Both at work and in our personal lives, we all come face to face with mountains whose summits seem insurmountably high. And yet, with effort, determination and a little bit of help, some people do manage to reach the top, and make their dreams happen. Here’s how…
Cameron Stoute is 18. Now that school is over, he’s working for a construction company. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except that Cameron suffered from a developmental delay as a child. He was never even supposed to be able to attend a regular school, let alone work.
Cameron decided to take fate into his own hands, and twist reality to his own ends. Not everything in life came easily, of course, and he still has trouble concentrating. But he’s found his way, and a job that’s right for him. He fulfilled his dream: to live a normal life.
His mother, Sabrina Stoute, and his maternal grandparents have provided him with unwavering support. No need to look any further to identify the source of the confidence that inhabits her son: thanks to his mother, Cameron learned to believe in himself. He started out offering snow removal services in his neighborhood this winter to get his name out there. In the end, a local entrepreneur contacted him to offer him a job in construction. The result? After a one-week trial, he was hired.
Cameron’s journey is a true life lesson.
To overcome challenges standing in our way and to bring our dreams to life, “you need to call on resources deep inside of you,” summarizes Geneviève Desautel, coach and president of Amplio Stratégies and Univers interactif. But why is it that some people accept their situations, while others, like Cameron, refuse, and go on to successfully beat the odds? For Yvon Chouinard, executive coach and practice lead with Pauzé Coach group, “character makes the difference.” So there’s something innate about this ability to push limits, but “the other half, people build themselves,” he insists.
To build up that acquired part, it’s essential to “have confidence in yourself and your ability to achieve anything you set your mind to,” adds Geneviève Desautel. Because around you, “you may have people who are motivators, who encourage you to pursue your goals, and others who try to slow you down by focusing on the risks.” If your self-confidence isn’t strong enough, the defeatists will soon win out. By the same token, you need to protect yourself from dreams that are too lofty, warns Yvon Chouinard. “You need to set realistic goals if you want to be able to achieve them.”
Geneviève Desautel concludes, to successfully reach your mountaintop, “you need to take control of your life, and make conscious choices. Leadership is developed by not being afraid to take risks, by overcoming doubt and accepting that you will make mistakes. Self-improvement comes through trial and error.”
Easier said than done… This is where professional or life coaches, psychologists, mentors, and even your peers can give you a hand and show you the way.
Marie Grange, a 30-year-old entrepreneur, has always surrounded herself with mentors and coaches. It’s thanks to their support that she was able to carry out a “world tour of entrepreneurs” a few years ago. After completing her studies at a business school in France, Marie wanted to help companies in her country develop their activities in foreign markets. After planning the project with other graduates, she finally found herself alone at the helm. No problem. She decided to go anyway, and toured several countries to meet French entrepreneurs.
Asia, Latin America, Maghreb, Canada: she travelled the world for months, alone. “Without my coaches, I never would have done it,” asserts the young woman, who has been living in Quebec for four years now. Everywhere she went, she found people who helped maintain her conviction in the merit of her project. “Coaches and mentors are people who help you believe in yourself and hold the line, no matter what your detractors say. One of my teachers was a professional coach. She watched over me, asked the right questions and helped me put things in perspective.”
Since then, Marie has stayed loyal to coaching and mentorship. “An entrepreneur’s life is often lonely. It’s vital for me to have people to talk to.”
Mentoring is easy to come by in universities, but there are also organizations that put trained mentors in touch with young entrepreneurs or professionals. The mentor’s role is to “use their experience to help and guide the entrepreneur being mentored,” explains Réseau M. It’s all about support.
The coach, for their part, has a more specific mission: to help their client set and reach an explicit goal. “The coach asks lots of questions to allow the person to move their thinking forward,” begins Yvon Chouinard. “Then, as the person progresses, I’m there to remind them of their goals anytime they start to get discouraged,” continues Geneviève Desautel.
This type of relationship sometimes lasts for months, as long as it takes to reach the intended goal. And you should budget between $100 and $300 per session, depending on the coach you choose (better to do business with a certified coach). Mentorship, on the other hand, can last for years. Organizations like Réseau M offer this type of support, but it’s not uncommon for knowledgeable professionals to voluntarily offer support to young people, to share the benefit of their experience.
One thing is certain: free or paid, the effort it takes to achieve your goals is an investment. Our well-being is our most precious capital, and it’s up to each and every one of us to find the best way to nurture and grow it. As Cameron so aptly puts it, fate doesn’t exist, “the only handicap is a bad attitude.”
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