By Hunter Gilmore, The Atlanta Voice
For centuries, people from all over the world have viewed and traveled to America in pursuit of the American dream. To come to a place where freedom, opportunity and financial gain were highlighted at the top of the list.
Everyone aspires to obtain these goals, especially people who are native to this country. However, somewhere along the way various societal and racial factors have discouraged certain groups of people and made it seem almost impossible to strive for the highest.
John Hope Bryant, the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE took his own personal testimony of humble beginnings and created multiple tools to help others achieve success as well, especially, during a time period that is so crucial to Black people.
Bryant has vowed to create one million Black entrepreneurs and businesses via a $130 million fund with Shopify, the second-largest e-commerce platform in the world and he’s giving everyone the cheat code in his book, ‘Up from Nothing; The Untold Story of How We (All) Succeed.
Bryant’s book chronicles how every single person has the ability to obtain success through various mindsets and personal awareness. He charges that by ensuring every stakeholder in America has access to the Five Pillars of Success; massive education, financial literacy, strong family structure, self-esteem, and supportive role models, that we can fulfill the promise of America’s greatness.
“Up from Nothing; The Untold Story of How We (All) Succeed is in part my story but in large part Black America’s story and also the forgotten America story. I share a lot of my personal testimonies including my ups and my downs as well as some moments of embarrassment, or what I like to call, moments of opportunity,” said Bryant.
Bryant challenges that America is still the Land of Opportunity but we must turn away from distractions, such as political in-fighting or racial and class divisions, and focus on what we can control.
“Thats why this book obsesses over how much we should ignore the noise around us. There is a lot of noise in your life and people telling you all kinds of things. Depressed people and people without a vision talk about other people, winners talk about their ideas,” he said
Bryant’s strong belief in The Five Pillars has become a blueprint for many people. However, racial injustices have complicated particular groups of people in obtaining all five pillars.
“The reality is that Black folks have been denied all five of them [The Five Pillars].
If you think about the three groups that have underperformed as a race of people in this country, it’s not Africans from Africa, it’s not Africans from Caribbean Islands, it’s African-Americans.
And behind them are Native American Indians and poor whites. These three groups were denied three or more of those five pillars of success.”
“If you have three or more of those five pillars, you can make it. You have four or more, you’ll kill it. If you have two of those five pillars it’ll be tough and if you only have one, it’s not impossible but someone would have to really help you out,” Bryant said.
Of course, Bryant hasn’t always possessed the wisdom or know-how to tackle touch obstacles that he does today. “I learned from my mistakes. Rainbows only follow storms so I can’t grow without legitimate suffering.”
Aside from The Five Pillars, mindset is also a pertinent key in achieving success.
“There are three mindsets and they are thriving, winning and surviving”, Bryant said. “In the last 30 years, you have a celebrity culture with big incomes that has grown exponentially. A professional culture that has really been diluted and almost has become thinned out and then this huge group at the bottom of the surviving.
The winning group has become very specialized in entertainment and sports, the thriving group has become thinned out, and then you have nearly 30 million-plus Black people that are just surviving.”
“We are reverting as a race of people into a surviving mindset. If I had a surviving mindset I would probably be dead right now, especially coming from Compton, California, a place that isn’t very aspirational. It was my so-called failures and how I responded to them that saved me. I can’t control how you treated me but I can control how I treated you,” Bryant said.
“Making mistakes, brushing them off and moving myself forward has become my university. I went to college but didn’t complete it so I really had to figure this thing out on my own. The things that should have been my negatives became my positives.”
This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Voice.