In life there are always reasons why something didn’t happen. You didn’t get a job because a younger candidate will work for less. Your big idea wasn’t considered because you’re just entry level. You didn’t get a promotion because you’re a woman and your company is run by an all-male board.
But what if the problem isn’t life? What if it’s you constantly reaching for an excuse?
Everyone has circumstances they can’t control, and unfortunately workplace biases and hurdles exist that likely won’t go away anytime soon. Rather than limiting ourselves based on preconceived beliefs, what if we strive to give it 110 percent in order to break down barriers and really support each other to get ahead?
It may require some guts in order to get the glory, but for every excuse there is also an inspiring story of someone who didn’t let their sex, job or personal situation hold them down.
Go beyond your job title
What does a janitor have to do with Frito-Lay’s top-selling snack? Everything, thanks to a man who didn’t let his job title stifle his potential. Richard Montanez was a high-school dropout who worked as a janitor at the Frito-Lay plant in California. The company president called for employees to “act like an owner” and Montanez took it to heart.
After a machine broke down, he took some non-cheese-dusted Cheetos home and made a spicy creation based on a Mexican street snack called elote. With encouragement from family, he scored a meeting with company executives. After buying a $3 tie and preparing diligently for weeks, he gave his presentation. The executives loved it. Today he’s executive vice president of multicultural sales and community activation for PepsiCo’s North American divisions.
Lesson: Don’t let your job title hold you down. Some of the best innovation comes from the most unlikely people. Age is just a number, and your title is just letters.
Don’t let circumstances define you
Imagine being a single mother who is jobless, penniless and living just one step above poverty thanks to government assistance. You’re depressed and have even thought about suicide. But you have a love of books and you continue to write nearly every day. After completing your novel, you send it to loads of publishers only to get rejection letters.
Then suddenly, one says yes. The book wasn’t just a hit, it was a sensation. This is the rags-to-riches story of J.K. Rowling, whose passion for writing got her through some pretty tough times, and ultimately led her to extreme success.
Lesson: We all have bad days, weeks, years. Often these difficulties are out of your control. The key is to not let them control who you truly are. Rowling could have easily given up and become a stereotype, but she didn’t.
These are just two of countless inspirational stories about overcoming limitations. Thinking beyond stereotypes for yourself and others not only allows you to achieve true greatness, but helps everyone be better. When we lift each other up, we can all enjoy even more success together.