At some point in time, everyone has either had preconceived ideas or was forced to endure the effects of someone’s preconceived ideas. I know I’ve been talking about business a lot lately, but this is the time of year when a lot of people are deciding the next steps in their careers. I don’t see a lot of people in the Christian space addressing these types of business issues, so I’m going to do my best to fill that void.  

 I’m all about growth. I hate staying stagnant. So if I don’t see any opportunities or even worse if someone is blocking my attempts to advance, I will continue the rest of my career somewhere else. There have been so many times throughout my career where I have had people in management positions attempt, emphasis on attempt, to block my efforts to advance up the corporate ladder. This is why I’ve adopted the attitude I have regarding the corporate world. I’m not going to kill myself to make it up that ladder, but if I see an opportunity to go to the next level I’m going to do so.

It’s one thing if there aren’t any opportunities available within a corporation, but to willingly block a high-performing employee from advancing their career is just plain evil and it’s wrong. I have had this happen to me several times throughout my career. Let me set the scene.

My background is in Marketing and Communication with a special emphasis on market research. I have been blessed to work in managerial roles for some fairly prestigious global companies within my industry.  Now I don’t care how many black and brown people were shown on those companies’ career pages, clearly, those were stock photos. I don’t care about race, but it’s been abundantly clear to me that there are very clear double standards that exist. 

I’m often the only Black person on my team and I’m a fairly private person. I’m friendly, but I stay to myself. You will not catch me engaging in any office gossip or politics. One of my least favorite things to do is participate in team-building events. It’s just incredibly uncomfortable for me. It’s folks attempting to force relationships to develop that many times do not nor will they ever exist. I’m of the notion that just let it happen naturally people…

I hate icebreaker activities because I noticed early in my career that when I  shared my hobbies and interests this information was being used against me.  Icebreakers are activities where people ask you to send in photos of your hobbies or interests to show how you enjoy yourself outside of work. Why? Without even realizing it, I had a lot more excitement going on in my life than my colleagues. You all know I’m always on the go and have a variety of interests and hobbies. 

It felt like I was being interrogated during those icebreakers. How did you get into XYZ? Or, why did you go there for vacation (when they really meant how were you able to afford to go there when I haven’t gone there yet)?

I have a very diverse group of friends, so I know the difference between folks trying to get to know me and being interrogated. I was getting asked some of the most ridiculous and invasive questions that these folks wouldn’t bother answering if the questions were posed to them. It was more about them being jealous and upset that my success and enjoying life outside of work didn’t live up to their stereotypes.

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On more than one occasion, whenever I advocated for myself in terms of seeking a promotion or raise, these idiots would instead say ridiculous statements to me such as, “I know you do a lot of stuff outside of work, so I didn’t think you would be interested in becoming [insert title of the opportunity they never presented to me] or Tosha, we really need you here. That [insert higher title within the organization] might be a bit more demanding and I know you enjoy having a life outside of work.

Whenever I hear these phrases said to me, I want to scream! First of all, how dare you have the audacity to not present an opportunity for me to advance my career?! I am an adult. You’re not my parent. You don’t get to make decisions on my behalf. 

Second, the people who say these stupid phrases to me often belong to the Good Ole Boys club. These are the same men, who will leave work early to go golfing, take off early to go see their kids play in a game, and the list goes on all while they are on the clock. Now I’m not knocking any of those activities but it’s extremely hypocritical to say that I can’t advance in my career because I have a life outside of work, when they’re taking time to do stuff that should be done outside of work during actual office hours without using their PTO. 

Make it make sense because I would be fired if I did what Good old boy corporate leaders were doing. It’s a very obvious double standard. You want to penalize me for having a work/life balance, while the Good old boy corporate leaders  can just do anything they want and still make it up the corporate ladder.

Trust and believe whenever I see that type of hypocrisy, I immediately call them out on it. I tell them 1.) Do not make decisions for me and 2) I know how to manage my time because I’m an adult. If you can do it, I can as well. 

Now I’m not naive. I think we all know exactly why these types of men feel entitled to say and act the way they act. They had no intention of ever promoting or giving me a raise. They hide it under the guise of acting like they were trying to look out for my best interest when we all know this isn’t the case. They are trying to hold me back so I can stay in their department and continue to make them look good. They can only thrive at the expense of me not being able to advance in my career within that particular company. 

