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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Don’t Let Anyone Make You a “Victim”

                       Don’t Let Anyone Make You a "Victim"
         I have always gotten great thrill and inspiration from individuals who overcame great obstacles to achieve success. One of my favorites is Jim Abbott, who was an outstanding pitcher in the Major Leagues for ten years, with four different teams. What Jim accomplished was impossible because he only had one hand. How can you play Little League with one hand? But through hard work, determination and God’s blessing, Jim became a major league star.

         Jim is the kind of person that inspires millions of others with disabilities and handicaps of all types to persevere and succeed. Jim simply refused to become a victim, and that’s what you need to do if you are going to reach beyond what seems possible.

         It appears that you and I live in the age where everyone is seeking to be a victim so that they can get some sort of edge in life. But the reality is that anyone who thinks of themselves as a victim is already at a disadvantage. The kid who tries out for a baseball team, who is short and perhaps a bit overweight, will not make the team if he thinks of himself as a victim of circumstances. The student who thinks of herself as just a "C" student will never get that "A" until she starts thinking of herself as an "A" student.

         I have a wonderful and very accomplished daughter who is a well-respected nurse. Years ago, when she was attending junior high school, she, along with all the girls in the school, was sent to a special convocation. At this event the girls heard a lecture by a cranky middle aged lady who, according to my daughter, tried to convince them that they were "victims" who were disadvantaged, just because they were girls. I heard second hand that there was little likelihood that they would succeed in society. Now, I wasn’t there at the convocation, but clearly that was the message these girls "heard."

         Just a few days before I heard about this event from my daughter, I happened to read a very interesting article in Forbes magazine about a lady who started out as a secretary at brokerage house, but today owns and operates her own brokerage company. Now, that’s the right message for young ladies, and all of us to hear. There are always obstacles. Some of us have greater obstacles than others, but we can do it. We can overcome the hurdles and obstacles and succeed. But we will never do it thinking we are "victims."

         One more story. For many years my company worked with a very large bank and we had a terrific representative from that bank that worked with us. He was responsive, sharp and service oriented. He just happened to be black.

         One day he told me about an experience at his college. At this predominately black college he met a number of other very talented black students. He said he worked hard to get good grades to make sure he had the best possible skills to market. One day, as he told it, several of his black friends chided him for working so hard. They said, "Why are you working so hard, no one will ever hire a black person like you." How sad, these talented and smart folks let someone else convince them that they were "victims," so they gave up. The truth is that once they believed they were "victims," the battle was lost.

         So don’t do it. Don’t let anyone convince you that you are a victim because of your height, your weight, your background, the side of the tracks you come from, your race, your gender or any other category that you seem to fall into. This is the United States of America and you have more opportunity here to succeed than anywhere else in the world. Do it. Don’t miss you chance.

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