Friday, June 5, 2015
The Challenge of Yes
Want to learn about yourself? Say "Yes!" to every opportunity.
This might not sound like ground-breaking insight material, but if you try it for a while, I guarantee you'll end up doing something either you swore you'd never do, or you'll swear you'll never do it again.
I was trying to explain to someone why my career path is a bit <ahem> circuitous. I did not end up as a writer in a straight shot from cradle to now. I worked very hard at attaining certain degrees, accreditations, and certifications - none in any MFA program, and all in law, banking, or finance - only to shrug my shoulders when a different venture was presented.
Opportunities popped up by way of casual conversations with friends. When working for a Boston bank (which was after realizing that a career in law for someone who is conflict adverse was not a good choice), a close associate asked if I loved my current job (no) if I was interested in something different (yes) and would I join her and start a company - in children's furnishings. Yes, and I discovered that working in the venture capital and start-up worlds was fascinating. Hating numbers didn't stop me from saying yes to being a professor of finance, even though the thought now makes me laugh. Once, when I went actively looking for a career change, I reached out for advice from a longtime friend who was a biotech recruiter. I was intending to get some insights into effective job hunting strategies I could apply to opportunities in the investment or banking industries and to the core of my experience. She told me to not bother looking for a job and asked me to work with her placing research scientists in pharmaceutical firms. Huh? I said, "Yes" and ended up in Beijing and Shanghai where my clients were! Writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Nature came about from out-of-the-blue connections with casual associates. Even today, I help manage an indie rock band because they reached out to me and asked if I would. Sure! Why not give it a shot!
Some not-so-good forays were to say "Yes" to modeling. The glamour of exotic places and beautiful clothes was shaded by creepy guys with hooded eyes - ew! - but it paid for college and beyond. Another was to try my hand at being a windsurfing instructor during college. I'm of Irish decent. The sunburn was epic.
What did I learn? I learned that I'm highly adaptable, can absorb lots of complex information and synthesize it into readily digestible communications. I am fiercely determined, am highly attuned to how others hear my message, and I can sell. I am observant and a sponge for details. Oh, I also learned to either use sunblock or stay indoors.
Saying yes gave me many different experiences to draw from. Personalities, body types, quirks, perspectives, sights, and sounds have been squirreled away for future use.
Perfect for writing.