I know that I first heard the phrase, “Stay in your lane,” spoken by comedian Kevin Hart years ago. He was making a joke about keeping company with other celebrities that were within his income bracket, after having put out lots of money trying to keep up with people who were making much more than him at the time. Kevin’s joke was made in the spirit of keepin’ up with the Joneses, but what’s ironic is that in the business sense, Kevin has certainly not stayed in his lane.
He has diversified his career to move beyond comedy into acting, producing, and directing. Financially, it makes sense for him to do so, but this message of not staying in one’s lane does not always get preached in black circles or around black tables. For true economic stability and progress, I encourage all black women not to stay in their lane, and here are a few reasons why.
Today’s world changes rapidly, meaning if you want to stay ahead, you must be agile. One of my favorite motivational speakers is Les Brown. One quote by Les is that if you do not make a move in this life, “life will move on you.” None of us, regardless of skin tone, education level, or class, is totally immune to the effects of gentrification, layoff, or unforeseen tragedy. Part of being successful in life is being able to adapt and act quickly in the wake of the unexpected, and having multiple talents that you can rely on, a diverse knowledge base, and a breadth of experiences can be helpful tools to help you navigate the peaks and valleys you will inevitably cycle through.
In the economic sense, you shouldn’t rely on just one means for generating income or financial stability. Part of this comes with experience and maturity, but this means being wise with investments and finances, staying somewhat connected to emerging markets and trends, and having multiple talents you can list on your résumé. When it comes to your employability, whether that is through a company that you work for, or in the appeal you offer to potential clients of your own business, you will always win out the more you are able to bring to the table. You also benefit by having skills in your back pocket, especially as industries change and some go defunct.
While being employed and employable is a great asset, consider for a moment that you could also encounter a time when you cannot or will not want to work. Living a long life is certainly a blessing, but do you want to be punching a clock into your 60s, 70s, and 80s? If your goal is to start a family with your partner, will you be okay with working once your babies have arrived? Investments, financial planning, and flexibility through entrepreneurship can be better options than being forced to embrace a circumstance you know will not make you (as) happy.
Lastly, keeping yourself multitalented and multifaceted is some of the best promotion you can give yourself. Never underestimate the power of your own promotion, which is further enhanced by your different talents. We as black women have always been cognizant of our many capabilities, and those talents should never be hidden from the rest of the world. Aside from the professional world, be sure to keep yourself fit in order to stay healthy and live that long life I mentioned earlier.
Eating right, taking care of your appearance, and maintaining a healthy weight will all contribute to making you feel good physically and psychologically, and a confident woman exudes light and good energy. While you do not have to be the sole domestic caretaker of your household, it is still wise to know how to cook, sew, iron, and make a bed, if for nothing more than to save yourself money or the headache of trying to find someone else to do it.
If seeking a mate, you will open yourself to more options if you prioritize your health and develop yourself in a multitude of ways. But while these strategies are great for attracting others, be sure to only engage in relationships with those with whom you are equally yoked. Your talents should allow you to resourcefully change lanes when necessary, but not be the end-all, be-all for someone who refuses to contribute.
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. Her personal development courses are centered on helping women realize their potential from the inside out. When she is not advising clients, teaching, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.