What kind of crazy fool agrees to customise, implement and integrate a brand-new Salesforce org when has absolutely no Salesforce training or experience whatsoever? Not to mention the fact that said org is for a financial services business, and the fool in question was totally fiscally illiterate.
I am that crazy fool.
You can read more in my eBook about my amazing journey through depression and breakdown into the role of a Salesforce Admin / Developer. Suffice to say that, twelve months later, I now have the exciting role of a Digital Business Analyst at InFusion360. What a wild ride it has been! I went from being unemployed, and being rejected for a low-paying factory job, to having a well-paying and rewarding career in a thriving technological ecosystem.
However, what if fear and uncertainty has held me back? What if I had said “no” to the initial job offer because I knew that I lacked the necessary credentials and background for such a demanding role? What if I simply had not tried?
Do you want to change your career? Advance in your present role? Dramatically upskill? Succeed where others have failed? Blaze new trails? Disrupt a business or an industry?
You’ll never know until you try!
What does this mean, then?
1. You have to step out of your comfort zone
I had been in the same vocation for almost twenty years. The last time I had taken a formal I.T. course was “Computer Science I” as part of my engineering degree – way back in 1986! I did have some limited experience with databases, but that role involved Microsoft Access, not a CRM, and that project was almost twenty years ago.
It is safe to say then, that the role of Salesforce implementation administrator / developer was very, very far out of my comfort zone. As in, I was utterly terrified!
No one ever grew while in their comfort zone. You learn and grow when you’re painfully uncomfortable, as you embrace the difficult, the challenging, and the unfamiliar. True change and growth never happen while you refuse to push through your fear into the terrifying unknown.
It has been said,
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”
I could not count the number of times that I told myself I was totally crazy for taking on such a complex and crucial project without the necessary training or experience. I would pray all the way to work in the car just to get up the courage to embrace another day of the unknown. I do not think there has hardly been a single day in this role that I have felt at ease! Yet, I could never have grown and upskilled so quickly in twelve months had I turned back in fear.
We all like to be in our comfort zones. It is, after all, very comfortable. Yet, in order to excel in a chosen endeavour, and to grow personally and vocationally, we must take a leap of faith and pursue our dreams in a place far out of our comfort zones.
2. You must be prepared to fail
Failure is not final, but failing to try is.
Thomas A. Edison famously “failed” thousands of times while on his way to changing the world with the invention of the electric light bulb. In answer to his critics – and no one ever did anything of substance without criticism – Edison responded,
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
It is far better to endure the pain of failure than to live with the agony of regret. No one likes to fail, but failure is inevitable and unavoidable if you plan to grow and achieve. I am honoured to have received a number of awards from Salesforce while on this journey, but my accomplishments have been far outnumbered by my failures!
Consider the rather chequered political career of a morose lawyer from Kentucky:
- In 1831, he failed in business.
- In 1832, he was defeated for state legislator.
- In 1833, he tried a new business, and failed.
- In 1835, his fiancée died.
- In 1836, he had a nervous breakdown.
- In 1843, he ran for congress and was defeated.
- In 1848, he ran again, and was defeated. Again.
- In 1855, he ran for the Senate, and lost.
- In 1856, he ran for Vice President, and lost.
- In 1859, he ran again for the Senate. He was defeated.
- Then, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.
What matters most is not how many times you fail, but that you never stop trying.
Michael Jordan is, arguably, the greatest basketball player of all time:
- Jordan averaged 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per game.
- Jordan’s 6 Finals MVP’s are more than any player.
- In his final three seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan helped the Bulls reach a 203-43 regular-season record, which includes the 72-win 1995-96 season, still tops in the NBA.
- Of his 15 NBA seasons, Jordan played all 82 games nine times, the most impressive of which came in his final season as he turned 40 years old.
- Jordan has 109 games of 30 points or more, and 38 of 40 or more points. He rarely dipped below 20, posting 926 games of 20 or more.
