At a popular restaurant, a young man with Down’s Syndrome has an important lesson to teach.
Several years ago, he wanted to find a job. He asked an agency that supports people with barriers to help him.
And they did.
His career advisor helped him write his resume, develop and practice his interviewing skills, worked with him on improving his ability to handle human interactions, change and conflict in particular.
The agency also works with employers on diversity hiring and best practices in accomodating special needs and had a roster of opportunities for him to apply to.
After several months, the young man went for an interview and got a job as a dishwasher in a busy restaurant kitchen.
His career advisor stayed connected, helped him adapt to a busy workplace and worked with the employer to develop their comfort in working with the young man’s ‘style’.
After 4 years as a dishwasher, he is a valued member of staff, one of ‘the family’. Well-liked, he is included in all social activities, has made friends and is considered an essential worker, so vital to the organization that even with COVID’s downturn, the organization didn’t lay him off.
One day, the young man announced he wanted to work front-of-house, in particular, the cash register. This is a big move and everyone, including his career advisor who has stayed connected, tries to dissuade him.
“I can do it,” he says. His persistence finally convinces management to give him a chance. They move him to front-of-house as a busyboy. He excels.
After several months, the young man still hasn’t given up on his dream. He wants to work the cashier register and serve customers at the counter.
Several months ago, he got his chance.
He’s a star. Friendly. Always accurate in his work. Steady and solid in his service. Customers love him and the rest of the staff, along with his family and support team and career advisor… They learned a valuable lesson.
Barriers are limitations that haven’t been tested.
Our human minds perceive barriers to be concrete. Immovable. Insurmountable. So why bother testing them?
Everyone involved wanted to protect the young man — taking on such a big challenge left him exposed. “What if you fail?” they asked.
His response, “What if I don’t?”
Next time you face a new opportunity, experience, barrier, ask yourself… What if it’s not about protecting myself from failure? What if, it’s about giving myself the opportunity to succeed?
What if instead of fearing falling, I chose to believe in my wings?