There is a saying which I came across recently that goes like this … “Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty”. I don’t believe that there is any one person attributed with the quote, but I like it!
I like it for a number of reasons:
- If you are looking for a mentor … then you should probably find someone who can relate to your current situation.
- If you envy someone’s accomplishments, remember to understand their journey.
- It is a reminder that there are a lot of steps between Chapter one and Chapter 20.
- It reminds you to understand exactly where you are in your book (or journey).
- It reminds me that my book has been a long, winding one … and I have paid my dues along the way.
“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” Confucius
- Over the years I have been asked for advice by young entrepreneurs and I have always tried my best to help. Often they don’t know what they don’t know … and when you are in the later chapters of your book, you don’t always remember the pain of Chapter one.
- I have been in the workforce for more than forty years (ouch) and my career has seen several Chapter Ones! The latest was as a business owner … and that was eighteen years ago. There has been a lot written in those intervening chapters!
- The premise of the phrase resonates with me when people just starting out think that they should be me … who is eighteen years into “this book”, or perhaps forty plus years into my career book. When I started out I did not have the resources, money, knowledge or contacts that I do today. I operate today with the credibility and experience that I earned during those intervening chapters. If you are just starting out, on a career or a “new book” you need to EARN some credibility!
- There can be many Chapter Ones during a career! When you first enter the work force, when you change roles, when you get promoted or maybe when you start a business. Yes, those books that came before will help, but if you can treat each of those new situations like a fresh start … perhaps a short story in a, book of short stories … then your head will be in the right place!
- There are many different kinds of books, and lessons can be learned from all of them but the best lessons will come from those that are most similar to your book. Likewise, your career trajectory will get its best advice from people that have been there done that, and recently enough that their experience is credible.
Seek to learn. Take advantage of other people’s experience. Be prepared to build your own credibility. Understand that the person on Chapter 20 probably remembers his tough times a little differently than how he felt when he was in chapter one!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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