So, the Head of Careers suggested I find three key lessons that would resonate with eighty 16-year-olds about to head out into the world. Easier said than done, of course. So, in the end, I settled on these three.
Your mistakes are your greatest asset.
At age 22, I made a gross error of judgement which led to my public humiliation and years of living in fear and anxiety. Later, I made a complete mess of my finances and ended up with no income or assets and significant debts when I was supposed to be advising clients about their money.
However, I told my audience my biggest mistake was not dealing with my mistakes and, in the first instance, letting them ruin my life for two decades. My lesson was simple. Deal with your mistakes. Shame, in particular, is more significant in your mind’s eye than in the eyes of others, and the sooner you deal with it, the quicker you can get back to making a difference and find meaning and purpose in your lives.
Learn from others
I told my audience how I had evolved from a financial salesman to a financial adviser, a financial planner, a life planner and finally, a life coach. The critical lesson on the journey was always to take the opportunity to learn about new directions and skills from a mentor, coach, author, speaker or wise friend.
However, I suggested to my audience that applying what they learn to their specific situation is also essential. In other words, they should learn from others but don’t imitate them.
Define what success means to you.
I told Tricia’s story, which she writes about in Enough. Tricia worked so hard to achieve what others deemed a success that she attempted to take her own life when it all got too much. However, she recovered and redefined what success meant to her in her terms, not those of her peers. As a result, Tricia now runs her own accountancy business in the States dedicated to providing her staff and clients with the opportunity to define and achieve what they see as “enough”, not what others tell them.
I also mentioned a couple in their fifties who sought advice. Their problem, they said, was that all they had to show for years of struggle was “toys and bling”.
So my third lesson to my 16-year-old audience was to define success in their terms and not those of others. From my experience, I told them defining success in terms of money does not work. Instead, I suggested they express their success in terms of their service and the difference they can make.
Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash
Other attributions and references
Deedes, Jeremy. Enough: Unlock a Life of Abundance Starting Right Where You Are. Melbourne, The Right Company Press, 28 Oct. 2021.
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