It’s really refreshing when someone with influence is self-aware enough to recognize their own flaws. It helps us to identify those same flaws in ourselves and to work on improving them. Speaking at the annual GrowCo conference in Nashville on Wednesday, Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban spoke frankly and honestly about his personal internalized racism, saying, “I know I’m prejudiced and I know I’m bigoted in a lot of different ways. If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos, I’ll move back to the other side of the street.”
It’s a very brave and honest statement: professional sports has struggled with racism, sexism and homophobia for years, and the response has too often been to slap the offenders with a fine or temporary ban from the sport, and then to sweep it under the rug. As satisfying as it is to punish the offenders in a grand gesture, it misses the point that Cuban makes: that fixing a problem relies on identifying that the problem exists in the first place.
Having faith in yourself as a business owner – and having faith in the business you’ve built – is vital to keeping your business running. But there’s a big difference between having faith in your business and being blind to its faults. As an entrepreneur, especially in a fast-moving forum like the internet, you have to be able to recognize when elements of your business are flawed, outdated, or redundant, just as you have to recognize when you have personal prejudices that are preventing your business from growing and thriving. Recognizing, for example, that you have an innate dislike of squeeze pages makes you more likely to examine that dislike, find out where it comes from, and actually study squeeze pages to figure out how to fit them effectively into your online business.
Whether it’s internalized racism, distrust of certain internet marketing tools, or an irrational fear of rubber ducks, everyone has internalized prejudice. It’s part of being human. The key to not letting those prejudices damage your business is to identify what they are, and to take positive steps to overcome them. A good business overcomes its faults and adapts to improve – just like a good person.