Immigration is the greatest transition. For an immigrant, the first few years are hard and traumatic, impacting their social and emotional well-being. Their confidence is shaken as learned skills are not translatable in the new environment. They need to navigate their way using a new language in an unfamiliar culture without their network or family support. Adding to their stress is uncertainty over visa status and a restrictive work permit. This amounts to an enormous obstacle for an immigrant.
Despite these obstacles, immigrants' rate of success is surprisingly high! Recent statistics show almost half of Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. 44/100 top Fortune 100 companies were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants including Ford, Apple and AT&T. Coincidence? It is not! Only 14.4% of the American population is an immigrant and 11.7% is second generation! This means leaving it to chance alone, only 26% of the Fortune companies should have a first- or second-generation immigrant as a founder. That is almost half of the current statistics!
A study by the American Immigration Council reported immigrants are twice as likely to become entrepreneurs compared to their American counterparts. Also, “more than half of the people working in five industries—manufacturing, construction, information, general services, and professional/scientific/technical services—are foreign-born residents,” paying 11.4 billion dollars in state and federal taxes in Silicon Valley alone.
What does all this mean?
Regardless of the magnitude of the challenges, immigrants have a secret way to flourish,to grow and thrive. This makes an immigrant a great resource for inspiration and education.
Reading countless articles and books and coaching countless immigrants in their success journey, I found few critical skills that set successful immigrants apart.
Immigrants acquire an ability to start from zero and build life gradually. This gradual growth is something that Darren Hardy talks over and over in his book "The Compound Effect". It is also what Jeff Olson believes is the key to success in his book "The Slight Edge". Instinctively, this is something that successful immigrants master while transitioning into their new country. They don’t learn it from anyone or read it in a book; instead, they live it every day. Patiently, they build upon their successes every day, which amount to great accomplishments years later.
Easy? No! Behind this ability lies an unwavering desire to pursue their dream.
"Grit"According to Angela Duckworth, best-selling author of , success results from passion and perseverance. Immigrants have a healthy dose of both. With their desire to achieve a better life for themselves and for their families, they persevere through difficulties. In other words they have a powerful WHY and they persevere.
Immigrants are one of the strongest people I have met. To them nothing was more traumatic than leaving their careers, family, network, community, language, culture and starting their life all over again. The task is often so difficult that by comparison, it makes any other challenge trivial and possible. This reminds me of the famous quote by Friedrich Nietzsche:
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
In addition, their unique path enables them to practice optimism. As taught by Martin Seligman, father of positive psychology, being optimistic is the recipe for happiness and success. The ability to look past complications and to find a silver lining in any scenario, paired with their opportunistic views, allows immigrants to be especially successful in creative, entrepreneurial settings. Companies such as eBay, Google, Tesla, Edible Arrangements are by-products of these abilities.
Overall, when it comes to transition, nothing beats immigration. From economic hurdles to social challenges, immigrants bear it all. However, an immigrant does not allow challenges to hold them back from success. Instead, most strive to build their “American Dream.” In this article, I share a few essential attitudes that enable an immigrant to achieve success post their great transition. So, whether you are starting a new business, transitioning into a new job, environment, or even relationship, you can practice these attitudes and build your success the immigrant way!
Comment below about how this article inspired you to make your own transition a success. If you have other thoughts, share them with us and with our community.
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