By Brandon Ginsberg, CEO at ApparelMagic, an ERP solution designed for fashion companies.
Richard Branson. Walt Disney. David Karp. Mike Hudack. What do all these prominent figures have in common? The obvious is that they’re masterminds behind multimillion and billion-dollar companies and have built lasting legacies within their industries. The not-so-obvious is that they’re all high school dropouts.
Not all dropouts will obtain this degree of success, but an Ivy League education isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success, either. But when a high school dropout carves a path of affluence, it pokes a hole in the mythos that formal education is mandatory for a lucrative career. It’s true in these examples and true of my own experience as well.
I dropped out of high school when I was seventeen to work full time building the next generation of software for a company. I never pursued a college education or any formal business training. I had my craft, my passion and an eagerness to learn. Now, I’m the CEO, and thousands of customers are using our product. I was never a C-suite executive. I didn’t know a lot about the industry initially. But I believed in what I was doing and was ambitious to continue to take on more responsibilities within the company.
This path hasn’t been easy, of course. I’ve had to work hard to get to where I am today — and still do. That’s not to say that I worked harder than most, as every professional has their own set of unique challenges, but dropping out of high school taught me some crucial lessons about success. Here are a few:
Dedicate yourself to your passion, and success will follow.
I did technical support for my company after school and used my software skills for real-world applications. When approached about becoming a full-time employee, I remember mulling over the decision for a while. Do I give up my last year of high school or risk missing out on an opportunity many college grads don’t even get? But I saw an opportunity worth fighting for, where my skills could help build the next generation of the company’s flagship software. I knew then that I had to trust myself and carve myself a different path.
Obviously, I went with the employment offer. I saw an opportunity, so it became a pretty easy decision. But this decision came with footnotes. I had to be ruthless in my dedication to success. I had to adapt to the ebbs and flows of navigating a position and industry that weren’t initially in my wheelhouse. I had to do whatever it took to prove my skill set and set myself apart. Where I brought prowess and hunger to the table, other people brought a piece of paper that said they were experts in the field. I couldn’t just rely on the skills my boss saw in me at the time; I had to prove I could learn, and learn quickly.
There’s a popular saying: “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” But I would lengthen that statement a bit more. If you do what you love and relentlessly dedicate yourself to your passion, then money will follow.
You always need to have a plan, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
You can’t be an executive who waits for the “perfect plan” before you make a move. If leaders are honest with themselves, everyone knows the perfect plan doesn’t exist anyway. But if you wait until you feel completely ready before you act, it’s likely because you’re afraid to fail. Yet failure usually precedes success.
Just look at James Dyson’s story. He had a vision to create the next big vacuum cleaner. He created over 5,126 prototypes that failed miserably. If he had abandoned his vision and never made that 5,127th model, Dyson vacuums wouldn’t exist today.
You always need a plan to see your vision through, but that plan can never be set in stone. You need to be prepared to adapt and change course at a moment’s notice. You have to think through all the possible outcomes of a plan. How will you stay on course? What will you do if things start going wrong?
Always having a plan ensures that when you take risks, they’re calculated and not just compulsory.
When you need support, reach out for help.
The pursuit of success is a long, arduous road. One day you can feel on top of the world, and the next it can feel like you’re drowning. This is just the inevitability of leadership.
But you don’t have to be superhuman. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, and being vulnerable shouldn’t be embarrassing. Every leader should be surrounded by a good support system. The most successful leaders know this and don’t even think twice about calling on others for guidance or encouragement.
Having people in your corner during difficult times is invaluable and shouldn’t be taken for granted. No one gets to the top alone. Pay attention to the people who answer your call when you’re struggling, and keep them close. Not everyone will be there like you think they will, and those aren’t the people who have your best interests in mind.
Nothing is impossible if you’re willing to work for it. Whether you’re a high school dropout or a college graduate, you can’t just rely on your skill set or degree to set yourself apart. You have to carve out your own path, no matter what it takes.
Source by www.forbes.com