White-blonde bangs and a button nose were pressed against the bird’s cage. I can see myself standing there as a little girl, intently watching my green and yellow parakeet with black, scalloped markings on his back and wings repeatedly move from left to right on his wooden perch. I would stare, wide-eyed, curious about my affectionate and cheerful friend peering back at me from behind the white, metal bars of his cage.
He wasn’t caged often though. I thought it best that he experienced freedom without compromising his survivability as I knew a release would have real consequences. Instead, he spent a good amount of time on my shoulder as I completed my homework and worked on a new arts-and-crafts project— even fetched a snack from the refrigerator.
He seemed happy there, so I thought, but I would often picture what his life might have been like in the wild? I didn’t know. I never had the answer, but as I think upon that memory today, it makes me wonder about my own life and the choices I have made.
His cage parallels a sheltered life without risk.
What would I want for myself?
I knew it in my heart already.
My mind, whether I like it or not, has always wandered towards windows of opportunity.
How could I bring joy to those I loved?
How could I best use my craft to create positive impact within my industry and within my community?
As a young adult, I steered clear of feeling like a caged bird, as they say. I shuddered at the thought of it. The world was large and impressive, and I knew little through experience.
I loved people, authentic connection and an unforgettable story. I had an adventurous spirit.
But there are moments that have made me question what is ‘uniquely me.’ Is it a deeply engrained trait or can it be tweaked? I recognize the added safety in avoiding risk in addition to the observance of clearly marked parameters, rules, guidelines, regulations, laws, workplace restrictions and social norms that already, unconsciously play into our decision-making processes.
There are expectations of what we should be, who we should be, and what we can do as children and adults. Then, there are the opportunities to draw outside the lines with a freer spirit.I prefer to edge into undiscovered territory and choose a different path, “the one less traveled,” as Robert Frost describes in his ever-popular poem “The Road Not Taken.” It carries more unknowns, possible resistance and, as a result, greater risk. It leaves you with more questions than answers, and you must often concede to your own vulnerabilities to power through the leap. The result is reward or failure, but I believe they are much in the same.
A failure is only a failure as long as there is inaction or an unchanged perspective, a realization that it was a moment of opportunity for growth, which in itself is a true reward.
This I know, and I shall leave myself unchanged.
So, here we are, you and I, today, desiring new or continued freedom as we weigh our everyday risks, personally and professionally. I have stood on the edge of a big decision many, many times, closed my eyes and let the dream carry me. What about you?
I never imagined myself delivering live reports on television to keep thousands upon thousands of people informed about critical issues in their community, and then I could not imagine doing anything else but that job for years, and then I was.
My mid-thirties were marked by a seesaw of glee and devastation. I won, lost, fought, got beaten up, became ill, questioned the meaning of life over and over and over again, grew stronger, found great love, left a world I knew well for the unknown, made a child and more.
I am now a business owner, an entrepreneur, a communications coach and consultant eagerly sharing my knowledge, experience and expertise with government officials, innovators, influencers and corporate leaders.
This is my today, and I can tell you this: I take great pleasure in not knowing my next area of growth or pivot. I only seek to learn, and I would hope I am not my current self in a week, next month or next year. I want to be better, and so, I will continue to surrender to the unknown— think smart and take calculated risks because full control is overrated, and bars are soul- crushing to man.
This my best advice:
Go for it if it makes sense.
Go for it if you are creating real value and not harming others.
Go for it if you are using both your brain and your heart. Sleep on it. Then, decide. That’s okay too.
Turn good into great. Grow from a high achiever to a sought-after expert. It’s okay to be afraid, but don’t get comfortable.
Take your shot, five steps or a leap. Don’t wait until you’re ready. There is no such thing.
Dream big. Test it out. Retest.
Know yourself better.
Know her better and him.
Try harder. Push yourself.
Commit to tomorrow.
Reimagine, innovate, design, grow and give back. After all, life is a constant pivot among the most successful.
Now, go make your mark.