Sometimes you just have to get punched in the mouth

Published by Timothy Reed on

When you have ambition, it’s easy to feel like you can take on the world. There’s always the temptation to feel like you deserve the promotion or the position of influence that someone else has—and anyone who doesn’t see it is just plain wrong. Sound familiar?

A couple years ago, I was talking with a friend who is a little bit older than me. He told me that when he was younger, he was on the fast track for growth at his company, in fact, he was the youngest person to ever be in his position—but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to become the Vice President and nothing would stop him. So he read every sales book, hit his numbers and did anything else that he could to be ready for the elusive VP role. Finally, he came to his boss and demanded the position, saying, “You can’t keep denying me this, I’ve done everything possible to be ready for it.” His boss looked at him at said, “You haven’t been punched in the mouth enough to handle this position.”

When you haven’t been beat up enough, a few things are usually true:

  • You take things too personal
  • Important decisions are clouded by emotion
  • It’s easy to be arrogant rather than confident

Before going into the fire, metal is untested and weak. It’s the crucible that forges metal and reveals it’s true nature—the same is true in business.

If you’re like most young, hungry business leaders, avoid the temptation to feel like you deserve everything—rather seek the crucible if you want to be made ready. Find the jobs that no one wants to do and excel at them. Start resolving the problem customers who are ready to lash out with verbal venom. Lead your team humbly even when it means going slower than you want to. This is the fire that will make you ready for what’s next.

Doing this will help you develop the maturity (and thick skin) that is going to be needed for the next step.

Getting beat up and developing thick skin will do a few things for you:

  • You’ll won’t take things so personally (this will set you free and allow you to forgive people that make you mad)
  • You will make decisions with intentionality and clarity (most people can’t do this)
  • You’ll develop resiliency (and learn to fight for your ideas—even when it’s tough)

These are the kind of people that companies want to hire (and promote) into leadership positions.

Growing maturity like this is difficult because it requires trial and none of us like that. But imagine what the results could be—you could have the position, the income, or the company that you’ve always wanted! Believe it or not, one of the biggest blessings in life happens when you don’t get what you feel like you deserve right away. So take the time to be made ready for what’s next—it’s a SLOW-IS-FAST thing—but, trust me, you’ll have wild success in the long run.

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