in Personal Development

Don’t Let Age Hold You Back – A Lesson From Mark Cuban

I’m going through Mark Cuban’s Quora profile and I notice the following question:

How did Mark Cuban open a bar before he was 21 years old?

His response:

I didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t 21. 

Mark Cuban's Bar: Motley's Pub

Mark Cuban’s bar: Motley’s Pub

It’s so simple, but how many of us would do the same?

I know I’ve definitely let my age hold me back many times in life.

When I was younger and my mom would tell me about another kid’s success she had heard from a friend or read in a newspaper, I had always brushed it off. “Yeah, that’s fine, but he’s way older than me. There’s no way I could do that now.”

When I used to write math contests in high school, I would often explain away my mediocre results as a result of not having been taught the concepts yet.

I used age as an excuse a lot. I was always either too young or too old, and found comfort in my story. I’ve since learned that it’s these stories we tell ourselves that greatly limit us from our true potential. Of course age is a factor in any endeavor, but there was no reason why I couldn’t work that much harder to find the same success.

I’ve gotten better with stopping myself from thinking this way, but not completely. When I write, I sometimes question who I am to be writing on topics of the self-improvement nature, given that I’m ‘only’ a 21-year old. It astounds me when I see people who are years older than me, sometimes twice my age, read my work and like it. Thinking this way is clearly a limiting belief, but is one I’m diligently combating every time I write and anxiously hit the publish button.

Playing within the boundaries is safe. It’s easy. Mark could have scrapped his idea to start a bar in half a second, knowing that he was under the legal drinking age. He decided to do it anyway, confident he saw an opportunity (and it was a huge success, as he’s gone on to mention). It goes back to thinking like a child, allowing yourself the option to be a bit naive, and diving in. Age should not be the restricting factor holding us back from great business opportunities, artistic endeavors, or success of any kind. Reinvention can and should happen at any age.

Even if there seemingly is an age restriction, there is usually always a way around it. I played poker underage throughout high school, and I’m not the only one. Tom Dwan, now one of the greatest players, did the same, as did many other top players today. I know I would not have found the same success had I abided by the rules and started two years later.

It seems that rules are sometimes meant to hold back the masses to allow room for those that truly want something. Those that find a way to circumvent them will find the gold. Sometimes, it’s as easy as not telling anyone your real age.

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