The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

Be Brave. Take Risks. Nothing Can Substitute Experience.

I’d love to take credit for the catchy title of this post but sadly it is a quote I “borrowed” from the author Paul Coehlo. While I can’t take credit for the quote, it doesn’t diminish the importance of these simple but powerful words.

Life seems pretty risky sometimes. From feeling nervous about wearing red sneakers because they’ll make your feet stand out (a favorite post of mine from a fellow blogger about anxiety) to setting your sights on a dream and taking the steps to make it come true even though you might fail, there is much to be fearful about in the world.

As someone who has actually survived and is thriving in my adulthood, I’m here to tell you that you will be ok and the worst you can imagine is almost never going to happen. Ok, I lied. Sometimes the worst may actually happen. Here’s a personal example. When I was in college I started applying to graduate school. My grades were average, my GRE scores were crap and I was applying to pretty competitive programs. I was super nervous about it and guess what? Surprise surprise I didn’t get in. Was it the worst I could have imagined? Was I devastated? Yeah, I suppose so but it did make me volunteer for the professor I wanted to work with, take a graduate class to show I had what it takes to make the grade and take a test prep class to raise my GRE scores. When I reapplied did I get in? I sure did. In fact, I went on to get my Ph.D. but I doubt I would have ever gotten this far if I hadn’t taken the risk and learned from the experience. In fact, that experience is part of what makes me want to help you guys today. I am living proof that you don’t have to be a superstar to succeed and to live your dreams. You just have to take risks, work hard, try and try again and I promise you’ll get to where you want or need to be.

Here’s the best part about taking risks though – even if you fail, you will grow and learn SO much from the experience and by growing and learning, you become your True Self.

Now you tell me? What are you afraid to do? Where are you holding yourself back? When did you try, fail and come out all the stronger as a result? Share your stories with me and help other teens too!

Dream Big But Act Now

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“If you have a great idea, act on it now.” Max Levchin, founder of Paypal, Yelp & Innovator Extraordinaire

Do you know who Max Levchin is? I have to be honest, I didn’t know who he was until I saw him on CBS This Morning recently discussing his new loan business that’s likely to revolutionize banking (much like  his idea for Paypal which revolutionized the way we pay for things online.) Clearly he’s a smart and cool guy with a lot of amazing ideas but the one thing he said that really struck me was that young people need to pursue their good ideas now. In other words, don’t wait until you finish your education to pursue a dream – do it now!

History is ripe with examples of people who put aside what they are “supposed to be doing” to do, what they know deep inside, they need to be doing. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are two perfect examples of people who dared to dream big and changed the way we compute and stay connected via social media. I’m not suggesting you should or have to drop out of Harvard (or any school) in order to be successful but I am suggesting that sometimes big dreams require big leaps of faith and big actions.

Here’s the thing, yes you may only be a teen and yes, you may not quite have all the tools you need at your fingertips but that shouldn’t stop you from acting on a great idea. For example, with online crowdfunding opportunities, you actually could sketch out your idea and proposal and raise the funds to make a go of it. Look at student Jeff Powell who created a prosthetic hand with a 3D printer for a little boy who needed one.  Or 13 year-old Shubam Banerjee who made an inexpensive braille printer using Legos and a robotics kit. I bet they never said, “I have a good idea but I’d better wait until I’m in my 40s to pursue it.”

Your age is not a roadblock to your success. In fact, because you’re young and energetic and have your finger on the pulse of the latest ideas and technology, you are the perfect age to ignite change in this world!

So stop sitting around and waiting until you get older. By then, someone else could come along and steal your big idea.

Dream big but act now.