Let me tell you what else I believe in. I believe in educating yourself. I don't think you have to have advanced degrees to be successful. I believe you should always remember those who helped you along the way and that you should do the same for others.
I think it's time to tell my story and why I believe what I believe...so let's go.
I'm the oldest of four boys and I grew up all over the world because my dad was in the Navy. Two years was the longest we ever stayed in one place. I never got in trouble and never missed school. I was that kid. Outgoing but not a risk taker.
I never had a typical job. I mowed lawns, babysat my brothers and families with rambunctious boys, washed cars, etc... I didn't have my first REAL job until the summer after my first year of college.
I played soccer, baseball, tennis, cross country and more.
School was always easy for me. I enjoyed it because I had great teachers that each challenged me in a different way. I graduated high school with a four point something GPA. Not bragging, just saying.
During my final year of high school I applied to a few colleges but one visit to the University of Virginia put all other schools out of my mind. The Grounds (campus for all you non-Hoos), the reputation and the girls (don't worry that's also where I would end up meeting my wife). Luckily, I got in and accepted immediately. At the same time I knew I wanted to serve in the military and was chosen to receive an ROTC scholarship. I wanted to become a Marine.
Well, college life was amazing but I soon found that the world was a bit different than I'd expected. It wasn't that the school work was incredibly hard (except for that semester of Japanese 101), it was that all of a sudden I had all this freedom. The week I arrived at college was the first time I'd ever had a beer.
The other thing I realized was that none of the classes I was taking really excited me. That's when I should've seen the problem. I've always been an entrepreneur at heart (a couple stints with networking marketing too) and college felt like the anti-entrepreneur. Do it our way...or else. Maybe it was just the classes I was taking. I thought about going into the business school but took one class and hated it. It was all theory! Where were the practical lessons???
Long story short, I had a great time in college (fraternity, ROTC, intramurals, dating, etc..) but my grades stunk and remained borderline.
It all came to a head my fourth and final year. I started off well but a couple bumps in the road (crazy girlfriend, sick mom, etc..) took me off course. I became more of an introvert and the grades started slipping. I did stupid things because I didn't know how to cope. I was in a major funk and I had no way of getting out. Skip to almost the end and my grades were so bad for that semester that I couldn't graduate on-time. On top of that I was gonna have to stand in front of a review board for my ROTC unit and they'd decide whether to keep me on scholarship or send me to boot camp.
I can only imagine how awful I looked standing in front of those officers. They peppered me with questions and I really only knew one of them. Their final decision was to drop my scholarship and sent me to boot camp.
Luckily I had two men on my side that knew what I'd been through and believed in me. I won't say their names but they were the Commanding Officer of the ROTC unit and the lead Marine officer at the unit. Together they ignored the board's recommendation and gave me one more shot.
I was given the summer to finish a couple classes and help out around the unit. Needless to say, I was not going to let them down. I went on to get great grades (I actually enjoyed the classes I got to choose) and because I had no money got into the best shape of my life. You can't buy beer with no money!
I redeemed myself and was commissioned in the Marine Corps at the end of the summer. I didn't get to walk The Lawn with my peers but that was OK. I'd made it through one the most trying times of my life.
I went on to have a successful six year stint in the Marine Corps as an infantry officer. After that I moved on to owning my own businesses. All because those two men believed in me and gave me a second shot. I was just a stupid kid but they saw something in me.
So what's the moral of the story?
1) Give people a second chance. You never know what they might be going through personally. It's hard to make that separation sometimes.
2) Give yourself a second chance. If you screwed up, pick yourself up and don't do it again. You're human. I know I am!
3) Don't ever forget the people that helped you. I think as Americans we have very short memories. We're all about the RIGHT NOW. Learn to remember life's lessons and help others along the way.
I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't failed a few times along the way. I am not perfect and that's OK. I do, however, learn from my mistakes. That's what winners do!
Anyway, thanks for listening and thanks to Andrew Warner at Mixergy for giving me the courage to tell my story.
So what's your story??