“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou
Let’s be real, with all the black female leaders alone that have successfully paved the road to success; Black History Month should be a year-long celebration. Whether you’re talking about Maya Angelou, Oprah, or Luvvie Ajayi, it’s pretty apparent that black culture wouldn’t be what it is without the strong black women genuinely embracing and celebrating their authenticity. Speaking of embracing authenticity, I recently dedicated a whole blog post about how unleashing my authenticity as a black, lesbian, trans nonbinary, and cisgender female has not only helped shape my path to success – but has the power to empower other black women to do the very same thing.
Now I’m excited to take it a step further and talk about the impact that bringing YOUR whole authentic self to work as a black female can have on improving creativity, connection, and performance. And nobody chalks it up quite like award-winning author and speaker, Luvvie Ajayi, when she refers to “being the first domino” in her famous TED Talk, “Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.” For her, being the first domino is about speaking up and showing up as your true authentic self no matter how afraid or uncomfortable you might be with the hope that it inspires others to be the next domino in line that’s willing to take a risk and impact real change. If you know anything about Luvvie Ajayi, she’s not just talking about owning your opinion…she’s also talking about owning your authenticity as a black woman and everything you have to contribute as a result. Pretty inspiring, right?
“Being quiet is comfortable. Keeping things the way they’ve been is comfortable. And all comfort has done is maintain the status quo.” ~ Luvvie Ajayi
Not only has the domino approach worked wonders for Luvvie’s professional career, but it can also have a positive impact on yours when you start to bring your whole self to work and own a diverse set of ideas, opinions, and values you have to offer as a black woman. There was recently an article published in the Harvard Business Review, stating that “diversity not only improved team performance but also improved decision making and innovation.” You know what that means, right? Every time you permit yourself to show up as your real authentic black female self, your team and company actually work smarter, faster, and overall better.
Of course, don’t get me wrong this is no easy change to make. There will always be someone in the room trying to mute you, hold you back, and keep your power as a black female from shining. When that happens, remember you also can cut ties with your job or anybody that’s not accepting of you. After all, it’s better that you see the true colors of the job or people that no longer serve you sooner than later.
So, next time you feel yourself or your ideas being muted, glossed over, or pushed out, don’t spend your energy trying to fit in. Instead, be that first domino to fall and let your whole authentic black female self genuinely shine through.