John Legend wasn't always John Legend.

Early on, he sang backup for artists like Kanye West, Alicia Keyes, and Jay-Z. He played piano on a Lauryn Hill song. But except to a small circle of artists, he was relatively unknown.

For example, here's Legend in 2004 singing backup during Kanye's sound check for Dave Chappelle's Block Party

If you had trouble spotting him, Legend stands to the left of the bass player, wearing a brown sweater with dark trim.

Which is basically the point: At that moment, Legend was just one of many.

Except to a few people who mattered. 

According to Block Party producer Amy Fong, "I remember when we were doing the soundcheck and John Legend went up on stage and all of us looked at each other and said, 'Who the f--- is that?' I mean, the voice was amazing."

Two years later, Legend had parlayed his amazing voice -- and songwriting skills -- into the first of his 11 Grammy awards. In time he would become one of only 16 people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award. (Which makes him an EGOT.)

Yet in 2004, he was already John Legend.

Even though few knew it.

Except, possibly, him.

And the same is true for you.

Sometimes, it seems like no one recognizes your skills. Sometimes, it seems like no one recognizes your talent. Sometimes, it seems like no one sees -- or ever will see -- your true potential.

You will be ignored.

Everyone has.

You will be rejected.

Everyone has.

You will fail. Everyone has.

More important, most successful people have, along the way, failed a lot more often than the average person. Those experiences -- overcoming barriers, overcoming setbacks, finding the will to try and try again -- helped make them who they are today.  

Embrace every rejection. Embrace every failure. Own them, learn from them, and take complete responsibility for making sure that next time, you'll make sure things turn out differently.

Everyone starts at zero. Everyone starts with nothing but a dream and a goal and a willingness to stay the course.

John Legend wasn't always John Legend.

Keep grinding. Keep working to improve and progress With time and effort, you will become you: An even better version of who you already are.

Which is all you should ever want to be.