Stedman Graham: 5 Tips for Transformation

UPDATED: May 28, 2010
PUBLISHED: May 28, 2010

At no other time in history have we the need—or better opportunity—for people to create or retain ownership of their lives. It is time for each of us to be the leaders of our lives, to claim our rights as human beings. History will show this time as a transitional age—an age of human reform. As bad as things have been in the economy, this time of great turmoil and change presents a huge opportunity to retool and rebuild—from within. While some view the world as crumbling around them, others see a chance for a new beginning.

Our nation and its communities need more entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurialism is not only a pathway to autonomy and financial independence, but also has a macro-level impact on community development and economic growth, providing sources of employment and higher living standards. Entrepreneurship is also a force for community health and well-being—and self-sufficient people. In many senses, we are freer than ever to imagine our possibilities. In this setting, we have a unique chance to identify ourselves based on our talents and dreams. More than ever, we need fresh talent, innovative thinking and the spirit of the entrepreneur to enrich our communities and begin this journey of human reform.

The transformation to entrepreneur includes finding the freedom that comes from having a strong identity—a strong sense of self. If we fail to define ourselves, we risk letting others define us and may never realize our greatest potential. Unrealized potential impacts our families, children, workplaces, communities and the future of America itself. In difficult times, we need to know who we really are—individually and collectively. 

5 Tips for Transformation

1. Engage your operating platform. You must be flexible, durable and adaptable. Create new and better habits, and remove obstacles to success.

2. Find the courage to change. To keep from becoming stagnant, you need to extricate yourself from your cozy confines.

3. Tailor your talents. As the landscape changes, so must you. That also applies to your willingness to re-educate yourself inside and outside of the classroom.

4. Be nimble; be quick. It will take sweat equity, time and constant research to fine-tune your talent to the market.

5. Learn from failure. The real test is whether you choose to lift yourself up and persevere in the face of adversity as you continue your rightful pursuit of your dreams. As the world undergoes this seismic shift, what better time is there to become your own leader or a business owner—and to aspire to the excellence that may have eluded you in your professional and personal life? What better time is there to learn how to focus on your own strengths, learn your greater purpose and start assembling your passport to freedom?

Change is not always easy because many of us have been programmed to stay in a box. With the changing global playing field, the growing influence of minority populations and the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president, it’s apparent we are growing out of our long tradition of cultural stereotyping. However, most of us at some point in our lives have been programmed by parents, friends, schoolmates, educators and the media about what our identity and potential are based on class, color, creed and culture. But the world can’t wait for you to bust out of your box or linger in the past.

With a sense of identity and the ability to address your past programming, you begin to develop your potential. Beyond fundamental academic skills, you need to learn how to identify your strengths and combine them with your passions in ways that empower you to establish and achieve a vision for your life. Once you have that core—your identity—you will be able to sort through the onslaught of information faced daily and use it to enhance and actualize your potential. Self-identification and defining the business you wish to be in or to start is an organic process.

The first step is the most critical: identifying what you naturally love and care about. Identify your dreams and your strengths and strive to find a common ground to unite the two. Creating our own futures is the ultimate freedom. In fact, it is your right. Identity and freedom—you can’t have one without the other. People who enjoy an abundance of personal and economic freedom in their lives almost always have a clearly defined identity. America’s free enterprise system allows anyone with the fortitude to take a risk to become a business owner or independent contractor.

This transformation tale is yours. You own the tools and perspective to change how you view yourself and your possibilities. You will always be a work in progress. Your continued success will be contingent on how adaptable you are and how hard you are willing to work at it—and for it—every day.

You're ready to transform yourself.