In my life, I have been fortunate. I grew up with two wonderful parents that loved me no matter what and made me believe I could achieve anything I set my mind to. As an adult with many years of reflection under my belt, I realize not everyone gets the lucky break I did to have that kind of upbringing. People aren’t always taught to go all in and to believe their station in life can be whatever they want it to be.
My parents were polar opposites. My dad was extremely risk-averse when it came to his career. He worked the same job for more than 50 years. He thought about himself one way, as a heavy equipment operator. I don’t believe he could have imagined himself as a leader, a boss, or in any other profession. He was a heavy equipment operator, and that’s what he was for all of his adult life. My dad loved his job, and I don’t want anyone to think I was not proud of him and what he did. He was amazing and was essential to the community in which he worked. It’s just that I saw my dad as Superman, and I always knew he could have done anything if he only could have believed it himself.
My mom, on the other hand, is fearless. She is not risk-averse at all. She believed she could be a factory worker, an insurance salesperson, a real estate agent, a songwriter, and an entrepreneur. Before she retired, she was all of those things. My mom has always believed in herself and was never afraid to try something new. I learned from watching her that it is always worth taking the shot. Even when things didn’t go as well as she had hoped, she was always able to continue moving forward. Nothing would get in her way.
I was lucky. I had an upbringing where both of my parents always encouraged me to take the shot. My dad, who wouldn’t take his own shots, pushed me to always take mine. My mom always made me feel like there is no choice other than to go for it, which gave me the confidence to do so.
In my life, I have done many things. I’ve worked as a dishwasher, a grocery store clerk, event staff, a Chevrolet mechanic, a tool salesperson, a tow truck driver, a technical support representative, a technical support supervisor, and an IT person before starting my first software company.
If you are wondering how someone who started their professional career as a Chevrolet mechanic ends up being the CEO of multiple software companies, I don’t blame you. Even I could not have believed it if you had told my younger self that I’d someday lead a software company. Yet, each and every one of those jobs led me to the station I hold in life today.
I often hear people describe themselves by what they do. “I’m a salesperson,” “I’m a mechanic,” “I’m a waiter.” You are not what you do. You are a person - a person capable of doing anything you are willing to believe you can do. The best part is that you don’t have to believe it all today. You just have to believe that you can do the next thing you are interested in doing and that it will lead you to the next thing. Trying something new is scary, and it can even be paralyzing to the point where you never move forward. Don’t let it be that way for you. Have the courage to let yourself go for it. Find the opportunities and make them happen by moving forward.
This is easier said than done, right? I know it is, but one thing that will undoubtedly help make it easier is if you put in the work. Learn everything you possibly can about the next thing you want to do. This will help your confidence grow. Today, nearly anything you’d like to learn is available online for free. If you don’t have internet access, seek out libraries or coffee shops, or places with computers you can use to get online. Learn everything you possibly can and move a step forward with each new skill you learn. I started learning software development while working as a technical support supervisor to help move my department forward; It was really small stuff like creating a simple form that could send an email. Those little successes led to bigger stuff and eventually to me believing I could start a software company.
At SoCreate, it is super important to me that people have opportunities to grow. We spend a lot of time focusing on our team members and encouraging them to figure out how they would like to progress in their careers. We push them to attain new skills and to try new things. We create an environment where people can become leaders before they lead. We push out information and share the things we need as a company, along with links to resources that people can use to learn those skills. We always try to promote people internally before going outside the company. At SoCreate we focus on our people, and we do everything we can to help them reach the next station in their careers.
If I have learned anything in my life, it’s that things you can’t even imagine can become possible if you believe you can get to that next station. It will be easier for some than it will be for others. Not everyone gets to start at the same point or has the same opportunities available to them. The playing field is not level, but it doesn’t mean you can’t move up. To do that, you have to focus, put in the work, and believe that you can get there. There will be setbacks, and it will be challenging, but you will see success if you don’t give up. You will move to the next station, and then … you never know what that might lead to.
If you are like many people, my dad included, you may think risk-taking while raising a family is an impossibility. How could you risk your stability for something unknown when you are committed to providing for your loved ones? In my opinion, I believe you risk more by stagnating. Your ability to provide may increase substantially as a result of taking some risk. There is also no better motivator than the fear of not succeeding when you have a lot on the line. This fear will ensure you have put in the work and that you are prepared. You have a lot to lose, so you will do everything you can to make sure you succeed. Your chances of success grow dramatically when the stakes are high. You’ll have no choice but to make sure you succeed.
I hope that sharing my beliefs and my story may help you find the courage you need to leap to the next station in your life. Please remember, the title you currently hold does not define you. You are not what you do. You can achieve the impossible; you just have to believe you can. I, for one, believe in you!
Keep on pushing,