“If you put your mind to it, you can do anything”
As a child, I heard that statement ALL THE TIME. To be honest, I didn’t believe it. As a young black child, I wasn’t capable of understanding the possibilities of my future. The positive male examples around me were few. I didn’t know any black men that went to college, I knew men that enlisted in the service. I knew men that had good jobs; the postal workers, bus drivers, and grocery guys. That was then in 1980’s, now in 2014, there are men and women of color that are successful everywhere.
I’m sure YOU may not understand what possibilities are out there for you…trust me there are too many to count. Don’t measure yourself to people who don’t value their opportunities. I don’t want you to be short-sighted like I was…you have time on your side. You really can do anything you want to do. You have time to mess up, you have time to try different things. Find out what you like, find out what you don’t like. Can you make money from what you like to do? Can you make it a career? It’s up to you to find out.
A pivotal moment in my life occurred from a simple discussion about someone else’s future. When I was 15 years old I had a discussion with my best friend Lydell. I remember walking next to him asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He replied, “I’m going to be a doctor.” He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t say try to be, thinking about, or probably.
He said, “I’m going to be a doctor.”
Again as a young black kid from North Philadelphia, I didn’t see black doctors. I saw some on the Cosby show but that’s about it, and that was tv. I wanted to respond to Lydell with, “Brotha you crazy!” but I didn’t, I kept my mouth shut. I realized his statement was serious, unwavering. I realized he had a goal, not a dream, a directive. At that very moment, his response taught me that I need to have a goal too. He asked me what I wanted to be, I told him I wasn’t sure but computers made me curious.
All of my uncles Rusty, Greg and James told me different paths to get to whatever goal I had in my head, all paths involved college. When they were growing up, college wasn’t something that many black kids considered an option. All my uncles, insisted that I go to college, even though none of them attended college. When people love and care about you, they want the best for you even if they don’t possess what you could achieve. I initially wanted to be a lawyer or doctor but that was just what everybody else wanted, but I knew I liked those new computer things, so I went in that direction.
Many of my closest friends went to college, but some didn’t. College doesn’t guarantee you’ll be successful, but it was the best time of my life. My business associate, ‘Savoy’ from the Calvert County chapter of Concerned Black Men, has a career/business in sheet metal. He’s successful and doesn’t have or need a college degree. At a young age, he was entrepreneurial with a grass cutting business. He doesn’t have to work for anyone, he works for himself. That’s awesome!
A few years back, I was golfing with Lydell in Dominican Republic. He had shot two balls in the water and was standing next to the pond. I walked up next to him trying to hold back my smile and said, “You know that’s 4 strokes…” He responded, “I KNOW!” Putting one ball in the water was bad enough but two…jeesh. Right there on the edge of the water I said, “Look at us man, you have your own practice and I’m a system engineer, remember those two poor little black kids? Look at us now, playing golf in the Caribbean…crazy right?” We both nodded our heads proudly and continued our game. I reminded him to take his drop. LOL
“There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela