When a close colleague told me they were nominating me for the 40 Under Forty list, The Network Journal’s renowned annual franchise, I was flattered. And when I got the call that I’d been chosen for this year’s list, I was excited. But did receiving the award mean that I’d finally “made it?” That I was finally a success?
It did not. Not for me and not for the other award recipients I spoke to. You see, the reason we were chosen to be this year’s 40 Under Forty in the first place is because we had already decided for ourselves that we were successful. We didn’t wait for our accomplishments to be validated from the outside.
I have always been fiercely ambitious. I’ve always had big dreams and a lofty professional vision. And what I think I’m most proud of is my drive and work ethic—two qualities that have enabled me to fulfill my vision and find success as an entrepreneur. It’s one thing to be successful at an already established company with an already established mission, but it’s an entirely other thing to build your own brand, identify your own mission, and define your own success.
Hustlers know this. And no matter how much recognition and how many awards you receive, the hustle never stops. You can never get comfortable or “rest on your laurels” as they say, because if the focus and the drive slows, the success that it brought will slow as well.
Do I appreciate my award? Most definitely! It’s very gratifying to be recognized for hard work and to know that others see and value it. But myself and the other 39 brilliant individuals that were honored understand that our award means that our grind is working, not that we have reached a point where we can stop grinding.
To all the hardworking entrepreneurs out there, don’t wait for permission to be great. Be the fabulous businessperson and entrepreneur you know you can be. Then, when the accolades do come, you know it’s because you’ve kicked ass and that you deserve it.
Now, let’s work!