What would you rescue if your home suddenly caught fire? It could hold the key to your true career destiny.
I’m passionate about television. I have been since I was a little girl. When I was five years old, our house caught on fire, and when my mother came in my room to rescue me, I rescued my little white portable Sony TV. I didn’t have a favorite doll that I lavished my love on. I adored my Sony instead.
Suze Orman tells a poignant story about a death-defying act that taught her the importance of money more vividly than any lesson. She was also a small child when her father’s store caught fire, and he ran into his burning building to save the cash register, and carried it out, burning hot, in his bare arms. My devotion to my TV and its importance in my life felt like that. Our house practically burned to the ground in the fire, and not very long after that, my mom and dad split. I became a latchkey kid. Until my dad came home from work at night, it was pretty much the TV that kept me company. I tuned in to laugh, learn, and feel safe.
When I grew up, I became a television marketing executive. For the past 20 years, I have been running a brand marketing firm that launches television shows and reinvents television networks. Out of the ashes of that fire, my true destiny was determined.
What really makes you happy? What do you love to do? Who you are can be inferred from the things that interest you most.
Thousands of events, as big as a house fire, as small as a latchkey, go into forming who we are and what’s important to us.
Whether you’re burned out or fired up at work, take a moment to think about what you’d rescue from your home if it were threatened by fire. Beyond your life partner, kids and pets, make a record of those things you love most and just couldn’t part with. It doesn’t matter how many items you list. This little assignment isn’t designed to change who you are. It’s about becoming self-aware and honest with yourself. It requires no judgments, just observation. But if you don’t like what you see, it’s within your power to make changes. Your passions may be buried beneath a pile of work and responsibilities. Just for today, set them aside and dig deep to find the real you.
The Way To Live Deeply Is To Keep Reinventing Yourself
Over the past 18 years, my company has reinvented itself several times. In 1992, Big Fish opened its doors as a promotions firm handling sweepstakes and contests. In the mid-90’s my company became a strategic branding firm. By the new millennium, we were in full swing as a digital advertising agency. In sync with the ebb and flow of business, today the Big Fish tagline is “Reinventing Brands. Reigniting Professionals.” With this positioning, I feel that I am closer to my true career destiny than ever before. I simply love the work I am doing, building major brands and helping people like you uncover your true purpose.
To thrive in business today, you have to embrace change. To live deeply, you have to evolve.
Charles Darwin wrote that, ‘‘Species . . . are still slowly changing by the preservation and accumulation of successive slight favorable variations.’’ Fish, for example, started out as jawless filter feeders with bony armor over a cartilaginous body. Over thousands of years, they developed functioning vertebrae, gills, fins, and jaws— giving them a feeding advantage. The nature of career evolution isn’t much different: You need to periodically evaluate what’s working for you and what isn’t; be willing to preserve your indelible qualities and at the same time vary your look, your style and your thinking in a way that’s advantageous to your situation.
In my case, I listen to my clients and the markets to find what’s next and then take the classes or seminars necessary to master the skills needed to make the shift. For you, it may mean going on a sabbatical, volunteering, trying new sports, teaching a class, or learning a new language. It’s time to think of what action you can take to reach your next peak and resist that doubting voice.
It’s often adversity that spurs companies and people to greatness. Reinventing yourself is the answer.
Change is not your enemy —it’s your ally. Becoming stale, complacent, stagnant—these options are unworthy of anyone who wants to be unforgettable in business.♦