There is no miracle, no magical life-altering experience, or one-of-a-kind talent. On the contrary, it is extremely ordinary. So ordinary that, in fact, it could be the story of anyone. But it is not. This is the story of Laura Kukemelk.
Growing up in Estonia, a tiny country in Europe, which had just regained its independence from Soviet Union, it was a land of exponential growth. Suddenly exposed to the wonders of technology and the possibility of travel, the 1990s gave a glimpse of hope and a dream of a better future for every Estonian. Or at least, so I've heard, as I was born in 1993 - merely two years after the end of a very long occupation period. Why is this relevant? Well, I believe it paints an important picture of the belief system and the cultural background that I come from. My parents grew up in a vastly different world than I. The idea of being able to travel anywhere else but the Soviet Union was preposterous. The imagination of being completely free in your life’s choices was just a dream. You were expected to talk a certain way, to behave a certain way, and to struggle and fight for everything that you want. Nothing was guaranteed.
It is only natural that this type of background started to gradually influence my own thinking as well. To me, that meant that it was extremely important to study hard, to have discipline, to even postpone fun, if necessary… because there were no guarantees for success besides one: work hard.
Giving up was not an option. Choosing easy instead of right was not an option. Forgetting your obligations and promises was not an option. I was encouraged from a very young age to push for excellence, to work hard.
And that is the reason why I was very successful in high school (graduated valedictorian) and also university (graduated cum laude). That is also the reason why all 3 of my brothers have been very successful in building their careers. After all, hard work and discipline beat talent, when talent is not working very hard.
This belief system has provided me with the structure and self-motivation to always keep on pushing no matter what. But whether it was my personality or my insecurities, at times I tended to take this work ethic too far. I thought, I cannot afford to mess up or choose wrongly, as it may lead me to an unsuccessful path.
I often compared myself to others, and dreamed of having a powerful and well-respected position at a prestigious company. I believed it would bring me self-worth and self-belief, as well as the respect of others. I don't know why, but in my head these two things were always separate and even contradictory: work and career on the hand, and personal happiness on the other. I didn't think I could have both at the same time, and I was always willing to choose work over happiness. I thought it made me strong and that it was an advantage over those who couldn't even figure out in which field they wanted to work in.
I was mesmerized by the idea of acknowledgement and professional success. Even though, in my heart, I knew I was afraid of doing most of the things that would actually lead me to a powerful career. I often chose to turn a blind eye to the possibilities that would force me to get out of my comfort zone, such as speak out at a meeting. I told myself that I will be rewarded with the right position and money and respect one day. I just had to keep on pushing.
It hurt me when others around didn't seem to notice how hard I worked. Or that they didn't reward me with more responsibility, even though I believed I deserved it. It was a period of self-doubt and unhappiness. I kept on waiting for somebody to wave their magic wand and give me everything I had dreamed of. Yet, I was not willing to take any risks, not willing to leave my comfort zone and not willing to stand out.
That meant, I needed to overcome the biggest obstacle: myself and my limited mindset.
I was fortunate to have a mentor in my life: Mari-Liis Vaher. She pushed me and forced me to work on myself at a time when I did not see the need for it. I thought that by shifting the focus from my work and my career to myself as a person, I'd just lose time necessary for building my career.
But the more I learned about myself and psychology, the more interested I became in it.
- I started realizing that my subconscious mind had so often led my decisions out of fear.
- I started hearing the negative self-talk I practised daily.
- I started seeing the unhealthy lifestyle choices that had drained me from energy and excitement.
- I started recognizing the patterns that had so many times led me to unhappiness, self-hatred, and jealousy.
But by being able to let go of all the things that kept me stuck in negativity and by realizing how I had been the one limiting myself from success, I was able to start rebuilding a strong and positive foundation for my life.
- I started feeding my brain regularly with new and inspiring information.
- I started enforcing positive habits in my life and I started tracking those habits by creating attainable goals for myself.
- And, I started achieving these goals and sharing the positive changes with others in my life.
My family has always believed in my ability to succeed, even if I did not believe in myself. Even if I felt I was wasting time, or that I was not where I was supposed to be. We do push each other for greatness, but it is motivated by the right intentions. So, having such a strong force of power backing me up has allowed me to take leaps of faith even when I felt unsure.
It was not an easy choice to focus on self-development. It did not happen overnight. It took time and discipline and routine and habits, and it is still a choice I make every day, because I know how easy it is to fall back to negativity and comfort otherwise. But it is a choice I make willingly, because I have seen the results firsthand on myself and I believe in its universal power.
By the way, when I shifted my focus from work-only to growth and self-development, I started seeing great progress in my career as well. I grew from an entry-level marketer to a marketing manager to a company co-owner and a marketing expert. Through self-belief I inspired others to believe in me as well. I was able to form strong business relationships with people who had once seemed 'scary' and 'way more important than me'. I found courage to speak up and to share my ideas. I was able to push myself to do the things I never imagined I’d be capable of doing, such as one-to-one business meetings with key clients, networking, LIVE webinars and marketing on a global scale.
Looking back, I realize that my growth journey was not a random moment of luck. It was a process that is repeatable by anyone eager to get in charge of their life, too.
My growth journey is also the journey of Powerful Marketer Program - an online training program for marketers that contains the blueprints to powerful transformation. In fact, my story is just one powerful example of proof. Please make sure you also read Maritta’s story HERE.
By breaking my transformation of 5 years into smaller actionable steps, you get 5 key areas:
- Mindset: understanding yourself, your background and its influences, overcoming limiting beliefs, enforcing positive habits, rewiring your brain for positivity, and battling anxiety and fear.
- Subconscious mind: giving yourself tools and information that helps you to make better-informed decisions, feeding your brain valuable knowledge and keeping your professional competence sharp.
- Professionalism: having discipline to create, adapt, follow and analyze long-term and tactical plans, track your results and know when to intervene.
- Communication skills: being able to communicate with different people, regardless of their age, generation or personality type, and having the courage and knowledge to make new meaningful connections.
- Leadership: taking control of your time, life and dreams, knowing how to inspire others, as well as yourself.
Although the transformation in my life has been great, I do believe it is just the beginning. I feel that I now have the right tools to keep on building, creating and changing. Because one thing in life is sure - change is constant.
My vision of my dream life consists of many other aspects besides work, such as having a family of my own, travelling the world, always learning, giving back, and much more. I do believe I am in charge of making it a reality, as in the heart of it all is my promise to never let fear hold me back again.