• Bill Petrie

Lessons From a Dreamer

How Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. can help drive a business forward

Today we celebrate the dramatic life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As we all know, he fought for justice through peaceful protest and led the movement to end segregation and counter prejudice by delivering some of the most iconic speeches of the 20th century. He was a leader in every aspect of the word, and his passion and perseverance for fighting for what he knew was right serves as an inspiration for anyone – especially entrepreneurs – who are carving their path.

While today is one of solemn reflection, it’s also a day of inspiration for what can be accomplished through dreams, hard work, determination, and tenacity. In looking back at the speeches of Dr. King, we can draw some essential lessons about growing a business.

“Refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King refused to accept anything less than total and complete racial equality in his dogged pursuit of civil rights. While he was arrested, had his life threatened countless times, and dealt with perfunctory negotiations with government officials, he never lost sight of his ultimate goal. Similarly, in business, it’s critical that every day you make incremental steps toward your organizational goals and equally as crucial to not settle for less when things get tough.

The lesson: Never be satisfied.

“We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While leading the civil rights movement, Dr. King knew he couldn’t do it alone, which is why he formed so many partnerships with influential citizens and national leaders. He understood that building mutually beneficial associations with leaders that shared his vision was the only way he would reach the summit of civil rights. Likewise, in the business world, strategic alliances are essential in today’s continually evolving marketplace. The right associations can lower your risk, optimize your marketing spend, and maximize value for your clients.

The lesson: Strong partnerships will ease your path to success.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. Whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Even when progress stagnated, Dr. King never stopped moving – even inching – forward to achieve his goals. He knew that the moment he stopped progressing that his dream would die. Yet, despite every obstacle, he never gave up on his dream. Are you bringing the same level of dedication, drive, and fervent passion to your company? As an entrepreneur or business leader, the amount of work to build and grow a business demands the highest level of commitment and, one of my favorite words, grit.

The lesson: Have total commitment.

While I would never suggest that the struggles of growing a business compare to the battle for civil rights, we can learn much about how to achieve professional goals from the life of Dr. King. So today, while you ponder Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on this great nation, I would also suggest you carve out a minute or two to draw some inspiration from him that can dramatically impact you and your business.

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