Sometimes Being Unfocused is the Risk You Need to Take
I was accused recently of being unfocused. This lady challenged me to decide whether I was a coach, a writer, or a TV personality. She couldn't imagine that one person could do all of these well and so she told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was just probably being average at all of them.
After coming up for air and licking my wounds, I thought about it for a while and then realized that I've been incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I love. I have been working more on a part time basis for the past few years as my son was a toddler. He's entering kindergarten this year and am planning on going back full time this year. But because of this woman's attempt to "kick me in the pants" to get focused on either TV or coaching, I decided to seriously evaluate.
I've realized that sometimes peoples' paths aren't on automatic pilot. Sometimes they take some incredible detours to get to where they want to go. Sometimes, bad things happen, or we mess up. I remember in my early days of giving workshops and seminars. I would leave the place and literally beat myself up mentally for the wrong things I said or didn't say. I would feel incredibly silly or stupid at how I must have appeared to the people. I remember my face turning deep red, even when no one was around, at the mere thought of what I had said to the group in which I spoke.
Now? 10 years later? I love giving workshops because I love helping people. In all of those years, I've been tossed thousands of questions on coaching, communication, personalities or problems and have learned so much. I'm not stumped as easily these days and even if I am, I'm 100% certain that someone in the audience will know the answer and I'm not afraid to say that I don't know the answer. There is a certain comfort in knowing that you don't have to know EVERYTHING.
And then I think about the TV work I've done. I agree I haven't landed the BIG ONE, which would be my own national show, but I've done extremely well for a person who didn't pursue TV as a career for starters. I've done local reporting, anchoring, been a guest, a host, been on national TV, 20/20, QVC and pretty much could be camera ready wherever and whenever I needed to be. I love the thrill of TV and the people in the industry. It's fun and I know now that I've gotten more comfortable at it.
I think about the writing that this woman thought was a waste of my time. She's known me a year and she makes this judgment? Has she seen the dozens of notebooks that I tote around in every move of the thousands of hours that I've spent logging my life and my experiences? I've been journaling since I was 12, and haven't stopped. Does that qualify me to write professionally? Does it qualify me to share the stories of the many wonderful people that I know? Does anyone really NEED to give me permission?
What about you? Do you have untapped dreams inside your heart that you are dying to let go? Perhaps you just don't know how to go about letting them lose and getting them to the place of realization. I've been there. Sometimes you just have to jump and let the net appear.
Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't, but you will learn. And you will get better. Perhaps you are satisfied to have tried something, even if you didn't get to the top of your game with it. Perhaps you just wanted to experience it, like the time I did 146 miles per hour around the race track during the Richard Petty Driving experience. I know I'd never want to pursue car racing on a competitive level, but the exciting experience of flying around the track that fast was a major thrill. Maybe you have one, or a dozen things that you'd just like to try. Can you imagine how fun that can be? Can you imagine if you don't do them just because other people wouldn't?
I've thought of all of the mavericks that are in the world and how they must have been criticized. They've been told they can't do something or shouldn't do something just because of their age, sex, race or background. They've been criticized for some hair brained idea, or trying new job after new job or they've moved from place to place, trying to find the right fit. It happens to anyone who doesn't want to settle. It'll happen to anyone who doesn't want to be told how to live.
I'm one of those people. I've made mistakes for sure, but I've also been able to strike out and go on a journey that has taken me all over the country many times. I've had experiences that many people will never get in a life time. I've probably screwed up more times than most people too, but I've learned from my mistakes. I've tried and I've succeeded, and I've tried and I've failed. And it's made me more compassionate. It's made me less judgmental, and given me the ability to not have to take myself so seriously.
But being the risk taker isn't for the faint hearted. It isn't for the people who have the top value of security. Those people are best suited for a corporate job their whole life. But for people whose value is adventure, or experience or to challenge themselves, then being accused of being unfocused is JUST the thing that will tell you that you are on the right path. The accuser probably has met you in the middle of your journey, and not at the place where the picture all fits together perfectly.
So strike out and get in gear. Get out there and see all of the wonderful places that your heart can take you. You'll never know who you'll meet and where you'll land but one thing is for sure: You won't be having regrets at the end of your life for not trying. You'll be playing the game of life by your rules.
And whose game is it that you're playing anyway? Theirs or YOURS?
Mary Gardner is an Executive Communications Consultant and Coach. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She enjoys seeing the best come out in people and has fun in the process. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5 and lives in Orlando, FL.
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