It has now been a couple weeks since we lost this legend. Bigger than just sports, the game of basketball, and the city of LA, this was a man that inspired whole generations to adopt a powerful mentality. #mambamentality. It doesn’t matter if you loved the game, played the game, or couldn’t dribble if your life depended on it, Kobe still may have had an impact on how you chose to live your life. Regardless of how you feel about this man’s life entirely, he had a crazy work ethic and lived with the purpose to be the best version of himself possible. But this post is not just about Kobe, or just this quote. But when I saw this quote it made me reflect on a recent personal moment that dealt with filling shoes.
Follow me here. Context is key.
Seeing black women support one another is something special. Which is why black girl magic is such a special thing. In the workplace it’s even more special because we get a reputation for not being able to big up one other because of (fill in the blank with anything petty). I tend to think that working in the media or entertainment industry we are a bit more susceptible thank some other industries to fall into the “women not supporting women” catty category. I think it’s easy to fall prey or victim to it. At the baseline, our industry is super competitive. Most of us are trying to move up the ladder, move to larger markets, and reach those top career goals. And where do all these people go with mass radio consolidation and less opportunities for open positions? It’s easy to feel threatened. Whether there is a real threat or not. It’s easier to throw another person under the bus, or point out their flaws. Sometimes you may not even know you’re doing it. Other times, you absolutely know! And I could go on and on, but you all know what I am talking about.
We won’t even get started on the disparities between males & females in the industry and then jump to people of color versus non. That’s a discussion for another day. The point is, with so few opportunities and so many of us chasing them, how do you remain a good person? Who supports fellow folks on the journey? Who pays it forward to the next person?
The answer? You fill your own shoes. Not the person’s in front of you.
A few months ago I bared witness to a great send off. One radio personality was moving on up like The Jefferson’s to bigger and better, and another was coming in to fill her daypart. Two women. Black women. Joined together by a passing of the guard from one personality to the next. During the goodbye speech the departing personality said, “Don’t try to fill the person before you shoes. Fill your own shoes.” And just like that, not only was black girl magic happening live, it was a lightbulb moment for everyone in that room. It was a #word. An Amen moment from the back of the church! And when I saw this quote from Kobe, it spoke volumes to me and resonated in the same light as what this young lady said.
Sometimes we are trying harder to fill the next person’s shoes, then to fill our own. You don’t need to be the next whoever, you are the next YOU.
I am not writing this as someone who has never wanted to fill someone else’s shoes. I think there are the best intentions when we do this. We admire that person. We aspire to be in their role. We like the way they conduct themselves, or conduct business. There is something about this person that makes us want to step in their footsteps and live up to what they have done. And there is nothing truly wrong with this mindset.
But we have to remind ourselves that we are not them. We cannot be them. We can take what they have done and create our own steps and be just as amazing, or better, or different and that is why you were placed in that role. They did not hire you to be a clone. They did not promote you to simply fill their shoes. They want YOU because of what YOU bring to the table.
Don’t live your life simply trying to fill that person’s shoes. Live to fill your own!
Until next time. Share. Hustle. Shine.
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