• Xiao Mei Xu

Inexperienced Doesn't Mean Disqualified

You're just as great as you believe you are.


Many artists and entrepreneurs struggle when it comes to pursuing their goals, because they feel like they don’t have what it takes. A nationwide survey carried out by Ernst & Young, and the Economic Innovation Group in 2016 shows that while 62% of millennials have considered starting their own business, only 22% believe that entrepreneurship is the best way to get ahead. 42%, according to this report, give up because they lack the physical resources for success—how many more of us give up on our dreams for the thought that we ourselves are simply not enough? 


We recently launched a campaign based on the concept that the fruit that you bear is a result of the work you put in, and that the work you put in is a result of who you are. At first glance it might sound pretty vague, however, when you take another look, you’ll start to see and understand how this concept applies to everything you’ll ever do in this life. Sometimes we find ourselves frustrated and overwhelmed, because we place a massive focus on the results before we’ve ever even taken a moment to understand the source of the work (ourselves!). And that’s what I want to talk about today. At KIRUNIVERSE, we believe the first step to improvement always begins with reflection of the self. And no matter what you see when you look in the mirror, no matter where you are in your journey, being inexperienced is not the same as being disqualified. Allow me to break it down using an anecdote from my high school experience. 


AVOID INCOMPETENCE LABELLING

My transition from a small, unknown middle school to the top magnet high school in New York was much rougher than what a teenager might normally face. Being a school that required children to pass an entry exam to even attend, the curriculum and student body reflected the high standards of which I was wholly unprepared for. My classmates, however, seemed to all have had previous knowledge of the classes I’d only heard of by name. When I asked how, they revealed that they either had already taken those courses from similarly rigorous middle schools or had taken preparatory classes outside of school. While my peers were quickly adjusting to the fast paced lessons, I, on the other hand, struggled to retain all the new material despite studying for hours after school. My grades began to slip for the first time in my academic career, and as a result, my helplessness fostered a negative belief that I was incompetent and destined for failure.

Based on research by Bruce Winick from the American Psychological Association, incompetence labeling demotivates individuals from engaging in the activity that causes them to feel inferior and may significantly lower their self-esteem and serve as a catalyst for clinical depression. 


This fear of failure and feeling inferior might prevent many from trying to re-engage in the strenuous environment or activity, but that decision will only lead to a dead end path. Being great doesn’t mean being the best. Even if I wanted to be the smartest student in calculus class, there was always that student who had a natural efficacy for logarithms and derivatives who achieved perfect scores on all their tests. Comparing yourself to others’ accomplishments will leave you in a cycle of inferiority and dissatisfaction. Success comes only from reflecting back on yourself: striving to be a better version of yourself today as compared to yesterday. Actively strive to take paths towards self-improvement. When I finally came to this realization, I began to take action to succeed in my academic life. 


KNOW WHAT YOU DO, AND KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T

The first step to self-improvement is reflecting back on yourself and determining your strengths and weaknesses. You can spend some time creating a list of areas you are strong in and areas you can improve in for any aspect of life, be it your career, academics, etc. There are also personality tests that can determine your strengths and weaknesses for you based on set personality types. Take some time to find what works for you and really learn more about yourself so you can grow and improve in whatever areas you see fit.


WHATEVER YOU NEED RIGHT NOW, IT’S CLOSER THAN YOU THINK

The first action I took to improve my grades was reaching out to the smarter students in my classes to work together on assignments I struggled with. They explained to me concepts in ways that I couldn’t have understood just by reading a textbook alone. I also reached out to teachers and asked questions to further solidify my understanding of the material. Neither of the two parties judged me for not understanding, but rather, encouraged me to always come to them for help and wished me the best. Because I actively pursued ways to improve my academics, not only did that happen, but I acquired a new skill - collaboration. In business it’s no different. Starting your own brand requires collaboration, and knowing who to collaborate with is key. 


KNOW YOUR RESOURCES.

Maybe you have a friend, or a family member who has achieved what you are looking for. Or maybe it’s a friend of a friend, or someone a couple degrees removed from your personal network. Pay attention to who you’re surrounded by, and try to learn about how the experiences of others can help you. Even if you can’t find someone in real life, remember that Google is your best friend. Whatever it is you're trying to do, you can use Google to reach out to people who have done it before. If you’re serious about building a brand, here are some research resources to assist you.


Being great does not mean you need to know everything. Being open to understanding what you don’t know can help you overcome uncertainty, and surrounding yourself with people who have different experiences than you can help you to build something bigger than you could have ever dreamed.