Do you remember a time when everything was on the line? You either had to face your fears and rise to the occasion, or you walked away, always wondering what could have been. Just 10 months ago, it was decision time. I was a recent college grad with $30,000 in student loan debt coming up behind me like a freight train, but I knew if I didn’t leave now, I probably never would. With $300 in my bank account and a dream to make a name for myself, I shook my dad’s hand, kissed my mom, and was on my own.
Time started to pass and things were not looking too great.
In my first job as a marketing director, I was let go after three months due to the company not needing an in-house marketing team. Just a few months after that, while in my second job, I realized that I was not meant to be a fundraising consultant either. No signs were pointing towards things getting any better. On the verge of homelessness, it was time for me to make my fight or flight decision. I knew I was passionate about marketing, good at communicating and intrigued by influencers. As I surfed through the Twittersphere, one name caught my eye, Leonard Kim.
He had been featured or was a contributor for publications such as Forbes, Inc, The Huffington Post, Influencive & Entrepreneur, among countless others. However, the detail about him that I was able to connect with most was not one of his fancy accolades. It was the fact that he too went through extremely hard times before finding success.
I needed to get in touch with him, but how? I found my answer via email.
Little did I know, this 49 word email would change the entire course of my life. Within the next 48 hours, I would be on an FM radio show with Leonard’s business partner Ryan Foland, I would accept a position at InfluenceTree, and most importantly, I would be rejuvenated by a completely positive outlook on life. Think of me as your test pilot for success. Believe me, I know just how bad it can get. If it weren’t for the help of my parents, I would have been homeless less than a year after graduating college.
Now, not everyone is going to just pick up and move across the country, but everyone has a dream. Sometimes the hardest part of a dream is knowing where to start.
In the last 6 months, I have learned eight life lessons. Learn from my mistakes and so you don’t make them.
The World Owes You Nothing
The most difficult thing for people to comprehend is the fact that the world owes us nothing.
For whatever reason, I thought after I graduated college, things would be perfect. My first job would turn into my career and I’d start moving up the ladder quickly after starting.
No, I had the pleasure of being called an overpaid intern and getting the boot within the first three months. Talk about a nice big piece of humble pie.
My home town, Darlington, WI, was an incredible place to grow up. I would compare it to the anemone that Nemo grew up in. It was very safe, but very sheltered. This lead to a false understanding of what the real world was like. Do not fear, I learned very quickly!
You Don’t Need to Find a Career Right Away
One of the most common misconceptions is that you are going to find a career immediately. I felt the same way, but then it started to freak me out. ‘I can’t do this for the next 20 years of my life,’ I thought, as I would search for any way to get away from my cubicle and out of the office.
It was in that moment that I realized why I felt like I needed to find that career immediately. That’s what my parent’s generation did! They just expected us Millennials would follow along the same path.
They were truly only trying to help me find success, but my definition of success is different than their definition of success, which I’m sure is different than your definition of success. There is no magical one size fits all platform for you to follow. If you want to go and be a waiter/waitress, then you go be the best damn waiter/waitress you can be! See, what you do doesn’t matter. What matters is if and when you decide to do whatever it is that you want to do.
Vulnerability Is the Only Way to Grow
Failure builds character and teaches resilience. Character and resilience build your personal foundation as a human. So in reality, it is our failures that shape who we are rather than our successes. I’ve been in a position over the past year to experience countless opportunities to allow myself to be vulnerable. I’m not sure which experience was more frightening, moving 2,050 miles across the country completely alone, or spittin’ rhymes to the people of LA with my complete lack of rapping skills.
The point is, if you stop pursuing your definition of success, you’re never going to find it.
When you invest in the stock market, how long would you expect to wait until you see a return on your investment? A month, a year, 5 years? Whatever your answer, be prepared to spend that much time and then some to achieve your goals.
The main issue I see is people starting a project and suddenly, after a month, it’s not so sexy anymore, so they ditch it. Let me tell you something, the moment you ditch it, it’s over. Done. If you decide to start back up again two months later, it’s back to square one.
Play the long game. When shooting a basketball, you follow through. In a golf swing, you follow through. When you throw a baseball, football, softball, you follow through. In life, when chasing your goals, follow through.
Perseverance Is a Necessity
Perseverance becomes the foundation of your brand when you’re starting off. How did you get to where you are? What challenges did you face? Your story becomes a whole lot more interesting if you’ve experienced hardships and defeat along your journey.
Humans love an underdog story. That doesn’t mean start making stupid decisions to set yourself up for failure just so you can build a better story, or even worse, completely fabricate a false story. What it means is, when failure comes knocking, gladly open the door, allow it to punch you in the gut, close the door, and move on knowing it’s just building your story.
Patience Is Crucial
If you haven’t heard of him, look up Gary Vaynerchuk. He is a huge advocate of both hustle and patience. Seems pretty contradictory, doesn’t it? Not in the slightest. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Even though it’s necessary to hustle daily if you want to build a life of abundance, you have to be prepared to live that hustle for 5, 10, 15, 20 years without falter.
Talent can be coached, but consistency is a choice. Embrace the journey and everything that comes along with it. The ups and downs create the story that is your life. It will happen. Be patient.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Believe it or not, people don’t expect you to have all the answers. Now, I’m a very proud man, so I really struggled with this out of the gate. I wanted to solve every problem on my own, but that’s simply not realistic. You have people surrounding you called a support system.
Ever heard of it?
Of course you have!
It’s your mom, dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents, significant others, etc. They want to help you, so be willing to share your struggles with them. There’s nothing they can do to help if they don’t know there’s a problem in the first place.
You’re no lesser of a success because you needed help along the way. Do you think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk never asked for help? These are some of the top minds in the world asking for help, proving to you that it’s not just okay, it’s encouraged!
So, you’ve learned how you think you should act during business calls. Guess what, it’s bologna. People do business with people, not with businesses. Don’t shy away from letting your personality shine through. If some people don’t care for your real personality, then they wouldn’t have been good clients anyways. People can see right through the bullshit you’re trying to portray. In a world marketed to be ideal, have the courage to be real.
You were put here for a purpose. Some people find their purpose at 10 years old, some at 60 years old, and some never allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to find it.
I’ll be sharing my story along the journey to influence to prove that with a combination of vulnerability, persistence, perseverance, patients, some help along the way, and a genuine personality, you can not only survive, but thrive. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.