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Individuals can be quick to place limitations on someone’s thoughts, ideas, capabilities, or potential. These limitations aren’t always related to an individual’s ability, but instead by the limitations communicated and placed on them by others. These types of misguided limitations can cause individuals to not achieve their potential or miss opportunities for themselves, others, and society.
Lesson #1: Success requires tough decisions --- even if the outcome can’t be imagined at that moment.
In 10th grade, my principal directed me to leave high school after failing 6 of 7 classes. Prior to this direction, the administration didn’t offer me any assistance to resolve my learning challenges. Nevertheless, during my adolescence and academic crisis, I decided to remain in school at a time that it would have been very easy to leave.
Lesson #2: The ability to make an ‘active’ choice is the cornerstone to being accountable and responsible for changes that might improve your future.
It was difficult for me to remain in high school to receive my diploma. However, I knew that I had to make some difficult choices and changes to have a chance to maximize my future success.
Lesson #3: Don’t let anyone make you believe that your options and potential are limited. If you believe it’s possible, then give it a try. The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t accomplish your goal, but there’s still value in the journey.
During my senior year of high school, my dreams of attending college were dismissed by my guidance counselor who told me that I wouldn’t do well as a college student. My counselor placed limitations on my potential versus providing guidance for me to begin forward-progress to achieve my goals.
Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to pursue your dream(s) because failure at a moment isn’t a failure of your life or a representation of your value --- now or in the future.
After graduating high school in the bottom 8% of my class, I pursued my dream to obtain a college degree. Unfortunately, after a situation with an uncaring professor and bad personal choices, I would subsequently leave two (2) colleges with a dismal academic record.
Lesson #5: Don’t extinguish a dream because it wasn’t previously successful. Failure in the past doesn’t mean that a dream can’t be realized in the future --- even if it happens in a way that wasn’t originally imagined.
My initial pursuits of higher education didn’t turnout the way I expected. However, a few years later, I decided to return to school after achieving some professional success and working with individuals who wanted success, too.
Lesson #6: Past performance isn’t indicative of future success or potential. Success starts with personal belief that something is possible. If you don’t believe, then others might not necessarily support your cause.
My grades were awful, I wasn’t sure that I could complete college-level work. Also, I didn’t believe that anyone would give me an opportunity to prove differently given my past academic performance. However, I believed that I was capable of more than my past indicated.
Lesson #7: The front door isn’t always open; therefore, individuals should seek other entry points. The ability to achieve a goal is oftentimes a test of commitment, which is directly correlated to the things someone is willing to give-up and the effort expended to achieve an objective. This is important as things that are truly wanted are done for a purpose and sometimes for passion; otherwise, individuals might quit long before an outcome is realized.
I was admitted to the American University after proving that I was capable of completing college-level work via its non-degree program. After receiving my undergraduate degree from American, I wanted more success; however, I wasn’t sure if I could give any more of my time, energy, and effort.
Lesson #8: Achieving goals and objectives requires dedication and sometimes creative solutions. At times, individuals don’t achieve their potential because perceived barriers are seen as absolute limitations; instead, barriers should be considered challenges to an individual’s commitment, creativity, and capabilities to seek options to minimize roadblocks to achieve future success.
My dream to obtain a graduate degree wouldn’t be surrendered without a fight. Therefore, I researched information to maximize my chances to be admitted to another competitive program at The George Washington University. For a second time, I used an indirect process to achieve a desired outcome.
Lesson #9: Others can identify capabilities in someone that might not otherwise be considered. Sometimes individuals limit their potential because of doubts about their capabilities. Individuals shouldn’t be afraid to try something because it wasn’t part of their original plan. At times, the biggest successes are experienced due to unplanned choices, circumstances, or considerations.
After achieving my graduate degrees and excelling in corporate environments, an opportunity was presented to me to teach college students. Prior to this offer, an employee told me that I inspired him and identified skills that I never considered to be valuable.
Lesson #10: Belief in yourself - despite obstacles and objections - is a powerful component of success; however, options can be limited without a willingness to make a choice, take a chance, be committed to your quest, and be confident enough to give-up a little control.
I started to write solution-oriented material a couple of years ago to share my past struggles with overcoming educational challenges, workplace bullies / ethical issues, and life. The unexpected outcome of publicly sharing these challenges is my personal growth. I’ve learned that vulnerability – by sharing personal struggles – is a powerful tool to become stronger because of and not in spite of the disclosures.
Bonus Lesson: Today’s effort initiates actions that lead to tomorrow’s successes. Never give-up on the pursuit of your dreams, as moving toward an unknown destination can lead to unexpected outcomes that can change your life and others.
My recent sharing about my journey to battle depression and recovery from a near suicide has led to an unexpected journey --- others seeking my advice and an invitation to be a blogger on the Huffington Post. Now, this student who was directed to leave high school in the 10th grade has an increased opportunity to help, inspire, and uplift many others through my writing.
Don’t forget to never give-up and to always be your best!
Additional information about Mr. Young’s journey to overcome his educational challenges can be obtained in his book “Above Expectations – an unlikely journey from almost failing high school to becoming a college professor”.
educator, mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author, writer/contributor, program executive, and radio host