- Jordan became one of two players to record more than 3,000 points in a season with an average of 37.1 points per game. Only Wilt Chamberlain completed the feat.
- In a rare NBA accomplishment, Jordan posted 15 triple-doubles during the 1988-89 season, including a streak of 10 in 11 games.
- Jordan has 32,292 career points. He reached the mark in 1,072 games played, some 400 fewer than Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabarr, the only two players ahead of him on the all-time list. Of those to reach 30,000 points, only Wilt Chamberlain (1,045) used fewer games.
Why was Michael Jordan so incredibly successful? Let the great athlete speak for himself:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
If you would succeed, you must first be willing to fail.
3. You should never say never!
No one ever succeeded without a “can do” attitude. My pastor for years, Jack Hyles, often said, “It is the ‘I can’ that makes a great man.” A pessimistic and defeatist attitude will ensure failure before you ever even begin!
Richard Branson, famous and eccentric entrepreneur, is worth around five billion dollars. He attended Stowe School, an independent school in Buckinghamshire until the age of sixteen. Branson has dyslexia and had poor academic performance; on his last day at school, his headmaster, Robert Drayson, told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. The son of a barrister and flight attendant, he got his start with a mail-order record business almost 50 years ago. Branson is famous for a saying around opportunity, a saying that greatly inspired me at the start of my wild ride in the world of technology:
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
I am not sure that anyone ever achieved anything worthwhile without enduring the mental torture of self-doubt. We must press through these crippling emotions, cast down our debilitating thoughts of inadequacy, and believe that we can grow, learn, and succeed.
Ever since I began building our Financial Services Cloud org, I have had the same quote at the top of my home page:
Why? Because I must believe that with God, I can!
You cannot be overwhelmed and overcome by negativity and inadequacy. You must believe that, however difficult or even impossible the task at hand might seem, you can succeed.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Henry Ford
4. You must work
On my first day on the job at InFusion360, I found that the front doors were locked when I arrived, so I asked my manager, Neil, if I could get a key to the offices. From then on, for almost a year, I often arrived at work before 6:30, and finished between 4:00 and 6:00, plus I worked on Trailhead modules and other training resources at nights and on weekends. Before I began my new role, I had spent three weeks online, 40-50 hours a week, learning as much as I could in preparation. My colleagues at the office thought I was a bit unhinged for leaving home before dark to get to work so early.
Why did I put in so many hours?
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas A. Edison
Desire is good; diligence is better. King Solomon said, “The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Proverbs 13:4). What do you desire? Do you long to blaze new trails in your career path? Do you hope to upskill and make better money for your family and your future? Do you desire to succeed where others before you have failed? Do you hope to innovate and disrupt? Then, simply, you must work.
5. You have to persevere
At around 5:30 in the evening on Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant, which comprised more than half of the site, were engulfed in flames. Between six and eight fire departments rushed to the scene, but the chemical-fuelled inferno was too powerful to put out quickly.
According to a 1961 Reader’s Digest article by Edison’s son Charles, Edison calmly walked over to him as he watched the fire destroy his dad’s work. In a childlike voice, Edison told his 24-year-old son, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They will never see a fire like this again.” When Charles objected, Edison said, “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”
Later, at the scene of the blaze, Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.” He told the reporter that he was exhausted from remaining at the scene until the chaos was under control, but he stuck to his word and immediately began rebuilding the next morning, without firing any of his employees.
Consider what this indefatigable entrepreneur had to say about perseverance:
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Friend, you cannot and you must not quit! You must endure trouble, failure, criticism, rejection, sickness, poverty, and all manner of obstacles if you would grow and succeed in your chosen field of endeavour.
In conclusion, let me ask you again:
- Do you want to change your career?
- Advance in your present role?
- Dramatically upskill?
- Succeed where others have failed?
- Blaze new trails?
- Disrupt a business or an industry?