Aiming higher

I saw this tweet from Donda and it got me thinking …

“People are slowed down by the perception of themselves”

Dreaming big was encouraged when I was growing up. My parents and teachers said it to me, my college experience echoed it, and I came to believe it myself: anything is possible, just aim high.

This sentiment gave me the confidence to take risks with my career and to pursue an entrepreneurial path, which I understand today to be a real privilege.

Not everyone gets this message repeated and reinforced throughout their life. This is one of the more systemic reasons why we don’t have diversity in the startup ecosystem.

The more I learn about people’s paths, the more I realize that we tend to follow the path we think we are capable of. Our perception of ourselves either inhibits or propels us forward. We learn so many hard skills in school— math, science, humanities, even computer programming. But what about the soft skills? How can we consciously teach a curriculum that guarantees that people have a perception of themselves as doers; as people who are capable of starting and building something?

Some of these messages are ingrained in us by our families, while others are messages told to us by society about race, class, and gender.

It may sound silly, but understanding how self-perception works is a complex challenge that is at the heart of entrepreneurship and our future economy. What do you think can be done? How do we empower people to believe there are no barriers to their achievement?