I want to share an important story that I have been too embarrassed to share for a long time.
It was regarding a dark period of time in my life.
When I graduated from college a decade ago, I was at a crossroads.
Do I look for a job? Continue to grow my new business? Or go to grad school?
Getting a real job didn't really interest me as I knew I was an entrepreneur at heart. Growing my startup had to happen, but it wasn't at a point where I could survive solely from it yet (it was only 5 months old at this point). So I decided to go to grad school with the intent on getting my MBA.
I figured getting my MBA would allow me access to important info, build my brand, and buy me time to launch my business under the umbrella of being a student.
So I applied for one MBA program and got in. Kind of.
I was able to get in on my merit, application and relationships built. The only thing I had to do was get a decent grade on the GMAT (the business school entrance exam).
I figured, no problem. To ensure my success, I enrolled in a GMAT prep course. I figured with my brains and their help, I was assured acceptance.
After being accepted to the program I began to tell everyone I was a MBA student. I had this big party with friends the day my letter came in to celebrate. I told everyone via social media. I told my family and friends. Because when you are a senior in college, starting in January. EVERYONE and their mama asks you "so what are you doing after graduation?" And I refused to be someone without an answer.
To make things better, I received a fellowship. It would pay for my tuition and give me a stipend to live off of as well. Things were looking amazing.
It came time to take the GMAT. My score came in. It was low. I mean really low. I bombed it.
What was I going to do? How could I have gotten such a low score? I figured it was a fluke. So I went back to my test prep company, told them what happened and they offered to let me go through the course again for free. I had just enough time to go through the course again and take the GMAT again before the Fall semester began. I figured I'd get the score I needed and the story would be that much sweeter since I would triumph in spite of failing the test.
Well I studied. And busted my hump. And gave it my all. And can you guess what happened?
I got a lower score on the second test than I did the first test.
I felt utterly defeated. I felt I let so many people down. The MBA program had to rescind their offer. The hardest phone call was to call my fellowship who didn't know I was a contingent student and tell them I wasn't accepted anymore and could be their fellow. I messed up their whole planning process and disappointed them.
I begged the MBA program to let me in as an exception. But I remember the Dean of the program saying he couldn't let me in and the GMAT was a good indicator of how well one would do in business. That thought crushed me. Was I not cut out for the business world? Did this test prove what I silently felt all along?
Now I was stuck. I couldn't imagine telling people the truth. Telling people I wasn't an MBA student anymore.
I didn't know what I would do. I had a part time job working at my campus bowling alley. It was a student job. I told them I was going to get my MBA so they let me stay on and work if I wanted to. I felt so low. I had to lie to them and say I was a student. And this job was the only thing that helped me pay my $250 a month rent and eat whatever I could.
It was a low point. For an entire year, I would be on campus pretending I was a grad student. Working on campus. All while trying to make sense of my life. I refused to quit but had no idea how I would turn this around.
I felt like a Failure. I was supposed to be this big shot young entrepreneur stud. And here I was pretending to be a student and surviving off of a part time campus job that was supposed to be for undergrads.
I hated myself.
I had no idea what my future would hold or what I was supposed to do professionally. During this period I had to get another job working retail in the mall. I dreaded someone I knew coming into the mall to see me working there at this point in my life.
Then when I felt at my lowest, my then girlfriend now wife, said she was on a job search website and saw an ad for an organization that did student success talks and they were looking for speakers.
Becoming a professional speaker was always my ultimate dream. Traveling the country and the world, helping people and getting paid to do it seemed like a fantasy.
I decided to give it a shot. I applied. 6 months later I got the call. I was in. Though this organization no longer exists, it gave me my first taste of my deepest passion. From there I was able to do many things including building 6 and 7 figure speaking businesses, impacting hundreds of thousands of people and other awesome ventures as well.
I honestly think what I thought was the worst professional thing to happen to me (not getting into MBA school) turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me because it helped me discover my passion for speaking.
I share this story with you for this reason. When flunking the GMAT happened, you couldn't tell me anything good could have came from it. I thought nothing but bad things though I reminded resolute. But my Creator had a bigger plan for me and sometimes the denials in life we receive are our greatest gifts. We have to let go of the perceived good, to make room for the actual great.
Sometimes what we think we want, isn't the best for us (whether a relationship, job or opportunity) isn't and they only way we will find out is by having it ripped from us. But you'll only know if you stay the course, have faith and don't quit or get bitter. And you can only know by looking back at the strings of events in your life after the fact.
We must have faith. We must have belief that all things happen for the best. Even the harshest things. Even the things that in the moment don't make any sense. That seem horrible. Trust that there IS a bigger plan. In a bigger way, it will work out. I can't begin to tell you why you are going through what you are going through that is so tough. But I can tell you not to give up, have faith, and keep moving forward. A door just might open open up that will change your life in magical ways.
Stay tuned, and stay awesome!
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