Today, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a globally-recognized leader in the civil rights movement for African Americans. In doing so, I wanted to share a few correlations found in his work as an activist and as a pseudo entrepreneur.
Now, contrasting a civil rights movement to business is not what I intend in this piece; rather, sharing a couple key lessons we as (fill in the blank: entrepreneurs, community leaders, community managers, social media managers, etc.) can adapt from Dr. King in the business world. King faced waves of challenges in addressing racial segregation and discrimination throughout his lifetime, making his efforts far from an overnight success – but he prevailed in making all people’s liberties truly equal.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was quite understandable for us today, but it was frankly ‘Communist’ during the 60’s in America. Here are two famous excerpts from his “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ […] I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
You can read MLK’s full “I Have a Dream” speech online for deeper context. The video is included below.
Dreams may not always sound achievable. Dreams are the challenge. They are not necessarily something you can deliver on in a quarter, year or decade; but rather, something you hope to leave your legacy with. We must consider the radical views MLK Jr. had given the immense racial inequalities millions of African-Americans had lived under in the 50s and 60s. He stuck with it, against all odds.
No matter what challenges he faced – he stayed true to his convictions and values. Often, entrepreneurs behave similarly: sticking to their ideas while others shake their heads in disbelief. Entrepreneurs usually ride out their entrepreneurial passions to success or failure, pouring in time, money and effort to make their dream happen.
If you don’t have a dream, think for a moment – make that several moments – and put together a long-term goal for you or your entrepreneurial venture. It doesn’t have to be as significant to King’s, but make it something that you are working towards every hour, every day.
As an example, I refer to my employer’s “Dream” statement. The Dream statement is, “Revolutionize the way small businesses grow.” You might ask what that even means. I questioned it too during my first week or so here. Simply put, through all of our hard work, focus on the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses and to results we deliver them — the company will revolutionize the way small businesses grow.
I salute Dr. King, for leading an important moment in our nation’s history, protecting all people’s civil rights and having such a bold, revolutionary goal for America to achieve.
I strongly believe entrepreneurs worldwide can apply many of the valuable lessons taught by King; one of which is the patience and discipline in defining, following and achieving a dream in a cause one feels strongly about. The next time you think of a great idea, think about the dream and ultimate goal in it –then do it!
Here is the video of the “I Have a Dream” speech:
[Photo credit: BlatantNews]