I remember what happened like it was yesterday.
We were rehearsing for a 6th Grade French play. While I was waiting in the wings for my next entrance, I overheard my French teacher telling another adult that she thought I was the least likely of any of her students to succeed in life—that I wouldn’t amount to anything.
It’s hard to forget something like that. In fact, it left an indelible mark on me. But it’s not like I haven’t faced many obstacles, criticisms, and negativity over the almost four decades since then.
So why did this specific comment stay with me?
I suspect the reason involves this fact: Someone in a position of authority had so little confidence in me that she needed to publicly proclaim my small chance of success in a way that others could hear it. I’m sure she didn’t know I was standing right behind her, but still…
Up until that point, I had attention-deficit problems, so I struggled with school. After that, I was the kid who wasn’t going to amount to anything. BUT I was also the kid that now had something to prove—not to my teacher, but to myself. From that moment on, I knew I was going to have to make it on my own. Surprisingly, the comment made me stronger, and my resolve to succeed became more resolute.
It also taught me that it doesn’t matter what others think of me or my ideas. But what does matter is what I think of myself, and how much confidence I have in what I’m doing. While it definitely matters that my impression of myself be consistent with my ideals, I’ve learned that I need to do what I believe in.
Screw What the World Thinks. Just Do It.
So does it matter that my 6th Grade French teacher thought I’d be a failure?
Well, it did then, but thankfully, I’ve learned over the years that I need to maintain confidence in myself, no matter what others think.
My mother wanted me to become a doctor. A few of my close friends thought that my original business idea was doomed from the start. I have a long list of ideas that others thought were bad, but gratefully, I didn’t listen and moved forward anyway.
So I started a business in 1991 and sold that business in 2017 for 8-figures.
Over the years, I’ve learned to block out the noise and stop worrying about what others think of me, or who they think I should be. Instead, I spend more time listening to my gut, and focusing on who I believe I am and what I should do. My gut isn’t always right; in fact, it’s often wrong. But at least I feel good about my decisions, and I own the results.
When something did go wrong, I dusted myself off and took corrective action for next time. In the end, dealing with adversities and wrong decisions helped form who I am, and became the foundation of my success.
If you have a business idea, ask yourself: What’s stopping you from moving ahead? Is it fear of failure, or a friend telling you not to do it?
What’s your gut telling you to do?
So forge ahead, and block out the noise. Damn the torpedoes and the French teachers. Full steam ahead!
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