Under a tight deadline to complete some writing, with my manuscript and Apple laptop in hand, I arrived at 11:50 a.m. for a scheduled 12-noon lunch meeting with a vice president of marketing. We were meeting so that I could thank him for his decision to provide corporate funding for a fundraising event I chaired.
Engrossed in the writing, I was startled twenty or so minutes later when I heard a voice from the other side of the table say, “You didn’t think I was going to show, did you?” While standing up to embrace him, I began explaining my deadline requirements for The Bridge. Our conversation continued pleasantly, when in a matter of minutes a surprising, but welcomed statement poured out of the heart and mouth of the 50-plus, successful white male.
“I could never write a book,” he whispered. I was stunned at his unexpected transparency. But I instinctively knew and understood that this was a moment for us to connect on a deeper and richer level. Compassionately, I offered, “Even though it doesn’t look or sound like it today, I thought the same thing when I was writing my first book, There Is More Inside. In fact, in the first chapter I share my insecurities with the reader about how I didn’t think anyone would buy or read it.” My identification with his self-doubt must have created more safety. The muscles relaxed on his face, and he disclosed, “That’s exactly how I feel. What do I have to say that people would want to know?”
Having listened well to his earlier ponderings, I reminded him of a statement he had made about how he hadn’t realized how much he knew until the opportunity for him to teach showed up. Appreciating my reminder of his success, he took in a deep breath and readily nodded in agreement. The coach in me, however, wasn’t through. I continued to probe. “So, what would you write about?” He confessed he didn’t know. “What are you passionate about?” I inquired. His eyes rolled upwards to indicate thought. But again he answered, “I don’t know.”
The confused expression on my face must have prompted him to continue talking, and had I known the magnitude of what he was about to share, I would have tape-recorded the entire dialogue. From my mental notes and a few scribbles that I jotted down that day, I have recounted to the best of my ability this man’s profound awareness and insight. Listen to his heart.
“I’ve always known where I was going to next. I entered the job market and it was a natural progression. Next was just there. I would plan for my next logical step for advancement and professional growth. It’s laid out for you, an automatic sequence. But, what if there wasn’t a next? That’s when you realize, you left everything that you love and deeply desire on the sidelines for—next. And, one day next doesn’t show up.”
We sat silently for a moment to ponder this undisputed truth together. Do most people take the well-traveled road laid out for them within organizational structures and systems? Do they wait for calamity to come before they ever seek their divine path of passion and personal self-fulfillment? When they find it, do they have the courage to cross The Bridge to get there?
©2011 All rights reserved. The Bridge to Your Brand Likeability, Marketability, Credibility will be available in paperback beginning August 15, 2011. Pre-order your copy today.
8 thoughts on “WHEN NEXT DOESN’T SHOW UP, THEN WHAT?”
I appreciate your response, it provided important insight. My ethnic background is multi-racial so perhaps my perspective is different. Thank you for the thoughtful reply and I am sorry that some people think that using the photo of a beautiful woman for a book cover could negatively affect sales…
Thank you, my friend. We still have growing to do.
This was an interesting and well written article, but I have to ask: was it important to know he was a “white male”?
Thank you for your question. It is a good one. Whenever I write, it is deliberate and intentional. Was it important to know that he was a (successful) “white male”–no. Was there a reason why I shared that information–yes. The blog was an excerpt from the book, The Bridge to Your Brand.
When the cover of the book was being designed, there was a debate about the use of my photo. I asked a variety of people from different races. Most often, the response: the book targets all people, but if they see your face on the front cover, it will automatically turn some people off. In other words, we, all of us, still fight stereotypes and also have our own stereotypes. Among many, one of the reasons I’m on this planet is to bring awareness to and try to eliminate stereotypes.
It isn’t often that our society exposes the insecurities of successful white males. Nor do we talk about positive dialogue and interactions between a white male and a black female. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, we just don’t talk about it. I thought this would be an awesome opportunity to reveal several things to my audience:
1. I work with different people regardless of race and socio-economic background. Therefore, the information can help anyone who is ready to be a gateway to someone else’s abundant life.
2. White males, like everyone else, can be vulnerable and uncertain.
I hope this helps you. Please feel free to ask any additional questions if you are unclear.
There Is More at The Bridge,
What the gentleman revealed during your conversation, for me can only be described as “profound” in the true sense of the word. His simple statement has the capacity to literally, to physically stop one in one’s track and give serious…and I do mean serious thought to what happens when “Next” doesn’t show up. This is a question for each of us to examine…”closely” and one that I will be adding to my personal and professional repertoire. Thank you so much, Ms. Renee, for sharing this excerpt of your work and expertise.
I agree with you Dr. Dearborne. Thank you for providing feedback.
Wow! Very inspirational! I need to get the new book.
Thank you. I believe it is my best work yet. God bless you.