Five years ago I set out on a mission to make a massive difference in the world; specifically within the youth population. I was determined to extend my vision well beyond the walls of my small classroom, which I shared each year with approximately thirty, energetic 10-year-olds. For many years, I had possessed this burning desire to share adult leadership principles with youth, and I simply couldn’t repress this fire any longer. My time had come to fulfill this mission and I was certain that if I built it (the business), they would come (clients). After all, isn’t that how the average success story works?
So, here I am today, five years later, and I’ve come to realize that my present circumstances are not (and never will be) what I’m most proud of. It’s the path that I have endured along the way that brings a noticeable smile to my face. Sure my business has grown each year and I’m currently in a space of tremendous hope for the future, but the challenges I’ve faced have shaped me in ways that are indescribable. Whether it was the enrichment class that no one registered for or the school that wasn’t interested in my services, each of these moments have contributed greatly to who I am today.
It donned on me this week after watching several touching tributes to the life of Nelson Mandela, that it’s our path to success, not the success itself, that deserves the most attention and recognition. While Mandela will certainly be revered for many years to come for his endless list of accomplishments, it was his path along the way that enabled him to achieve this greatness. Inside the confines of his small prison cell, he was able to develop the mental strength and fortitude that would serve him well in all of his future pursuits. Without this path, it’s likely that his success would not have been as far reaching. The same could be said for countless other great leaders of our time.
While “overnight sensations” continue to be glorified in the media, let us not forget that the path to any success story is always paved with challenge and adversity. Therefore, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on your own path. What lessons have you learned along the way, and how have they shaped who you are today? Learn to celebrate the bumpy ride, for it’s often these bumps that prepare us most for future greatness.