How did you get there?
People ask me this question more and more frequently. They want to know how did I go from having an idea to living out my dream. Here's the thing... I don't see myself as being there yet. There are so many incomplete and untried steps in my journey to there, that I sometimes feel like a charlatan standing before a unknowing audience. That my friend, is the epitome of impostor syndrome - having internal doubts about your own accomplishments and worthiness to be in a given position. So in my attempt to defeat my impostorism, I will give some insight into my journey.
I Didn't Plan on This.
Just like most kids, I wanted to be many things growing up - an Olympic swimmer, a neurologist, an NBA statistician, and an audiologist to name a few. I never wanted to go into education. I definitely did not want to be a counselor. I distinctly remember standing in the hallway my junior year of high school and talking to my friend about listening to other people's problems. I vividly remember saying, "Why do people always come to me with their problems? I got problems too. Who's gonna listen to my problems?"
I am also an introvert. In my private life, I do not like being the center of attention. I would rather blend in than stand out. If I'm by myself, I'm the person who finds a corner to hide in at most social gatherings. In undergrad I had a professor that would immediately take 10 points off any presentation I gave. She said, "[TJ], I know you know the information, but you don't sound like you know the information. Until you sound like you know what you're talking about, I'm taking off points every time."
And now I'm a counselor in the public school system, I have preschool and collegiate teaching experience, and I make a living speaking in front of large groups of children and adults. I truly thought I would be an audiologist working at the VA doing research on inner hair cells. So be willing to adjust (or throw out) what you did plan, keeping only the parts that go with your new (revised) vision.
I Have Failed at Many Things.
As a recovering perfectionist I'm learning to admit to this more often. I am not perfect. I make mistakes and poor decisions. There have been tons of failures that have led to my modicum of success. The best failure was being suspended from the doctorate in audiology program that I was in. I didn't maintain the GPA required to be keep my scholarship or be enrolled in school. Thankfully, an opportunity was placed in front of me to go to a different university on scholarship, I just needed to decide my area of study. After talking to my mentor I decided on school counseling. From the moment I started in my first class, I knew this was where I needed to be all along.
I have also failed in my personal life. I have been the cause of lost friendships. I have been married and divorced. I have missed opportunities due to my own perfectionism and procrastination. The thing about failure is, when you do it correctly you inevitably wind up in a better place with greater insight. So now I take my failures in stride. They can still be a sucker punch to the gut, but I've learned how to recover and rise above.
I Have to Get Uncomfortable.
So how does a recovering perfectionist introvert become a professional public speaker, author, and business owner? I learned to be okay with being uncomfortable. I don't think my comfort zone has changed much, however my willingness to brush against it or step outside of it has. By learning how to fail beautifully, I've learned that being uncomfortable isn't always a negative thing. I am still terrified before I go in front of any crowd. I have anxiety about what feedback, if any, I will receive from my social media and blog posts. I sometimes lose my train of thought when pitching myself and my business to others. The fear has never gone away. I am developing the skills necessary to push through the fear and use it as a catalyst for, instead of an inhibitor of, positive growth.
I Must Maintain Humility
Be confident and stay humble. Perfectionists often think that we don't need any help, that we got this. Tuh! I have learned (am learning) how to balance confidence in myself and my vision, with the humility to ask for and receive help. I don't have all the answers. I am neither a jack or a master of all trades. You have not because you ask not. I am quick to ask my network for advice and help. I am just as quick to show appreciation for their support. One of the best resources I have to date, came from me stating my lack while acknowledging someone's assets and needs, and negotiating a professional system of support.
Be Willing to Walk Away
Nobody is going to take care of your baby better than you. Your dream, your vision, is your baby. Value it. Remember that although your baby is personal for you, it is also a business. Take pride in it. A mantra I have is, you will land where you are supposed to be. This simply means that everything will work out the way it is supposed to, when it is supposed to. Have your standards for you vision. Have a standard for your clientele, your price point, your venue, and anything else pertaining to your business. When something is not meeting your standard, be prepared to negotiate. If negotiations do not render the desired results, walk away. It wasn't meant for you. That's okay. Don't be so desperate to succeed that your vision becomes tainted. The right doors will open at the right time. In the meantime, work and prepare in anticipation of what's to come.
Again, I am no where near there in my opinion. I've only been on this journey a few short years and a couple of failed endeavors. Without comparing my progress to that of others, I look and see what I can learn from them. I cheer for the success of others because I truly want them to win. There's room for all of us. Remember, Walgreen's and CVS usually share the block.
(C) 2020 The Hope Pusher, LLC | Dr. TJ Jackson