Little did many of these delusional men realize that this girl is on fire.  These men failed to acknowledge or realize the fact that they weren’t in charge of my career…I am. Trust me, they all learned that lesson pretty quickly once I left their department or the company altogether. The moment you know your value is when you can truly be free. 

Unless you know and embrace your value, you will forever remain stuck in the emotional prison cells you created (myself included). The preconceived ideas we choose to hold onto will hold us back in life and business. There are a variety of ways preconceived ideas can do this, but I’m going to discuss two of the most major ways that this is accomplished. 

Preconceived ideas weaken your faith in God and in yourself

Speaking from personal experience, I would be a very rich woman if I got paid for all the times I heard throughout my career, “You just don’t have enough experience.” The irony is these are the exact same people that would then hire someone for that same role who wasn’t nearly as qualified as me. They were able to hire someone else who wasn’t qualified but felt that this person had potential, but couldn’t extend that same leeway to me. To add insult to injury, there were times they even dared to ask me to bring this new unqualified person up to speed. I did not do so in case you were wondering…my mama didn’t raise me to be a fool.

Despite knowing that I was qualified and could easily do these roles if someone would just give me an opportunity I couldn’t help but feel discouraged. After being told I didn’t have enough experience or all the other things I lacked it left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like giving up. This is exactly what those people wanted me to do. They wanted me to give up so I could either turn into the stereotype they envisioned or suck up to them and be content with accepting however they wanted to treat me and be grateful for whatever they deemed fit I should be paid.

I kept blaming God for allowing me to be in these situations. However, after studying the Bible I discovered the problem was within me. Like God said, “He allows it to rain on the just and unjust.” What makes a difference in your life is when you invite God into the equation. If you invite God into the equation, that’s the equivalent of having an umbrella so you won’t get wet, but it’s up to me if I want to use the umbrella. For far too long, I just kept that umbrella in my hand. I did not use the umbrella to keep me from getting wet. I kept internalizing all the negative things that people whose opinions never should have mattered bothered me. 

When I was younger I used to feel self-conscience because I didn’t have an MBA. I literally had someone tell me I was never going to make it in the corporate world because I didn’t have one.  Thank God for my mom! She is the one who gave me that much-needed push to stop feeling sorry for myself and to open my umbrella. She helped me to realize that there is more than one pathway to success. God is all about using unconventional people and methods to accomplish His will (Ep. 159 embrace the unconventional).

Take a look at all the people throughout the Bible God used to further His kingdom. Moses, Peter, John (Acts 4:13) the list goes on…Many of them did not have a traditional education background. Meaning, they did not receive their education from a school. That didn’t mean that they weren’t smart. They were well-versed in God’s word and were street-smart. Now that’s a person who is going to go far. I want someone who fears God and has street smarts in my life any day over someone who just has book smarts. 

Folks who have book smarts are solely relying on man’s knowledge and how they interpret those books as their main source of guidance. Street-smart folks know how to read a room and people. These folks are more aware of their surroundings and realize that God is omnipotent. God knows where all the traps Satan set are located. If we want to possess this knowledge, then we have to let go of our preconceived ideas and allow God to guide us, or else suffer the consequences of not being able to achieve the plans God has in store for us.

You will not achieve the plans God has in store for you

There are two main reasons why you won’t achieve the plans God has in store for you if you won’t let go of your preconceived ideas. 

You may end up having a case of analysis paralysis. 

That means you’re reluctant in making a decision. In fact, you’re too busy playing the what if game. What if XYZ happens? What if this person does ABC? You spend your time gathering information in order to feel like you’re making progress but deep down you know you are not because you never execute anything. You’re trying to plan for a whole bunch of scenarios that 9 times out of 10 don’t even happen.

In order to avoid playing the what-if game, my mom gave me the idea to use those moments instead to give thanks.  For example, Thank God I have mom to help me, Thank God I have food, clothes, shelter the list goes on.  Thank God, Christ is in charge and NOT Satan. In order to help me express gratitude, here are some questions I’m asking myself when I feel what-ifs attempting to invade my world…

  1. What’s the real reason you feel the way you feel?
  2. Is this feeling true or just an over-exaggeration of my emotions?
  3. Where is Christ in my thinking?
  4. Did I defuse the situation or help Satan to create the circumstances I’m experiencing? Answering this question confirms whose side you are working with, Christ or Satan.
  5. Am I the problem?  
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Asking questions such as these will help us to determine if our actions are speaking louder than words. If we are making progress we will be able to easily see the changes reflected in our lives.  

