The Power of Belief

Those of you who know me, know a lot. You probably know more than you ever wanted to. Chances are you’ve heard a ton of self-deprecating stories: about how I had a seizure in high school because a popular kid talked to me or how I threw up on the train, not in a bathroom, on my first day of work.

You’ve probably also heard that there were many times I stood outside waiting for a no-show date for way too many hours because I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

[Good news: I’ve moved on from seizures and puking on trains before work.]

But here’s what you don’t know: My entire life, I’ve been surrounded by people who have believed in me. People who have pushed me to be better, opened my eyes and given me a chance when I didn’t deserve it.

When I was in 5th grade, I took some damn test that after a series of questions labeled me as “perceptually impaired.” This immediately meant that I was different than everyone else.

I worked my way through it, uncovering tricks to help me pass tests and to write papers. Things that would eventually get me into a college that I was told I didn’t stand a chance of getting into, even if I was the only applicant they received that year.

That brings me to my freshman year. I was a pre-med student, and somehow on the first day of class, I was already behind. Advanced biology was kicking my ass. I mean, one of the test questions was about the type of whisk and bowl you’d use to make the perfect lemon meringue pie.

The class was really tough. In fact, on the last day before the final, if you had an A, the professor handed you a rose.

That wasn’t going to be me. I was bombing this class. But I didn’t drop it. I’d read all the assigned material, made a ton of flashcards and showed up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

On the last day of class, the rose ceremony ended and everyone was packing up to leave. I turned my back to the front of the room and started heading for the door when the professor called my name.

I walked back up to the podium, and the professor pulled out the last rose and handed it to me.

He knew I was failing the class, but he also wanted to give me a shot at passing. He said that he had talked to some people, and if I wanted to, with a witness present, he’d read me the questions off the final exam and I could talk him through the answers instead of taking the multiple choice test.

I got a B on the final, and he replaced my course grade with it.

Obviously I ran like hell from a pre-med degree. But I kept that rose my entire college career. I ended up graduating summa-cum laude, and on graduation day, I left the rose with a note outside of the professor’s office.

I started working for charity: water three years ago as an intern. When I was hired full-time I had just turned 22, had nothing impressive on my resume and virtually no experience in the “real world.” I’ve since been challenged to grow and be better because that same group of people who took a chance on me then, still believe in me now.

Today I have an incredible job, at an organization that I’m deeply passionate about. I get to work with some of the most inspirational, selfless and creative people. And I manage a team I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Belief is a crazy, powerful thing. It can be applied to anything, but when it’s applied to someone, it has the ability to change the way people think, the way they work and the paths they choose to follow.

Think about it. Who’s believed in you? And who’s life are you changing?

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