I often say that I wish I could go back in time to my 20-year-old self.
At 20 I was completely confident and fearlessly bold. I knew that I was capable of doing anything that I wanted to do and that included making a powerful impact with my life.
When I was 20 I quit University leaving my full scholarship behind. I didn’t know it at the time, but I left because I had this inner entrepreneurial flame burning within me and I felt it was being snuffed out by the way my education was structured.
When I left University it pretty much crushed everyone.
After all, I was supposed to be a lawyer, a doctor or a (insert stereotypical smart person career here). Yet I followed a less linear path of jumping from job to job trying to find something that sparked my passion.
I remember running into an old high school teacher when I was out grocery shopping. At the time I was selling mortgages; trying to find my way in the world. When I told him what I was doing he said, “I’m really surprised that you aren’t doing something creative!”
I remember feeling really surprised by his comment because he was my former law and economics teacher. I thought that, like most, he would have just expected me to become a lawyer. Our unexpected encounter got me thinking …
Today, I truly believe that my coincidental run-in with my past is what led me to my leap from finance to advertising and to eventually becoming self-employed. I realized something was missing so I left the grocery store that day to find out what that “something” was.
Desperately seeking serendipity
During my twenties, I recall encountering so many things that kept me stuck! I remember being depressed and feeling paralyzed in the morning wondering how I was going to get through another day at a job I hated.
I remember feeling like I had let everyone and, worst of all, myself down. There were so many things that well-meaning mentors and managers had taught me; and as it turned out, their advice didn’t fit … it just kept me painfully stuck. I realized I had a lot of unlearning to do before I could ever become successful and get to the point where I’m at today.
Here are the top 3 things, myths, that I had to unlearn before I could become truly fulfilled and successful.
1. Myth: You have to change.
In my first “grown-up job” I can remember my manager telling me that because I was so young I should only wear black, grey and white and that I should wear my hair up to appear older. I was once told that I should lift my chair up higher to appear taller and look like I had more authority.
In another role I was told that in order to become a success I would have to change my voice because higher-levels “couldn’t stand the sound of it”. The truth is that while you may need to change in order to fit in with some professional culture, in order to become successful doing what you love (and are fully aligned with), instead you just need to be yourself.
2. Myth: You must work to improve your weaknesses.
In school we get a report card that tells us the subjects that we are weak or “under-performing” in and we are encouraged to get a tutor to correct our shortcomings. You may have heard growing up: “You can’t be successful unless you’re good at math!”
When we leave college and get a job we are given a different type of report card, in the form of performance reviews. These 360 reviews aim to congratulate us on our strengths and then spend the majority of the review placing a magnifying glass up to our weaknesses. It generally ends with recommendations on how we can “and should” improve.
Don’t get me wrong, knowing your weaknesses is important, but you shouldn’t waste a single second on them if you want to be successful doing something you love. You need to bet on your strengths instead. Spend 100% of your time doing the things you are better at than anyone else. Hire out your weaknesses to those who are better at those skills than anyone else. This is how you’ll win.
3. Myth: Failing is bad.
This is something that’s ingrained in us from a young age. “Failing is bad,” they said. “Winning is the only way,” they said. “Don’t be the loser,” they said.
When I was a kid I used to love playing fastball and I wanted to pitch. When I first started pitching I couldn’t pitch a strike if my life depended on it. More than once the ball flew 25 feet in the air right over the backstop.
Every night my dad and I would go out on the front lawn and we would throw 100 pitches. Eventually I became really good! Our team won championships and I threw perfect games. Had I given up after the first time I failed, I never would have became great.
The cool thing about failing is that it teaches us exactly where to go next. Failing is incredible and something to be celebrated!
In his book The Prosperous Coach, Rich Litvin writes about what he calls “The No Game”. He discusses how “yes” lies in the land of “no” and that in order to find your next yes you just need to go out there and collect more no’s.
Now when I hear a “no,” I celebrate because every “no” I collect brings me one step closer to finding a “yes.”
This article has been edited and condensed.
Heather Prestanski is a 4x successful entrepreneur and Business Coach. She helps entrepreneurs clarify their vision, systematize their actions, upgrade their skills, optimize their environment and master their psychology to move them towards their definition of success. Heather lives and breathes her mantra “you are now free to live without limits” as she helps free entrepreneurs from the status quo. Get your free gift from Heather “25 Questions to Uncover Your True Purpose” at heatherprestanskicoaching.com. Connect with @hprestanski on Twitter.
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