Martin Luther King Jr. shows small business leaders immense value through the power of his story. Any phenomenal small business coach I know uses examples of his life daily as they coach others. MLK Jr. is a unique example that any small business coach, keynote speaker or Lifeplan facilitator can learn from. On this day, it is only fitting that entrepreneurs and small business leaders are inspired and ignited by his story. My hope is that his story ignites and inspires you to own and live your life with excellence.
For those of you who do not know all of Martin Luther King Jr’s story, you can read about it here. As I watched his I Have A Dream speech this morning, I noted some of the big take aways any small business leader can apply to their life and business. As I share these points, I challenge you to think about, share and live out your dream. What is your “I have a dream” speech?
- Before he delivered the speech, he had to have the dream in the first place. He wrote the future in the present, and clearly defined what that looked like. He did not just wake up one day and give that speech. He intentionally spent time thinking about the future and what it looked like in terms of the world being a better place for all. What is your dream? Is it clearly defined? Can you see the future and what it looks like, feels like and what life is like as if it was happening now?
- MLK Jr. had an unwavering faith and belief in his dream and vision. Once he dreamed, it was absolutely imperative he believed in it with certainty. The way he carried himself, spoke, acted and lived throughout history showed this to be true. He decided (read what this really means) with absolute certainty that his dream was right and just, and put it out there for the world to follow. How certain are you in your dream being accomplished? Does that certainty translate to others believing in and following you?
- His dream and vision was so big, he knew it would never be accomplished in his life. To this day, I do not believe that his dream has ultimately been accomplished the way he envisioned it. How big is your dream? Is it reachable in this lifetime? Is it big enough?
- MLK Jr. brought us all together at the human level. He united us all under the common language and drive of what we deserve, and are entitled to, as humans. He held us all accountable to treat each other with dignity and respect. While appealing to all of us as human, he absolutely addressed the lack of accountability of respects towards African Americans as a people group. The problem he addressed at the African American level required all humans to be inspired to act and believe differently. He spoke up for and addressed them while speaking to the entire world. As you share vision, sell, recruit and grow your business, are you driving to the core foundation of what it means to be human? In doing so, are you appealing to your solving something for your “people group”?
- A dream and vision with no action is just a cool ‘would have’, ‘could have’, ‘should have been’ story. MLK Jr. acted, he decided to step into the fight, and he fought! He was not afraid to take a beating, and worked tirelessly until the end. He knew he was David going up against the Goliath of racial inequality, and decided to step into that valley to face his giant with only a stone. Hey, that sounds like a title of cool keynote… What is your giant? Are you committed to standing there on the front lines of the fight with only a stone and fighting?
- In this fight, he decided how he would fight and what would be congruent with who he was. His peaceful approach, compared to that of Malcolm X, was synonymous with his brand. He was always congruent with his brand as millions of eyes watched and followed. He knew that one wrong move, action and word would destroy his brand. What is your brand? Is it congruent with you as a person? Are you as aware as MLK Jr. was, at the granular level, of what every action, word, and deed you do means to your brand?
- He could speak like a boss! I am certain he practiced his public speaking skills as he was the most phenomenal keynote speaker I have ever watched. He clearly and inspirationally called people to unite and act. It is one thing to have a big vision, know it and understand it. Communicating it at the heart level and uniting a nation to act is another thing entirely! As MLK Jr. did everything mentioned above, he did so as he emotionally connected to his crowd with strong analogies that tied us all together. He challenged us as a nation though a concept we could all understand (debt and a bounced check), relating back to history to prove that we were in deed indebted to the fundamentals our nation stood for. Can you speak like a boss? Are you practicing your keynote and presentation skills? Can you unite and inspire a crowd to act?
- I recently went through the Lifeplan process with my good friend, Reza Zadeh. He is a certified Lifepan facilitator through the Paterson Center, and he owns the Propel Group. He mentioned to me the concept of an arrow. MLK Jr. was an arrow. He was sharp, he pulled back to see where we were as a nation, he aimed, knew his exact aligned 100% certain trajectory, and then he released. He peacefully pierced into the heart of the United States. He knew that he would pierce and rip something open. He was ready to take all the pressure, and knew of the inherent dangers he faced daily, which ultimately led to his death by a bullet. He also knew that once the arrow pierces its job is done, and he was able to open up a hold for others to charge through! Although his dream may not be technically accomplished, his purpose as a man was.
As you reflect back on the life of MLK Jr. and the story he left behind, what will your story be? One of the biggest life questions really is: What will your life will leave behind for others? You are a projectile similar to an arrow being launched from a bow. If your trajectory is off by just a millimeter today, where will that take you in 30 years, 40 years or 50 years? What about more than a millimeter? Are you leaving behind an MLK Jr. like story, or is it just average?
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