Maya Angelou once said “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Angelou was known for her boldness, her strength, and some pretty amazing writing skills. Hers is a story of lows and triumphs, just like the rest of us. She took bold moves in her personal life and her career, and set the standard for boldness in womanhood and success—not just for writers, not just for women, not just for black people, but for all those blessed to take the time to understand her brand of wisdom.
I thought of Ms. Angelou’s definition of success as I worked on this post. What a beautiful concept, that Success, the ever elusive little sprite, is actually just sitting right on our shoulders. Success is waiting for us to turn right, notice that it’s waiting there, and then welcome it with a smile as we understand who and how we are, and grow to unabashedly love the person we are becoming. What happens, for many of us, is that we don’t discover this form of success until we go through the process of understanding what success is NOT.
Many hours, words, tears, hugs, and pounding of fists have taken place during conversations with friends and loved ones about success and unhappiness in life, and most especially careers.
Do I quit my job?
Do I make my passion projects my full time job?
Is my side hustle even something people would pay for on a large scale?
What if I suck at this?
While I have had these conversations with friends and colleagues who are white, black, Hispanic, female and male—what stands out to me is that most of those who feel success eludes are my female friends of color. In truth, there are many reasons that lead to this phenomenon (I could go into an entire sociological lesson here, but I’ll spare you). What I find most interesting is the correlation between my conversations with friends and the current trends in the business world.
In the last 19 years, women-owned businesses have increased by 74%, which has made for 30% of the market overall. That’s a growth rate of 1.5 times the national average.
To take it one step further, African American female-owned businesses have increased by 322%, yes THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO.
Making them the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. The figure is astonishing, until you remember that women of color experience job dissatisfaction at an overwhelmingly higher rate than their peers. It came as no surprise to me when I really sat and thought about it. It is the manifestation of what my girlfriends are going through. Crabby bosses, low wages, unfriendly family policies, just to name a few, are among the reasons women often contemplate quitting their jobs.
Fortunately (at Jali, we find this to be fortunate), there is a steadily growing culture of support around entrepreneurship as a viable tool for economic development—it is coming form the community in the rising number of local business accelerators/incubators, as well as The White House.
That’s pretty awesome, let’s pause and get some applause for the women who have made this happen. These women are true “disrupters” of the status quo.
If you’re living that startup life, are a seasoned small business owner, or you’re working diligently on your side projects in the wee hours of the night—I want to challenge you.
Ask yourself if “TGIF” is a little deeper for you than a saying.
Assess your heart to see if Monday is truly a pain in your ass.
When your boss, employees or coworkers walk into the room does your stomach turn a little bit?
Have you sat at your desk Googling “Should I Quit My Job,” “How to Quit Your Job,” or any search that includes the words “quit” “my” and “job?”
If you answered yes to any of the above, I ask you to rethink your routine. Dreading Monday and anticipating Friday will only ensure one thing, that all the days in between your weekends are a blur.
Quitting your job to start something is not your traditional definition of quitting—it is taking a step toward a more fulfilled and happier life. Dissatisfaction is a symptom of potential untapped. There is no shame to be found in pursuing happiness, and there is no happiness when you do not like yourself, and where there is no happiness there is no success.
If we buy into Ms. Angelou’s philosophy, then success is liking yourself—and we like ourselves most when we are ____________________.
That’s it, fill that in, and there’s the first step.
Sneak Peek: TAKING THE PLUNGE PART II: THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IS NOTHING