I was so nervous applying to my first job at Taco Bell. After all, would they want someone who barely spoke English?
To my surprise; yes, they did! I was hired right away.
My first days were not what I expected. You would think that since I was working at Taco Bell, I would start making tacos right away. Turns out that I had to start from the bottom and earn my place in the line. My first assignment, which felt like complete torture every day I worked, was to peel boxes, and boxes, and boxes (you get my point) of tomatoes, and to break down cardboard boxes that were stacked as tall as me.
Finally, after several weeks, I got promoted to the line and even considered to man the register. Yes! Wait…all these doubts and fears started taking over. What if I messed up? What if I was not good enough to man the register?
From Taco Bell my journey took me to JC Penney where I was a sales person (that’s a story for another day), and from there I joined the United States Air Force as an enlisted member, eventually becoming an officer. After many years, and many experiences, today I am a business owner.
What I have learned throughout the years is that the feelings of fear and doubt I had experienced when I worked at Taco Bell were true throughout my career. Every time I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, be it getting a new promotion, a new job, a new team, the fears and doubts would creep up. And the reality is that I am not alone. I have worked with, and talked to many leaders, from different industries, at different levels of an organization, and they too have experienced fears and doubts throughout their successful careers.
We are led to believe that people who succeed are free of these fears and doubts, but nothing can be farther from the truth. It is natural human behavior to experience doubts and fears when facing uncertainty and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.
What is the difference then?
Over the years, it has become more and more clear to me, that it is all about our mindset. We must not only develop a mindset of success but we must maintain it. Just like a muscle, if we don’t exercise it daily, it loses its strength. Every time we enter a new situation, every time we push ourselves out of our comfort zone, our mindset is challenged and those fears and doubts start creeping up and they try to get in the way of our success and of us performing at our best. There are many things we can do to develop a strong mindset of success, which I will share with you over several posts. Today, I will cover two of them:
Keep moving forward
Successful people choose to not let those doubts and fears paralyze them. They continue to move forward, facing their fears. The secret is taking small steps, one at a time, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone enough to keep you moving forward, but not too much where you will set yourself up for failure. Nobody knows better what you are ready for than you. Next thing you know you will have gone from Taco Bell, peeling tomatoes and breaking down cardboard boxes, to achieving goals you never thought were possible. What small steps are you willing to take today that will bring you closer to your goals?
Be willing to work your way up
Something that has been true in every job I have had is that you have to be willing to work your way up in order to succeed. At Taco Bell I had to start with tomatoes and cardboard boxes, at JC Penney I had to start by arranging clothes, in the military I had to start as an Airman Basic (the lowest rank possible), as an officer I had to start as what we call a “butter bar”, and as a business owner I had to be willing to start by leading myself first. Every job I had, no matter what credentials or rank was on my shoulders, I had to prove myself to people before they decided to trust me and work with me or for me. Achieving success is like running a marathon, it is not a sprint. There is no such thing as overnight success. Are you willing to make the sacrifices needed, and to be patient, knowing that things take time, in order to achieve the goals you have set out for yourself?
Start today applying these two tools to the way you think about success.
We will continue this conversation on my next blog!