I’ve had some amazing successes in my business life – but I certainly didn’t start out successful. And I’ve had my fair share of strokes of brilliance along the way – but I definitely didn’t start out brilliant. The truth is that when I first started out I was anything but successful or brilliant…I was young, overconfident, and completely oblivious to how hard it was actually going to be. I could barely balance my own checkbook, let alone read a financial statement. I knew nothing about technology or computer programming or software design. I had dropped out of my Econ class at BYU a week into it because the professor kept throwing out terms that may as well have been in Chinese because they were so foreign I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. So was I brilliant starting out…that’s a no….was I successful back then…uh, that’s a definite no….
But guess what? No one is successful and brilliant when they first get started! Everyone begins somewhere and then they learn along the way by trying and failing and making mistakes and learning to move past them. Everyone has to go through those type of experiences before they can get to a place of success and brilliance. Where anyone starts from is very different from where they will end up.
I think it is so important when we share our story to remember to tell the young people we mentor that even though we may appear to be successful and brilliant in our business life today, we certainly didn’t start out as either successful or brilliant. We need to be willing to tell them the stories of how we struggled with feelings of inadequacy starting out just as they might, and we need to share how we ourselves stumbled all over the place trying to figure out which path to take, so they shouldn’t be discouraged if they are too. We should let them know we made all kinds of dumb decisions and we fell flat on our faces more times than we could count. We need to share those things so they will know that where they are starting from today isn’t all that different from the place we started from – which means they have as much a chance of being successful and brilliant as any of us did. Young people today are capable of far more than they have eve begun to imagine…we older people know that because none of us every imagined we’d make it as far as we did either…
Too often those of us who mentor young people get so happy to be in a place where we’ve achieved some success that we forget to share the reality of all the emotions and struggles we ourselves had to overcome in order to get where we’ve ended up, and in forgetting to share that, we inadvertently paint a picture that we started out brilliant and successful, leaving others to question if they are enough to do what we did. But they are enough and we need to help them see that.
We weren’t successful and brilliant starting off…but by going through the hard things, overcoming our fears, and not giving up, we did achieve success and brilliance….if they will do the same, if they will overcome their fears and not give up they will achieve it too.
~Amy Rees Anderson (you can purchase a copy of my new book here: “What AWESOME Looks Like: How To Excel In Business & Life“)