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“I had to swallow my pride and fear and get out there and do it”
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“I had to swallow my pride and fear and get out there and do it”

Life is sometimes full of hard lessons, but young people needn’t wait until they leave school to learn some of the key principles of assuring success and happiness, according to Eva Maria, a 20-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent in New Zealand.

At the start of last month, I was asked to present at a local High School on the life lessons I’ve learned from my journey of being an author, speaker and consultant.

I was shocked to find that after sending my presentation through, I was asked to write out a new one. Apparently, some of my suggestions and lessons were too ‘provocative’ for the student body, and something that the school didn’t want their students exposed to.

It was an interesting piece of feedback to hear, as I’ve never been censored in such a way before,.So I thought, for this to not go to waste, I’d re-tell some points in the online world (where almost everything is allowed).

Many have heard, or have heard of a speech given by Bill Gates at an American High School on his life lessons. Apart from the fact that I don’t have any sort of billion dollar empire, I’d love to see the day that some of those life lessons are at least discussed at school. After all, isn’t this the institution that’s supposed to prepare youth for the ‘real world’?

At the same time, I know of many schools that have leadership days in which they invite speakers, and teach them some real life lessons. Maybe this school was just a bit too sheltered for the truth. But here we go, my three points that I wanted to share with the school… judge for yourself how it may ‘break’ students as the school thought…

1. You need to work hard
In our generation, somehow we get it into our heads that life is going to be easy. Who can blame us? Our parents are Generation X, or for some, even Baby Boomers and all their life they had to work really, really hard to get whatever they wanted in life. They obviously didn’t want their kids to go through some of the same struggles, so they tried to make an easier life for us – their kids.

Back in the day, some of our parents were working at 13 or 14 years of age, whereas today, that’s illegal! Our parents had to work hard to get their first job, while we expect to have a steady job in our late teens, because we hear of how some of our parents had been promoted to manager positions in their late teens. What we forget, or what our parents forget to tell us is that they had to work up for years before then to get to that position.

You are going to work hard to get to wherever you want to get to – whether it’s a promotion, or starting your own business, or anything else, you’re going to have to get out there and put in the hard yards. That’s what we don’t get told by parents or teachers – not because they’re lying to us, but because perhaps they forgot about their own journey and challenges.

The best advice I was ever given is to choose what I love and put in all my passion, blood, sweat and tears into it. And I have. Have you? What do you want to do? Whether it’s a short term or long term goal, what do you really want from life? Pin point it and get ready for some hard work – there are no shortcuts there!

2. Take the opportunity to be curious
When I first came to New Zealand from Russia, I was the most outgoing child you could ever imagine. Even now, I can’t contain my excitement when telling a friend some good news that I end up telling the whole street rather than the person I’m talking to. But when I came to New Zealand, all of a sudden people were speaking a funny language, and I didn’t understand a thing. So I became really introverted and started to really take in what other people were doing.

I guess my observation skills have stuck with me since that time, but now that I finally know what language everyone is speaking, I can add my extroverted self into any conversation. What I’ve learned over the last four years of being in business, being an author and speaker, is that people think that celebrities and opportunities are out of their reach. If only people knew the truth. I’ve learned to be brave, which is what I’ll touch on in the next point, but the biggest thing I learned is the importance of being curious.

I wrote my first book when I was 17, and luckily, I was invited onto a live radio interview with some of the other top parenting authors of the country. After the interview, I e-mailed all of them – even the ones that I disagreed with on the radio, and expressed my gratitude and honour for the opportunity to be heard alongside them on national radio. One replied. But you know, that one was, and still is the biggest, most respected parenting author in the country.

The busiest people are the ones that have enough time for everyone and I now know this and am not afraid to e-mail or even call some of my most admired heroes. This parenting author is now one of my dearest mentors and friends, and always makes time for me when I’m in her city and vise versa. The lessons she’s taught me and all the information she’s helped me out with has been priceless.

Get a mentor, contact whoever can help you. Even if they’re at the very top of their game they may always have time for you! Take some time to be curious about the world around you – whether it’s contacting someone you think is out of reach, or doing some extra research about some topic, job, or person – just do it! What’s the worst that could happen?

3. Learn to be brave
So you work hard and you’re curious about the opportunities out there. Even with all of this, you need to learn to be brave. Many self-esteem books will tell you to be yourself, but the beauty of life is in taking risks. I used to hate public speaking. I mean I used to love being the centre of attention, but as I became more and more introverted when I came to New Zealand, I bought into the whole ‘public speaking is worse than death’ belief.

I had to get out of it, because very early on, I realized that in order to get the message – my precious message of how people can build better relationships with each other – across to many people, I was going to need to get out of my limiting belief. The fear used to really get to me, but I knew it was for the best. I knew I was going to have to swallow my pride and fear and get out there and do it for the people. Without sounding like some sort of revolutionary, I knew my message was going to really help people.

Sometimes when following your dreams, you need to be brave. Do you think Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t scared about getting up and speaking about something that he truly believed in with all those people watching him? But his passion and vision drove him. He could have hidden in his room and stuck with the life he was given, but his belief that his vision was for the greater good of people, drove him to get out there.

Your fear may not be public speaking – it might be getting out there and contacting J.K. Rowling – who knows! But if you really believe in what you’re doing, get out there – be brave, and just do it!

What advice would you give to youth today? What do you wish you knew when you were 13, 16, or 19?


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/



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