Saturday, January 15, 2011

5 ½ Characteristics of Martin Luther King, Jr. and How They Can Help You as an Entrepreneur

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is to be celebrated on Monday, January 17th, 2011, I wanted to pay tribute to the great man who fought for equality even when all odds were against him.  Much like many of you entrepreneurs out there, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “had a dream.”  Nothing could stop him from achieving exactly what he wanted to achieve—even if it meant going to jail, being hated or going against people’s wishes.  MLK’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream” has touched the hearts of millions of Americans throughout the years and goes to show that with hard work, bravery, persistence, and many other qualities, anything can happen. 
What’s your dream?
There are many ways to achieve it.  But what’s more important is who is achieving it.  If you uphold important entrepreneurial qualities, many of which Martin Luther King, Jr. possessed, you will have a greater chance of success.  Below are five of MLK’s traits that made him the great man that he was—do they match up with yours? 
Patience: It wasn’t one speech that put an end to segregation in the United States.  It wasn’t one march, one demonstration, one sit-in.  It was multiple attempts on various accounts that finally got the message out there.  Martin Luther King, Jr. had to have patience throughout this time if he truly wanted to succeed.  He knew that things wouldn’t change overnight—and you need to know this, too.  Be patient with your startup—let it grow in increments each and every day.  You will achieve your dream, it just takes time to get there.   
Bravery: Obviously, it took mass amounts of courage to stand up to thousands, even millions, of people and proclaim his dream.  But Martin Luther King, Jr. made it known that what he wanted was equality and that he would fight till the end to see it through.  Have courage and faith in your startup business—let it be known that this is what you want to do and that you are passionate about seeing it succeed. 
Leadership: MLK was the one that took the leadership position during the fight for equality.  He was the one that stepped up to the plate when no one else would and found the answers to everybody’s questions.  As a successful entrepreneur, you have to take on the leadership position of founder or CEO of your company, and with that, you have to know how to manage people, make decisions, and plan for success. 
Persistence: Even from the confines of Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. did not stop fighting for what he believed in.  When the world was against him, he didn’t take breaks.  As an entrepreneur, you must be prepared to work persistently under various circumstances. 
Trustworthiness: Those who followed Martin Luther King, Jr. trusted him with every bone in their bodies.  They had full confidence that he would be the one to put a stop to discrimination and segregation.  Business owners and leaders much have a trustworthy quality so that they can develop their own “followers”—coworkers, partners, sponsors, employees, clients, family and friends. 
As an added bonus—Martin Luther King, Jr. knew how to captivate an audience.  Be sure that you can grab people’s attention the moment you walk into a room.  If you haven't already seen it, watch MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and you will know exactly what I’m talking about:

Allison Way is a writer and videographer for Think Big Partners, Kansas City’s mentorship-based business incubator and startup accelerator.  To read more of Allison’s work, check out the Kansas City Entrepreneurship Examiner as well as her articles on BrooWaha, eZine, Helium and Newsvine. 

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