Please don’t misunderstand me. In my lexicon, humility is not self-deprecation. Conversely, confidence does not mean arrogance. To borrow a sports metaphor, you have to act like you’ve been there before. For Latinos, that means knowing you deserve to be in the room.
My interview with J.C. Gonzalez-Mendez solidified this for me. With a career that spans more than 25 years with McDonald’s, J.C. is the perfect example of what hard work and preparedness — even of the unexpected — can lead to.
J.C.’s life is a remarkable one, and I won’t soon forget his friendliness and hospitality. But as he told me his life’s story, I was repeatedly struck by the way he carried himself. He’s a confident man to be sure. But that assured confidence won’t allow for arrogance. He knows who he is.
He never once said what he was owed or what he should have. In describing his climb up through McDonald’s, he only spoke of what his goals were, and then laid out how he achieved them. Or simply, as J.C. says, he never changed his goals and didn’t allow others to deny them either.
He left Mexico only because he knew he would come back running McDonald’s Mexico when he did. It might sound of legend (his mom always thought so), but in order for J.C. to achieve that goal, he had to see himself there, set the plan to make it happen, and then work ridiculously hard to do so.
Still don’t believe confidence has a lot to do with success? Who leaves a high-ranking in position to work inside a McDonald’s restaurant? Only someone who knows that they can reach even higher by doing so. Self-confidence matters. Planning matters. Execution matters.
Our feature story on young chef, Marco Bahena demonstrates that young Latinos are learning this lesson, too. And it’s a good thing. Marco just graduated from Kendall College, but he is already nationally known. He is humble about his success, but not his skills. He didn’t win one of the most prestigious cooking competitions for amateurs by self-effacing for two days. He put in the work, and the predetermined goal was achieved.
Remember, I never said you didn’t need humility; I just said it was overrated. J.C. acknowledges the role his family and team play in his success. “You have to have a good partner,” I remember he said of his wife.
But, like J.C., you have to first have a goal, and then fulfill it. Then, you don’t have to pretend like you’ve been there before. You can sit there with confidence knowing you belong there.