Wise words for the wicked

October 13, 2010 at 4:39 am Leave a comment

Move Fast. Be Bold. Have an Impact.

That’s what Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, had to say about the values that drive him to succeed in business. Good words to live by, along with Google’s Don’t Be Evil, and Nike’s Just Do It.

As someone who has struggled with depression and who belongs to a small sub-set of society, as a transguy, these words aren’t always so easy to follow. When you’ve had the crap kicked out of you emotionally (or physically), moving fast isn’t necessarily what you need. First, you need some semblance of stability. You need to heal. After that, well, then you can start exploring your risk-embracing side.

As for being bold? I’ve tried very hard to follow the opposite advice: Blend In. Okay, not quite as exciting, but at least you don’t get torn apart. Being accepted as a guy when you’re trans is about blending in, not drawing attention to yourself, and making sure that you stay on good terms with as many people as possible. It’s about feeling safe. If you want to be bold you need to have an inner sense that you will be alright no matter what, even if things don’t go exactly as planned, but if things don’t go exactly as planned for a trans guy, they can go really, really badly. So you learn to take boldness with a grain of salt. Of course, as the world gets more comfortable with people of my kind, we too will learn to express ourselves more loudly. And the world will be richer for it. It’s already happening.

Have an impact. Yes, that’s what makes life worth living after all – the feeling that you actually influenced someone else, that you had an effect on someone other than yourself, that you exist. But if you have too much of an impact, or any kind of impact at all really, you develop enemies. It’s just how it goes. So having an impact is risky. Enemies who are homophobes and transphobes and mental health-phobes can cut you down pretty easily because you’re vulnerable. Anyone who belongs to a minority community is vulnerable. To dare to have an impact even with the risks involved, that takes guts.

It takes way more guts for someone who is marginalized to reach the same level of success than someone who was born into privilege and merely had to build on that. But once success is yours, as a marginalized person, I’ll bank my money on you, because I know that you won’t crack under pressure – you were born under pressure. You know all about it.

The rest of Mark Zuckerberg’s interview discussing innovation is available here:

http://cdn.livestream.com/events/businessinsider/TBIPlayer.swf

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Entry filed under: Business, Mental Health, Transgender.

Entrepreneurship 101 Edumacation

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