I’ve read a lot lately about leaning in, opting out, contributing to your career community and being all in. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the books, loved watching the TED talks, and been inspired for a moment or two by the eye of the tiger sentiment. It’s a good set of messages. Get in there. Put your best foot forward, fight for what you need, sit at the table, work like crazy, but also be a good mom, get exercise… oh and don’t forget – sleep is actually the most important thing. Right. Got it.
The big questions I think about on my daily commute are less about being an ‘opt in’ mom, or setting a differentiated career path, or making strategic choices…I think about passion, creativity, owning my future, and loving the journey to get to that place. I think maybe you can accomplish parts of this within any career path you chose – I certainly can in my chosen world of branding. But I also think part of it is how you fulfill that burning passion you have that you might often keep on simmer or worse – that you’ve quieted all together in order to get through and be “successful”. What would you do, if you could do anything?
I’m not talking about the ‘win ten million dollars’ daydream. You know you have that one. I do too. It results in a lotto max ticket purchase and a tense Friday evening at least once a month … but to me that’s never never land. That might mean owning an island, or traveling around the world, or having a pet giraffe (seriously – will some big winner please offer that Danish zoo an alternative?) I’m talking about having just enough freedom to take real control of what you do. I don’t know what the mix is, but I think the ingredients are: courage, drive, enough financial freedom to fall down, and a good support network…and faith. Did I miss anything?
Coming back from vacation provides you that space and time to think (a little), and it’s made me really wonder what the answer is. I’ve done a bit of a social experiment over the past couple of weeks ( i love those) and asked a number of colleagues and friends what they would do – if they could do anything. More than 70% of the 36 people I asked answered “I don’t know”. Whether out of embarrassment that their answer is tight rope walking, an ever changing desire, or out of a more common place of just not really allowing one’s self to think about it… it makes me a bit sad. To be totally honest, I don’t know what my complete answer would be either – but I do know it involves a lot more time with my kiddos, and it involves brand work, public speaking, and creativity every day. That’s why I write this. To celebrate those creative moments, most of the time with or for my kids, that make us smile.
We have that Dr Seuss book – Oh the Places You’ll Go – and I read it to our son. He has evolved his decision from hockey star to soccer player (goalie) that plays guitar when he’s off. That makes me smile. I hope he doesn’t ever stop believing in the possibilities, and that mainstream doesn’t quiet his questions, or his songs.
So… what would you do – if you could do anything?