In America, we're accustomed to instant gratification. We ruthlessly indulge in instant credit, instant meals, microwave ovens, value menus, fast food restaurants, boxed mash potatoes – you get the point. Sometimes in the pursuit of instant wealth, millions of dollars are spend on scratch-off lottery tickets. Despite the bazillion-to-one odds against us, most times we pay for the opportunity to win nothing.
That is how some people treat their lives. If reaching their goals requires an enormous sacrifice on their part, they quit. They choose to accept table scraps like starving dogs under the master's table. Although they have the unique talent to become great leaders in a chosen field, they choose to settle for less than their utmost potential. They trade mouth watering filet mignon for spam and sparkling champagne for kool-aid.
I make no apologies if the statements above are a bit offensive to some. This is about reality checks of immense proportions. This is about choices. Sometimes, the truth is offensive. It was offensive to me in the early years of my adult life. My life was a train wreck waiting to happen. That was the truth for me until the day I faced reality – I had to change my way of thinking and the choices I made – or die.
Don't think for one minute that success came instantly for me. Ha! It was a process of discovery, of being truthful with myself, of unlearning bad habits and toxic thinking. I learned to overcome obstacles within my mind thus changing the negative attitudes that sunk me into the mire every time. I had to study and practice to a sickening degree.
I decided to become a web developer during my tenure as a corrections officer in a maximum security prison. I had enough of that dead end job and returned to university. I worked under life and death situations for eight hours a shift and attended classes full time. Mind you, I had to study. So, out the door went precious sleep. Nevertheless, I was able to graduate with honors – 3.67 GPA. That was fourteen years ago. To become a computer wiz, I had to pour over technical manuals the size of the family's Bible, wreck computers and build them from scratch and lose lots of sleep. Eleven years ago, I was accepted into a Microsoft school. After mind bending testing, I became a Network Engineer. I went on to consult for Fortune 500 companies and now, I own a consulting firm.
You may say that I'm a genius. Hardly, my friends. I was a kid from the streets of Brooklyn, New York at a time when drugs, gangs and all sorts of perversion reigned. I was poor and my life was less than... adequate. (Hey, this is about truth, right? Let's keep it real.) I had no support or motivation – zero, zilch, nil, nada, kaput. I should have been a drug dealer, a user, be dead or at least, insane.
After moving out on my own, I have lived in the South for eleven years and in the Mid-West for eight years – right smack in the middle of racist America. It's not as bad as it was in the 60's and 70's but racism still exists nonetheless. I've been called everything but a child of God. There were people who actively made it a point to try to destroy me. Maybe I should have known better than to legally take on the local leader of the Klan – yeah, that Klan, the KKK. That's another story for another time.
What's the secret? Really, there's no secret. I do have to give credit to God. Without Him, I am nothing. The rest is a matter of tenacity, vision, sacrifice, study and practice – due diligence. Nothing new or earth shattering – just simple choice and process. There were no short cuts and no Mega Millions instant gratification mentality.
If a broke down kid from Brooklyn facing a seemingly hopeless future could do it, you can too.
In fact, I know of many single mothers doing the same. Full-time mothers, providers... and students. They became lawyers, dentists, authors, business owner and leaders. Our most famous Latina, Judge Sonia Maria Sotomayor, was officially sworn in as America's first Latina Supreme Court Justice.
My personal inspirations are Jesus Christ, Who saved my life and spirit, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who lead the peaceful march on Washington DC and delivered his famous speech, “I Have a Dream”, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who motivated the English nation through his second speech, "We Shall Never Surrender" during the Battle of France in WW II, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and first elected governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Muñoz Marín, and Bishop TD Jakes, a solid man of God, leader and motivator.
On the horizon, I see leaders and rising stars of the Latino community stepping up to the plate. Leaders like award winning Latino author, Raul Ramos Y Sanchez, Louis Pagán, co- founder of LATISM, Lancio "Lance" Ríos, motivational speaker and founder of Being Latino and Lori Gama, Latina inspirational author and owner of highly acclaimed and successful DaGama Web Studio. I seriously suggest you get acquainted with them.
How about you? Do you have a vision? A dream? You have what it takes.
We need you.