It was not too long ago since I left my teenage years and turned 20 years old. During my time as a teenager, I had some rockstar moments such as speaking on the radio about my clothing brand, creating my prom event with 22+ schools attending or interning at an investment bank in Canary Wharf. Additionally, I learnt a lot of vital information on overcoming obstacles such as failure, procrastination and idleness. It came through listening to countless podcasts (read about my favourite ones here) and reading various books. I could also say I’ve been quite successful whilst at school obtaining some impressive grades. However, the point of this is not to boast about what I’ve done whilst I was a teenager but to share with you the principles which led me to these rockstar moments.
I was fortunate enough to pay this information forward to 300 young boys aged 13-14 who were at the beginning their teenage journey thanks to RockingUrTeens (a social enterprise equipping young people with the skills to become leaders). It was possible as I was a key speaker at their national teen conference celebrating international men’s day. I condensed the three main themes that carried me through my teenage years into three points below:
Failing to plan, is planning to fail - you need a plan to get to the destination you have in mind.
Swap faith for fear - the quicker you eliminate your fears of the unknown and have confidence in what you hope for the better you can align yourself towards success.
Push it to the max, then relax - put in the work without trying to take shortcuts, then your rest period will be more rewarding.
I acknowledge the above is brief although I assure you is game-changing if put into practice. However, I want to leave you with more and expand on other things I did to rock my teens.
I did what others weren’t doing
This one here is important. In a world where it is extremely easy to follow trends and copy what everyone else is doing, sometimes it is better to swim against the tide. Which I often found myself doing from the age of 13-19. The majority of people in my neighbourhood desired the latest clothes after seeing their favourite musicians and celebrities wear it, subconsciously buying into consumerism. Therefore, they will save up their money to spend on things they couldn’t afford, to impress people who didn’t care about them. Whilst they were doing that, I took a different view and adopted the mindset of a producer to create value for others. It led me to build some awesome ventures nobody thought about because they were too busy following the crowd. There is often nothing unique about doing so. I understand this is only one example, but if you look deeper into your current life and identify areas where there is a herd mentality you might be able to spot opportunities to stand out. I urge you to take a bold step by going in the opposite direction in the hope to birth something others can’t see.
I sacrificed what others held onto (for better focus)
I stayed on top of my game by sacrificing things such as excessive partying, gatherings, phone calls with no value-added, staying on FaceTime till morning, binge-watching TV (now known as Netflix), toxic friendships, always being available, gaming etc. The list goes on. Doing this allowed me to reach a high level of focus. I prioritised first things first such as achieving the goals I set out for myself which were to make me grow. Now, I am not saying you have to sacrifice what I did to accomplish what you desire in your life because we all have different pulls on our time. What I’m trying to communicate is that you have to be willing to give up things that are a constraint on your time not adding any value or moving you closer towards your goals. Similarly, as John C Maxwell outlines in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,
“A leader must give up to go up”.
Again, whilst it was quite normal to do all the things I previously mentioned, I instead let go of it in the hope to become more productive and increase my work ethic.
I sought to improve my interpersonal skills
From the age of 14, I put myself in situations where I knew I would be uncomfortable. Not for an unpleasant experience but one that nurtures growth. For example, I would attend in-person networking events booked via Meetup, Eventbrite or Enterprise nation by MYSELF. The reason being was to deliberately improve my interpersonal skills such as listening, communication and networking. I’m ever so grateful for doing so because these skills have opened many doors for me and allowed me to thrive. Many employers highly value an individual with exceptional interpersonal skills. Mostly in a world where the new generation (Gen Z) are lacking these essential skills due to an overreliance on communication online via social media. I had the edge over my peers as I searched for opportunities and was confident in interacting with fellow human beings outside the digital world.
I remained proactive
Ambition is priceless. But finding your purpose is much more rewarding. During my teenage years when I heard of the word “purpose”, it was daunting, to begin with then I became curious about how I could fulfil it. I started to ask myself questions such as “what was I born to do?” “what comes naturally to me and not for others?” “what do I enjoy doing that brings about positive externalities?”. Before I was to operate in my purpose I needed to know what exactly it was. To find out, I remained proactive by persistently trying new things whether that be playing a new sport, creating new food recipes, finding a mentor, starting a business, tutoring and so on. In short, I never listened to those who told me “I can’t do it “ or “this isn’t for you”. If it weren’t for me, then it wasn’t for me. But it was my job to find out. Often if it was, then it brought forth many opportunities. So at all costs, I refused to be idle. As it says in Proverbs 19:15 “an idle person will suffer hunger.” By no means did I want to go hungry.
I constantly changed my environment to harness growth
You cannot reach your full growth potential in an environment with limiting factors. The same way a plant's growth is limited once sunlight, carbon dioxide or essential nutrients becomes a limiting factor (I am putting my A in a-level biology to great use). The friendship groups and inner circles we form during our teenage years does not imply we have to stick with them for the rest of our life. Over time, I hate to say it but they become limiting factors. Because we start to change our perspectives on what we want our futures to look like and lean towards different interests. It is part of growing up. When I grew up, I quickly noticed I needed to consistently be around those who desired the same things as I did whether that be a job in finance or starting a business. There are just under 8 billion people in the world. I knew it was possible if I went to find them. If I physically could not, I would use the internet to consume content of those who shared the same passion as me and were more successful. After listening to 24+ hours of their media content although they were not aware of my existence it felt like I knew them. That was enough to build a high-performance environment to accelerate my growth.
I still implement these five concepts in my life today so they are still relevant regardless of your age. If you took anything from that or had a lightbulb moment, I do this for you! Make sure to subscribe to my mailing list to receive some premium content and updates of opportunities I have to offer. Always feel free to reach out and check out my latest event.