I recall only a few kids that I grew up with who, from a young age, knew what they wanted to study in college and do afterwards. Betty Clark, our class Valedictorian seemed to know where she was headed. I was in awe of her. Smart, talented pianist, cool clothes. I assumed she was far more sure of herself than I. She went to college, then medical school and became an anesthesiologist. While Betty (now known as Elizabeth, her given name) was doing that, I went to college and majored in Political Science. After two years, I gave up on college.

If I had assumed that decision to be permanent, that I could not change my trajectory or hit the “reset” button, here are the things I would have missed:

Finishing college, which I greatly enjoyed-20 years after high school graduation

Graduate school, also a tremendously enriching experience-finished in my 40’s

Traveling the world for business and pleasure-mostly in the last 15 years

Working with very bright, successful and interesting people-well, that’s always been true, but even more so now

I often advise people to look at things differently, see the future through an optimistic lens, take action to make the changes they want to see, ignore the cynics, stop listening to unsolicited feedback and acquire the skills they need-not meaningless credentials. I give this advice because I know from experience, mine and others, that it is vital to success.

Some bloom early, some of us later. I now realize it makes little difference. The joy is in continuously gathering knowledge and experiences and creating value for others and ourselves. Anyone who is a alive and aware can do this provided you believe you are never done and then act like you believe it.

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