“Just because most do not make it, does not mean you cannot”, Grant Cardone
I will remember the year of 2017 as one of the most personally and professionally rewarding year of my life. It was an eye opener that allowed me to broaden my vision to an infinitely more complex and exciting world than I had ever perceived up until then.
In this article, I will try to demonstrate how personal development made me take a giant leap forward and give you something to think about your goals, and ultimately about your dreams. To be honest, before living the experience I am about to share with you, I had a vision that would have made it difficult to fully understand what my true purpose in life is, and what vectors I could use to live it the way I want. Of course, I could only realize what all the possibilities one can create and develop with others by forcing me out of my comfort zone and moving from France to the United States, while I was still a student. The resulting experience was so insightful, challenging and motivating that I thought writing it would be an interesting topic to develop.
This is the personal experience I will try to share with you here. This article will be followed by books I would recommend everyone to read.
Note: This experience is strictly personal, and readers may or may not agree with it. The vision depicted in the following paragraphs may not appeal to everybody. I would like highlight the fact the there’s no criticism of any kind in the upcoming lines, but an invitation to think about how to achieve your goals.
1- Personal Background
For those who might not know me personally, my name is Pierre COLLARD, Information Technology Engineer and Architect Student. Long story short, my job is to help companies benefit from the latest technological trends, with a focus on networking, cybersecurity and data center solutions. At the time of writing these lines (April 2018), I am 23 years old, 8 times certified by important companies in the field of new technologies (Microsoft, Cisco, EC-Council, etc.) and CCIE Expert.
Starting with an academic-oriented and technical background, I spent the first 4 years of my college studies working on my technical skills and focusing on my future dream job (which at that time was to become a recognized architect working for a large company and dealing with complex technical environments on a daily basis, among other passionate experts) and how enriching it could be. By the end of my second year of studies, I got an apprenticeship contract at a worldwide IT integrator for a European-wide customer. In a nutshell, I was intimately convinced that working for a large employer was the key to success and freedom, and that I could take everything for granted after achieving this first goal.
Let’s be clear: this was an extremely insightful professional experience. Having been lucky enough to work with great, respectful and supportive partners, I could get the most out of these 2 years I spent working with this company. BUT, although I could not yet put words on what I started to feel inside me, I started to question myself: was working for a large company my ultimate dream? Did that mean that I reached my full potential at 20 and therefore I could stop developping ideas for the rest of my life? Had I nothing more to discover and experience?
I was starting to feel what some authors and psychologists call the “Rat Race.” A kind of contemptuous word used to describe the recurring state in which someone who is dependent on his or her job is stuck, without fully living his/her life. The problem is that for me, everything seemed perfectly normal since it was also the norm for most people.
2- The Eye Opener
Several factors came into play before I figured out that other challenges and opportunities were achievable. It all started after I had taken a trip to Dubai in May 2017. I had never left Europe before, and taking this 1-week vacation alone, may be nothing to get excited about if you are used to this kind of travels in the first place, but for me it was a whole new world.
Whether or not people like this kind of environment, sometimes qualified as “superficial”, which in a sense is a quite true, I was still stunned by the architecture, and amazed to see how many businesses moved to Dubai to develop their activities on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Beyond the mere city, I was more interested in the underlying model the city was founded on and the opportunities it could create for business partners, and I quickly found myself wondering: “why wouldn’t I also look into the possibility of expanding my skillset in order to be able to create business value based on my technical expertise?”. Indeed, Information Technologies are in vogue these days, especially when it comes to experts and service delivery. Wouldn’t that be an exciting challenge to consider moving abroad, at least for a time, and see how I could bring value to a new marketplace?
Having established a partnership with UCLA Extension, Los Angeles, California, my French school offered its students the opportunity to spend 1 complete year abroad to get a Project Management Certificate, while still validating and obtaining their French Master’s degree.
An opportunity waiting to be seized had just come up: students could study at one the most prestigious public university in the US (according to Forbes and US News magazine), get an additional degree, delivered by UCLA Extension, take a step back from technical engineering to study management, leadership and much more! I ended up being the only person on campus taking advantage of the partnership this year. But that single choice changed everything.
Learning from American leaders, businessmen, teachers and other students coming from all over the world confirmed that what true knozledge is fqr beyond our personal reach and our best chance to improve ourselves is to constantly trying to better our own person as well as our surroundings. In light of all you can discover and experience, keeping on learning about diversified subjects, from literature to finance, is what drives me and motivates me every day, and keeps me from feeling bored.
3- New Perspectives
It has now been 7 months since I arrived in Los Angeles. More than ever, I understand how important it is to have dreams and goals in a life. But more importantly, it is crucial to take action to move forward and to make those dreams a reality. However, we all must acknowledge that it only starts and ends when we decide it to.
My personal view is that, unfortunately, too many people have given up on their dreams and are missing the opportunity to live their life at a 100% level. I am intimately convinced that every human being possesses a dormant energy, waiting to be used to create great things. As the American author Neale Donald Walsch would say: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I think this quote precisely hits a crucial question we all must ask ourselves, regardless of where we are in life. Not losing focus, learning, gaining access to new worlds, new activities and understanding that a lot can be done in the course of your life is what I learned this year.
I will be moving to Canada, and more specifically to Toronto, right after obtaining my Master’s degree. This will be a new opportunity to continue to grow and evolve with people of great value who seem to share this same state of mind.
But getting a “secure” job is no longer my top priority. As the Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffet would say: “the one investment that supersedes all others is the one you put in yourself.”
Within a single year, I went from a close-minded student to an open-minded growing person, who chose to see the big picture and widen its skills to completely new areas. Everybody has different dreams, no matter how old, wealthy or happy you are and so are the solutions we need to achieve great results. The important thing this article tried to unveil is there is no life choice better than the other. In fact, you may not agree with what I wrote above, as my goals and experience may not appeal to you. This is perfectly fine and normal but be sure that you are doing what you are doing because it is good for you, not because the majority acts this way. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will: if you have a goal, stick to it and take action!
Among all the great resources available online, here are some examples of readings I highly recommend: