On Friday, I had the immense privilege to participate in a masterclass as part of the BOSS Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship application process, with the University of Sydney.
Imagine it with me: a highly competitive environment (think $60,000 scholarship and significant media exposure on the table, not to mention the egos!) with 52 high-performing personalities, all intelligent, sharp, educated, experienced professionals. The masterclass was held in a 17th floor corporate office space in the inner city Sydney CBD, with all participants vying to be heard and recognised so as to be one of the top 11 chosen to enter the next round. It was like The Bachelor for brains!
And then imagine me the day before, packing school lunches and sending the puppy to his sitter, preparing to leave my very ‘ordinary’, domesticated life and suburban Sunshine Coast home to count myself as one of those 52 high-performers.
What would be running through your mind? Would you even have applied for the position to begin with?
In my mind were thoughts like: Who am I? Sydney people dress better, earn more, have impressive corporate job titles… blah blah blah.
Fast-forward to two hours into the masterclass. I’ve had opportunity to engage, make connections, and contribute. I sit back, take a breath, and look around. I am no less (and no more) well-dressed, intelligent and experienced than anyone else there. Crazy reality check: everyone else in the room was human too!
Imagine for a moment if I chose to listen to my insecurities and not apply. All of the value, connections and confidence that I received from the experience would have been lost to me, for no reason other than my mindset. This is the great (and too common) tragedy of lost potential.
Thankfully I did apply, because I choose my thoughts on-purpose. I choose to believe that, although I feel uncertain and insecure, I know who I am in the world and who I want to be, and I have something of value to contribute.
Did you hear that? I choose to believe. That doesn’t mean I always feel confident. It means I choose to put on confidence and step up anyway.
What opportunities are you not even considering because your perception of yourself is less than it should be?
If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? And what do you believe about yourself that is stopping you from doing it?
Now, don’t blame your circumstances (I don’t have the money, time, connections, education), because if you truly believed in yourself you would be committed to finding solutions to the circumstances that limit you. Bold leaders don’t hide in excuses.
So, I ask again:
What do you believe about yourself that is stopping you from pursuing the ONE THING that you would love to do and be in the world?
What does all of this have to do with my espresso martini?
After the masterclass, I found a funky cafe and told the attendant that I couldn’t decide between a coffee or a wine. She suggested an espresso martini. I got to thinking, how often do we presume that life has to look one way or the other, within the familiar norms?
We act as though we have to choose one path over another, or that success looks like this and not that (or like them and not me).
What if we shook things up and created a new way of looking at life that combined the weaknesses with the strengths, the fear with the brave, the unknown with the certain?
What if you acted on your dreams anyway, even in the presence of fear and self-doubt?
What if you chose to believe in yourself anyway, even with the knowledge of your weaknesses, because you’re also aware of your unique strengths, talents and passions?
What worlds would open up to you? I tell you, that espresso martini was on a far higher level than a coffee or wine!
Here’s the take-away: Don’t wait until you feel completely prepared, qualified and ready. Yes, do the hard yards in your personal and professional development, but commit to action along the way. You’ll step into opportunities you would never have dreamed possible!