There are people in this world you wouldn’t expect to learn from. It seems most of those people live in my house! Recently, I talked about what I’ve learned from my “special kitty“, now I would like to share some life lessons I learned from my 17 year old brother-in-law. I known him since he was 15, when I started dating his sister and chalked him off as a normal teenager. Then he opened his mouth.
He has one of the most unique minds I’ve came across; one of the most stubborn, self-centrist, scheming millennial; yet also, one of the most forgiving, resilient, DIY kind of servant leaders I have ever met. He lives with me and my wife, and frequently entertains his circle of adventitious friends. Though the years I have seen and heard his stories; some tall tales, some urban legends, but some have taught me a few things.
1. Learn How to Self-Brand Yourself
Like most teenagers, my brother-in-law was trying to find his own identity. He came from a broken home and never really got along with his parents. Unfortunately, for him, he’s named after his father. For reasons only known to him, he dubbed himself a new name, and new identity. All over the small town we live in, and to the millions getting destroyed by him on Xbox Live, he is known as Bubba.
He didn’t let his parents make his identity, he didn’t let his brother-in-law create a brand for him. He went out and carved his initials into the tree of life and made his own name. This is important to everyone. If Prince can turn himself into a symbol and back again, you can forge your own self-brand!
2. Do It Because You Can (If You Can’t, Do It Anyways)
I don’t know if his friends text him every morning, if he has developed telepathy or he just thinks of random things to do, but every morning he comes in the living room with his next big idea. Bubba, at 17, has ran more businesses out of his garage and backyard than Yahoo acquires smaller companies (I think there’s a connection, but he won’t tell me). I even have him down as a co-founder for a venture I’ve been looking to launch in town. I made him co-founder for his entrepreneurial drive that simply amazes me. He’s a natural salesman and even if a venture blows up in his face (Such as a self cooking BBQ pit… literally in his face) the next day he has a new plan penned out and either has started or looking for the right investor to start.
Richard Branson, one of my favorite businessmen, always said “Screw It, Just Do It”. This is advice I fully believe. Nothing should stop you from your dreams, not even yourself.
3. Keep Up With The Times!
I never heard of dubstep until I met Bubba. I thought the new wave of musical taste was still pop-rap. Turns out it’s the sound of bass dropping. Bubba stays with the times, from all theSimpsons/Family Guy/Futurama Crossovers to the sequel to The Conjuring, he likes to stay in the loop. It made me stay with the times, and on occasion ahead of the curve, so I can not be surprised so much when e have a conversation. His friends and him also have their own dialect that I’ve dubbed “Small Town Stoop”. Whenever they are outside on the back porch, you can hear their dialect and many times it’s funny. My wife and I even join in.
Lots of us professionals try to stay informed on the times; either by reading gossip rags (Which should not be read… at all) to business journals. But the times are so vast, focusing on one thing no longer makes you a specialist. It makes you one dimensional in a 3D world.
4. Be Forgiving. Be Fair
It’s one of the most simplest actions, yet many of us still haven’t forgiven others for past transgressions. Bubba is no saint, nor is any of his friends, but when it comes to people he has a patience like one. I have seen him break bread with people whom he previously had fist fights with. If there is any quarrel between his circle and someone, he ensures things go by the book and no additional transgressions
5. Be An Impact Player
When Bubba is not working for himself, he has a full time job at a local fast food joint. While he’s there, he’s a superstar. No one can touch his desire or his sheer will to please customers. I also worked at the same chicken shack with him before branching out, and he’s the one who trained me! Bubba wants something more, but is not afraid to benefit from a survival job until he either gets his GED or builds the next great startup.
Don’t be embarrassed you’re in a survival job. Learn skills you forgot or forge the ones you already have. You can learn from every job and be an impact player in any industry.
I was surprised when I learned these things from my brother-in-law.But looking at the list, I can see that success comes in many forms. Today, I hope you can find success from the point of view of a teenage dropout.