Norman Vincent Peale
You know how some teens are great at sports (gifted naturally to be the quarterback, running back, linebackers), popular because of their good looks, or super smart? That was not me. I was only a slightly above-average teen. I say “slightly above average” only because I was I was a pretty good kid, respectful to others and my parents. I was also a member of a church-based boys group much like the Boy Scouts, and I achieved the highest possible rank/awards in that program (achievements were mostly related to camping and nature). That said, I was not super popular, not picked first for sports teams, not the teenager everyone thinks of first (or even second or third). I wasn’t necessarily odd or picked on… just kind of normal and unseen. That all changed for me the summer of 1984.
Every summer from the age of 13-17, I went to a one-week youth camp in July. Here teenagers from all over the state got together, camped out in dorms, played co-ed sports, and did church stuff (but this story isn’t about the church stuff). The group of teens that went there from my own tiny church was about 25 people. The total camp was about 750 teenagers. My “social ranking” within my own church was in the middle or just below, so at the youth camp, it would have been in the bottom 30% by default.
One odd thing at these camps (and really a good thing) was that you hardly ever got grouped or teamed with anyone from your church. The camp leaders randomly divided all the kids coming in into mixed groups of teams so you could compete in softball, volleyball, and the likes. When teams were formed at the beginning of the week, the counselors would always ask who wanted to play what position. Of course, the popular people would always play infield in softball, and the short-stop position was the most popular. At the end of every week, there would be an All-Star game with the best/most popular person from each team participating (usually this was the short-stop or pitcher). The All-Stars would play a softball game against the camp counselors and leaders.
I wasn’t terrible at softball, but I wasn’t that good either, but a switch flipped in my brain that summer of 1984. When the counselor asked the teens in my group who wanted to play what position, I immediately (and confidently) spoke up to play short-stop. And somehow, magically, I played the position like I never could before. I made zero short-stop mistakes during the week (until the All-Star game). And yes… I made the All-Stars that week! I was the only person from my church to make the All-Stars. It was surreal. I had always wanted to be “that guy”, and I made it!
Look, I know teen events don’t make a lifetime, and I’m sure no one remembers me from that summer camp. I’ve never even spoken to those folks again. But that summer changed my life. I realized I could be anyone or anything — it was up to me. Even if I had to leave my normal world to move to a new world, I wasn’t ever going to let anyone who knew me or believed I was someone else to limit me. I was a different guy when I got back from that trip (even with my own church friends). I moved away from home a year later to go to college in Texas. In Texas, no one knew me or my past, and I had a blank slate to be whoever I wanted to be. And I had the confidence to do it because of the Summer of ’84.
What does this have to do with wealth? Simply to encourage you to pursue and do whatever it is that you want to pursue. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back. I’m not saying don’t get advice or listen to someone else’s wisdom (like mine!), but don’t let someone else’s negative feelings or emotions prevent you from pursuing what you’re passionate about.
What about you? Any life-changing moments from your teen years? Please comment below.