“Alright Jon, let’s start from the beginning, where did it all begin?”
I lifted my head slowly, ashamed of my tears. My eyes caught the attention of the window as a bird flew by as if to tell me that if there was a moment to reflect, now was the time.
“Well, it all seemed to start in college. I was on top of the world! While everyone has ‘senioritus,’ I was leading clubs, managing events, volunteering, giving speeches, getting pats on the back left and right from my teachers. I had girlfriend that I didn’t need to fully commit to. I was popular and well-respected by what seemed to be by the world. I felt like I was FINALLY SOMEBODY in life!”
“Where did it all go wrong?”
“It was just that. It went wrong when I let it go all to my head. It went wrong when I felt that it was for me.”
“And then college?”
“To further push my success momentum, I joined an internship that helped me start a business. Selling a paint job, door to door. Promising high-quality house painting to upper-middle class suburban families in Danville.”
“What happened there?”
“Rejection. Rejection from every single house I walked to. A few houses accepted the offer and wrote me a check for the few thousand dollars upfront as collateral. That never balanced out the consistent failures though.”
“Why not?” he said to me.
“Before then, I felt that I never knew failure. Failure didn’t keep me going, it pushed me down until I stopped dead in my tracks one morning on the sidewalk of yet another neighborhood. I stood there. Sat down. I felt weak. Tired.”
The pain of the memories swelled in my eyes as I realized how traumatic that situation was. In a world where you were considered weak and useless if you allow failure to happen to you and never pick yourself back up from it, I felt that pain.
“Jon, I want you to take a step back a bit. You told me you made sales. You went from door to door selling. From what I can see, you showed up as much as possible. However, I want you to think about WHAT exactly you were selling and WHY. Come back to that WHY. WHY were you selling Jon?”
“It was…for money. It was for a sense of accomplishment. It was…for me.”
“It was for YOU.”
“It was for me…”
“And WHAT you were selling was, a paint job. Not selling a way to what?”
“Help people. I didn’t sell to help, I sold for my own gain.”
It was all about me.
Folks, what passion is there in a passionless product?
I could rave about Apple iPhones and Airpods. I could talk your ears off about the health benefits of butter coffee, or perhaps the wonders of meditation.
But, that’s only because, I know how it could benefit you. I know how it could be better for your life. I know that it will bring you value just as it brought me value.
Believe in what you do, and it’s not a grueling job that you feel like you need to show up each day for.
Believe in how you lead and what you’re leading for, and you lead with authority, purpose, and vision.
As I reflected on my leadership development. I learned that leadership starts with failure.
There’s no out-of-the-box system for leadership. It comes with persistence to fail and pick yourself back up to something that you find value and worth in.
I believe in Toastmasters and what it stands for. I believe seeing people take themselves to the next level while others are going home and playing videogames in the hour that they could have, allowed themselves to grow.
BELIEVE in yourself, TRUST your failures, and OWN who you are. Lead with humility, lead with authority, lead with love.
MP: I needed to be humbled again (punched in the face by failure) and start from square one to learn true leadership.