A few weeks back, I asked a group of 17-year-old boys I was doing a career workshop with if they knew who MacGyver was. Thankfully, most of them did, which is good because it’s an example I use to illustrate the idea that a person can use what they already have to create success. For those of you who don’t remember the Richard Dean Anderson mid-80’s series, it’s about a creative-thinking special agent who manages to catch the bad guys every episode using nothing but gum, paper clips and a battery.
If I ask most people, especially young people, if they think they have what it takes to be successful most would probably say no. They will talk about a lack of experience, or education, or skills, but here’s the truth; all of those elements are important but they aren’t critical to true success.
I have to say, I’ve fallen into this “I don’t have what it takes” way of thinking so many times myself. I can’t tell you how many times I abandoned or postponed an opportunity because I didn’t think I was good enough for it. I thought if I wasn’t an “expert” in an area, or didn’t have all of the right credentials I wouldn’t be able to hack it.
Yet, it’s the stories of people who’ve made it against the odds that teach us what it really takes to succeed. These stories free us of the idea that the extra degrees, knowledge or skill-sets alone determine our ability to accomplish great things, when in fact it’s our core-character that always wins out. Qualities like honesty, resiliency, resourcefulness and strong people-skills determine how far we’ll go.
Start with what you already have. Recognizing and using your strengths can take you further than you ever thought. Most of us have trouble recognizing our strengths. We can’t see how powerful or competent we really are. Ask yourself, what do others say you’re good at? What are you doing when you feel you’re at your best? Look at what you spend most of your spare time on, or even things you used to love doing. Your hobbies and interests are usually a good indicator of your strengths.
Once you’ve got an idea of where your strengths are, don’t be afraid to bring them to the table. Maybe you are the leader that can help a team win or you’re a great listener who can deftly handle a customer service department. You could be exceptionally crafty or great with kids. Whatever your natural skills are, lead with them! You might be surprised by your own potential.