In part two of our three part op-ed series, George Khalife discusses the lessons he’s learned while building a successful career as a young professional. At only 26 years old, Khalife has become Vice President at Toronto Stock Exchange, while Co-Founding an app called BookBack for students to buy and sell books more easily (which cracked the top 100 list for book-related apps). He’s also the host of a podcast called ‘Let’s Grab Coffee’ where he interviews successful leaders across different industries. For the second installment, Khalife discusses the lessons he has learned to help build confidence, and in turn build success.
As young professionals, we often believe we need to wait for something material to happen for us to feel worthy of our confidence. If you are looking to boost your confidence and take more ownership of your career, I’ve laid out some of the important lessons that have helped me thus far:
Things Don’t Just Happen To You
The philosopher Seneca said it best, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If you’re someone who doesn’t feel worthy of their position, you need to first believe that you’ve earned and deserved everything you’ve been given. I also encourage you to remember that people took a bet on you for a reason; you worked hard for the position you are in, and you possess strengths that add value which the business is looking to extract. Management recognizes traits you bring to the table and it is your responsibility to execute on the opportunity given.
Don’t Confuse Titles With Self-Worth
When I was in university, I felt like to be taken more seriously, to feel more confident, or to have a voice, I would need an impressive title after my name. If you feel this way right now, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not true. One of the most influential books I’ve read was The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma. The book talks about the ability for anyone—regardless of where you are in life—to lead. Robin offers stories of people from all walks of life, like janitors and baristas, displaying brilliant traits of leadership. None of them have the title CEO.
“Work offers you a daily platform to discover the leader within. It’s a chance, every day, to reclaim more of the potential buried and to awaken the dormant relationship between the current you and your absolute best.” – Robin Sharma, The Leader Who Had No Title
Leadership is a mindset anyone can display.
Act In Accordance With Who You Want To Become
No matter where you are in your career, the surest way to advance to higher ranks is by acting in a similar manner as the person in the role you’re looking to tackle. Take notice of the people you admire, who are doing things differently, and try to model some of their behaviours yourself. If you really want to become the ‘Managing Director’ or ‘CEO’ you so aspire to be, then ask yourself what do individuals in those roles do day-to-day? What is their morning ritual like? Do they lead with empathy? How do they handle pressure? What are they reading right now? The key is not just to visualize where you want to be, but to also have a growth mindset and be willing to learn from others constantly.
Part Of Being Successful Is Making Mistakes
This is a given. I remember listening to an interview with a successful bodybuilder, Kai Greene, who talked about limits. He said that if you don’t understand what your physical limitations are, you may never go far enough to expose them. Similarly in business, we all have imaginary sandboxes we play within—sometimes we opt to play in a very small zone even though we’re granted the opportunity to expand if we try. When you do that, there is a chance you might push well past that limit, in which case you might get hurt. But that’s okay, because you have now discovered a new limit and identified one strategy that isn’t effective. You are now better equipped to return to the sandbox and do better with your new knowledge.
In short, remember that with or without a title, you are a continuously evolving individual with tremendous potential for growth and development. Confidence is something that is built slowly, but nonetheless, is something that is achievable and within your reach. You are not alone in this; some of the best CEOs I’ve interviewed, talked to or know are also working on areas that need tweaking. Building confidence and feeling grounded comes with time and dedication—so try to just trust and hopefully enjoy the process.
You can read part one of Khalife’s three part op-ed series here.