I started my career in corporate America where everyone needs to fit nicely into a box that is compatible with whatever forms your HR department has decided to create. First I learned to be a stockbroker, then I got into real estate, renting and selling apartments here in New York City, until finally moving on to manage commercial properties.
In each of these roles I felt stifled, limited by my options, and as though there was very little room to improve myself professionally in a way that would actually be satisfying both personally and financially.
Then I stumbled into the world of technology and startups. I had moved overseas and was living in the small nordic nation of Estonia. About two weeks after I arrived I began working for a company called Fits.me, which makes virtual fitting rooms for online clothing retailers. The really cool thing is that they do this using shape-shifting robots. There were a lot of Terminator jokes running around the office, as you can imagine.
Over the years I ended up working for a bunch of other startups, and eventually began consulting them as well as enjoying the privilege of mentoring some. All of these experiences were astonishingly eye-opening for me, and not just because of I got paid to play with cool toys, but because I was able to grow and expand my horizons, experience and knowledge in directions I had never considered. I was working and building with some tremendously talented people, and for the first time in my life I really began to understand that you can actually make things that other people will use, and what an amazing high that can give you.
But the road getting there wasn’t always easy, as I came to realize, in the midst of a professional environment that felt limitless, that many of the same dogmas and self-limiting beliefs I had experienced while in the corporate world were really coming from within myself, and so it was up to me to learn to recognize them and overcome them. Here are some of the more pervasive self-delusions I’ve encountered and the perspectives I’ve learned to approach them from which I’ve found to be helpful in my own life and career:
I don’t have enough time.
This is one I think we are all guilty of. There’s always something pulling our attention away from what we should be doing and getting done. That might be facebook, or a never-ending to-do list or even a new baby in the house (mine is just about 1 year old now). But the truth is that we can always make time for what’s important to us. In fact, our actions and what we accomplish speak loudest and by taking a long look at what we build up around ourselves, whether that is a relationship or a website, we can quickly see what actually matters to us vs. what we say matters to us.
If you have a look around and you’re not thrilled with what you see, I have good news for you! You are in control of your own destiny, even in the moments when that feels like the farthest thing from the truth. There are always steps you can take to become more structured in the use of your time, and while plans don’t always match up with reality, if you are consistent and stick with it you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make on those things in your life that you always thought you just didn’t have the time for.
I don’t have enough money.
This is another illusion I found to be bogus, which I’ve seen in myself and have come across regularly in others. It’s true that to make money you need to spend money. But the amount of money you need to start is probably a lot less than you think. Today you can launch a career or an idea with nothing more than a little knowledge, a clear vision for what you want to achieve and the persistence to keep pushing through all the speed bumps you will undoubtedly encounter along the way. Here at HackStack.io we teach you how to apply tech skills for business goals all while giving you a solid foundation and base on which to grow your knowledge and your skills.
Taking your skills and applying them to an idea or a dream is all you really need to get started. The old adage of ‘build it and they will come’ isn’t exactly true. Instead what you do need to do is to be able to sell others on your vision first, and often times what you need to build to get to that level isn’t all that much. Seeing is believing and talk is cheap… so why not combine the two and get people interested and motivated to see both you and your idea succeed?
I can’t change who I am. That’s not me.
It’s immensely important to know thyself. There’s no arguing with that. But what people often seem to forget is that the journey of self-discovery is really about the journey. Learning something new, taking on a new project or challenging your beliefs on how you see and interpret the world around you are immensely valuable endeavors. We all have mental models and frameworks which we use as shortcuts to help us process the vast of amount of information we are bombarded with each day. All of our reactions and perspectives stem from these models. They are extremely powerful and can dominate our experience of life. But they are not static, fixed or permanent. By learning about the ones we employ and the different options available to us, we can learn how to apply different mental frameworks so that we can literally change how we interpret the world. That means that over time you can literally learn to become excited and passionate about things and topics that right now might seem scary or overwhelming.
I’m not good enough.
Yes, you are. You just might not know know it yet. There is a quote I’m sure you’ve seen floating around the internet that’s been attributed to Albert Einstein – although I doubt it. It says that: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Regardless of whether the source of the quote is accurate or not; what it is saying is spot on. There will always be someone who is better than you, and you will always be better than someone else. Rather than staying stuck trying to climb a tree when you are really meant to swim, why not try taking swimming lessons and see what you can do once you get into a pool?
What do you feel is holding you back? Let me know in the comments!