There are a few pivotal moments in my life that I’m intensely aware of. Moments that seemed like low impact or small decisions at the time…interactions that seemed to be cordial, but mundane. Three of them in particular stand out the most.
This is probably the most obvious, but it’s worth reiterating. I vividly remember sitting in my high school classroom taking my first ACT exam…a six hour trudge that I wasn’t particularly interested in taking. As I read through yet another word problem, I thought, “Let’s just get this over with.”
Almost immediately, I had a competing thought of, “This is important. Do this the right way, and we’ll only do it once.” I listened to this voice.
Little did I know that this specific exam continued a pathway to getting a major scholarship, escaping college debt, and allowing me to take financial and career risks immediately following college graduation. This is easily applied to academics, but it also applies to any type of “test” or diagnosis of your abilities in a world you’re trying to break into (athletics, art, certification).
Sticking through rejection, fear
When I was 20 years old, I attended my first Startup Weekend. Startup Weekend is an intense 54-hour event from Friday evening-Sunday evening that teaches individuals how to conceptualize and launch a startup business.
A key component of this event is Friday night pitches. Everyone is invited to pitch an idea for 60-seconds. The goal is to form a team and work on that idea for the weekend, building a prototype and rough business model.
I pitched several ideas, none of which got any votes of support from other attendees. Worse, I only knew one other person at that event. I decided to skip the rest of the awkwardness sure to ensue and go visit my girlfriend.
I was picking up my bag and walking to the exit when someone stopped me and said, “I really liked your ideas. You should’ve hustled harder for votes.”
That moment of encouragement, which was as fleeting for her as it was for me, convinced me to stick it out and completely altered my professional path.
Moving in with a stranger
Nearing college graduation, I was late to the party of finding housing for another year. A friend and I were looking around for a two-bedroom when a classmate, who I hadn’t spent much time with outside of our group project, approached me about moving into a house he was putting together.
He was assembling a group of musicians and entrepreneurs to fill a 7-person castle just north of campus (a place he had also taken the initiative to scout out and make a rental agreement with long before renovations had been completed).
Ironically, I had seen his Craigslist posting several days earlier and considered reaching out before ultimately feeling like it was too far out of my comfort zone. I asked if he could open another slot so I didn’t leave my friend out in the cold, and he did.
That decision exposed me to an entire new world of arts, music, and community in Columbus. It put me on a pathway to form a ton of new friendships and relationships within the city, and completely escalated my personal growth.
All this to say, each of these interactions, decisions, and brief moments in time didn’t feel like much at the time. It’s exciting to know that every day, we may face one of these moments – a chance encounter, a moment of focus or clarity, a willingness to put ourselves out of our comfort zone. Who knows where that may lead (if anywhere), but it’s worth considering.
“You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” – Steve Jobs