It's like that song “Awake” by Katy Perry, where she sings, “I wish I knew then. What I know now. Wouldn’t dive in. Wouldn’t bow down…” If you could, what would you really say? Would you tell yourself not to drink too much, don’t smoke, don’t date him, or choose this job over that job? Probably.
I started to think about what I would want to go back and tell my younger self. And, I would of course, tell the younger me to “buy stock in Apple” or “the winning lottery numbers”.
But in reality, if I could, I would tell my younger self 4 things that I know now:
- Never be afraid of yourself. Embrace your personality and act like yourself. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that if I ever try to be someone I’m not, it always comes back to haunt me. Believe me, there is no truth in the saying, “fake it till you make it”. You don’t have to be an expert in everything to truly own one thing.
- Take the time to learn your strengths and weaknesses. If you know what you can do or need improvement on, then there is no reason not to embrace yourself. And, being yourself proves to be the fastest road to success. Go ahead and be quirky!
- Never be afraid of owning a mistake. Making mistakes is a learning process. If you don’t own and learn from your mistakes you will not be successful in life or your career. Embrace a mistake as a learning experience and use it as a stepping stone to better yourself. Someone once told me that the key to owning a mistake is to “fail well”. You are probably wondering what this oxymoron really means. When you learn to own a mistake, you communicate well by speaking up and responding immediately–truly owning the mistake by not beating around the bush or sugar coating the issue, and sharing your failure with others as a learning experience. You also have to be ready for some feedback that may or may not be what you want to hear. Finally, you have to move forward and not dwell on it. You’re going to make mistakes…we all do.
- Never be afraid of using your voice. Know when to speak up and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your plate is too full, ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. If you have ideas for your company, speak up. You never know how far your voice can get you in your career. Oftentimes the lack of doing this is what can draw attention to you–and oftentimes the wrong attention. Your point of view could be the one the company is waiting for. I vividly recall a meeting early in my career where I felt I had a great concept for the company, but was afraid to speak up in a meeting– intimidated by management. I left that meeting kicking myself only to watch the company launch a similar idea six months later. I was never associated with the solution and I regret it. Don’t live in regrets, as often times a second chance won’t come around.
I would have told my younger self many more things as well, about how to be open-minded, be fair and ethical, and not to buy the Brooklyn Bridge when it comes up for sale. But, I had to remind myself that this blog is about the four things I wish I knew then that I know now. So, the rest for another rainy day…