My original plan in life was to go into social work or law. In fact, I received a full scholarship to a combined, accelerated undergraduate and law school program. I was very surprised when my parents objected violently when I gave them the news. “Where did we go wrong?! We didn’t work so hard to raise you so you can become a lawyer! You’re not going to make it.” I asked them why. “You’re not Jewish. You’ll be eaten alive as soon as the judge sees your face.” So, as the dutiful son and an 18 year old who didn’t know much about careers, I went onto Columbia University for Engineering (because every other Asian kid was also going to engineering or medical school).
Throughout the years and into my career, I’ve seen people advised to act a certain manner, dress a certain way, and unfortunately, watch people get stereotyped and labeled. “Well, the Myers Briggs test results show that she is in quadrant 3 so she can’t be a leader and should be in this type of role. Only quadrant 1 people are shown to be good leaders".
I also got caught up in this by accepting certain opinions regarding what success and leadership meant and the means to attain it. That only led to internal doubt, fear of being inadequate, frustration, and stress – until I heard the best advice from Robin Sharma: “You need to run your own race”.
Run Your Own Race
Everyone needs to run his or her own race. We have our own start and finish lines, and will encounter different people and experiences along the way. Be mindful and grateful during your unique journey.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” - David Thoreau in "Walden Pond"
Don’t let yourself be labeled or you will restrict your own boundaries. You can realize your potential only by refusing to follow the herd. Don’t be in in a battle with what everybody else thinks.
So define your mission statement and run your own race. Stop and enjoy the scenery. Live your life, make your own choices, and help others do the same without preaching or labeling.
Nelson Mandela said "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
Let your light shine.
Frank Lio is a Product Manager, Strategist, and Change Agent in the Hi-Tech industry. His growing track record of successes include creating 3 winning software products, leading nationwide seminars, and turning around a failing business unit. He is currently serving a dual role as Product Manager and Business Team Support Manager at Instron ITW.
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