African Americans: Get the Winning Edge
Everybody wants an edge that will give him or her a competitive advantage that will help him or she accomplishes a goal faster, easier or better. Athletes will train harder and longer. They will eat right, sleep right and even give up sex if they think it will give them a winning edge. Some athletes have gone as far as taking up ballet, yoga or illegal drugs to improve performance.
In business, the winning edge may be a critical piece of information, an inside connection, a chance meeting with a key decision-maker or a well-rehearsed sales presentation. It doesn’t matter what the edge is as long as you have it and your competition doesn’t.
As African Americans, the winning edge in business has historically been denied us. Access to capital, ownership rights, quality education and relationships with White decision-makers in the business world were historically hard to come by. Many tried to succeed and did but many more fell by the wayside, unable to overcome these huge barriers. We no longer live in the day and age where these obstacles are forced in place by society. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have full access and participation in the “ownership society.” The changing world economy though offers us a prime opportunity to achieve significant gains in entrepreneurship, asset accumulation and wealth.
However, we need to adopt the first winning edge in business, sports and, even, relationships. That edge is a winning attitude or mindset.
A winning attitude produces winners. A losing attitude produces losers. It’s not much more complicated than that however, some explanation is in order.
I define a winner as someone that wins more then he loses. A person that wins when winning matters most.
Take note that a winner is not someone who always wins and never loses. You can lose all-day play slot machines at a casino but if you win big once and walk away with more then you started, you’re considered a winner that day. In fact, the casino always wins but they know that occasionally letting you win will keep you coming back to try out your luck.
In business, you could start 3 failing business but if your fourth one takes off, everyone will talk about what a success you are. Getting it right once can make you a winner. Most people never make first attempt in business, relationships, public speaking and a whole host of things because of fear. These people may never fail but not failing is not the same as winning. Many will give up on these things after a single failure. On the other hand, the winner always wins at least once after several and sometimes many failures.
The second part of the definition involves winning when winning matters most. The Bible says, “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” Winning often involves sacrifice but there is a limit to how much we should sacrifice.
Sacrificing our spiritual and family commitments in the quest to win is foolishness. Having your priorities screwed up when it comes to the spirit and to family is common but never good. We do it in emulation of our parents and peers. But nothing can make you true winner when you have to sacrifice those things to win.
This part of the definition requires you to be true to who you are and not necessarily to the rules of “the game.” Don’t have children you don’t want to care for because everyone else has kids at a certain age. Don’t volunteer your time to projects that take you away from your family but raise your profile if it is your family that really matters to you. Be true to yourself.
So, how can you be the winner you want to be? It’s simple, do the opposite of the loser. The losers lose because they choose not to win. Losers choose not to win because they fail at learning or the fail at growing.
Again, both the winner and the loser will suffer losses however; the winner learns from his losses and changes his approach, which is a sign of growth. The loser may learn but may not grow. The loser may give up before learning and growth can occur. The ultimate loser will not learn and continue to persevere until the defeat becomes a complete loss similar to the drug addict or alcoholic that ends up on the street with absolutely nothing.
The mind of a winner is trained over time to learn from failure and will always grow as a result. The ultimate winner excitedly anticipates the opportunity to grow and change over time. The ultimate winner will learn and grow from the failures of others and will see trouble before it hits and take action. The ultimate winner makes winning look effortless to outsiders looking inside.
We in the African-American community need to adopt the winning entrepreneurial attitude and spirit. Global financial storm clouds are up ahead. Social security, global competition, demographic shifts, global terrorism, technological advancements and the increasing demand for highly-skilled, highly educated yet cheap labor will strain our economic and political institutions beyond their limits. Only the winning edge will preserve them.
Only the winning edge will lead to our advancement in the face of these challenges. Only the financially secure, the innovators and creators and those courageous enough to take action now will thrive and they will be among those leading our country to it next great height.