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The Answers You Need Are Closer Than You Think: 6 Keys to success buried in your Childhood

authenticity career coaching development feedback growth mentor mindset passion Dec 19, 2023

Author: Jamila A. Brown (Co-Founder of The 5 Minute Career Hack)

Do you have the courage to differentiate yourself from the masses and make a lasting impression?

Are you bold enough to take charge of your life because YOLO?

There are very few things that have ignited growth in my life. Let me repeat the important part, "there are very few things". 

It's not complicated and if you reach back to your early years of growth & development, not the beginning of your career but the beginning of your life, you will agree.

The way we learn, the way we improve, the way we grow...the secrets are there from the beginning of life.

If you want to turn this article into an exercise, I double dog dare you to provide an example from your childhood for each of the 6 keys to owning your growth & development below. Use those examples as guidance for 2024 and a personal testimony of how good you truly are when you own your development. [Adapted from Episode 25: Own It]

1. Embrace Feedback as Fuel

Fast-track your growth by making feedback your closest ally. Approach critiques with an open mind, knowing that understanding others' perceptions is crucial for improvement. By swiftly absorbing and acting on feedback, you accelerate development and make every moment with mentors/coaches count.

Jamila's Childhood example: When I first learned to shoot the basketball.

My cousin Danny was two years older than me, and looking back on it I realized he was on a mission to show me any and everything that I had the desire to learn. He placed a small basketball in my hand and explained the black lines on the ball, and where I should place my dominant right hand and my left hand. I was about 5 years old at the time, making him a 7-year-old Head Coach. He provided feedback every time I shot the ball into the air, and I quickly course-corrected. This early development led to a long and successful career playing and coaching. 

2. Build Your Brand with the Four P's

Cultivate a powerful personal and professional brand. Be consistent in projecting Professionalism, Passion, Preparation, and Poise. These attributes ensure you're perceived as the leader you aim to be in every interaction.

Jamila's Childhood Example: Sticking with childhood basketball.

My Dad took me to his best friend's house to play ball with the guys there who were all older than me by at least a couple of years. I was 13 years old at the time playing with what seemed like male football players. I was more than prepared because I had been playing against guys older than me since I was 5. That preparation allowed me to exude a level of poise and confidence that commanded respect from a bunch of guys who barely knew me or what I could do on the court. And the last thing a guy wants to do in that situation is to pick a girl to play on their team and be embarrassed. My professionalism kicked in quickly by simply stepping on the court with very little to say and knocking down a shot to be on a team quickly. That only left my passion to be on full display for pickup game after pickup game. Even when I received a hard elbow to the nose I kept playing in severe pain because I didn't know how to quit. I would later find out that my nose was broken. 

3. Authenticity is Your Advantage

True progress stems from being genuine. Mentors can only guide the real you. Shed any facades and trust in the power of authenticity to forge meaningful, growth-centric mentor relationships.

Jamila's Childhood example: My 7th Grade teacher/mentor

I was placed in honors classes during my 7th-grade year with all new students to get to know and a teacher that I wasn't sure I would like or connect with. I chose to be myself, caring, empathic, competitive, inclusive, and hardworking. By simply being myself, my 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Linden embraced me and became a long-term mentor even after I left her classroom in my 7th grade year. Because I was genuinely just me, she was able to mentor and coach me where and when I needed it. 

4. Flexibility Fosters Opportunity

Demonstrate commitment to your development by being adaptable. Flex your schedule and communication methods to align with your mentor's availability. Showing willingness to adjust creates more chances for valuable engagement.

Jamila's Childhood example: High School Days

During my high school days, I chose development at least 95% of the time. I would stay at the gym, partner with classmates who excelled where I was average at best, and find a way. I would never profess that I always made the right decision or always chose development overdoing things I had no business doing at the time. But being flexible when I realized I needed something was a true life hack in high school. There were several electives I would have chosen over learning to type in high school, but I chose to be uncomfortable and take a class that not many of my friends were in. I learned a skill that is benefiting me right now and it was in part my introduction to the world of investing in stocks because my typing teacher Mrs. Martinez invested in stocks. That flexibility of thought and scheduling has been game-changing with the multitude of opportunities that have been presented in my adult life.

5. Gratitude Goes a Long Way

Master the art of expressing genuine thanks. Real gratitude isn't just verbal; it's about recognizing the significant investment others make in you. Consider heartfelt gestures, like handwritten notes, to convey your appreciation.

Jamila's Childhood Example: Hindsight

I didn't know it at the time, but in every thank you note and gesture towards teachers, coaches, mentors, and my family in hindsight I was building a brand. I was just so thankful for people investing in me and I didn't know how else to repay them authentically. The things that those individuals say about me based upon all those years of just trying to find a way to say thank you are priceless. 

6. Pay It Forward

Owning your development also means sharing the wisdom you've gained. Repay the generosity of your mentors by mentoring others. This cycle of growth and gratitude not only enriches your professional community but cements your learning and legacy. By incorporating these six keys, you'll be well on your way to owning your place in the workplace this year and beyond.

Jamila's Childhood Example: The year I started coaching.

After finishing high school and while I was preparing for my first year of college basketball, I received an opportunity to coach AAU basketball girls around the ages of 10-11. It was my 1st true coaching job in 1996.  I learned more that year about leadership, development, and the importance of sharing my gifts than I probably ever have in my life. The impact that paying it forward had on me, made me a forever coach in the workplace, on the basketball court, and in my business today. Who would have thought Paying it Forward out of my abundance of learning for so many years would continue to reward me over 25 years later?

I hope you chose to take the scroll back into your childhood years and know that you have all the key ingredients etched on Your Hard Drive that is your brain [Listen to Your Hard Drive Now]. All the best in 2024!

[Adapted from Episode 25: Own It]

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