Despite past involvement with the criminal justice system and drugs, despite problems with school, thousands upon thousands of young adults like yourself manage to make it each year. They graduate from high school or earn a GED.
They find and keep jobs, attend college, raise families, and give back to their communities. You may have taken a few wrong steps along the way, yet you remain—and always will be—more than just the sum of your mistakes. Everyone develops at a different pace, and you shouldn’t
be judged by anyone (including yourself) for your own timeline.
If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that an adult labeled you “at-risk at some point.” What they didn’t realize is that you’re not at-risk— you’re “at-opportunity.” Even right now, by cracking open this book, you’ve proved that you have what it takes to make it, and you possess more resilience than most people can understand. Why? Because you moved past all the obstacles mounted against you to get here. And you made it. Congratulations—you’re at the starting line for your success.
You probably weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but don’t go thinking you’re empty handed. You’re rich in a long history of others who overcame a lot to become something great. And if all those people could do it, then you can too.
Most older folks try to pretend that their generation never had any issues, that they blossomed right into adulthood as saints. The truth is that each generation has had beef with the generations that came before them. The weed-smoking hippies of the sixties grew into the Wall Street execs of the eighties, leading this country to its greatest economic recession in eighty years. Those dropouts of the seventies are now the ones regulating the information superhighway. And the party animals of the eighties? They’re now raking it in as the Shark Tank entrepreneurs of today. It’s high time that you and your generation get yours.
What trapped the young people of earlier generations and may be tripping you up now is a survival mindset. When you’re in survival mode and caught in an immediate-results environment, the wants of today become stronger than the glimmering promise of tomorrow.
You develop immediate-results habits, reinforced by a society that glorifies the fast, the now, and the moment. The problem is that the first prerequisite for success is shifting that mindset to a delayed-results one. Unfortunately for us, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution pushes us back into that “gimmee now” mentality.
We develop habits through the continuous use of tools, beliefs, values, and behaviors. If you think about it, people wake up in the morning holding onto the same attitudes about school that they had all year. They hold the same old beliefs about opportunity, never really getting out there or never really trying to get a job. They let their disappointments or fear of failure be their reason for giving up. Maybe they’re saying they value education, yet they can’t remember the last time they put in more than two hours of straight studying; maybe they say that they want a job, but they refuse to stop using drugs to pass a drug test.