When I decided on my career choice long ago it made my parents very worried. All through childhood my parents watched my love for animals grow deeper and deeper. They started saving their money because they were pretty sure I'd end up as a veterinarian. They had been hoping I'd be the first brain surgeon in the family but they were willing to accept a veterinary degree as a far distant second. Well, it didn't quite go that way, much to their dismay. I ended up in the field of animal behavior and more specifically, cat behavior. I can still hear my mother's panicky response of "Are you crazy? You'll starve!!" This marked the beginning of my journey into a profession surrounded by skeptics and naysayers. Don't tell my mother but I actually came close to starving in those early years but let's just keep that between us, ok?
Because of the perceived reputation cats have I had an uphill battle when it came to introducing myself to potential clients, referral sources, media, and the general public. I can't tell you how many times people made assumptions not just about cats but about ME, such as calling me the "crazy cat lady" or acting shocked when I informed them that I didn't live with 40 cats myself. Some people even accused me of running a scam because "everyone knows cats can't be trained." The assumptions hurt but they actually provided me with a valuable education. I knew that if I was going to prove to everyone that this was a legitimate career and that I was a professional worthy of competing in the business community I would need to set my own professional bar very high. I would also need a pretty thick skin.
What I learned through the early years of struggling was not to let others define who I was. Instead of viewing myself as someone who wouldn't succeed because people laughed at my business choice, I decided to find the leadership qualities inside myself to pave my own road. If I didn't value my business and my skills then who else would?
Why do some people succeed and others fail? Surely not all the reasons have to do with this lousy economy, inadequate advertising budgets, or larger competition two blocks down the street. Success may be eluding you because of one person...you. Do you believe in yourself? The difference between the product you offer and the product your competitor offers may just be whether you believe in yourself. You have something unique and valuable staring right back at you in the mirror. Don't waste your most valuable asset.
- Ignite your passion. Nothing brings out your confidence better than a true belief and passion in what you have to offer. Regardless of what product you sell or service you offer, there's passion to be found in it. The passion may come from how your service can improve someone's life or business. Perhaps the passion is in creating a product or service that has never been seen before. You have to believe that your business can make a difference in someone's life. That's something to feel pretty passionate about.
- Enjoy what makes you unique. My childhood love of animals was often something that caused other kids to laugh at me (imagine being called Pamster the hamster lover as an eight-year-old girl trying to fit into the "in" crowd). I learned to turn that around and capitalize on what makes me stand out FROM the crowd. I now cherish my uniqueness and have learned to make it work for me in business.
- Stay creative and focused. Abraham Lincoln said "give me 6 hours to cut a tree and I will spend 4 hours sharpening the axe." Continue to learn, innovate, grow, and bring your best to the table every single time. All the social media, networking, and advertising are a waste if you don't have the tools to deliver. When you're prepared with the best tools then that tree doesn't stand a chance.
Causes Pam Johnson-Bennett Supports
Tree House Humane Society
Winn Feline Foundation