Many years ago, I had a colleague whose husband was part of the coaching staff of a women’s Division I basketball team. He was good at his job, but had a dream of coaching individuals.
A few years later, he took a leap of faith—with the support of his wife—and followed his dream. Today he works with high school, college and NBA players. Getting there, however, was a challenge. He experienced doubts, fears, frustrations, struggles, and financial shortcomings. The only things that were consistent through the nine years between when he began his business and today were his faith and his passion to make players better, no matter their level of play.
His story affected me on many levels. It doesn’t matter where you are and what you are doing in life, you must believe in yourself to get where you want to be. As an educator, I often see young people who do not believe in themselves. Because they do not, they have no direction. They are waiting for life to happen.
I was blessed to be born to parents who told me I could do and be anything I wanted. Without hearing any other message during my childhood, I believed them. I set goals and worked to achieve them. When obstacles slowed me down, I figured a way to redirect. But like my coworker’s husband, I persevered because I believed in me.
Are you scared to leave the comfort of your current position?
Once upon a time, I had a colleague who was bright and well educated. The work she was doing was not challenging her to use her talent. I asked her why she was still doing the work she didn’t need a bachelor’s degree to perform. She had no answer other than she was comfortable in the position.
I challenged her. Why did she keep going to school? What was the reason she earned a master’s degree if she didn’t plan on using it? Was it just to learn? In my book, that’s a good reason to go to school, but there’s not a great return on investment.
I became her cheerleader and reminded her that she was smart and needed to use her brain. About a year later, I was delighted when she shared with me that she was leaving to take a position that would allow her to grow professionally. Since then, she has flourished in her new organization. It makes me so happy!
You may dream of a new job. Perhaps you’re just unhappy or perhaps you have a passion to do something totally new. Or you might just need to grow, as you’ve hit a wall professionally and need to challenge yourself in a new place. Maybe you have an idea to start a new business. What are you waiting for? Believe in yourself and make it happen.
If you have an idea that you’d like to turn into a business, there are free resources available to help you determine whether there’s a market for your idea. The University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center is such a place. You’ve probably heard of many examples of businesses that began in someone’s garage or basement or extra bedroom. Those folks worked their day job until they were able to go full time with their side gig. That could be you.
So, if you have a vision for a career change, I hope you’ll do some research, believe in yourself and take a calculated leap of faith. The journey may be hard and you may face challenges, but if you persevere, you will make it. One day you may be, like my friend’s husband, doing something you only dreamed of, like helping NBA players become better at basketball. Who knows?
Lynne Richardson is the dean of the College of Business at the University of Mary Washington.