For example, my mom had a horrific childhood that she would not wish on her worse enemy. She could have easily continued down that path, but she wanted more out of her life. She learned from other people’s experiences so she wouldn’t have to continue the cycle of learning from the school of hard knocks. 

When you’re in a toxic environment, it takes a lot of courage to make the right decision because you don’t have anyone physically rooting for you. My life would be VERY different if she hadn’t chosen the path she did. I owe everything to her. There isn’t a single thing in the world I wouldn’t do for her. My mom made a conscientious decision to break that generational curse and be the wind beneath my wings. Her sacrifices are the main reason why I’m so ambitious. However, I do need to keep that in check because if not I will end up not achieving the plans God has in store for me because I’m moving ahead of God’s timing.

You move ahead of God’s timing

When you’re in a difficult circumstance, it can feel like an eternity. You want nothing more than to escape. If you’re like me, you start thinking of ALL the scenarios God could do to end your painful ordeal right now if He wanted to do so. Honestly, I’ve been feeling like this for a while. I feel like the widow in the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18: 1-8. 

She kept going to the judge to receive justice and the judge kept doing everything in his power to keep her from receiving it. I’ve been trying to get justice for almost two years in what everyone else in the world would consider an open and shut case. I’ve got evidence to support everything that happened to me, yet these fools would rather play games in hopes that I will get tired and give up. 

I’ve come too far and will never give up. In fact, on Thursday, November 3rd, I will be releasing a bonus episode where I will be sharing the painstaking ordeal my mom and I have had to endure which prompted me to file this lawsuit. Stay tuned for that episode because I know you will not want to miss it. I know a lot of people don’t have faith in our justice system. Trust me, you’re right to feel this way because we don’t have one. By the way, if you happen to know any reporters, journalists or media contacts looking food a great story and would love the opportunity to expose how messed up our legal system is feel free to send them my way. 

I digress, any way my desire to finally resolve this situation has left me feeling like a hot-headed bull. I can’t help but see red and go charging toward that cape. I keep thinking, “Ok, God’s going to resolve the situation this way or that way.” Then I get angry when He goes left and my preconceived idea was not the route he wanted me to take. I’ll be the first person to admit…patience is one of those elusive virtues  I have yet to master in my Christian journey. 

Including Christ in our situations will help us to rationally assess our circumstances and strategically handle the matter at hand.  One of the ways we can do this is when things go wrong, just HALT. You don’t want to make any decisions when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  Training ourselves to think this way will help us  STOP allowing our distorted emotions to control our thinking. If we don’t have our emotions in check Satan can control them. This is why our emotions are distorted, and we get overly fearful, embarrassed, hysterical, doubtful, and the negative list of emotions can go on forever…unless we put a stop to it.

The way we can end this cycle of allowing preconceived ideas to hold us back is to remember to do the following:

  1. Your current circumstances may have you feeling angry at God. Don’t let that stop you from talking to Him. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Invite God into your conversation so you can assess the situation together so He can share what He’s up to in your life.
  1. Make sure you’re daily reading God’s word so you can place yourself in a position to hear from Him. God’s voice is a whisper in the wind (1 Kings 19:12)…If you’re hysterical, trust me you’re not going to hear from Him. If you’re not in a position where you really trust your emotions, talk to someone who can give you Godly advice. For me, it’s definitely my mom. But, please know that you can still achieve this goal with or without physical help. As my mom says, it’s just going to be harder.
  1. Make your decision and leave all the consequences to God. Keep in mind some decisions may be better than others, but if we delight ourselves in the Lord and put Him first, we can take pleasure in knowing that God will cause ALL things to work together for our good (Rom 8:28). Again, easier said than done, but God knows what He’s dealing with because He made us.

Hopefully, you can see all the ways that having preconceived ideas limits us from being the powerful bold lions God wants us to be in life (Prov. 28:1). I don’t know about you but I’m definitely going to make sure that you hear me roar each and every time someone attempts to hold me back and I highly suggest you do the same.