I've worked with countless millennial founders and young professionals over the years.
I've also been privileged to interview many of the people these ambitious millennials aspire to be like, including billionaire Mark Cuban, entertainers DJ Khaled and French Montana as well as high-powered executives like Rodney Williams, the CMO and EVP at Moët Hennessy.
If there's one thing I've learned from my experience, and from others' experiences, it's this: The distance between where you are now and where you want to be isn't as far as you think. And that's not some motivational gobbledygook I'm just saying to fire you up.
You likely possess many of the traits necessary to make it, even now. Traits all successful people have. These are traits like resilience, discipline, risk tolerance and confidence. But there's another trait that's harder to learn and just as, if not more important, than the others.
That trait is leadership.
What follows are several leadership lessons I've learned through interviewing successful individuals, my own life as an entrepreneur and through discussions with Abdullahi Muhammed, an attorney-turned-entrepreneur whose agency Oxygenmat generates a multiple six-figure income.
On the surface, the reasons for business failure are the same: poor due diligence on a business idea, lack of cash or access to capital, not knowing your market well enough, etc. But I'd wager the biggest obstacle isn't a box you can check on a business exit survey: It's lack of confidence.
Despite having all the other necessary traits to make it, some people just never give themselves a chance. I was almost one of them. Here's my advice: If you aren't traveling, ditch the luggage. Carrying all that baggage of guilt, past failures or self-imposed limitations will never help you.
Not only that, but no successful leader I've met carries that weight around.
Whether you're on the clock for working for someone else or working on your own time as a founder, leadership is about committing to being the best version of yourself, focusing on your strengths and remaining steadfast to your goals despite any distractions.
Which leads to leadership lesson number two.
We've all been in the middle of a task when, suddenly, a "million-dollar idea" strikes like a bolt of lightning. It's easy to confuse these distractions with opportunities. Here's the truth: If it's taking you further from your core competencies and current growth streak, then it's likely a distraction.
Keep your nose to the grindstone and remember that those simple tasks you do each day can snowball into achievements you never thought possible. You just have to stay committed.
That leads to lesson number three.
In a society that prizes instant gratification, those who go the furthest stay committed the longest. This involves taking small, daily steps towards the achievement of clearly defined goals. In lieu of waiting for inspiration to strike, leaders follow a consistent work routine, creating inspiration on-demand.
Don't wait for inspiration. Make a daily commitment to creating inspiring work. Some days you'll create work that's subpar, but other days you'll make breakthroughs. And when you're dealing with an ambitious goal, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
Remember: If you keep going, you'll keep growing.
Brian J. Roberts is a former hip-hop jewelry entrepreneur, whose company sold everything from grillz to men's gold chains. Now, as a freelance journalist, his work has appeared in Forbes, Time, Inc., Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and others
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