We must continue to help individuals with prejudices to understand where those predisposed beliefs and feelings came from and to help them realize those instilled beliefs and feelings serve no positive purpose.
With an understanding that those negative beliefs and feelings are learned, we know they can be unlearned.
Part of this educational process if for all of us to reflect on our own beliefs and biases to see where we can change and improve. To discover where we can be better role models.
Napoleon Hill, through his decades of studying successful people, concluded, “whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Far too many have a hard time believing that we can rid ourselves of racism. This doesn’t mean it cannot be achieved.
It was not long ago that people had a hard time believing you could send a document through a phone line to another location. For my young readers, we called it a fax machine. People really didn’t think you could send color photos instantly to someone while talking to them on the same device you use to send the picture! Most people thought it would be impossible to sit in a seat and fly across the sky at 600 mph. When Henry Ford invented the automobile, there was fear that people would disintegrate at 20 mph.
Whether we are talking about ending racism or the next invention, to progress, to make a positive impact, we must have an open mind.
You and I must believe that change is possible. I’ve spent thirty years working with organizations with the mission to help improve the lives of disadvantaged individuals. I was reminded last week while working with a group of individuals, the educators, the agents of change, must believe it is possible before those they serve will ever believe or ever take the steps to change.
When you speak with burnt-out teachers, probation officers and parole agents, you hear the pessimism in their voices. They believe nothing they do will make a difference. While this may be true for some they serve, I believe they are the minority.
There have been several studies done with students in classrooms. One study showed a teacher was given a class of low-level performance students. She was told she was given the class because they had the highest marks and was an accelerated class. Having high expectations and wanting to be recognized for leading such high-achieving students, by the end of the year, the teacher’s class achieved the highest marks in the school.
Study after study shows, when you raise the level of expectations, people move closer to their potential. Les Brown, Motivational Speaker, says, “the problem isn’t that people set their goals too high and miss, rather they set them too low and hit.”
While we are being reminded daily to evaluate our personal beliefs toward racism, I think the evaluation should include all labels we put on people and how those labels affect our willingness to invest our time in developing them.
As a teacher, being blessed with an “A” student, one with giftedness and a strong desire for academic achievement, it’s hard to take a lot of credit for the student’s achievements. However, the student that struggles, the one that has been told, he/she will never amount to anything, is the opportunity the great teachers look for. The chance to instill the belief he/she can make it, that they can do it. When that student goes from failing to a “C”, from almost dropping out to graduating, that’s the sign of a great teacher. That’s a difference maker.
When you are telling yourself, someone cannot do something because they don’t speak English, that they are scattered, or from a different culture, you are allowing your biases to prevent that individual from excelling. Your limiting beliefs are limiting your ability to serve and impact others.
When you label someone, whether it is by the color of their skin, where they came from, by a disability, their religious beliefs (even their political beliefs) or whether they have done something wrong, maybe an ex-felon, or a drunk driver, you are disrespecting the individual and the individual’s ability to learn, grow, and change.
I firmly believe our purpose in life is to be of service to others. By serving others, we can help them to do more, achieve more, and have more, because they can become more.
No one is self-made. We all have benefitted from others to get to where we are today. With all the gifts, support, and benefit of doubt, comes the responsibility to do the same for others.
We must not only “do unto others as we would have them do unto us” but we must “think of others, as we wish them to think of us.” Imagine if we all thought of others as intelligent, kind, caring, courteous, and capable of change.
Remember, there is greatness within you. You must choose greatness. It won’t develop on its own. I believe in you!
“Think of others as you wish them to think of you.“
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Published by Bryan M. Balch, Results Coach
Helping Individuals and Businesses Achieve Desired Results