“And then we have success stories like Tracy here...”
I looked around the room to see who else was named Tracy. It’s not that common of a name, so that was kind of fun. I was half-expecting it to be a guy.
“What are you looking around for?” he questioned.
I swiveled around in my chair to see our facilitator staring at me, confused.
“Tracy here has gained 20 clients in her first year of business.”
Ohhhs and ahhhs came from around the horse-shoe of desks. All 30 participants in the group were staring at me, too. I started to get a little hot and turned red. That’s why I realized…
They were talking about me.
I did the not-so-humble head nod, awkward smile, and mini-wave that are so characteristic of those who’ve been unknowingly shanghaied. I couldn’t even look anyone in the eye! I guess I didn’t want them to think I was rubbing it in.
But, rubbing what in?
Up until that moment, I didn’t think I’d done anything worth bragging about.
From my point of view, I’d barely made it out of 2015 alive, much less outperformed. I started a brand new business and was barely in the black (although I have to say, I’m thankful even for the “barely”). I spent countless hours in meetings that were unfruitful and following leads that wound up leading… well… nowhere. I’d been scoffed at, criticized, questioned, and pitied.
Human beings, I found, are incredibly astute at the art of shame.
Don’t you want to do something a little safer?
How on Earth are you going to make that work?
Wow, I really feel bad for you—that must be hard!
But… where’s your 401k?
Don’t you care about your future?
Umm, no. My future doesn’t matter to me at all.
Said no one… ever.
From my point of view, 20 clients was just that. 20 clients. It wasn’t good, bad, or ugly. It just was. After all, I didn’t really have anyone to compare myself to, and I didn’t exactly have a cheerleading team at the training center telling me about precedent.
So it came to pass that when I showed up to training, one year after staring my business, I found myself swiveling in a chair looking for someone who was being applauded for a banner business launch.
That person, I found out, was me.
In that moment I had a realization that took me back to a quote I’d read from the late Scott Dinsmore, the founder of Live Your Legend. Scott was quoting Bill Gates, who’s famous for saying many things. In this case, he was referencing Gates' words about our own expectations for ourselves and our ability to get things done.
Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
I find that to be true, but what resonated even more were Scott’s words that followed:
“You notice the quote from Bill Gates above. Well, I like to think of that even shorter term:
Most people overestimate what they can do in one day but underestimate what they can do in a year.
It’s amazing, if not mind-blowing, what any of us are capable of accomplishing and experiencing in just a few months.
Unfortunately it seems so few people actually take the time to bask in all they’ve done before rushing off to what’s next.
I hope this year will be different for you.”
2015 was, in fact, not any different for me at all. I continued to work, head down, focused on the deeds of the day, and taking zero time to appreciate how far I had really come. It took a surprising shout-out in front of 30 of my peers to shake me out of my myopic funk and help me realize what I had accomplished- even if it didn't seem worth celebrating to me at the time.
I had gone from $0 to $110,000 of gross revenue. I had gone from 0 to 20 paying clients. I had gone from 0 to 12 speaking engagements. I had gone from 0 to astronomical amounts of confidence and self-esteem.
Not only had I underestimated what I could do in one year, but I had completely forgotten to take a step back from my day and even look at my year!
And when I was forced to do so by a room full of eye balls, looking at me as though they might extract all the knowledge in my brain via some kind of x-ray vision, I couldn’t help but feel really, really, really…
It felt great, actually.
I had come a long way. I had accomplished something worth celebrating. I had built up an expertise from which others could learn. I had exceeded my expectations for what I could accomplish in one year.
I had done all of this, but I had not taken the time to appreciate it.
It’s so easy to look at your life, your relationships, or your career and see how far you have yet to go. Hey, that’s the journey of life, right? There’s always somewhere to get to. And our society doesn’t do us any favors with our “what have you done for me lately” mentality.
But today, even if it’s just because it’s the beginning of a new year, why not look back and celebrate how far you’ve come already? Give yourself that long overdue pat on the back. Feel good about what you’ve learned. Revel in the growth that you’ve achieved.
Each day might feel like a grind and each year might hold incredible new things, but we’re doing ourselves and those around us a disservice if we don’t celebrate the battles we’ve already won.
In 2015 Scott Dinsmore passed away unexpectedly while hiking Mount Kilimanjaro—one of the safest and most highly-trafficked mountains in the world. It was a tragic accident that robbed our world of one of the most inspirational and motivational people of our generation. Scott’s wife and team continue to work towards Scott’s mission of inspiring everyday people to “live their legends.”
Don’t wait. Do this now. Take 5 minutes out of your day to celebrate where you are in your life—even if that’s not where you expected to be.
Take inventory of your skills, knowledge, expertise, growth, interests, and anything else you can think of in your life.
I promise, my friend, you’ve come so far. Even if it doesn't feel like it right now.
Don’t miss your opportunity to revel in your personal success.
Then use it to keep on going forward.