I’m not really into The Avett Brothers. I like one song, and that song happens to be Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full of Promise. I could truly care not so much about any other songs by the Avett Brothers #sorrynotsorry.
The reason I love this one tune so much is because of one statement: “Decide what to be and go be it.” A very simple, but powerful, one liner. It speaks volumes to me, especially since I posted about how I’m finally on track with that I truly love, who I am surrounding that, and what I want to do with it.
Rule number one: You will never figure out your purpose if you’re not sure who you are or what gifts you have that a lot of other people don’t. And everyone has something that they are probably really good at that other people aren’t, so I don’t want to hear this whole “I suck at everything” junk. Note: This isn’t about comparing yourself to other people; it’s about tapping into what you possess that can be a driving force.
When I started thinking about my successes in life, I realized that so many of them come from my ability to influence other people somehow. I have a way to getting other people to adopt my perspectives and ideas. My bestie once said that I “literally don’t take no for an answer,” and the truth is that I don’t really hear the word “no.” I’m not sure why, but I’m able to make a flawless case for almost anything I believe in.
This is probably why I thought of law school as a viable career option for me. PS: I took the LSAT, but I never ended up going. End of PS.
This influential ability isn’t something that is super common, I’ve found. I don’t think I’m “better than anyone” or that I have some kind of superhuman sense and capabilities, but I do believe that if I have an idea in my head or something that I believe in and want other people to believe in, I will get people on board with whatever that is.
Anything I have achieved is a result of me going into it with 150% belief. That belief and that passion seeps through my skin during presentations and conversations and decision making seminars. I sometimes feel like people can’t help but be motivated and inspired by seeing someone who intensely ravenous about an idea or a cause or a request of some kind.
I remember when I got a job at a local coffee house. I was told they only hired people at least 18 years old. I asked to interview anyway, and at age 15, I was hired. I pretty much believed I was the best person to work there.
At the very last minute in the summer of 2018, when graduate assistant applications were due three weeks ago, I called the English Department and said I was submitting one anyway. I interviewed for one of the positions and earned it along with a full ride through my masters program.
And of course, when it looked like the Youngstown Marathon was a complete flop and a joke to everyone, I led a team and we made it into a thing. Like, a real thing with funding and all of that. People took a chance on me, and it was a rather large, expensive chance to take. But I believed in the race and the cause and could see what it could look like in five years. Eventually, so could others.
I’m not bragging. I’m telling you that reflection is important because it identifies patterns that give you insight into what you are meant to do. For me, the pattern is a stronger sense of intuition than most people have coupled with the ability to make a case good enough that people don’t want to say no because they start believing in what I believe.
I sort of always knew this about myself, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I would use it. I’ve always had the heart to help other people for the sake of their well-being. My favorite jobs have been service jobs.
In 2010, I started teaching at the college level and was broke off my ass but so fulfilled. I taught at what could be considered an “inner city” university, so I felt like I was teaching people life skills even more so than writing. Every day I walked out of my classroom with a smile on my face because I knew that one of my students would go home and think about something I said and apply it.
Ah, and then I had this inner crisis where I decided that I would value money over what I love, so I worked my way up the corporate chain from part time to senior management in just two years. It was thrilling to get four promotions in a short period of time, but the truth is that I hated what I was doing. A disposable income was nice, but I was 100% unfulfilled in my job. I was helping no one. I was feeding the corporate pig and all I had to show for it was a few bucks. Who effing cares?
Fast forward once more to March 2017 when my boss from that corporate job called me and the first words out of my mouth were, “I quit, and I have to go. Email me my tasks for the next two weeks and I’ll do them.” The Youngstown Marathon fell in my lap six months before then, so it should be obvious why I quit my corporate job.
You must understand that the whole “follow your heart” thing is actually not as easy as it sounds. I always knew I had a service heart, but the past four years took a toll on me:
- Became a birth mom (my stepson is a child of mine; that’s why I phrase it accordingly) and had my daughter. Fell into horrific postpartum depression for 16 months.
- Husband changed jobs which didn’t really shake us, but nonetheless it was another change.
- I changed jobs from teaching to corporate America.
- A quit the 9-5 sector all together and left corporate America as well as traditional employment to be a full time race director; 16 hour days commence.
- Husband begins a renowned graduate program for his Executive MBA at Case Western Reserve University.
- Father-in-law uproots the family in ways that truly sucked.
- Father-in-law passes away suddenly due to causes I will not discuss in this blog post.
- Husband and I find out we are expecting a baby two weeks after we declared we are done having kids and had our basement professionally cleaned and emptied, baby stuff included.
