CNBC offers non-stop “Shark Tank” reruns almost nightly. I’ve been binge watching over the holidays and couldn’t help but notice how misogynistic and demeaning the male sharks behave toward the female sharks. I’m shocked and disappointed that I’ve never picked up on this before. (Probably a lot of women reading this wondering how I could be so clueless for so long. Guilty as charged.) Obviously, this dynamic is displayed sporadically in the interactions between Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran. But when you watch a lot of episodes back-to-back – you see just how systemic and all-encompassing this prejudice is from the whole panel, even the guest sharks.
The number of times the ladies (usually Barbara or Lori Greiner) are interrupted, spoken over, or simply ignored is staggering. The female entrepreneurs making pitches have a much higher burden of proof to receive an investment. And ironically, but not surprisingly, even the female entrepreneurs pitching ideas to the tank frequently fall into the pattern. Often they will receive an offer from a female shark, yet they’re still speaking to an issue from a male shark who has already dropped out. It’s a stark reminder how pervasive misogyny remains in the business world today.
It’s just not fair. But neither is life.
If you’re a woman, the odds are stacked against you. If you’re black, brown, or Asian, the odds are stacked against you. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, the odds are stacked against you. And if you’re in more than one group, such as a woman of color in the LGBTQ community…let’s not even go there.
It’s just not fair. But neither is life.
Everyone mentioned above had to work harder for their success because of systemic prejudice against them. They dealt with people who pandered to them, people who ridiculed them, and even people who hate them and want them to fail simply because of a label they’ve assigned to them. (And still do today.) Just as there are people who will pander, ridicule, or hate you because of your religion, height, weight, race, sexuality, and the university you did or didn’t go to.
Some people are born into poverty while others are born into wealth. Some people are born with physical disabilities while others aren’t. Some people are raised in environments of systemic prejudice against them while others are raised in privilege. It’s not fair, but that’s the reality. But you either acknowledge the reality and decide to overcome it, or you choose the path of victimhood. When you’re on this path, one of two things happen...
You can be a victim, or you can be a victor, but you can’t be both. Choose mindfully.
If you choose victimhood, no one will blame you. In fact, most people will commiserate with you, so they can wallow in victimhood with you. Victimhood is an epidemic in our society today. It’s a very popular epidemic because once you identify yourself as a victim – you no longer have to work to succeed. Since you’ve decided that you’re limited by your place of birth, nationality, race, or whatever bullshit story you’ve sold yourself – even attempting to succeed would be futile.
Instead of devoting energy on achieving success – you squander it all on trying to identify, explain, and validate why it’s simply not possible for you to achieve success. And what a miserable waste of your life that is. It is literally self-imposed slavery. You volunteer to be psychologically enslaved to the institution, situation, or condition you blame for holding you back.
The only way to break this slavery is to decide to. Not always so easy to do. I get that, I really do.
Victimhood is more addictive than heroin, cocaine, or meth…
To become a victor, you have to let go of your story about being a victim. The actual process is so simple it’s shocking. Yet for many people, that process can take years or decades. (I am the galaxy’s preeminent expert on victimhood, because I was a professional victim for 30 years.) There are a lot of rewards and payback for being a victim:
Believing you are a victim can bring you attention and sympathy you’re not ready to give up. It might even make you feel noble or spiritual: the little guy (or gal) heroically fighting the forces of evil. Of course, all of those payoffs aren’t actually payoffs. When you add them all up, they’re just a bullshit story you sell to yourself so you can remain wallowing in victimhood.
There are random acts, but no random lives. Your life is the harvest of the thoughts you give precedence to. While it may sound simplistic to some, the profound truth is that when you transform your thoughts, you can transform your life. The final and decisive step of that transformation is releasing victimhood.
Those 30 brutal years of living as a victim led to the most important question I have ever asked myself. Reflecting on my numerous health challenges, multiple business failures, and 11 negative, dysfunctional relationships in a row, I inquired…
Was there one person who was always at the scene of the crime?
I didn’t like the answer that came back. But that answer set me free. It caused me to realize I had lived in a victimhood mindset my entire existence up until that moment of clarity.
The right question blows up your story, the victim narrative you’ve created to avoid facing personal accountability. Once you understand this, you change your perception of life and see yourself as a co-creator instead of a recipient. Instead of looking for other people and circumstances to blame, you direct your attention internally, into what you must change:
Who you must become, to live the life you really want to live.
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Also see: Killing Your Inner Victim