The title of this article, “If I can’t work with you, I will work around you” is part of a quote attributed to Annie Easley, one of the first African Americans to work at NACA which eventually became NASA’s Lewis Research Center, which then became the John H. Glenn Research Center.
Easley’s story is inspirational. Born in the 30s she was not only a pioneer for her race but also for her gender. Over the years she encountered a number of stumbling blocks, prejudices and brick walls that threatened to stop her career and yet she never let them derail her journey.
“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” John D. Rockefeller
I encourage you to read more about Easley’s journey in the article Annie Easley Helped Make Modern Space Travel Possible. However, for this article, I want to focus on how she handled these road blocks that we encountered along the way. We can all relate to this experience. It might have been a boss, a company culture or even our own family that have held up red flags along our journey. “You can’t do that. No woman has done that before.” “You can’t do that, you have a family that needs to come first.” “You can’t do that, let your husband be the bread winner, he’ll feel back if you make more than he does.”
Easley faced a variety of different road blocks and yet in every instance, she persevered.
“When people have their biases and prejudices, yes, I am aware. My head is not in the sand. But my thing is, if I can’t work with you, I will work around you. I was not about to be discouraged that I’d walk away. That may be a solution for some people, but it’s not mine,” said Annie Easley.
She goes on to explain:
“Nothing was given to minorities or women. It took some fighting to get that equal opportunity and we’re still fighting today.”
“Don’t give up on it. Just stick with it.
Don’t listen to people who always tell you it’s hard, and walk away from it,” said Easley.
How do you handle road blocks. Are you one to walk away when people say “you can’t?” Or does that inspire you to try even harder? Or like Annie, do you find a work-around?
I love that quote: If I can’t work WITH you, I will work AROUND YOU.
As you look at the current road block you are facing in your career – what would happen if you worked AROUND the interference? What would that look like?