A lot of students I work with are still trying to discover or uncover their true passion and therefore a career path. This can be easy for some people but more difficult for others. I like to impress upon students that finding their passions and career paths are journeys that are different for everyone.
Here are three stories that I find inspiring and most surprising!
If you think you’re the only one who’s having a hard time figuring out what you want to pursue, just take a look at someone like Suze Orman. Now an internationally known business guru with her own financial group, several published books, and her own television show, Suze did not follow a straight path to success.
She started a social work degree at University of Illinois but left before finishing. She took a job as a waitress and after several years aspired to open up her own restaurant. After securing several investors, she hired a financial advisor who unfortunately lost all of the capital and essentially ended her dream. After this debilitating turn, she decided to study up on finance independently and eventually applied to work at the very same company that lost her money.
Suze successfully turned her no-nonsense personality and financial savvy into a world-renowned brand that she embodies today.
I like to encourage my students to think about how their natural strengths and unique experiences can lead them to their own unique paths to success.
As a tech prodigy, Steve Jobs founded Apple by the time he was 22. However, his path was not without setbacks. Steve was eventually fired by Apple because of disagreements with the then CEO, but he did not let this deter him. Instead, Jobs started two new companies, (one was Pixar) so that he could continue to pursue his passion for innovating technology. Only ten years later, he was back as CEO of Apple.
In a speech to Stanford graduates Jobs said, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything.”
This is a lesson I often incorporate into my work with students. Taking your inner drive and using it to creatively pursue your interests paves the way for future success.
Did you know that Walt Disney started his animation career so poor that he had to eat dog food?
He first found some success with a cartoon character named Oswald the Rabbit, though he soon thereafter lost the rights to the character putting him back to square one. Later, when he created Mickey Mouse, he was told the character would never succeed as a large mouse onscreen would scare women.
Disney did not give up on Mickey Mouse or his other characters and now the magnitude of Disney’s dominance worldwide with theme parks, movies and entertainment is unparalleled. This is an important lesson students will learn as they go through life. There will be many naysayers, but when you feel your gut is right and your heart is in it, it can really pay off to stay the course and stand your ground.
More important than finding the “right path” is using your experiences, mistakes, and passions to help you make new decisions and create new opportunities for yourself. It is also important to analyze your experiences so that you can create a new path based on what you have learned. And remember, focus on what you are about and what you love.
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