People often ask, “If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?” This is such a great question. It causes you to reflect on the past, and to think back about where your blind spots might have been. The idea is that if you had only known this one detail, your life path might have changed positively in some way.
If I were to go back in time, there is one piece of advice I would give myself, and I’ll share it with you: You’re not too young. You’re not too young to do that job. You’re not too young to manage people. You’re not too young to start a business.
Fortunately, I believed that having a lack of experience wasn’t a deal breaker. I often applied for jobs that I was technically underqualified for, because I knew that I could perform the role. I didn’t let the job description hinder my search. But, this didn’t hold true when it came to my age.
On a few occasions, I was given incredible opportunities that I turned down because I assumed that I was too young. I assumed the person who was offering the opportunity didn’t understand that I wasn’t old enough to do those jobs. For example, when I was a senior in college, I interviewed for an engineering job at Motorola. I was looking for a full time job after graduation. One of the interviewers was so impressed that he asked me if I would consider a manager job. I immediately declined. There was no way I should be managing other people at twenty-one, or so I thought. I delayed managing people for six more years.
But, there was no reason not to try sooner. You don’t have to be a certain age to try things. Some of the people who are the best managers are those who started very young. They have so much more experience, and learned a lot early on. When you are young, people will give you a chance. They’ll forgive your mistakes. It is harder to get this sort of opportunity for the first time at an older age.
In the same way that I was scared, I have heard from many job seekers who also face this fear. They assume they are underqualified and will have no chance. Honestly, it makes sense. Job descriptions are an impossible wish list that includes many years of experience. In fact, I’ve never seen a job description for a manager role that doesn’t call for management experience.
Whether you want to become a manager, or whether you want to start a business, don’t assume you are too young. When you’re young, you have less to lose. You can try things, and if you fall down, there’s time to get back up. But, along the way, you’ll learn many valuable lessons and be better for it in the end.