All that happened within four years with a large chunk of it in the last 2.5 or so. Needless to say, it’s easy to lose yourself when you’re trying to be everything and fix everything and take care of everyone and everything but yourself. I completely lost who I was and became a person who couldn’t make a decision, and that was so unlike me.
I tried finding “me” inside of different projects and businesses and things. You know, friggin’ MLMs – this is why you’re labeled as “cultish” half of the time. At a low point in my life, I was solicited by a lot of people who insisted that the “opportunity” they had to offer would snap me back to who I am and would also be “life changing.” I took the bait. I took it so. many. times.
And each and every time, here is the thought process:
- The signup day: Oh my gosh; I am so excited. I bet this will be it for me. I love this makeup/cookware/bag of powder that’s actually rare superfoods from countries I cannot pronounce. I need this. I deserve this. I am a strong woman and I will be that BOSSMOM who stands on the stage in front of a million people and exclaims my testimony of how just one drop of essential oils was enough to bring me into business that is now seven figures. THIS. IS. IT.
- One week in: You know what? I don’t give a fuck if Jen said no to a party where she can earn $5 jewelry for free. She clearly doesn’t value our friendship. I don’t care if she thinks I’ve been brainwashed to sell this amazing stuff that is life changing. Nope. If she feels that way, screw her. Screw Jen. I’m going to send ten more messages tonight because my ability to figure out who I am is a direct reflection of the cold messages I send to people I haven’t talked to for 5 years or more.
- Later that night, in bed: What if Jen is right? What if I’m not doing the right thing for me? How can I say NO to this, though?! So many women have made a living off of this. Someone said she did Insanity Max 30 and squatted her way out of postpartum depression. Of course, her hair is a lot better than mine and she can clearly afford a boob job and really expensive dresses at this point. Do her lips look bigger than before? Do we just “get” a free boob upgrade once we get to the top of the company?
- Two hours after that, usually around midnight: DAMMIT JEN WAS RIGHT. I don’t care about what I am doing or what I am selling. I don’t think it’s worth the money and it isn’t going to change anyone’s life. HOW IS BB CREAM LIFE CHANGING AND WHY ARE WE REFERRING TO SELLING IT AS A “JOURNEY?”
- The next day: I quit.
Repeat, repeat, repeat – for years. I was convinced that I would just find some kind of permanent happiness in one of these “companies.” After exhausting all of my possibilities, I started to become sad. Again.
I saw a few rays of sunshine. I knew I loved running and race directing, but my head consistently told me that I had to do something else because I was failing by not making X amount of dollars. It was an inner battle because like I said on one of my previous Instagram posts, I know where my heart is and I know that my head is a complete 180 from that.
I’ve learned in my time on earth so far that eventually, you can’t force yourself to be or something that you aren’t. If you do that, you end up like Britney Spears circa 2007.
And then, a couple weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone I’ve met briefly just 1-2 times in the running community: Sara from Sara Runs This Town. She said “I feel like you’re always starting something new.”
I thought, “Shit. It’s on the outside now.” Of course, she didn’t mean it in a bad or snarky way. It just seemed to be the last turn of the bolt that locked in what I knew all along: I know what I want and it isn’t any of this junk I’ve signed up for over the past two years. I want to change lives; I am called to change lives – and it ain’t gonna happen through selling Rodan + Fields or whatever the hell else I can sell.
The past few days I took a good look at myself on the inside. I thought, “Ok, let’s get an honest take of who you are here. Not what looks good on social media; not what looks good to other people; not what fills up the bank account. Who are you?”
The answers were suddenly clear as day.
I am a person of influence. I can choose to use that for good, bad, or dumb reasons. I could probably convince all of you to buy whatever crap I was selling, but I didn’t want to because to me, that isn’t my service heart in action. I choose to use this ability to change lives of others.
I am a person of words. I may not be a writing teacher anymore, but I love to write and feel like it’s a talent of mine. I will pursue this in a variety of ways.
I am a leader. I’ve never been a follower. The most fun for me is when I announce an idea and someone says “You can’t do that – no one has done that before.” #dontbelievemejustwatch
I thrive on helping other people. I don’t thrive on getting people to “join my team.” I don’t thrive on arbitrary title changes in the sales world. I don’t thrive on spending 45 minutes on the corporate clock for a Webex, 24 of which were spent waiting for the leader to enter the damn pin and get the meeting started. I thrive when I feel like I am making a real difference for people.
And that is my goal: Change as many lives as I can by using what I know I am good at. I believe in myself. Now, it’s up to you: Decide what to be and go be it.