47: The Power of Positive Pigheadedness

47: The Power of Positive Pigheadedness

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

The Power of Positive Pigheadedness

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

~Colin Powell

“I’m too old,” I wailed. “No one wants to hire a middle-aged woman. I’m doomed. What am I going to do?”

As dramatic as it sounded, I was dead serious. After my divorce, I felt so defeated and hopeless I really believed I would end up destitute.

The jobs I qualified for wouldn’t pay enough to support a household, and I was past the age where moving up the ladder was a likely option.

“You should start a business,” a friend advised.

“Doing what?” I was still mired in self-pity. During my married life, I’d focused on raising my children, supporting my husband’s endeavors and publishing a few books and articles on the side. I knew I could write well, but even though I’d been publishing for decades, I’d never made any real money doing it.

She shrugged. I realized no matter how much she wanted to help, I had to find my own solution.

As I saw it, I had two choices: wallow or get creative.

I tried wallowing for a while. It didn’t suit me. Too passive.

So, I took an inventory. What did I have going for me? I sat down and made a list of my existing talents and abilities. I included my curiosity, love of learning and stubbornness. My pig-headedness was legendary. Silly me, for years I thought it was a fault. Little did I know it would be the secret ingredient that would take me from despair to destiny.

Personality assessments helped me identify my strengths. One test said that my smartest career move would be “any job where you’re paid to be opinionated.”

I looked in the paper but didn’t see anything that met that criterion.

I could get paid for my opinions if I had my own business, but if I wanted people to listen, I had to have information worth hearing.

It wasn’t a straight line from where I was to where I wanted to end up. My long-term goal required training, and the short-term goal, survival, demanded an income. Fitting both into my days wouldn’t be easy.

I tried different combinations of paid work and study time. I sampled jobs the way Goldilocks tried porridge. One was too hot, another too cold. In the background, hungry bears hovered, ready to eat me if I didn’t keep moving forward.

I tried real estate, then retail sales. The Christmas chaos renewed my commitment to make a change.

My marketing and advertising background was an asset, but times had changed. To catch up, I would dive into this new world, reading and doing research, taking online classes and soaking up knowledge. I got a job with a software company managing their social media. This was a while ago, when social media was still a new concept. It was a disaster.

The experience made me want to understand what went wrong.

If it’s true you learn more from your failures than from your successes, I was on the fast track to becoming an expert.

I took a novice class on how to build websites.

Yikes! There was so much information. Most of it was over my head. I struggled, fell behind and dropped out.

At this point, my secret ingredient, politely referred to as tenacious determination, kicked in. I refused to abandon my goal.

This was not going to defeat me.

A few months later, I took the course again. This time I kept extensive notes and did every assignment.

Things were beginning to make sense.

I made websites for family members and for myself. They were pretty simplistic, but gave me a chance to practice. I experimented, crashing my own sites, then figuring out how to fix them.

Tackling and solving problems increased my confidence.

I took an advanced website development course. Again I found myself over my head, so I repeated it until I got it.

The next step required finding real clients.

Terrified and tentative, I forced myself to go to professional mixers and events, where I tested out my elevator speech.

Initially I led with my identity as a writer. This usually ended the conversation.

I reframed my introduction.

“I build websites,” I told them. “And help companies and individuals with marketing and promotion.”

People hired me.

I’d done it!

I built a business from scratch. Taking what I knew and expanding it, ignoring the negative little voices along they way that insisted I couldn’t do it.

It’s been five years now and I’ve settled into my niche. Websites and graphic design keep the hungry bears satisfied, and I write every day. I’ve found a balance doing work I love.

Rebooting a computer clears out the old cache, eliminating those things that prevent it from functioning well.

Rebooting a life does the same. It’s a fresh start, bringing together who you are, what you know, what you’re willing to learn, and where you want to go.

And don’t forget the power of positive pig-headedness. It’s the final ingredient that can make all the difference in your success.

~Lynn Kinnaman

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