When I talk to people under thirty about ambitions and career paths, I am always astounded by their impatience. While I love the fact that they are not interested in "slowly moving up the ranks" like we of the older generations believed was required, I also notice how unrealistic their expectations often seem to be.
Too often they want to, literally, graduate from high school and become a manager or business owner. No entry-level positions for them. Additionally, I often hear them expressing an expectation for a fifty thousand dollar annual starting salary on their first professional job, despite no relevant previous work experience.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that a lot more can be accomplished if a person has no idea "it is not possible."
As a result, I try not to discourage them but lead them in the direction of valuable information that will help them cope if they do in fact hit a "reality" bump.
For example, one of the most valuable things a person can do is read biographies of people they admire. It is immaterial who the biography is about or what struggles the person experienced. Just someone they believe has reached the sought-after peak - whether within the industry the person is interested in or just in general.
The value in the biographies, in addition to being inspirational that such peaks are possible and seeing how the person overcame obstacles, is that their were obstacles. Too many times I hear people aspiring to be like someone, or reach the same peak as someone, without any understanding of the struggles involved. This is dangerous because not realizing the struggles causes us to be unprepared for them and overly hard on ourselves when we hit obstacles.
Nothing is free. Everyone who has anything of value has worked for it. You may not see the sacrifices. It may appear like the person just opened up their eyes one day to success, but that is never the case.
Yes, people may "get lucky." Yes, people do experience "breaks." But effort, time, and sacrifices were made before the luck or the break.
I guarantee it.
So look into the people you admire. Don't just look at where they are today (or whenever their peak occurred). Look deeply into their lives. Study their struggles. Research how they overcame their obstacles. See the mistakes they made. Give them full credit for their success by not ignoring what they overcame.
Only then will you be able to map out your own plan - and eventually give yourself credit for your own successes.
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