Life changed when fixed income analyst Monique Péan’s 16- year old sister passed away in a tragic car accident. Monique found herself staring at seven computer screens and realizing that she didn’t know if she had six or 60 years left so she was motivated to take a chance. Monique, who now designs eco-friendly, sustainable fine jewelry, was named by Oprah Magazine as one of its “Ten Women on the Rise.” That car accident was her turning point. Since that moment, she opted to apply even more rigor than she used during her first year working at Goldman’s fixed income desk towards creating a powerhouse brand, sound business model, and an even stronger sense of purpose.
While you may not have a looming deadline to make a change today. Prolonging the actions necessary towards greater fulfillment in your career assumes a couple of unpredictable things. You are assuming that life won’t get more complicated and that you’ll have sufficient time (and energy) to enjoy life later. I want to inspire you to act now because those assumptions are not promised. I have enlisted the help of three remarkable, inspiring, and downright funny kids to act as my reinforcements.
These three kids got through the thinking that stop many adults from taking action. They were not the typical candidates for their big jobs of inspiring millions worldwide yet they accepted that responsibility. They found ways to live their passion-fueled dreams; they didn’t let uncertainty hinder them. They also didn’t let fear stop them. Let’s start by listening to Robby Novak, also known as Kid President:
“The world needs you to stop being boring. This is life people. You got air coming through your nose. You got a heart beat. That means it’s time to do something.”
A common barrier to achieving greatness is thinking that you are not the typical candidate. If Adora Svitak was dissuaded by this idea then she wouldn’t have published her book at the age of seven. Today, Diane Sawyer called her a “Tiny Literary Giant.” Adora was pint-sized, had only been writing for five years, and was only 12 years old at the time of her TED talk. The typical TED speakers included former presidents, Nobel laureates, and billionaires.
At TED, Adora said that unlike adults, kids imagine new possibilities because they do not have the “burden” that results from … “knowledge of history and the past failures of utopian ideals…” We have a lot to learn from the little idealists who surround us. When we were young we didn’t think about why we shouldn’t do something; our parents did that. When we were younger we didn’t shy away from doing what the big kids did. We had no sense of our limitations. We assumed that our odds of success were the same as those of our peers. Yet, as adults, we assume that other people are successful because they are unique, wealthy, or lucky. It’s time to reimagine the possibility of success. Let’s behave “childishly” if that’s what it takes to make a move.
Another obstacle to change is not knowing where to focus your efforts. It takes commitment to commercialize an idea. Some aspiring entrepreneurs have a million ideas yet lack the gumption to pick one. Others are unable to think of one. The way to identify that one idea is to listen to Kid President’s pep talk to adults, “What will you create to make the world awesome?” Kid President thanks Michael Jordan for “making” Space Jam. Robby l-o-v-e-s Space Jam. What will be your Space Jam? Think about your extremes – what makes you overjoyed or pissed off. Ignore the middle of the spectrum. If you get mad when you meet brilliant people who feel stuck in their jobs, like me, think about how you can make the world awesome for them in 2013. Alternatively, if you are happiest when you organize large data sets into a financial model that aids business decisions then make this your life’s work. Sometimes it takes being in new situations to figure out where you should place your time and talents. Ultimately, create your next Space Jam.
Some adults are simply scared – We all have responsibilities that make it difficult to just quit our jobs. Some have families to support and others debts to pay. Then there are the additional psychological reasons that make putting yourself out there scary. You may fear failure. As Monique Péan shared with me, “When you own a business your success is your success. Your failure is your failure.” As you battle through these obstacles, I want you to think about this little boy. Rather than think about how you’ll recover from a loss. Focus on how you’d celebrate a win. Shortly after learning how to ride a bike, this little boy wanted to encourage others to at least make an attempt. He says, “If you believe in yourself you will know how to ride a bike. If you don’t, keep practicing you will get the hang of it I know it.”
I know change is intimidating. I know doubts arise. I understand that it can be overwhelming to commit to just one idea but if you don’t move forward now, then when will you? It took Monique about 24 years. It took these kids 12 or less years to gain that sense of satisfaction. How long will it take you? You don’t know your deadline …so live as though that deadline could be six or 60 years away.