Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
All of us have life milestones that helped shape who we are. Some of these milestones are joyous, while some of them are painful, either mentally or physically.
For me, a life milestone came in high school, on the football field. Like others, then and now, I fancied myself a true athlete, with college potential to match. That was a big dream for a kid who grew up in a working-class household, the son of a single mother.
It is amazing how one career-ending gridiron accident can change your perspective in a hurry. There is a Napoleon Hill quote I lean on heavily: "Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat."
I quickly realized that if football was not going to be my ticket to college, I would have to get serious about academics. To do so required a positive mindset, and I made that mindset a priority for me everyday. My enthusiasm for school increased dramatically, and I excelled at debate.
Soon, off to college I went. Then I took a series of government jobs. Working in government may not sound glamorous or exciting, but it does pay the bills. After years of working in various government posts both at home and abroad, I was broke, but I had a plan. But it is important to believe in yourself, and understand that the greatest career obstacles can present great opportunities.
So I ventured down the path of entrepreneurship, setting my sights on the waste industry and the possibility of unleashing software and technology in the waste and recycling space which has been dominated by a business model thousands of years in the making. Collect trash and dump it in a landfill and then forget about it.
I started in the waste industry with a small line of credit and a goal of ending waste in all its forms. Rubicon continues to work towards that everyday. Our focus is centralized around ESG reporting and planning, serving the world’s biggest brands, and making cities smarter. These are values that have made Rubicon the leader of the industry.
I make it sound easy, but the truth is that for me, I understand the value of life milestones and take inspiration from them. They got me to the point where I gained a strength of character to persevere in spite of challenges, and the mindset that I could achieve anything to which I set my mind.
We are a resilient nation. We will bounce back from COVID-19 stronger. Just as we have from every other national tragedy of the past quarter century, from 9-11 to the economic collapse in 2008.
To get there, we must all believe in ourselves. We must strive for greatness and understand that it takes more than a dream and a credit card to do great things.
Yes, good ideas can change the world. But it takes true character and resolve to get to the next level. And, most importantly, be prepared to embrace adversity and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.