Aren’t You Too Young For That? (Pt. 1)

3 min read

brown tiger cub on green field
brown tiger cub on green field

Aren't you too young for that?

I heard this a lot when I was younger.

There is this thinking that you have to pay your dues, get an acceptable experience, and follow a specific, narrow path before you can chase your dreams.

Not only does this thinking attempt to create a lot of cookie-cutter professionals, but it makes us think we have to wait.

We don't.

I remember my first gig when a member of the board challenged my qualifications–and age–to run things and serve as an executive.

I handled this bureaucratic nuisance by implementing a policy where all staff "refused" titles in the effort to make our service-oriented workplace more equitable. So there were no executives and we could get to important work.

More importantly, I ignored his doubts because I knew that he wasn't supportive and was not going to be helpful, because his priorities were fundamentally off.

Instead of encouraging us to build and help us out, he was more concerned with titles and whether I had paid my dues.

(If he'd asked, he would have learned that yours truly imported and sold Italian-made car filters at 13, worked with UNICEF at 14, managed $2.6 million budget at 19, and had a staff of 50 at 21 . . . but I digress.)

This was one of those: it's impossible until someone does it.

And since he wasn't going to do it, he didn't believe anyone else could.

Once I raised dollars, expanded programming, and exponentially grew participation, he became the biggest cheerleader.

This taught me two important lessons:

1) People will doubt you until you prove them wrong.

Doubt their doubts or, if you can, ignore them altogether.

Even better, use their doubts as a motivation, a wind that propels you forward rather than an obstacle that blocks you. It's not like trusting their doubts is going to be helpful — to you or them.

People often doubt because of their own inner inabilities and insecurities. It's got nothing to do with you!

2) Whenever you feel ready to do something, just go for it.

It doesn't matter whether you're 25 or 45 or 95.

Here some examples to inspire you:

  • Mozart's first documented composition, a Minuet in Trio in G major, was composed when he was only five years old.

  • Alexander the Great conquered countries as an 18-year-old and was only 32 by the time he was hailed the greatest general of antiquity.

  • Blaise Pascal was 19 when he developed a calculator.

  • Alexander Hamilton was in his early 30's when George Washington selected him as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

  • Look at the courageous and bold Malala – she was only 17 when she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Anne Frank was 16 when she was killed by the Nazi regime, but her love for writing and willingness to put a pen to paper has educated generations on dangers of racism and bigotry.

  • Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein exposed the Watergate Scandal (that led to President Nixon's resignation) at 29 and 28, respectively.

  • Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, Musk, et al – all founded multibillion dollar companies in their 20's.

You don't have to uncover scandals that topple a president, write best-sellers, create multibillion dollar tech companies, or risk your life to advance the lot of others, but you're never too young to chase your dreams, do what you love, and take chances.

In fact, it's much easier to take risks and try things when you're younger: the cost of failure is lesser, you bounce quicker, and you don't have the curse of too much experience that can be paralyzing to many — so don't waste the opportunity!

Seize the day!