My daughter is 11 now, and I was in such a different place at that age. Something my sister said when I was 11 has stuck with me.
My mindset has always been, “I’m going to succeed at whatever I choose.” I’m not sure where it came from, other than witnessing my family and extended families struggle to put food on the table but more importantly struggle to stay connected to each other. It was all so disheartening to me to why my friends lives looked so different. Decisions led to bad habits, jail, depression, isolation…my family was struggling with how to even live. It was disheartening. Even I could understand that and I wanted something more. I guess since I would see my friends who had the “nice” homes and nice clothes and were always happy; I decided that you need money to live a different life than what I was expected to live.
My sister changed my expected life path without even knowing. My sister had made some bad decisions in her teens. In a way to get her to realize what was happening, a counselor asked at a family visit “What kind of role model are you showing your sister?” I just sat there in silence taking it all in. My sister said, “She’ll be where I am in a few years.”
That day I was 11. I remember sitting there the rest of the hour looking around and making my own decision. I was never going to allow myself to make the same mistakes.
One of my first writings was a letter to my sister after we left that day trying to motivate her to do better. She is 5 years older than me and I think she thought the letter was a joke at the time. It wasn’t, and although she hasn’t told me, I have hope that it helped her straighten up a bit.
I’ve always had the mindset that hard work and smart decisions can take you anywhere. Even when detasseling corn at age 14, or dressing up like Wendy for the July 4th Cedar Falls, IA parade at age 16. (I was the only one who would fit into the costume) And as socially awkward as I was, I actually enjoyed it. It taught me that doing something outside of your comfort zone can be rewarding. Although it took me awhile after that to fully realize it.
My mindset continued to grow into what it is today and carry me through a serious blood infection to today and planting both feet in the present, in my business, in my quest to make an impact in the lives of others, and most important my family. There really is nothing else as important. No drug, no car, no house, nothing.
I’ve made efforts to reconnect with my sister, who herself grew into an amazing women (it just took her a little longer to see exactly how amazing she is and deserving of a good life.) I’m so proud of her for never giving up and raising three wonderful kids that have finished school and college and are now young adults building lives for themselves!
My path easily could have been very different. There were drugs, there was alcohol, and many bad decisions and people all around me, but at every step I remembered those words from my sister and I kept elevating myself out of it. I was worried what friends thought, so I would pretend to play along. When I was 20, I started disliking some of my friends for being lazy, drinking and smoking pot all day, for eating fast food, gambling, smoking cigarettes, playing video games in their basement…so I told them so and stopped hanging out with them.
Six years later, I visited one of those friends who had moved out of state like I did, and he told me he could never get over those words I said. They stung. He started college soon after, and is now living his life with intention and purpose.
I’m so grateful for learning those hard lessons as a kid because they are part of who I am today. However, the past doesn’t hold me hostage. It’s time to let all that stuff go and leave it back in the 80s where it belongs. Goodbye hard lessons, I don’t need you any more but I will always be grateful for what you have given me.
Your personal success is all about mindset. Your ability to cut through the crap, believe in what you believe but not place those beliefs on others, open your heart and your mind to everyone and every possibility, and finally never give up your quest for abundance. It will happen.
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