nobody else does — he/she has a distinct advantage over the others.
I’ll try to weave this into today’s column, in light of recent events and the general environment of a workplace.
1. “I can’t get ahead because I’m _______”
You fill in the blank space. People who are depressed and angry over their circumstances are told by politicians the reason for their troubles is they’ve been a victim of systematic oppression. It’s not their fault. They never had a chance in the first place.
Celebrated economist Thomas Sowell, a black man, said: “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”
Shamefully, politicians have been playing the “victim card” for decades in an attempt to attract votes from certain groups, and they’ve been extraordinarily successful at it.
2. Never remove personal responsibility
Once elected officials say the system is rigged against you and there’s nothing you can do about it, this gives people an excuse to give up.
Are there employers where workers are discriminated against? Yes, and it’s not just based on ethnicity as many women have a beef regarding how they’re paid versus men who do similar work. Hey, let’s not forget age-based bias while we’re at it.
When you strip away a person’s feeling that they have the power to direct their career and life, that they have a say in their future, you also pull the plug on their self-esteem.
3. Some refuse that narrative
I’ve had the privilege to know and work with people who didn’t buy into such stereotyping, and who didn’t accept somebody else’s interpretation of their chances in life. They decided it was up to them how far they would go.
The names were Bill, Herb, Fred, Monica, Lee, Damian, Jess, and Jas (for Jasmine). Some are Black, some Hispanic. Included are corporate managers, entertainers, a college student and laborer (which I once was), software consultant, and entrepreneurs.
They all shared one thing in common besides knowing me. They had an insatiable desire to learn and they worked incredibly hard. That’s what attracted me to them. I love being around people who get things done.
4. How they defeated racism
All of these people faced biases of one kind or another and overcame them. They did so through continuous effort, adding value to their employer and/or customers — and establishing their worth.
When people know you deliver results — results for them — they want to work with you. Become so good and make such a difference that you can’t be ignored. That’s how the people mentioned did it.
5. It’s about opportunity — not results
The goal must be a level playing field where everybody has an equal chance to pursue that happiness the Declaration of Independence refers to.
Not everybody is going to get the same results, otherwise, it’s heading down the path to what is known as socialism. Capitalism has winners and losers.
Social programs are in place to help those who need it until they can get back on track and do better. Seen correctly, that’s a hand “up,” not a handout lifestyle.
6. Equality is in the heart
Protesters, politicians and media can complain about prejudice loud and long, remove statues, rewrite history, establish autonomous zones, affix blame, and enact laws. None of that will change hearts. That job belongs to God. If you think He’s doing a lousy job of it, hit your knees and say so.
7. The better way
Let nobody outwork you. Do more and learn more. Be so valuable that your employer has nightmares over another company offering you more money and stealing you away. You can do that.
Have the special attributes I mentioned at the beginning, so that in the land of the average worker who just does “enough,” you stand out as unique.
You can destroy biases by changing opinions. Be the best you can be and help others get what they want. That will move mountains.