Monday, 25 April 2016

Teachers who told me I would never amount to anything

"As a kid I was dyslexic and had bad eyesight. That meant I often couldn't see the writing on the blackboard and even when I could, I still couldn't read it.

Unfortunately it took a long time before either problem was recognized. Before that I was simply labeled lazy, unwilling or stupid. By the time I was fifteen I was three years behind and very unhappy. Then one day I decided to drop out of school and apply to the circus school. Officially I was too young but I was determined and had talent for juggling so my parents supported my decision.

The teachers at my school weren't so supportive. They took turns trying to persuade me to stay and all said the same thing: "If you drop out now you will never amount to anything."

They tried to persuade me by threatening me but their strategy had the opposite effect: I felt liberated and even more determined to choose my own destiny. I figured if leaving meant starting from zero and being labeled as an outcast, than everything I would accomplish from now would be to my own credit. I felt empowered and excited at the opportunity to design my own life without someone else telling what I could and couldn't do.

For me that was a defining moment. I've always felt like the rules didn't apply to me and I could do what I wanted. After I graduated circus school I applied to an art academy, graduated cum laude, and then started my first Internet business, one I sold three years later.

Although you never start a company alone and I had many partners to thank, I did feel I truly earned my success as a self-made man when we signed those contracts, and I definitely thought back to those teachers who told me I would never amount to anything."

-- Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, founder of The Next Web


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