Understand Your Story.
Entrepreneurs must be great story tellers and it begins with understanding your story.
I’ll never forget sitting in an ophthalmologist chair being told that an eye condition I didn’t know I had would put an end to my military career. The plan to be a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and later study medicine to be a military doctor (I was always fascinated by aviation medicine) was over. My mind was paralysed. I knew nothing else and expected I would retire a professional solider. Worse still, I had no Plan B. With no clear path to follow I felt completely lost and very vulnerable.
On reflection I muddled my way through a decade of corporate jobs fuelled by a desire to do whatever it took to learn as much as I could from the best leaders I could find. I thought if I did that I would eventually find my tribe. During that period, like most people in their career, my working life has been touched by exceptional mentors. I’ll never forget Deborah Morganti, Tony Bainbridge and Jacqui Jordan. These names will mean little to you but they each played an essential role in helping unlock my mind to see and consciously act on opportunity.
The primary ingredient that helped me truly embrace the fact that I am an entrepreneur at heart wasn’t a future ambition but more so the idea that my past contained clues about what the future could hold. I wished I’d known that years earlier because it would have helped me face into and resolve what seemed like a daily struggle to understand how I fitted in and how I would create value for those I cared about. The game changed for me when I began to understand, embrace and feel confident about my professional story.
My friend and colleague Michael Margolis helped bring this home for me and he’s done the same thing with founders and students around the world and with teams at little known organisations like Google, NASA and Greenpeace.
So the take home message here is if you feel completely confident about your professional journey, where you’ve been and where you’re going, discard everything I’ve said. If however you feel lost (and this seems to be a theme from a large number of recent conversations), the path you’re looking for might be hiding in your past and professional story. If the latter option resonates, you should probably reach out to Michael (here) and get some help nailing your story.
After all, story is how we find our place in the world.
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