There are those that have life handed to them on the proverbial silver platter. Whether money, position or prestige, they can succeed without really having to try. Some of those people go on to do great things of their own accord, while others let their talents lay in vain.
But, this is not about the “haves” versus the “have nots.” Anyone can be someone and make something of their life. Some may have it easier, yes, but the opportunity is there just the same.
Case in point. There was recently a piece in the news of a man who’s car had broken down. He had gotten a new job with a moving company, and had arranged a ride for his first day. When that ride fell through, this man committed to walking almost 20 miles to make it to work. He didn’t call out because he couldn’t get there. Worse, he didn’t just not show up. He went above and beyond, and it was noticed. The woman who’s house he was packing and moving was so impressed, she started a fundraiser for him. His boss was so certain this is the type of person he wanted working for him that he gave him his own car. Sure, this is one example of luck mixing with kind people. There are other stories where people work hard their whole life and feel like they’re always one step forward, two steps back.
To be successful, it requires sacrifice, hard work, tenacity, and yes…a bit of luck. These characteristics are what differentiate between mediocrity and momentum. A quick Google search defines sacrifice as “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”
Any entrepreneur knows that working for yourself means continual sacrifice. It could be your time — working all hours of the night to make your business thrive. It could be money — you may take a significant pay cut initially depending on your new role. Likely it’s benefits — you no longer have vacation time, insurance or a matched 401K, but these are choices you willingly made because you believed so strongly in your cause.
Sacrifice is a heavy word, and these days, one many aren’t prepared to make. For just about every one of us in the United States, our ancestors moved across the Atlantic (or further) to make a better life for themselves and their families. I have been discovering my own family’s sacrifice with a deep search into my heritage to claim dual citizenship. The findings are truly inspiring and thought-provoking. Many who immigrated to the United States could speak little English. They were laborers by trade. Their own names and birth dates were butchered due to misunderstanding and the desire to fit in as an American. With recent heavy news coverage on America’s immigration policies, it makes you think — if your own ancestors hadn’t had the opportunity to come to the US, how different your life would be. Now this isn’t a political post. Rather, it’s a lesson on how our families –however many generations back — often came with nothing to start over. Their sacrifice paved the way for their future generations to succeed.
And so, we too should sacrifice when necessary. It’s not too late for you to want better for yourself and for those that will come after you. Any type of change can be hard, even if it’s for the better, so here’s what I recommend:
1) Learn about where you came from. Understanding your background and family history can provide you a new perspective. Choices that were made 1 year ago or 100 impacted your very situation today.
2) Decide who you want to be. What do you want to be known for? Someone who’s kind…smart…rich…powerful? Only you can make that decision, but make an active choice and let your behaviors match your intent.
3) Find role models. It can be someone in your family, a friend, or someone at your work place. Or it can be someone you don’t even know. Find a person that you admire and want to emulate. Make a list of the qualities you see in that person that you desire for yourself.
4) Set short and long-term goals. To keep moving forward, you should know what you’re moving towards. Set realistic but challenging goals so that you can progress now and in the future.
5) Don’t take opportunity for granted. The “American dream” is known as that for a reason. In the United States, people have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. If you work hard and are willing to make sacrifices, you can achieve your goals. That’s not true around the world, and so we should both appreciate it and use it to our (and others’!) advantage.
And now, my dream is to go back to my roots, and I hope that makes my ancestors proud. They made difficult choices to allow me to have a choice. Their sacrifices created my opportunities. I am forever grateful for that, and I will not squander it. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams.”