The bullies in high school used to call me “Big Bird the Nerd”.
Tall, awkward, bookish, weird hair, confusing race, glasses, unfashionable…you name it.
There was a lot of raw material there for them to work with.
I’ve mostly gotten over it, except for one small thing:
🤫I’ve been politely declining opportunities to speak in front of high-schoolers.
Since I became an author and coach 2 years ago, I’ve been asked dozens of times to speak to young people.
I get it, I check a lot of boxes when it comes to qualities that might help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
But, I’ve been reluctant.
Rationally, I don’t actually expect high-schoolers to bully me NOW.
I just still had this belief that I don’t have anything of value to offer them.
I didn’t back then as a peer.
I don’t now, as an old(ER) person.
But a few months ago, a colleague from the University of Tennessee asked me to speak to a small elite group of high-schoolers from all across our state who were chosen to be in the Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering.
I finally said, YES.
Honestly, it mostly because UT is one of my best clients and I wanted to continue to foster that relationship.
But also because I needed to follow my own advice: challenge limiting beliefs.
I decided to go all in.
I wore my Big Bird t-shirt and told them that even though I’ve given dozens of keynotes and a TED talk, I’ve never spoken to people like them before.
I also told them why.
Then I launched into my talk “The Ultimate Advice for Highschoolers Interested in Pursuing a Career In STEM”.
Here’s what happened.
1️⃣During the talk: a few kids asked me questions.
2️⃣After the talk: a line formed and I spent another 30 minutes answering every person’s questions!!
3️⃣At the very end, they starting asking if they could take their picture with me!!!
💪🏽Maybe Big Bird the Nerd has something to offer high-schoolers after all!
💡So here’s the take away: Limiting Beliefs are simply assumptions that need to be tested.
Whether it’s been a month, a year, or, like in this case, 30 years that you’ve held on to an assumption that you can’t do something, or you can’t be something, you need to test it to see if it’s really true.
⭐What is one limiting belief about yourself that you can test today?
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