“The minute a person feels that he has done it, you end the process. You stop learning.” – Maya Angelou
While going through the transition, it is so easy to turn into the kid in the backseat of the family car and at every turn ask, “are we there yet?” Getting there is not the pinnacle of success. How you got there and what you learn in the process is what separates the weak from the strong. I firmly believe that the smartest people do not always come first. It is the people that after being told no or what other’s didn’t believe them capable of, they continued to persevere in spite of. The great Michael Jordan was rejected by his high school basketball his freshman and sophomore year. He had two options: (1) accept that he wasn’t good enough; or (2) prove them wrong by practicing to make himself not only good enough but better. What would the NBA be if he had chosen the former? Isn’t that why we like Rocky, Frodo and Harry Potter? Against great odds and mighty opponents they continued to fight. That is why we value the underdog.
Too many parents mentally and emotionally cripple their children by not allowing them to experience pain, defeat, or rejection. They only way to grow and mature is by conquering what previously hindered you. It is turning a stumbling block into a footstool to go to the next level. It’s okay to fall down, so long as you get back on your feet. There is a difference between a knock-out and a knock-down. The former stays on the mat, the other takes an eight count then jumps back into the fray. When parents shield their kids from experiencing events that help mature and develop character, parents miss the opportunity to allow their children to experience the power of not giving up when all else seems impossible (that Rocky/Frodo/Harry moment). I am a daddy’s girl and miss not having my father living to experience this stage of life with me. He was the one that taught me never give up. He knew I had high ambitions. As a very young girl, I recall him looking at me and saying, “you have two strikes against you, you’re a girl and you’re a minority. That means you have to better.” He never allowed me to admit defeat. No tears, get back out there and make them regret they didn’t believe you the first time. My favorite quote from him, “No never hurt anybody, the only thing that beats failure is a try. Keep trying.”
So I’m in this transition from Chicago to New York making a career change mid-life. Talk about adjustments and needing to hear the voice of my father. I’m a list person. Before coming to New York, I made a list of what needed to happen for the move. I had another list of what needed to happen within the first six weeks of the move. I like results. I want it done now and right the first time. Unfortunately, in being so focused on the end result, I can miss the moments that make the result sweet. The end result is not what makes me successful. It is how I maneuvered the many obstacles on the road to the destination. If I received a job immediately upon arrival, I would not have experienced this go-see informational interview process. Through my informational interviews, I have met over thirty people mentoring and looking out for me. I have developed a network. This never would have happen if it was so very easy with job in hand and no real incentive to go outside my work or social circle. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. When I see, meet or hear successful people, my first thought is, “what did they have to go through to get here?” Remember there is no gain without pain. Everything comes at a price. If you ever watch “Behind the Music” or “E Hollywood True Stories,” most of the actors/singers did not have a silver spoon or yellow brick road. Heck, even the yellow brick road had temptations and dangers along the way. Most people endure thousands of rejections before getting that big break. Others get a seemingly big break only to have it fall apart. Those actors/singers had a choice. Believe that their one and only chance slipped away or keep trying. The strong survive, not the faint of heart or fickle minded or fair-weather people.
My nephew was a super hyper kid. He liked sports so we figured it would be a good energy outlet. He did gymnastics, football and basketball. He started gymnastics at age 8 and trained 4 days a week. I watched as he developed calluses on his hands and sore from workouts. I pulled him aside and told him that if he wanted to he could quit. He looked at me then at his calluses. He replied, “this shows that I’m becoming a man.” In less than a year he started competing and became state champion for every year he competed. What would he have learned if he took the out I gave him? Now parents there is a difference from forcing your child to participate and not letting them quit because they fear failure. Failures can be overcome when it is backed up with work hard, give your best and that is all I expect. My parents ingrained in me that I was to give my best 100% no matter who was around to check on me and regardless of whether I liked the subject. Giving my best builds character and integrity. I am not upset with a B or third place when I gave it my all. I am not jealous of the winner when we both gave our all and he came out victorious. The second component of my parents indoctrination that nothing replaced hard work and giving your all was something my mother always said whenever I received an honor or award. “Ronda, remember there will always be someone smarter, prettier, brighter, you stay humble and do your best.” As a child, I thought she wasn’t happy that my hard work paid off. It wasn’t the congratulatory words other kids received. However, as an adult I begin to understand the wisdom of it.
“Success is not always fame or fortune. Success is picking up that burden and keep on walking and not letting the pain trip you up.” Maya Angelou