Some amazing wisdom has been passed down from some amazing people. Ursula Burns (CEO at Xerox) is one of them. Carol Hymowitz, interviewing Burns about her success, offered this thought (“The Interview Issue” Bloomberg Businessweek 8/12/13–8/25/13, p. 56):
“Some people have said you had three strikes against you: You are African American. You’re a woman. And you grew up poor.”
Burns’ response was sage wisdom drawn from her mom:
“My mother was amazing. I guess in our community, if you wanted to get by you had to work hard. So she cleaned offices. She did everything that you could imagine. We were really poor. But she would say, ‘Where you are is not who you are.’ And, ‘Don’t get confused when you’re rich and famous.’”
These words certainly inspire and challenge me. Here are three quick ideas that come to mind.
People Of Influence. Burns’ remarks remind us how much we learn from people of influence in our lives. So often, this can be a parent or family member, but it does not have to be. People of influence can be all around us. Look for them.
Perspective. Remembering that where you are is definitely not who you are keeps matters in perspective. Sometimes we can become so enamored with our title, our role, our position, or our accomplishments that we somehow believe all that truly defines us. We are more than all that first, and last. Keep it in perspective.
Humility. Not becoming confused is a constant challenge. Human nature is such that we all are challenged to be humble. It seems to be one of those challenges we never outgrow. At least I don’t. Keep seeking humility.