Fifty years ago on 28 August Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in which he called for an end to racial discrimination. Over 200,000 civil rights supporters stood in the sweltering heat to hear what we now consider to be the finest speech delivered during the 20th Century. There was no internet, text messaging or mobile phones but people turned up in their thousands so you could almost say it was first flash mob in the Western world.
I wonder what it would have been like to stand in the crowd that day with the heat beating down on my skin and to hear the cadence of Dr King’s voice flowing through the air like the Gospel music he so loved. How incredibly brave and courageous he was to stand up for what he truly believed in. So the question all business owners need to ask themselves is, ‘What would I do if I weren’t afraid?’
It’s clear that Dr King had tonnes of self-belief and he didn’t allow his fears to stand in the way of progressing down the right path – not always the easiest of paths but the one that would bring the most joy and the end of racial discrimination. Being able to express your uniqueness coupled with a strong sense of self-worth will set you apart from the competition. In the corporate world it’s a lack of confidence not gender that proves the biggest mountain for women to climb. In Sheryl Sandberg’s recent speech to a group of young women at Barnard, Columbia University, when she made a keynote address she talked about men being more ambitious from the day they graduate. She continued to say that if you ask a man why they succeeded they attribute their success to themselves whereas women will typically credit external factors. For example, working harder, help from others, being in the right place at the right time and luck. But here’s an interesting fact, in a recent article Female entrepreneurs: how far have they come? – Women in Business it states that “Women have been initiating female-owned businesses at twice the rate of men”. It further goes on to suggest that: “Compared to men, women entrepreneurs are more adaptive, more socially aware, have wider experience in different business areas, delegate more and engage in longer-term planning.” That will come as no surprise to any woman used to ball-juggling and spinning plates in her everyday life!
So many fantastic men and women have led the way so that our lives today are better, so that we can do the things they only dreamed of doing: Emily Pankhurst, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt – people who break the mould, stood-up for what they believe in alongside some brilliant men like Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Free at last! Free at Last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last!
Have a wonderful and peaceful day everyone.