“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein
Just recently on my Facebook feed, I came across this inspiring story about privilege. I don’t know who wrote it, though sometimes, even the most heartwarming and well-intended lessons may have some unfortunate implications when you think about it carefully.
A professor set up a game for his class. He placed a basket in front and told everyone to crumple up a piece of paper and throw it into the basket without moving from their seats.
He told the students that they were supposed to represent the nation’s population and that their attempt at throwing the paper into the basket is supposed to represent their chance to become wealthy.
Naturally, those in front had an easier time, while those at the back found it difficult and started complaining about it. The teacher explained that only those who are disadvantaged (in the back seats) will complain, while those “privileged” in front don’t.
The Intended Lesson:
The privileged (being “lucky” enough to be at the front seat) don’t realize their advantages and success is easier for them. Ideally, they should use their privileges to do great things while helping the disadvantaged.
Although I agree with the intended lesson, if you think about it more carefully, the story has some rather negative implications:
1. It undermines the hard work and success of people who are somehow “privileged” in some way.
2. It demoralizes the underprivileged from working to better their lives and promotes that lack as an excuse.
3. It sets an unjust expectation that the underprivileged should get a piece of what the “privileged” worked hard to build and earn simply because they’re underprivileged (and not based on any personal merit).
I’m a firm believer in personal excellence and responsibility so I didn’t agree with the story and those implications.
“Whatever reason you have for not being somebody, there’s somebody who had that same problem and overcame it.” -Barbara Reynolds
While most people at the back continued complaining about how difficult the task is, one student from the back stood to pick up his piece of paper before returning to his seat.
He took another shot… and missed again.
The class started to quiet down as they watched him walk to the front and make another attempt. This time, he used a basketball free-throw motion, and it landed much closer to the goal.
At this point, some of his classmates started grinning and were silently cheering him on as they understood what he was trying to do.
Walking back and forth after every attempt and continuously adjusting his aim, he missed eight more times before finally succeeding on the ninth try.
Inspired by his example, the rest of the class started doing the same thing. Eventually, although it took several minutes, every student in the class had their paper in the basket.
Everyone in the class worked hard and kept trying until they became “successful.”
Never use the Lack of Privilege as an EXCUSE
“You can make EXCUSES and earn SYMPATHY, OR You can make MONEY and earn ADMIRATION. The choice is always yours…” – Manoj Arora, From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom
In basketball or soccer, do you lose the entire game if you miss your first shot or your first kick?
Games are not decided by how much you miss, but by how much you shoot and score. It’s the same with business, careers, sales, and just about anything else in life.
You don’t give up after one failed business or one job rejection – you keep going. You can fail a lot, but remember that just ONE great career or business can drive you straight to success.
Many things are easier for some people and more difficult for others, but NEVER use that an excuse to stop trying. The best way to succeed is to keep shooting for your goals until you achieve them.
Privilege is an advantage, but Perseverance brings Success.
“Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.” – Benjamin Disraeli