Her father was a professor of law who would go on to become Deputy Attorney-General and a judge in the Court of Appeals. Her mother was an abstract painter. The dream was for her to become a lawyer and she got admitted to study law at the prestigious UCLA. Life had a different course for her.
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She dropped out after one semester for lack of interest. In her mind, she didn’t feel cut out to be a lawyer. She took a job as a secretary in a real estate firm where she learned the basics of business. Later, she would go on to have a thriving career in corporate America rising through the ranks of tech companies to become the first female CEO of a Fortune 20 company – Hewlett-Packard.
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She would move on from there to advisory roles to government and recently lost out on the republican nomination for president of the United States. Rated as one of the most influential women alive and among the top 100 leading authorities in tech by different leading publications. Her name is Carly Fiorina.
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Another guy who was running a music business which he later transformed to a record company in 1979 was going on vacation to the Virgin Islands. The originally scheduled flight was cancelled due to lack of enough passengers, so he decided to charter a plane. He charged the other passengers who had also been bumped to fill up the remaining seats. That act created Virgin Atlantic and several sister airlines which provided the momentum to make the Virgin Group brand a truly global brand. He needs no introduction, his name is Richard Branson.
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Another guy, Blake Mycoskie was visiting Argentina when he noticed some kids in the neighbourhood had no shoes. He sold his online education business for $500,000 in 2006 to fund the shoe company. He decided that for every one shoe he sold, he would give one out to one of the impoverished kids in the city he visited. The business became so successful that in 2014, a venture capitalist acquired 50% equity in the business at $625 million.
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Many people start life with certain expectations. They expect to study certain courses, go to certain schools, work certain types of jobs, marry certain types of spouses and live the fictitious happily-ever-after life. First rude shock they get is when they don’t get to study the course they want to study or university education skips them altogether. How does one reconcile still struggling to gain admission at 23. Or graduating from school and getting a job that paid only N35K a month. After being jobless for 2 years, a N20K a month salary starts to look attractive. This, he reasons, is better than stealing and indeed it is way better and more noble than stealing.
Nobody knows for certain what tomorrow will look like and no one has a clear map on the territory called life. Everyone is winging it. The three random examples I used above were going about their regular routine without the slightest inclination that their lives would change significantly with seeming random events. Almost everyone who aspired to and achieved greatness never knew how exactly they would achieve it.
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They must have had doubts and several moments of uncertainty as to the paths they should thread, never knowing if the foregone alternatives were the better options. Many have had to overcome adversity and at some point didn’t bother about their dreams. Many would have been in survival mode where making rent and not getting thrown out was all that mattered. Or getting out of indebtedness or struggling to perform at a job. At a subconscious level though, their dreams must have been as real to them as the challenges they faced every day.
The advice that always works in these circumstances is to have the right attitude and do with diligence all that your hand finds to do. Stop wishing for another life, stop wishing life dealt you a different hand. Stop comparing your life to that of others. Embrace your past, embrace your challenges and uniqueness for out of your past and challenges will come the inspiration and drive that propels you forward.
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The hard truth really is you aren’t a special case. Life is dealing good and bad hands to everyone all the time. The people who look unscathed are those who don’t dwell on their difficulties, they refuse to switch to negative mode and, though not sure how events would pan out, stay focused on the things they can control and have the right attitude of not worrying about the things they can’t control.
No one has a clue the day their life would change forever. No one knows when the eureka moment would be or the particular relationship that would be the ultimate game changer. So your five-year plan is nice to have. Planning is necessary and essential, but flexibility is equally as important. Keep your plans and stay open to new challenges and new possibilities. The right attitude and diligence with the things you do currently are things you can and should control. For the other things outside your control, let go and let life take you on its adventures. Enjoy the journey – you just might not know where it will land you.
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