I loved this graphics when I saw it, and I left it in the large format so you could read the different segments of it. If there is one attribute I think you need to acquire over the first twenty years of your life, it is:
For you to be successful in any endeavor, whether it be sports, business, or a relationship, you have to be aware of your thoughts and mindset about your place in the world. You have to have a realistic sense of how your views bend and shape how you act within the confines of your world. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what really matters is where you are headed. For you to rise above the current circumstances that you were handed, you need to get clarity on what that voice in your head is whispering in your ear all day long.
Allow me to clue you in on a few things that many never consider:
1. You are not unique. By this I mean that nothing you are going through hasn’t already been done. The human condition is just that: human. We all have room for improvement.
2. Others have led the way out. Whatever it is you are faced with, whatever lot in life you have been handed, you are not the first and will not be the last. If someone else in history has started from basically the same place you have, or had similar things happen to them over the course of their life, and improved their life, you can too. Trust me, there is a trail of breadcrumbs, you just have to find it.
3. You are not doomed to repeat your family heritage. Whatever it is you have been born into, you can change it. My guess is, if you are reading this blog post, your life is not as bad as you think. Someone out that has it worse, and it some ways it is almost arrogant to think you are so unique and special that no one has ever dealt with the things you have on your plate. Hard work is the antidote to most of life’s issues.
There are multitudes of stories about the inner city kid making it out through sports, or through an academic scholarship. Or the example of the dirt dwelling kid from Africa that creates an invention that helps his village and ends up with opportunities he never would have been able to dream of. I grew up on a farm in rural PA, and had no clue I was going to get the opportunities I did. One small opportunity led to another, and then another. I didn’t know how to envision the possibilities that my future could hold for me, but I never doubted that there was more to the world than that 50 acre farm I grew up on. I didn’t have the big picture view just yet, but I knew that the next step was to figure out how to get the most out of school and sports. For me, these two things really helped shape my own self awareness. I didn’t do that well in school, but socializing within a group of my peers was important; I grew up with only much older kids around me. This meant I didn’t know as much, lost in every sport or every race we did. My self esteem took a beating on the regular until I got around kids that were my own age and size. I didn’t realize that I did fit in until I found others who felt the same way.
You are taking the easy way out if you just follow in someone else’s footsteps leading down a bad path.
My point is this, if you think that your life is locked into a path that leads you nowhere, that you will be stuck in this same small town forever, or end up an alcoholic like your father was, or abusing prescription meds like mom did, or whatever, you are wrong. It CAN be, but it doesn’t have to be. It is easier to blame the surroundings, the example(s) your environment provided you, than it is to carve your own path. Decide to not be a victim. Never before in human history has there been so much access to so much information. You can give yourself a PHD level education just by having access to the internet. A local library offers you just about everything you need to learn about any topic or subject you need. If you need info about addictions and overcoming them, codependency, getting an academic scholarship somewhere, all of it is available to you with the click of a mouse.
I speak with way too many people that put limitations on what they can achieve with their lives. Most are not even aware of this, but the words they choose, and how they react to situations is a dead giveaway if you know what to look for. Not everyone is going to start the next Facebook or Uber, but EVERYONE can level up from where they are at now. You don’t need to make a billion dollars or sell a company to be a success. Everyone has a different definition of success anyway, so define yours a shoot for that. Personally, I am aiming for debt free and happy. I don’t want the struggles of running a company, I don’t want the scrutiny of fame. I want to be happy, financially secure, and anonymous to the largest degree possible.
Back to my farm boy reference, I didn’t know where I would end up, but I knew where I would NOT end up, and that was on the farm. And to add to that context, that farm is less than 25 miles from where both my parents went to high school. As of his 25 year class reunion, seventy-five percent of my Dad’s graduating high school class still lived within 25 miles of the high school they attended. That is not leveling up in my opinion. That is walking the path already laid out, the path of least resistance.
Now, some people lead perfectly happy, fulfilled lives in doing what they did by staying close to home. I am not saying that everyone has to move away to the big city across the country to hit their full potential. But what I am trying to share is that if you never take a shot at doing something big, you will find yourself at the end of your life filled with regret. There are no guarantees for success, but you OWE it to yourself, and to those who love and support you, to throw your hat in the ring and take a shot at what it is you want. If you take a swing and miss, be sure to try again. A Professional baseball player is paid millions of dollars when they can swing and hit the ball three out of ten times. You need to look at life the same way.
Failure is a part of life; it is a part of sports, school and in matters of the heart. If you can learn to fail forward, you are well on your way to changing your circumstances in life. The self awareness to understand where you fell short, why things didn’t work, and where to improve, are critical lessons in the process. I have had tons of failures over the course of my life, and I’ve got more coming too. It’s just a fact. But I never allowed that to determine whether or not I was going to do something. I have learned to not be reckless, but to dig and do research and map out a plan, before I take the plunge. I know that being too cautious means you never leave the launching pad; there is balance to be found in each situation. I don’t want to jump off the cliff and then build the plane on the way down any more. I have done it enough times already in this life, I don’t need that level of self-induced stress and anxiety, thank you.
All of the above comes down to the self awareness that you need to cultivate to give yourself the best shot at accomplishing the goals you set. How do you develop self awareness? That is a tough question to answer. I am not exactly sure where to direct you to start. Certainly there are lots of books available on this topic, and it’s neighbors like Emotional Intelligence and Self Improvement that would be a good place to begin this inward journey.
It is my opinion that this is your duty, and responsibility as a human being.You MUST gain as much Self Awareness as possible, so that you can put your best foot forward with each and everything you do in the world. Your future will hold so much more promise and happiness if you don’t take the easy road and follow in the footsteps that are already in front of you. Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled, or better yet create a new one. People that really make an impact rarely color within the lines.